Frugal Living

Meal Plan January 19 – January 25

The cupboards are starting to look bare, but the freezer is still full.  This week’s meals need to tackle the surplus of frozen foods that have so that we can defrost the freezer.

Sunday January 19 – broccoli cheddar soup, salad and dinner rolls

Monday January 20 – quiche and salad

Tuesday January 21 – minestrone soup and salad

Wednesday January 22  – pizza and salad

Thursday January 23 – butternut squash chili

Friday January 24  – salmon and sweet potato fries

Saturday January 25 – seafood linguini and salad

This morning I cleared out the pastries we had in the freezer that my daughter had brought home from work.  They were a nice treat today with a cup of coffee.

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Family Life, Frugal Living, Recipes

Saturday Thoughts

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My girls

We got a lot of snow last night.  Last week’s snowstorm hit us this weekend instead.  We were planning on driving about an hour away to see my daughter’s show choir competition.  The weather continues to be the deciding factor in whether or not we go.  I hate driving in winter weather almost more than anything.  While it seems like it is clearing up now, blowing snow and ice remain in the afternoon forecast.  Thankfully, 3 more competitions are on the calendar and I have committed to meeting family at 2 of the 3.  We may decide to err on the side of caution today and stay home.

Last night’s snowstorm was kind of nice.  It forced us to stay in and properly unwind from the work week.  I had put some lentil soup in the crockpot before leaving for work yesterday, making dinner prep and clean up very easy last night.  We watched Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (which I liked, my husband hated), snuggled with the dogs and popped a big batch of popcorn.  It was nice to turn in early last night with a good book.  I was sound asleep by 10:45.

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Given the likelihood that we will be staying home today, I plan to make some brownies, a loaf of bread, get a good walk in and finish a book.  We have dinner plans for tonight, that is why I am going make some delicious brownies for dessert to serve with ice cream, here is the recipe.

Brownies

1/2 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Grease  an 8-inch square pan.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder.  Fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

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What are your plans for this snowy Saturday?

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Even with it being my daughter’s birthday this week and the week that we mail 2 college tuition checks, we were able to save some money along the way.  Here is what we did.

  1. My church has rotations every few weeks to leave things for other to take.  I found a nearly brand new North Face winter hat.  It’s in perfect condition and was free.  I looked up it’s value online and it sells for $32.
  2. I have the worst eczema, but only have a flare up every 5 or 6 years.  I know exactly the steroid cream I need, but it requires a doctors prescription which requires a visit and a copay.  My mom had an extra, unopened tube of the exact stuff my doctor prescribes.  Another item for free.
  3. At Christmas we visited my husband’s aunt and she gave us a bag of stuff as we were leaving.  He left it in the trunk and I forgot about it until Sunday.  We found a couple boxes of dental chews for the dogs.  Another expensive item given to us for free.
  4. I only needed to spend $14.40 on groceries this week.  Most of that was for produce, butter and sugar.
  5. I was given a bag of rhubarb that a coworker still had in freezer from last spring.  I can’t wait to make something delicious with it.
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Frugal Living, Recipes

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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Last Saturday we were supposed to have dinner with friends.  That did not happen because the weathermen lied and claimed that the worst blizzard ever was on its way.  The city shut down, people cancelled plans and we got a dusting of snow.  With our change in dinner plans, I had to come up with something for dinner.  I had all the ingredients for broccoli cheddar soup.  Add a loaf of sourdough bread, and dinner is served.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

4 tbsp melted butter

1/2 medium onion, diced finely

1/4 cup flour

2 cups half-and-half cream

2 cups vegetable stock

3 cups broccoli chopped 

1 cup carrots, sliced

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp dried mustard

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

salt and pepper

Melt the  butter and saute the onions until soft. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the half & half and vegetable stock. Add paprika and mustard. Add the broccoli and carrots. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the broccoli and carrots are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return to low heat and add the cheese.  Serve with additional cheese and bread.  Serves 4

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Frugal Living, Household

Meal Plan January 12th -18th

Below is our meal plan for the week.  I had to buy fresh produce and some ingredients for my daughter’s birthday dinner.  But, we are able to continue clearing out the freezer and pantry by using what we have on hand.

