Frugal Living

Frugal Fridays, A Few Fridays Late

I have been enjoying all the summer has to offer, from the comfort of my backyard.  We continue to hunker down, for the most part.  I do go to work and my girls work as well.  But beyond that, we spend most of our time in our own little cocoon at home.  Waiting for this storm to pass.  We have had some frugal wins over the last several weeks,

  1. I wrote my very last check to our daughter’s singing teacher.  She will really miss her, but she is ready to move on and college is going to provide her that opportunity.
  2. Our last energy bill was $100 less than last month.  That will even out the fact that next month’s will likely be $100 more.  We gave in and turned on the air conditioning.  It has been warm!
  3. My daughter needed dental work and our dentist was not open due to covid.  Our dental plan requires us to use one of those franchise dentists.  I called our old dentist and got her in and then call the insurance company and got an authorization to use that dentist because ours was not open.  What would have been a $400 bill cost us $25 because I picked up the phone and asked.
  4. I gave in and got an Amazon credit card.  We earn 5% and I was able to get a kindle for my daughter’s birthday for $50 with the credit it gave me.  The trick obviously, pay it off every month.  Which we will do.
  5. My husband replaced the brake pads on our daughter’s car for $110.  She paid him for the parts and he supplied the labor.  Doing things yourself, when you can, saves so much money.

Our daughter goes to college next month.  We are going to miss her so much.  She won’t be able to come home until Thanksgiving, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID.  It is going to be a really hard 3 months, but we will adjust.  Letting our kids go can be so hard.  I plan on really enjoying the next month with her at home.

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Good morning from sunny Wisconsin.  It has been an absolutely gorgeous week.  Summer is finally here.  Our gardens are bursting already, the bees have been very busy and the chickens are doing what they do best, wander around aimlessly.

We continue to stay close to home.  I know that the Trumpster has declared that if we would just stop testing, the virus would disappear (honestly, you can’t make this stuff up).  But, that doesn’t seem like rational science to us, so we are going to continue to hunker down.  I have resumed running errands, always with a mask and social distancing.  I also go to work, but the library director has made sure that we operate safely at all times.  I feel safe at work.

We had some frugal wins this week.  Here is our list.  What did you do to save some cash?

  1. I bought a flat of strawberries and made some jam and froze the rest for future use.
  2. We have been eating a lot from the backyard already.  Lots of salads, pestos and eggs.  Our CSA has already started to deliver and I have been very good about making sure that we eat everything from the box.  I haven’t thrown anything away yet.  I did give the kohlrabi to the neighbor.  Because kohlrabi is gross.
  3. I have been making sun tea with my backyard peppermint.  It takes a lot of mint to make a tasty tea, but it’s worth it.
  4. We have started having Sunday dinners with my son, his girlfriend and my daughter’s boyfriend again.  Sunday afternoons spent on the patio with a cool cocktail and an early dinner.  We have a lot of laughs and it’s free.  Last weekend we played some card games as well.
  5. It has been warm, but we have avoided turning on the air conditioner by keeping the drapes closed in our bedrooms and running the fans.  We are not opposed to turning the air on if needed.  But, because it has been getting cool at night, we haven’t seen the need.  Yet.

It was a really good week around here.  After months of feeling blah because of the world situation and feeling a little claustrophobic, things turned around.  I don’t know exactly what tipped things in the right direction.  But, here we are.  Happy Friday friends.

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

What did you do to save money this week?  Here is our list of money saving things that we did.

  1. Our first CSA box will be delivered today.  It’s a good variety of vegetables that will get us through the week.  We have our greens and asparagus from the garden that will supplement the CSA veggies.  The cost of the CSA is $30/week.  We will buy very few, if any vegetables from the grocery store now until the fall.  I will make exceptions for tomatoes and avocados.
  2. Our seafood box from Sitka Salmon Shares came on Thursday.  This is not a frugal buy, but so worth it, in my opinion.  Sitka Salmon Shares provides quality, sustainably harvested seafood.  It is delivered to your door from fishermen in Alaska.  They send enough every month that our family has enough to feed us seafood once a week for an entire year.
  3. I won a seafood seasoning spice mix from an online contest.  Enter those contests!  I win stuff on a semi regular basis.  It’s always fun to get those packages in the mail.
  4. We signed up for a complimentary subscription to Starz. We have seriously gotten addicted to Outlander.
  5. I finally ventured out of the house to Walgreens and took advantage of several buy one get one free specials.
Books

