Friday, February 17, 2017

Week of the mundane (Feb 15th)

I am going to apologize in advance that there will be no photos in this post. Best intentions...
Please use your vivid imaginations where needed.

My big accomplishment for the week- I joked I cried 3 rivers. Today would have/is her birthday. In 6 days it will be the 2nd anniversary since she passed. 10 days ago, an adoption was started and 7 days ago the adoption fell through. Everything worked out the way it was supposed to (really & truly), and I might be indulging in a little extra sugar consumption (homemade marshmallows, with a swipe of PB dipped in dark chocolate).

I have been continuing work on my quilt blocks and have 4 done. Each will need to be trimmed down and I established that will be 18”(each). I am thinking 6 blocks will be plenty, spaced with some white (a thrifted bed sheet). This started as a gift for my uncle, but I am getting a bit attached so it will probably replace a quilt for the tv room. Since then I have spied a simpler quilt design for my uncle using fabric I have on hand.

Speaking of gifts, I’d gladly take any suggestions handmade gifts for men and 13 year old twin boys. I think I have already given the best ideas I have.

The dollar and penny challenge – are indeed a challenge. But I am sticking with according to the rules I set. My amusement of it is, I do need to spend something to get the change to actually place into the allotted containers. More than a few times it was a challenge to scour up 36/etc. cents since I really had no need to spend. I am driven to stick with it for commitment sake. Commitment and creativity I think are the 2 staples to live a well rounded frugal life. Maybe that is why frugality fails in my age group.

I visited my pay by the pound treasure trove and found 4 cashmere sweaters. They needed very minimal TLC and for a dollar a piece netted me $24 total. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. Isn’t that the truth.

Until next time…enjoy this day, and tomorrow and the next.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Week of the mundane (Feb 8th)

Hello again!
I am noticing a  trend with my favorite blogs this week - frugality vs. stingy. I am wondering is there an outbreak of stinginess? Are we feeling influenced by friends or media - as in frugality is still a word synonymous with stingy? Or is it a case of it is February, and as of today it is 40 days until spring? I get the message is “always be better, bigger..” but to me it seems those following that are not really happy. The tell tale of worry is written all over their faces. Why do some continue to subject themselves with that lifestyle? I read a Dear Prudence this week, where the letter writer wanted to know what she had done wrong by telling her friend she couldn’t afford to be a bridesmaid in the friend’s wedding due to the lavish expenses. The bride stopped talking to the friend. Oh how I wish I would have said that to a few brides.
This past week, going out with friends, prior to going out, I set a price limit and then checked out the online menu for options. I picked 2, that way I could be a little whimsical without the deer in head lights feeling, orders to expensive and now I have these leftovers loaded with calories and guilt.
It worked out well. I don't think my friends knew I was on a budget. A few years back I had let them know my money was tight, only to be given unnecessary pity and advice. There I messed up not being able to properly focus while instead focused on getting defensive. I know too many people who don’t have 2 nickels to rub together but insist on showing the world money is no object. The Mister and I will most likely be caring for some of these people as they get older. Maybe people learn best from watching instead of listening?

And now off on another subject. This soup.
Office elegance.

This soup, I did not have the highest hope for, other than a vessel to get nutrition and it was pennies to make.
I was wrong. This soup is my favorite soup. I never had a soup that I wanted to eat every day; lunch time is like Christmas morning. We had it on a night where I was pretty sure I was coming down with the flu. I think between this soup and the few tablespoons of Elderberry syrup, I woke the next morning feeling like a freshly opened flower.

This soup - you will need:
5-8 cups homemade chicken/turkey stock (it is a brothy soup with 8 cups)
1-2 cups chopped, shredded, cubed cooked chicken/turkey (this could be omitted)
2-3 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (they will retain their shape after it is done cooking)
28 oz diced tomatoes and its juice
1-2 cups corn (if using canned corn - you don't need to drain first)
3-8 cloves minced garlic (I do love garlic)
1TBS Cumin
1 TBS Oregano
1 TBS Chili Powder

Dump all into your Crockpot. Set on low for 6-8 hours. Refresh with more spices if you wish and serve.
This soup is quite delightful with a piece of corn bread.

I found this vintage leather clutch? Dop bag? with the zipper torn at the pay by the pound treasure trove.

So this week I am slowly wearing off the skin on my fingers of my prominent hand  hand stitching a new zipper in place. I will use it as a clutch. I like its attitude - sturdy, and feminine.

Until next time, stay kind and beautiful!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Week of the mundane (Jan 22)

Hello lovelies!