Sunday 1/12 – pesto pasta and caesar salad

Monday 1/13 – My daughter turns 21 today!  She requested vegan mac and cheese, mixed greens with pomegranate seeds and goat cheese and vegan banana cake.

Tuesday 1/14 – spinach artichoke quinoa casserole

Wednesday 1/15 – bean burritos and salad

Thursday 1/16 – salmon, mashed sweet potatoes and kale salad

Friday 1/17 – lentil soup and salad

Saturday 1/18 – Due to a blizzard, last Saturday’s potluck was postponed.  All I am responsible for is dessert.

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Family Life, Frugal Living

Goal Updates

  1. My number one goal is to get my pressure back to normal.  Several of my goals have been set to help bring it down with the help of medication.
    • This week my blood pressure has gone from dangerously high to just plain high.  It’s going in the right direction!  Yea me.
  2. Lose 20 pounds.
    • While I will not say how much I have lost, the scale is going in the right direction.
  3. Continue to get 10,000 steps a day in.
    • I did not reach 10,000 all 7 days, but came very close and went way over 10,000 on more than one day.
  4. Go to the gym 3 days per week.
    • Good thing this one is a goal not a resolution.  Otherwise, I would not try again next week to go at least once.
  5.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  I eat a lot as it is, but it’s time to add more, especially potassium rich produce.
    • I was successful with this one.  I make sure to add extra produce to all 3 meals.
  6. Try to start trying to meditate at least 2 or 3 days per week.
    • I accomplished this goal this week.  Meditation 3 days.
  7. Get back into the yoga habit.
    • I did not do any yoga this week.
  8. Cut down on the alcohol.
    • I have not had a drop of alcohol since New Year’s Eve
  9.  Pay off the house.  We had every intention of paying it off December 31.  A couple of unexpected expenses put that on hold.
    • This will happen, but not this month
  10. Read 110 books in 2020.
    • I am off to a great start with 7 books read this year.
  11. Read 3 classic books this year.
    • I have started Call of the Wild.
  12. More dates with my husband.
    • There’s always next week.
  13. We have a membership to the Milwaukee Art Museum that I plan on utilizing a lot more this year.
    • There’s always next week
  14. Spend more time outdoors.
    • I walked my dogs every day, except today.  It’s too slippery out there.
  15. Throw away 20 items per day.
    • Done
  16. More no spend days.
    • The only money I spent this week was $72 on groceries and anticipated bills.
  17. Spend more time with my friends.
    • Done
  18. Finish a knitting project I started in November and start and finish another.
    • I am almost done with my project.
  19. Learn how to can!
    • I will officially visit this goal in the summer.
  20. Go on 2 weekend getaways with my husband.
    • I am looking for fun get aways in the midwest.
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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

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We are expecting a pretty major snow storm this weekend.  I heard the word blizzard used a couple times.  I will believe it when I see it.  The meteorologists seem to get a bit ahead of themselves and are so dramatic when snow is ready to fly.  More times then not, an anticipated blizzard has turned into a drizzle of rain.  But, we shall see and maybe we will have a cozy Saturday night at home.

We continued with our frugal ways this week.