Book Review-The Audacity of Hope

Since the president of the United States has decided that a worldwide pandemic is the time to create more distractions for the American people, I felt that reading The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama would be the perfect antidote.  It is no secret, I love Barack Obama.  I think he was a great president.  He is eloquent, well educated and appears to be a very caring man.  When he led the United States, the world respected us.  The United States was a leader.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

I don’t like to use my blog for politics, as I know it can be a polarizing topic, especially in these times.  BUT, the last couple weeks have been, for lack of better words, a shit show in this country.  I have yet to even figure out what Obamagate is.  Since Trump cannot actually give us a clear definition, he doesn’t know either.  Face masks have become some really strange political symbol that has resulted in murder here.  But, the most shocking thing, Trump suggested people ingest bleach, yes bleach, to treat COVID.  What the actual F—?   Anyway, here is my Goodreads review of The Audacity of Hope.  After reading it, I felt that yes, there is hope that once this over, we will return to normal.

Five stars! The Obamas deserve nothing less than five stars on anything, in my opinion. But, that set aside, like Michelle, Barack has a gift for writing and speaks with eloquence. His ideas in this week, while they predate his presidency, are as relevant today as they were in 2008.

I listened to this on audio. I felt a odd sense of comfort hearing his speak. He is a man with empathy, great intelligence and aware of his faults. I miss the Obamas in the White House and the sense of safety I felt when he was our president.

Disclaimer: I will not respond to and will delete any disrespectful comments.

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Books

Book Review-The Red Lotus

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This was a timely book to read during the COVID pandemic. I won’t give spoilers, but the story is about a potential pandemic due to  biological warfare. The book was released on March 17, 2020.  I wondered while reading what the author thought about the timing of it’s publication.  I know that for myself, I had been told we would be off work for the foreseeable future and that home would be where I needed to stay.  It was a bit of an eerie read from that standpoint.

Alexis goes to Vietnam, with her boyfriend, Austin for a bike trip. While there, Austin dies and questions arise as to why they were really there. It becomes clear that a bike trip was only a cover for something very sinister. Austin is not what he appears to be and neither is his inner circle. I found myself questioning every single person Alexis came into contact with upon her return home. No one is above suspicion.

Like always, Chris Bohjalian has a fascinating story to tell. The Red Lotus, like The Flight Attendant, has a flawed female protagonist that you find yourself liking, in spite of her bad decision making. Five stars!

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Frugal Living, Recipes

Sourdough Waffles

I had some leftover sourdough starter and being a person who hates to waste food, I decided to make some waffles for this rainy Sunday morning.  They aren’t pretty, but they sure were delicious.

Sourdough Waffles

1 cup of sourdough starter

3/4 cup warm water

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

1tsp baking soda

cooking spray

Whisk together starter, water and flour.  Add whisked eggs and stir.  Add salt, sugar and baking soda and stir together.  Cover and let stand for about 20-30 minutes.  Heat up waffle iron and grease it.  Pour a ladle full on your iron and cook until golden brown.  Made 4 waffles for us and they were delicious!

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Happy Friday friends!  I woke up at 5:45 this morning to a relatively sunny sky and the birds were chirping.  Summer is coming!  Our heat is turned off and the windows will be wide open today.  I LOVE this time of year.

We had some frugal wins this week.

  1. When my daughter started middle school, I put $25 in her hot lunch account, in case of an emergency.  Monday morning, I woke up to find a $25 deposit into our checking account for money never used.  She did in fact use some of her money. But it appears that her brother who graduated in 2016 and sister in 2017 did not use all of theirs.  So, after everyone graduated we got our money back.  I know, $25 isn’t much, and it was forgotten.  But, it was a nice extra surprise.  Proof that my kids really did not like hot lunch.
  2. I used reward points this month to apply to credit card payments.  Those rewards were over $100.
  3. I perfected my bread recipe and made jam.  My daughter made a grilled goat cheese and rhubarb jam sandwich.  She told me it was the best sandwich she has ever had.
  4. We will be staying home now, more than ever.  The great state of Wisconsin lifted the safer at home measure with absolutely no guidelines.  So the drunks, who put Wisconsin on the map, flooded the bars on Wednesday.  Those of us who followed the rules, will now have to start this entire thing over.  Yes, editorial comment mixed in with the knowledge that hey, now we can save more money.
  5. We got word that my senior won another scholarship for her fall semester.  We won’t know the total until the scholarship ceremony.  Every cent counts.