The Mister went on his annual golf trip which allowed me to have "fortress of solitude". With a list 12" long of all the little things I have been meaning to get to, I was set to be entertained. Cleaning and purging, donations to thrift stores, thrift stores for some new stuff, some sewing, some reading, a totally depressing documentary worth watching...
One night after work, I went and hunted for Ebay items (to sell).  Afterwards it was after 7 pm and I all of a sudden realized I was hungry. There was Qdoba near - at this point I would have ate in the car. Queso and driving do not mix. So instead I let the stomach grumble the ride home and 5 minutes after putting a pot on the stove, I had my own home made queso. The beautiful picture of that cheese for some reason won't load here - but I hope you can imagine the prettiest and tastiest melted cheese. I could have spent $6 - could have when I had all the ingredients at home to make my own. It is awesome through reading, gleaning and learning from these is good.

All in total 3 car trips with the back of my car loaded with donations - except for that fake ficus (someday).
And I brought back 3 small bags of new to me entertainment. One store had fill a plastic bag of home decorating books for a dollar. These I am pursuing and tearing out pages. I scored these rhinestone dangles for a dollar!

I think I will look so pretty wearing these beauties while dusting, mopping the floor or for our annual NYC trip, since I like to get get gussied up for the shows.

I worked on another quilt square. I am hoping to get 6 of them made. And I decided this one I will keep for me. Worked embroidery stitches until my fingers hurt.

When I have my fortress of solitude vacations I have these ideas of ordering in, and usually I do get one treat - this time though, I stuck with cooking for one. I roasted a small chicken one night. good.
I saved the pan drippings - let cool and then skimmed/strained the fat. This small half cup of broth flavored a pot of rice. Hard to believe I would have tossed that liquid flavor 2 years ago. I wish everyone would see the treasures right in front of them.

Until next time - Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This will do.

Happy Wednesday!
I am forgoing the week of the mundane mostly because it was very, very mundane. So mundane, I didn't think to take pictures.
Anyway - a few weeks ago a friend posted that they were going to spend 2017 and no longer accept "This will do.". How I can relate. Why should it always do? Jen, I said to myself, do what you want (responsibly/practical of course). Fists pounding my chest, an extra work out in for the day, and a small glass of wine poured - this was going to be the start of the year of "I want to do it this way!" It's a lovely idea.

This box, strong and sturdy. I like it simply for that.
But it isn't too attractive. Lets cover it in twine. Wow - that would look great - especially placed on my bookcase holding my little thank you labels (used for Ebay). People will think I bought something so pretty.
A spool of twine costs $7.50. For a week, I procrastinated going to the local hardware to get the spool.
Then my check engine light came on, my windshield wiper squirter stopped working on the one side, and a few other unexpected things broke, wore out.
That $7.50 was needed else where (Yay! said no one.) I might have gotten a little pouty. After all this was going to be doing it this way I envisioned it.
And then I remembered I had this.
An assortment of handmade paper scraps. Fly me across the country and my souvenir t shirt comes in the form of paper scraps. Granted, it wasn't modernist twine but...
Decoupaged beauty! I adore it.
It will do.
Long live 2017 - the year of "It will do".

Until next time...Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Mundane (week of Jan 18th)

Hello again!

I started off Saturday like a wild hare. I needed to top in at a house I cat sit for. The owner is really nice and we are slowly starting to become friends. She seemed a little off when I spoke to her Friday, so 8 AM Saturday,  I am making a batch of scratch brownies. Mostly for us, and a third for her (I can't keep track of peoples food choices). She and I started talking a little more and now we have a social date planned. Maybe I found the antidote to my social awkwardness. Just make a batch of brownies.
In case you are in need of making a friend - here is the recipe.

Preheat oven to 325 F
Melt a stick of butter in a pot (small is perfect) on low.
Once melted add:
1 cup sugar
1/2  cup cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate chips
a generous pinch of salt

Stir well for about 2 minutes until the chips melt.
Remove the pot from the heat, and let cool for about 2 minutes.
Once cool add:
2 eggs (stir well after each egg)
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1/2 cup flour
Stir well again.

Pour batter into an 8x8 cake pan and bake for 30 minutes. These are like fudge and cake melded together. If you are going for presentation and want to plate, I recommend lining the cake pan with parchment paper.

There would be a picture of these - but we seriously ate this batch in one day. I don't feel guilty.