  1. I continue to shop the freezer and pantry.  I decided this week that I either need to do this more or I need to stock up less.  My dad’s favorite words are stock up, so I am guessing that out of loyalty to him, I will continue to do things this way.
  2. For the items we did need at the grocery store, I used a giftcard that I received for Christmas.  I do not need or want anymore stuff, so this seemed like a perfect compromise.
  3. I have been prescribed a new medication.  With our insurance a 3 month supply cost me $3.00!  I cannot believe it.  My other prescription costs me $109 for a 3 month prescription.  My ultimate goal will be to get off the prescription all together and save the $3.00 every 90 days.
  4. We were gifted a year supply of flea and tick preventative for our dog.  Same brand and dosage we already use and has not expired.  This is a huge overall savings for us.
  5. Recently my mom had to buy a new coffee table that she could move on her own.  She gifted us her old one, which in all honesty was the one piece of furniture in her house that I wanted for myself.  It is set aside until we buy a new couch (waiting out the puppy days).  We are trying to use second hand as much as possible.  But when we get the couch, it will be new.  I have heard far too many stories of bed bugs in used couches and chairs.

What did you do this week to save some money?

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Frugal Living, Recipes

Cream of Tomato Soup

Tonight I cleared out more of our overflowing pantry and made cream of tomato soup.  I served it with grilled cheese sandwiches because tomato soup does require grilled cheese in order to achieve that perfect comfort food balance.  We received a cheese box (we are from Wisconsin) for Christmas, so our cheese options are plentiful.  My recipe is really easy and frugal . I would guess that the grand total for this recipe is $3.00.  It also feels perfect for this evening, as it is 12 degrees tonight and soup really does warm the soul.

I feel obligated to mention that the fires in Australia are a catastrophe that the rest of the world needs to pay attention to.  An entire continent is on fire, species of animals will be wiped out.  The devastation cannot adequately be conveyed to those of us not there.  My thoughts are with those who are living with this as their reality right now.  The world is watching and I hope paying enough attention to make meaningful change.

Now, on to soup.

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Cream of Tomato Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 cup vegetable broth

12 oz can evaporated milk

1 onion finely chopped

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp basil

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in pot, add onion and saute until translucent.  Add tomatoes with juice, garlic powder, basil and vegetable broth.  Boil 10 to 15 minutes.  Turn of stove, add milk and with immersion blender blend to desired consistency.  Serve with grilled cheese for the ultimate comfort food.

Family Life, Frugal Living

My 20 Goals For 2020

This year I have decided to try a new approach to personal changes in the new year, instead of resolutions, I will have goals.  When I set a goal for myself, I usually do accomplish it.  When it’s a resolution, I fail miserably.  This year I have 20 personal goals set for myself.

