Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

I can’t believe that this is the last Friday in January. 2021 seems to be flying by even faster than 2020. Today I will be taking my youngest back to school to resume her freshman year of college. My oldest is searching for a job since graduation and my middle child has already started her second semester. Before you know it, summer will be here and my nest will be 2/3 full, yet again. We were able to keep things pretty frugal this week.

  1. I did not have to go to the grocery store for anything this week. We have a major food stockpile, acquired when we feared the worst during the pandemic. Getting through our stockpile instead of grocery shopping is not an option. But, we are no longer panic buying either.
  2. When cleaning out drawers, I found several unused giftcards! What a nice surprise. McDonalds (which I will only use for ice cream), Penzey’s and Applebee’s cards were all found with a balance.
  3. Much to my husband’s horror (he’s in IT security), I sign up for all the frequent shopper programs out there for free stuff. I used some Pottery Barn cash back for a set of beautiful pillow shams for our bed.
  4. I signed up for a one month free trial of audible (again). A Promised Land by Barack Obama needed to be read to me by the author. My Obama crush is real.
  5. This final one…..I don’t know if comes from being frugal. Or the fact that my husband is one of the most stubborn and focused human beings I know. My daughter’s car got stuck in snow and it seemed that it would likely be there until spring. It was that bad. I was ready to call a tow truck and pay to have the car removed. After 2 hours, several flattened boxes, tools I didn’t know existed and sheer will power, that car was moved. He absolutely would not pay to have it towed. He is paying the price this morning though, as every muscle in his body hurts.

So that’s it for this week. My lists just are not what they used to be since we can’t go anywhere. I always love the research it takes to find entertainment and such for free. I have hope those days will return and before you know it, I will be eating a delicious dinner in a restaurant again.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

What a week this was! To say I am happy, ecstatic and relieved would be an understatement. There is an adult in the White House again and while things will not improve over night, I no longer fear a 2:00 am twitter temper tantrum is going to bring on WW3. To top it off, my parents are getting vaccinated today. I feel like I won the lottery. It will still be a long time for me, but the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to shine brighter with each passing day.

It’s been awhile since I did a Frugal Friday, but thought today would be a good day to go through what we have done to save some cash.

  1. I have 2 pair of jeans that had some holes in them. In the past, I am ashamed to say, I would just toss them. I actually repaired them with patches and my trusty iron. I never trusted my repair skills enough to try to fix clothing that I would wear in public. But, the patches are barely noticeable and I save 2 pair of pants.
  2. I have a wholesale membership with Doterra and I have a friend with a wholesale membership with Shaklee. We have started to trade goods. With Doterra I get a lot of free product. She likes certain oils, so I swap with her for cleaning products. So far it has been a serious win win. I know Doterra is expensive, but I buy the vitamins and probiotics which I have found to be higher quality than those you find at the drugstore. The oils are fun, but not the motivation for the membership. I get a few “free” oils every month and I just don’t need them.
  3. With the exception of my daughter’s birthday this month, we have eaten every single meal at home. No takeout of any kind. Sometimes I feel bad because I know those restaurants need us. But, during this pandemic, I have come to prefer my own cooking. When we can actually go to a restaurant, I will be up for restaurant food again.
  4. I bought the ingredients for homemade face moisturizer. I am going to give it a try. Stay tuned for a review.
  5. I have been using the library more than ever. I use Hoopla and Libby, provided to me by the library, for audiobooks. We have been checking out movies, books and a hotspot on a weekly basis. According to the final 2020 receipt, we had saved over $12,000. I think that number is higher when you take into account extras, for say the movies. If we were to go to the theatre we would also buy snacks. We probably would have eaten out first and possible went out for drinks after. I also check out cookbooks first, before buying one that I have my eye on. More than a couple have been eliminated from my to buy list.

What did you do to start the year off frugally?


It’s Almost Over

Four years ago today, I was packing up my car for a cross country journey that would take me to Washington D.C. My friend, daughter and daughter’s friends felt that we needed to make our voices heard as our beloved country handed off the presidency to a madman. We needed to march and chant and make sure that the powers that be, knew that while Trump won, he won be dividing Americans. We would not be silenced. I am so proud that we took that trip. The memories I made with my daughter, teaching her that as Americans we had the right to march, to protest and to be mad as hell, will be with me always.