Since I am on what I think is the tightest budget ever (that dollar challenge is already becoming a challenge). I best get to making things for Christmas.
Embroidered  pouches copied from the Sundance catalog. Good thing is these are completely up cycled. Heavy weight cotton from pants, floss is left over from a previous kit, zipper rescued from a previous project that no longer is.
The beginnings of a quilt from dress shirts that had a worn cuffs, or that mystery stain that won't budge. 
And finally, after 15 years of protest, I finally got the Mister to want to eat cooked cabbage. I joke with him, had he been more honest about his vegetable dislikes, we might not be married. To give credit - he keeps trying. There was a cabbage stir fry that involved hot sauce and he went back for seconds. I got a little misty. He might have negotiated to eat cooked cabbage in exchange for never eating another beet. Weirdo. 

Stay warm, dry and happy - until next time.

Monday, January 16, 2017


Happy Monday everyone!
Every new year there are articles after articles on how to save money. I always read them hoping for gem - something that I could do. Since I don't buy drinks, eat out much. I don't get my hair professionally treated (Nice and Easy), I cook from scratch and we don't a lot of meat. I did lower the heat/cooling for the house and now I feel there isn't anything left.
And before you say it - I shop at a place where you pay $1.19 per pound for clothing. 90% of my current wardrobe has costed me $28.00.
So what else can I do?
I admit, I don't make much at my family owned job (there are perks that help balance this out) and I subsidize by selling on Ebay. In a few months, I will have Ebay only.

My only real concern is having savings for when we get older. It is just the 2 of us.
And so I spied 2 separate challenges. They seemed do-able considering what cash I have to work with.
Challenge one -
Pennies a day. For each day of the year you add pennies to a jar. So on December 31st - one would add $3.65 to a jar. If done successfully - there will be a savings of over $650.
tomorrows contribution (the dime I found on a walk)

So far, I am connecting to my inner child with an advent calendar. Each night counting out what is needed and then adding it in the morning. I feel this one will work.

The second was found on Pinterest. The 52 week challenge. Same premise, a dollar for each number week (December 31st would be $52 dollar contribution). If followed successfully a savings of over $1700.
This one I am approaching a bit differently than what they stated. Come October, money is hard to hold onto for me. So the third week of February when I do have a "spare" $52 not needed I will add it then and when the 3rd week of October hits, add a $7 contribution. I've been crossing it off as I go. If I didn't do it my way, I would fail.

I will do updates. Who knows at the end of these 2 challenges - I might just go and treat myself to one of those fancy coffees (no I won't).

Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Mundane (week of Jan 11th) with a side of soup!

Hello all!

I decided to mix things up a little and have chips and salsa for my mid morning snack instead of popcorn. Bit crazy, I know. A usual serving of tortilla chips is about 9-11 chips. I think it should really be 20-25. BUT I stuck hard to the serving size recommended anyway.

Since I was feeling so bold with my snack choice, I finally took my brand new pressure caner out of its box. I had saved Bing points to trade in for Amazon gift cards to buy this sweet piece of metal for free. It arrived the week I got sick and has been sitting and waiting patiently.
An opportunity to get caught up on reading.
My first solo experience was chicken and vegetable soup. It went pretty well. The last 10 minutes, the pressure wanted to go back and forth, but all and all not scary, not intimidating and I have dinner made for 7 nights when I don't feel like cooking. I opted for this canner, due to its comments/ratings on being good for a glass top stove. I actually broke the glass top of our previous stove top recently from water bath canning. If your pot has a wet bottom, it can create a little vacuum and break the glass. Now I know.
One quick note. At the end of canning I smelled the soup. I was concerned I had a broken jar or one that leaked all over or worse. When it was safe to open, it looked like 2 had leaked a little but still sealed. I wish there was a note out on the interwebs about smelling what you can might not be a catastrophe since no one I knew who cans was up at midnight.

It has also been a week of cleaning, organizing and such. I have large quantities of fabric from a previous venture. I re measured and tagged and then donated. Oh what a weight gone. There was a bit of debate whether I should list on Ebay - mostly because of my upcoming "retirement" but I just had this feeling if I wouldn't have let go that day, it would have stayed. Such a fine line.
While not bundling the fabric, shedding a few tears over items tossed that are of no value except their memories. I took a metal hook that had a flat rectangle plate attached to it and covered it with felt flowers. I think I have had this hook through 3 moves - just for this purpose.
Meanwhile, outside there is an ice storm
What finally made it happen? Spending several hundred dollars to ship boxes of opened holiday gifts across the country to their recipients whom are family (and they thought they would save shipping instead of checking). They are totally worth it but not twice - ha!. I never had a shipping bill be so high. A small hook and gift cards can't cost that much to ship back next year - right?

And I sewed 2 pillow cases, where I measured 3 times, cut once and by sheer luck the cases fit (I measured 3 times, wrong).

I was going to write about trust issues and people just being mean and then thought why give them more time. Life is to precious to be angry and too short to be annoyed.

Until next time - be good to yourself and have a wonderful week!