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  1. I was recently diagnosed with VERY high blood pressure.  Until November, it was always normal.  Out of nowhere, it has gone up a lot.  I am now under the care of a cardiologist who has put me on medication and he is starting a round of tests to try figure this out.  So, my number one goal is to get my pressure back to normal.  Several of my goals have been set to help bring it down with the help of medication.
  2. Lose 20 pounds.  Truth be told, I could stand to lose more than 20.  But, small goals are best and 20 seems like a good start.  When I hit that, I will add 10 more to lose.
  3. Continue to get 10,000 steps a day in.  This has never been a problem for me.  But now, more than ever, I need to keep this habit in my daily routine.
  4. Go to the gym 3 days per week.  I need my daughter to hold me accountable with this one.  She is so good about getting herself to the gym on a regular basis, I need to follow her lead.
  5. I have spent a lot of time reading about the causes of high blood pressure and what I can do to bring it down.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  I eat a lot as it is, but it’s time to add more, especially potassium rich produce.
  6. I downloaded the Simple Habit app to encourage meditation on a daily basis.  I keep hearing that meditation helps calm the mind.  I do meditate, but not daily.  Time to start trying to meditate at least 2 or 3 days per week.
  7. Get back into the yoga habit.  Several years ago I went to yoga 3-4 days per week.  I was in great shape, but I fell out of the habit as my kids got older.  Since they are now adults, I probably shouldn’t continue to use them as an excuse for not going.
  8. Cut down on the alcohol.  I really don’t drink very much. I have wine with dinner some nights and enjoy a cocktail when in a restaurant.   But, until I get my blood pressure under control, I need to eliminate alcohol.
  9. Now on to other goals.  Pay off the house.  We had every intention of paying it off December 31.  A couple of unexpected expenses put that on hold.
  10. Read 110 books in 2020.  I sign up for the reading challenge every year on Goodreads.  I don’t think I have ever missed my goal.
  11. Read 3 classic books this year.  I am starting small because in all honesty, I don’t always enjoy the classics.  But, my mom and I agreed to start with Call of the Wild in anticipation of the movie.  It seems easy to add 2 more to 2020.
  12. More dates with my husband.  In the past I told myself we would have a date night once a week.  That proved to be difficult to achieve some weeks, making it easy to just forget about it.  Date night once a month seems easier.
  13. We have a membership to the Milwaukee Art Museum that I plan on utilizing a lot more this year.  I really do need to spend more time taking advantage of the cultural activities my city has to offer.
  14. Spend more time outdoors.  It’s not always easy in the winter to be outside.  But in the spring, summer and fall, I need to spend a lot less time indoors.  I recently read an article that encourages 1000 hours per year which is about 2.5 hours per day.
  15. Throw away 20 items per day.  We have too much stuff in this house and some of it needs to go.
  16. More no spend days.  These are so easy to accomplish and the benefit can be seen in your checking account.
  17. Spend more time with my friends.  This is another one that I am pretty good about following through on.  I enjoy meeting friends for lunch, dinner and potlucks.  In 2019 I reconnected with several old friends that I have spent time with.
  18. Finish a knitting project I started in November and start and finish another.  I learned how to knit in 2019 and really enjoy it.  I hope to find more time in the coming year to year improve this skill.
  19. Learn how to can!  We usually have a prolific vegetable garden (2019 was a failure).  My husband is the one who usually preserves the bounty.  But, more job responsibilities means that I should take this one over.
  20. Go on 2 weekend getaways with my husband.  A full blown vacation is not going to happen, but a couple weekends away should be attainable.

That’s my list.  What kind of goals have you set for yourself as you start a new year and a new decade?

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Happy New Year!  I have a feeling that 2020 is going to be my best year yet.  This will be the year that my youngest graduates from high school and oldest graduates from college.  We are starting the year with a new puppy, which has been so much fun.  We have wonderful friends and family who we see on a regular basis.  We both have jobs we love and aside from the typical conditions associated with getting older, we are healthy.  Life is good.

Even though the last few weeks are generally very expensive, we still found some ways to save money.

  1. I had all of my Christmas shopping and wrapping done before Thanksgiving.  This was intentional.  I do not enjoy last minute Christmas shopping and the crowds associated with it.  I enjoyed the month of December without the pressure of preparing for the holidays.
  2. We spent New Years in, separately, which was kind of sad.  I was with my parents for several days and spent New Years with them and some of their friends.  Eric enjoyed the silence that comes with having the house to himself.  My understanding was that he watched a movie and enjoyed pizza.  Neither of us made it to midnight.
  3. We have enough food in this house to feed an army.  January is going to be devoted to shopping the freezer and pantry.  I will need to purchase fresh produce, but it will be easy to spend very little at the grocery store this month.
  4. I have started the long process of decluttering this house.  We have so much stuff.  Too much stuff.  My goal is 10 items a day, out of the house.  I appreciated that so many of our gifts this year were either consumables or items we can actually use.  We received a very large bottle of local maple syrup and lemon olive oil, among so many other things.
  5. I found some very old gift cards.  Make sure to look up the balance because some do not expire.  I found an old theatre gift card from 2014 that still had $10 on it.  I used it while visiting my parents.  Proof that the small things add up.

I plan on sitting down in the next few days and really figuring out our 2020 budget.  Fall 2020 will be an expensive one for us, all 3 of our kids will be in college.  We are going to need to do even more belt tightening this year.  As always, I look at it as an adventure and not something to stress over.  What are some of things you plan on doing to save in 2020?

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One of my gifts this year.  My daughter had a portrait made of Luna in the  attire that proves her royalty in this house.