The trip was so much fun. I knew that people were planning on attending. But, I had no idea that the interstate from Wisconsin to Maryland would be full of cars, filled with women, wearing their pink hats in solidarity. For that weekend, strangers from all over were friends and determined to make their voices heard. It was breathtaking. I still get goosebumps when I think about how many people there were on that highway. When we got to the march though, the volume of people was unimaginable. Just taking the subway to D.C. from Maryland was the equivalent of cramming sardines into a very small tin. The message was clear, half of America was not happy. We showed up to make our voices heard.

Once we got to D.C., we listened to the countless women, speak. They told their stories. Alicia Keyes performed Girl On Fire, Scarlett Johansson gave an inspiring speech and then we marched. We marched to the White House, hundreds of thousands of us, through the streets of D.C. We laughed, we chanted and we sang. It also became clear that what started out as a Women’s March had evolved into so much more. There were gay couples there marching for their right to marry. There were environmentalists marching for our planet. There were even nuns and Amish there, marching for peace. It was inspiring.

All that being said, I am sooooooo happy I don’t have to do it again. Tomorrow, Joe Biden will be inaugurated and what has felt like a four year nightmare, can start to come to a conclusion. The last four years have been terrifying as Trump unravels so many protections that came before him. Depressing as we have seen families and friends and torn apart by him. His form governing is to whine via twitter and has taken name calling and humiliating those who work for him into an art form. He is a national disgrace and I am so glad it’s almost over.

I took the day off of work tomorrow to watch the inauguration, drink mimosas and thank God that 4 years of hell are coming to an end. It is almost over.

Family Life

Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

I am currently writing my latest blog post from the comfort of my bedroom. Alone. In isolation. On New Year’s Eve at 3:00 pm, the dumpster fire that was 2020 decided to give me one final blow. The dreaded “you have been exposed” phone call. It felt like a punch to the gut. We actually had plans! At home, but we were going to get sushi, watch Scarface and ring in the new year. Together. I started to cry, gathered what I needed and headed to my bedroom. What a fitting way to say good bye to a shit year.

Mind you, I am taking precautions for the love of my family, but I am exceedingly careful and do not believe that I have COVID. As a textbook rule follower, not isolating after such a phone call was just not an option. So, I sit and read. I have journaled. I some how managed to get 10,000 steps in yesterday, in my bedroom. I did some yoga and meditation. My bathroom closet has never been cleaner and all my drawers are organized. I watched a shit ton of really bad movies and enjoyed some of the British mysteries I love. I found that the 85 year old woman from the library who has been begging me to watch Silent Witness for the last 3 years was not lying! It’s great television. Not to mention a much younger and very handsome Mr. Bates (Downton Abbey) makes an appearance. I am officially hooked.

All of this time alone has also had me thinking about all I want to accomplish in 2021. I started 2020 with so many plans, most that had to be back burnered. I found myself just letting things go because, well COVID. We all had an excuse to set stuff aside. But, maybe it is time to take a second look at what I had planned. Or better yet, make a new list that fits my needs for what is bound to be another unpredictable year.