What did you do to save this week?

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Frugal Living, Homesteading

I Know How To Can

I decided that it was time to check another thing off of my 2020 goals list and taught myself how to can last weekend.  I learned that it is not nearly as hard as I thought it would be and not nearly as scary.  It happens to be very easy and the final result was tasty jam and jelly.

I decided to start with a free product.  So, I picked the dandelions in my front yard and made the number one thing that I see pop up this time of year on the facebook homesteading blogs I follow, dandelion jelly.  The final product was a delicious jelly that tastes a lot like honey.  I will probably never make it again.  It’s very labor intensive because the dandelions have to be picked and then the petals pulled off.  It took a very long time.   It did give me a valuable learning experience though.  I was able to teach myself, without the fear of ruining perfectly good food, like strawberries.

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Dandelion jelly.  I know that the rings are rusty, I bought new ones.

Yesterday, I went to a coworkers house and picked rhubarb that she was giving away.  I decided that would provide another valuable learning experience without much of a financial investment.  This was very easy jam to make, as it took a fraction of the time the dandelion took.  That includes that commute time halfway across Milwaukee and back for the rhubarb.   The result is delicious.  I hear it tastes great with cheese, I can’t wait to find out.

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With strawberry season coming up, I plan on making a big batch of strawberry jam.  At that point, I should be ready to preserve that garden bounty.  Fingers crossed that we have a better garden season this year than we did last year.  Have you acquired new skills or hobbies during your time at home?

Recipes

Bread Machine Sandwich Bread

I finally did it!  I perfected my bread machine recipe.  It took so much trial and error.  Loaves of bread were turned into french toast, bread crumbs and barely tolerated as I tried to figure why I could not get it rise perfectly.  Eric, our family bread maker, tried to give my advice, which I refused.  I wanted to do it on my own.  Last night, I pulled out of the bread machine a beautiful and tasty loaf of bread.  With the help of  many websites, I have my recipe.

Bread Machine Sandwich Bread

1 1/2 cup whey (I used the whey from our homemade yogurt)

3 tbsp honey

3 tbsp butter

3 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

2 1/4 tsp yeast

Warm the whey, honey and butter to 110 degrees, make sure the butter is melted.  I used the microwave, but the stovetop would work to.  I used our candy thermometer to closely monitor that temperature.  Put the liquid in your bread machine.  Add the flour, salt and yeast.  Use the whole wheat setting on the bread machine.  This is a longer cycle, but it worked best for me.

I use a bread machine because I am not one of those people who find kneading bread soothing.  Honestly, I am just not that patient.  I wish I were.  The bread machine gives me the best of both worlds.  Homemade bread without the elbow grease.

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Is it just me or the weeks flying by faster then ever?  I don’t get it, it seems like they should be crawling along.  Here is our frugal round up for this week.

  1. Our auto insurance premium went down 15% for May.  With things opening up, I predict that by June we will be paying our regular premium.
  2. We made a lot of homemade food this week.  On the list was hummus, yogurt, bread,  bread crumbs, rhubarb crisp, salad dressing and soup.  I have all the ingredients for homemade corn tortillas.  I plan on trying to make a batch this weekend.  We have reached a point where no food can go to waste.  We have plenty and I know, grocery stores remain open.  But, the reality is that the food supply chain is going to have some problems.  We all need to be aware and get back to from scratch cooking, if possible.
  3. We have garden fresh asparagus!
  4. I signed up for another audiobook service through the library.  It’s called Hoopla.  Check to see if your library has it.  You can get books, movies and music for free.  The books are recent and no wait.
  5. The 2020 bees have arrived.  We will have two hives this year.  As always, we hope for lots of honey.  But the real reason Eric cares for the bees is to save them.  Now more than ever, they are at risk.  News of the murder hornet could have been saved until the plague subsided.

It is important for me to note that while I continue to try to save where possible, I have been spending more than I normally do at local businesses.  They need us now.  While we have not done take out, I have purchased in other areas.  Those businesses include a local soap maker, a local olive oil store, a distillery, florist, bakery, pretzel company, ice cream store (2), grocery co-op, a CSA, spring roll store, yarn store, book store and local artisans.  This money stays in my community and helps my neighbors.  Sure, I have also done a fair share of spending on Amazon (which I know is terrible) and Chewy.com, this spending proves that I have work to do on keeping my dollars local.  I will continue to do what I can.  I know that this will be over and while life will likely never return to the normal that we are used to, it might turn out to be better than what we had.

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