  1. Spend less time on my phone, FB, Instagram. Technology in general. I have actually made progress with the less FB. The algorithm that has been set for me gives me a really boring feed. I don’t feel compelled to check it often, because it’s the same stuff. I do like Instagram because of the pictures though. I follow a lot of homesteading sites and the photos of people’s farms, home projects and animals have me hooked.
  2. Limit some toxic relationships. There are a couple people in my life who are not great for me. That is not to say that they are not great people, they are. I just find that it is ok to say “this is not working and not everyone needs to spend time together.” I know that sounds harsh, but life is simply too short.
  3. I need to walk the dogs more. A lot more. We have golden retrievers and golden retrievers need a lot of exercise to stay sane and normal. Every time they eat a non food item, which is surprisingly often, I have to remind myself whose fault that is. Ours. A bored dog is a curious dog. More walks. They also need to be socialized a lot more. When the world returns to normal, we are going to have a lot of anti social dogs who have not seen other people or been alone for any amount of time. Again, through no fault of their own.
  4. Expand my canning from water to pressure. I would like to can green beans that are not pickled. Summer 2021 will be my next step in preserving our bounty.
  5. Continue with my daily walks and expand that to walks in my local park. We have a gorgeous park with trails that seem to go on forever. In the fall it feels like a walk through a Disney forest. I will not take the dogs there. Too many scents and they go in opposite directions.
  6. I want to have a summer party to celebrate my daughter’s high school graduation, son’s college graduation and life returning to normal. I am so very optimistic that come summer, we can at the very least have a small gathering to celebrate some milestones that were set aside.
  7. Date night is back on the goals list. We started out strong and then let it fizzle. I realized that we can have date night at home. Just unplug, get some take out and watch a movie or do a puzzle. This absolutely has to be a weekly thing.

I think that is about it, for now. I am going to allow myself to just take the next several months as they come. I do see a light at the end of tunnel and do believe that 2021 will be so much better. What are your goals for this new year.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

  1. I roasted a chicken on Saturday. I turned the bones into chicken stock and was able to get two dishes out of the chicken, which in turn became leftovers for lunch. I made chicken noodle soup and white chicken chili. I even sent some home with my son for lunch later in the week.
  2. I turned some overripe bananas into banana cake. I try to make a nice dessert on Sundays when we have family dinner night. I got the recipe from the cookbook Scandikitchen: Fika and Hygge. I know, the whole hygge thing is really gimmicky. But, I like the desserts, candles and cozy pictures. Again, we had way too much leftover cake, so my son was able to take some home.
  3. I went through the refrigerator on Saturday and threw all the vegetables that were looking funky into a crockpot and made vegetable stock. Our CSA keeps sending odd looking Asian root vegetables. I am an adventurous eater. But sometimes, you just have to accept that no matter how you try, that particular vegetable will not work in stir fry.
  4. Went to a local treasure, Holy Hill, on Saturday to hike with my daughter. The price of admission is free and view is spectacular. Free entertainment exists, you just have to look for it.
  5. We had a little plumbing issue. My husband knows how to fix just about anything and was able to replace the leaking pipes himself. When you are able DIY, it’s the way to go in order to save money.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

The weeks are going by so fast! Halloween is in a week. My son turns 23 in two weeks. My youngest comes home from college in 5 weeks for winter break. I can’t believe how fast it’s going.

I am already thinking about Thanksgiving. It will just be immediate family this year. I am thinking that a turkey breast will be the best route. We do not need a 20 pound turkey for four people. Not to mention, we do not have the freezer space. I do love the smell of Thanksgiving though. There is nothing else like it. I am going to spend the next few weeks putting my menu together. Knowing that my nest will be full for a few short hours. Masks will be required though.

Now on to our money saving wins for the week.

  1. We took advantage of another free library program presented on zoom. In the spirit of Halloween, the presentation was on paranormal events in the Milwaukee area. I have always heard that the Pfister Hotel has a ghost, I wanted to find out for sure. The answer is, nobody really knows.
  2. I have been taking advantage of grocery delivery. I just don’t feel comfortable going out and about again. I did for awhile. But, I live in Wisconsin and we are pretty much ground zero for this virus right now. Home and work are the only places I will go. On to the point of the grocery delivery. I use Whole Foods for delivery. I know, normally uber expensive. But, with my Prime membership, delivery is free and I buy sale and 365 brand. With the purchase of a 365 frozen pizza for $2.00, you get a $3.00 credit for a Prime video purchase. We plan on using that apply toward the Borat sequel tomorrow night. Any movie that puts Rudy Giuliani in a bad light is something I can get behind. I don’t even need a discount code. I compared Instacart and Whole Foods delivery and Whole Foods was about $10 less for the same food.
  3. I made a huge batch of apple butter in the crockpot. It made the house smell amazing. I might have eaten some of the apples before blending them into apple butter for a tasty afternoon snack.
  4. With my 21 year old daughter living at home, she has taken over some of the cooking. She is a vegetarian and choses meals that are plant based, saving us money. Honestly, she is proving to be a pretty good cook. I have been picking up vegan cookbooks for her at the library and she uses them to meal plan. We are both off of work on Thursday. On my day off, she does the cooking because it’s her day off. It allows me to catch up on other things without worrying about meal planning.
  5. We had our water pump recharged and will have our furnace checked next week. Maintaining these items by having them checked annually will save you money. We have lived in our house 20 years and the water pump is still going strong because we have it recharged every 18 months. We have our septic pumped every 6 months. It costs $165, but beats the cost of $25,000 to have it replaced without proper maintenance.

That’s it for us. What have you done this week to save money?

Family Life

2020 Goals Update

  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.
    • I continue to be on the high end of normal. 
  2. Lose 20 pounds.
    • Slowly losing
  3. Continue to get 10,000 steps a day in.
    • I have been a rockstar at this one.
  4. Go to the gym 3 days per week.
    • My membership at my gym remains frozen.
  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 am crushing this goal.  I make every meal at home right now so I am able to achieve this every day.
  6. Try to start trying to meditate at least 2 or 3 days per week.
    • My fitbit app now has meditate as a weekly goal. I am sticking to it.
  7. Get back into the yoga habit.
    • Nope
  8. Cut down on the alcohol.
    • Accomplished
  9.  Pay off the house.  We had every intention of paying it off December 31.  A couple of unexpected expenses put that on hold.
    • DONE!
  10. Read 110 books in 2020.
    • Two more to go and done
  11. Read 3 classic books this year.
    • My number of classics stays at two.
  12. More dates with my husband.
    • Since we don’t go anywhere, we have designated Friday night, movie night.
  13. We have a membership to the Milwaukee Art Museum that I plan on utilizing a lot more this year.
    • There’s always next year or the year after.
  14. Spend more time outdoors.
    • This has been easy to do.
  15. Throw away 20 items per day.
    • Done
  16. More no spend days.
    • This is easy.  I have been trying to purchase from local businesses right now to help them out.
  17. Spend more time with my friends.
    • I have been doing Zoom chats on a regular basis.
  18. Finish a knitting project I started in November and start and finish another.
    • Done
  19. Learn how to can!
    • Boy did I learn how to can. I canned nearly 200 jars of food this year.
  20. Go on 2 weekend getaways with my husband.
    • Maybe we can do this in 2022.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Time to go through our list of savings this week. Number one is something we have been working towards for literally decades. Here we go:

  1. We paid off the house! As of Thursday, October 15, 2020, we are no longer slaves to our mortgage. I got up early, drove to the bank to get that required cashiers check for final payment. The banker waived our fee and sent it overnight UPS for free. I honestly cannot describe the feeling of actually being able to say “the house is paid off”, but it’s remarkable.
  2. I keep saying, use your library. Our library has started offering “Make Its” to do at home. The cost is free and they provide the supplies to make a craft at home. Last night we made cute Halloween candle holders. All I needed to supply was 2 glass jars and a paint brush. Instruction was done via Zoom. It’s not the same as in person, but beggars can’t be choosers and I need to start participating in life again.
  3. The bees produced honey! Not enough for us to sell, but enough for us for the year. Fingers are crossed that next year will produce enough to sell to more than a few people who have asked.
  4. I took advantage of Amazon Prime Days. I bought a hydroponic garden to grow lettuce and tomatoes this winter. I am not a fan of winter tomatoes, shipped here from South America. My hope is to be able to have fresh tomatoes to at the very least put on salad. It was on sale for $85. I had $10 in prime dollars from Whole Foods and $10 from the purchase of a $40 gift card. So, the total for me was close to $30.
  5. I love those corny fall signs that everyone is selling, but I believe they are overpriced. My husband made one for me with the CNC machine in the basement. I love it.

The holidays are quickly approaching and I am trying to figure out how we are going to do that with social distancing still being the safest way to go. I hate the idea of missing out on these special occasions without family. I am thinking maybe doing it via zoom. That might be our only choice.

I am beyond worried about the election. No matter who wins, I predict that there will be social unrest in the US. Every time I think we can’t go any lower, we do. I am going to take advantage of early voting in my state next week so that I can avoid the lines and people on election day. Please vote if you are in the US. This is the single most important election in my lifetime. The world will be watching. We can decide if we want to preserve our democracy.

What did you do this week to save some pennies?

Not pretty, but so much fun to make
Fresh Honey
Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Here is a list of things we have been doing to save money the last few weeks.

  1. The garden is closed. I spent weeks upon weeks either blanching, chopping, freezing, canning or dehydrating this year’s bounty. I have heard a lot of people say that they did not have good luck gardening this year. I honestly think this was our best year yet. I currently have about 170 jars of preserved food and a freezer full. I am grateful to the soil and sunshine that made this year such a success.
  2. Last week, one of our chickens disappeared. I was concerned, as we have just a few coyotes around and once I actually found a fox sleeping under a tree in our yard. My husband on the other hand refused to believe the worst. A couple days went by and Frog (that’s her name) reappeared for a meal only to disappear again. This went on for a couple more days. Finally, Eric decided to really give the yard a thorough look over. What would you know, Frog had built herself a nest under the electric meter and she had 21 eggs! She was brooding, hoping that she could mother some little chicks of her own. Since we don’t have a rooster, that was never going to happen. With the predator wildlife all around us, she needed to go back to her coop. She was either the luckiest chicken ever or she was definitely living on borrowed time. So, with some ingenuity and courage, Eric moved that girl back to the coop and brought the eggs inside. She is pissed to say the least and has been ranting and raving for a couple days. The other chickens, who have spent the last 2 years tormenting her, are a little scared and huddled together in a corner, just letting her do her thing. Moral of the story, we got nearly 2 dozen, organic eggs.
Fresh eggs

3. I signed up for the 2021 season for Sitka Salmon Shares and saved $50 by committing early. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge savings, but it is money saved for something I was going to do anyway.

4. I got my flu shot. Flu shots are free with most insurance and worth the effort. I know some people don’t believe in them. I on the other hand am a firm believer. I opted out of the flu shot once in 2003. I spent Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve that year on my deathbed vowing never again. I get that shot like clockwork, every single year.

5. I cashed in some credit card points as statement credits. It’s amazing how fast those points add up and how much money they can become.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

It’s been a while, that doesn’t mean I fell of the frugal wagon. Just super busy, even with nothing being open. My youngest is in the dorms at her college. It was such a bittersweet day. She had been waiting so long to go to college and it isn’t the experience her siblings had. I should be grateful that as a rule follower she won’t go to parties and will leave her mask on. BUT, I sure loved those college parties. I hope that she will be able to do that next year. Otherwise, fall is in the air. My autumn candles are out and on Sunday, the autumn decor will come out as well. On to savings:

  1. I know I have mentioned that I enter every single social media contest I can, for free stuff. I won again a few weeks ago. A $53 gift certificate to Milwaukee Pretzel Company. To say their pretzels are sublime would be an understatement. I am planning an Oktoberfest feast with the family, the pretzels will be the masterpiece.
  2. I have been canning and freezing as much as I can from the garden and CSA. I counted the jars yesterday. 134 jars of salsa, pasta sauce, tomatoes, relishes, jams, pizza sauce, pickles and fruits preserved. The freezer is packed solid with corn, peppers, carrots and peas. I probably sound crazy, but I am not confident in our food supply right now. Especially if Trumpkin wins again.
  3. My sister in law works at the farm that we get our CSA from. We did a little trade last weekend. We got a box full of red peppers and box full of corn on the cob.
  4. I used a coupon from Walgreens for 60% off a canvas print. I had a picture of my kids and parents developed on canvas and framed. I will treasure it always.
  5. We paid the final college tuition payment for our oldest. I am very proud to say that he will graduate in December, debt free. With the help of a 529 plan, generous grandparents and his consistent contribution every semester, he did it.

What did you do recently to save some pennies?