View Full Version : July Frugals

7-3-11, 10:38am
So...July has been sort of unfrugal for us. We went to the movies last night and ate tons of snacks :-) I also took DH shopping yesterday and bought him a few comic books. These were both budgeted expenses, though--the movie came out of our date fund and the comics came out of my allowance (which I never, ever spend except on DH ;) ) I did use a coupon for 30% off for the comics, which helped. After that, DH took me window shopping, but I didn't buy anything else. I was just glad to be out of the house. My doctor told me to stay out of the heat, so I pretty much just stayed home all week since it was 90+ every day. I enjoyed being out and about for a bit!

Today lunch will be at my dad's. Tomorrow we are having some friends over for a BBQ. We are supplying the meat and drinks; they are bringing the sides. We have hamburger meat, hot dogs, and buns in the freezer, and I think I will make some sweet tea to drink. That is inexpensive and easy!

7-3-11, 10:59am
July 03
So far it is only 11:00 am but, so far 3 no spend, no drive nothing days, too hot and humid and bad air quailty to be out much so just been hanging out in the house or out in the shade.
--still eating down and going to try again...lol...to not buy much food this month, we will see how that works
--getting ripen cherry tomatoes already and the herbs I planted are doing really well
--rolled coins yesterday to take to bank they are not earning or saving me anything sitting here
--all spreadsheets up to date--this is a big one for me because then I know were we stand and how we are doing--makes me want to spend less

7-3-11, 5:58pm
Ds is required to help in the restaurant from time to time. IE: he mops the dining room for mom on sat. and sun. This weekend he was required to hang out more and help. Usually he helps wash dishes for 15-20 min spurts and acts as a gopher for the cooks. This weekend I agreed to pay him $20 allowance instead of his usual $5 to be my personal helper and bus boy. He worked so hard and did so much better than I ever expected him to! If you remember, I was complaining earlier this spring that he had developed a bit of a lazy streak. He did so well this weekend that he made $13 in tips on top of mom's $20. He plans on saving it for "something good". He was much cheaper than adding an employee to the schedule that's for sure!

We really haven't spent much for the past few days. I did buy snacky stuff a couple of times and the sunday paper but no more than $20 all weekend.

I also rolled the jar of change we had sitting around. $70 in all.

We all swam last night for awhile. Temps were in the 90's. The guys are out there now. I need to get some laundry done and don't have the energy to swim and do chores.

This has been a pretty good weekend at work so far. Not like a few years ago but admittedly better than I expected. Thank the powers that be. ;)

7-3-11, 6:11pm
One more little frugal that is starting to add up. Twice this weekend I have brought home the leftover coffee at the end of the day. I drink it cold from the fridge. I had been making it fresh at the house but this weekend a pot and a half of fresh coffee would have gone down the drain if I hadn't decided to chill it.

7-4-11, 9:16am
Happy 4th of July fellow Americans! Well, actually, Happy 4th of July to everyone, holiday or not.

We are having a party today for about 20-25 people. I bought 36 chicken legs for $18 and we are seasoning them with a few different rubs and grilling them. We got 18 ears of corn that we will cut in half for $6 and a watermelon for $4. I am going to heat up two large cans of baked beans I have sitting around and I got some chips at Aldi for a little over $1 a bag, so about $4 total for 3 bags. For dessert I am making a cake with white frosting and a sliced strawberry and blueberry flag and using up some strawberries and blueberries I have on hand and I got some powdered lemonade at Aldi for $3. Friends are bringing corn bread and bratwurst. So my total grocery bill was about $35, which isn't too bad for that many people. We're going to hang out by the pool and just relax.

This week is going to be crazy busy. Zach starts work tomorrow and the kids and I are going to my cousin's 17th birthday party in the afternoon. Wednesday I have my bible study and the kids start their Greek lessons. I have to plan my meals for the week and keep it simple.

7-4-11, 10:43am
Biggest frugal this week: we're NOT holding our annual 4th of July party. It is so wonderfully relaxing to not have to be preparing for a house full of guests! We have always ended up spending a ridiculous amount of money for food and beverages for the party in years past (despite my best efforts), so I am happy to not have the expense and also to just have the day free to do as we please. It's really hot and humid outside, so we're going to put up our blueberry net, do a little work in the garden, and then just hang around the house in the A/C. I discovered that Tuesdays are the discount day at our local movie theater, so I think we'll go see a movie tomorrow instead of going to one today.

early morning
7-4-11, 11:29am
We dispensed with the annual 4th cookout several years ago, cdttmm, and we have really enjoyed our quiet, frugal holidays. Well, I have - I think DH misses the gathering, but I had most all the work of it, the last several years, so I'M happy, lol. A money saver, and a stress saver, too. But Stella, your party sounds great, enjoy! It's been sooo hot here, and I really don't like heat, so I think we'll even save gas and not go see any more fireworks tonight. (We saw some from our house on Friday, so it's not like we missed out entirely.) I did get the laundry all line dried yesterday. Did a major shopping at Aldi yesterday, and splurged on a few things, -ice cream, Italian ice, watermelon, frozen salmon - but still came in at what I'd budgeted, so that was good. One of our trashpicked box fans died - perhaps DH can fix it- but I just pulled another from the storeroom. I can't believe how many good fans people throw away! I still have a couple more stashed, as we have 6 sitting around to turn on when we're in a room, plus two smaller round ones, one in each bathroom. Only one of them was purchased new, and that was by DD.

7-4-11, 12:06pm
Have a great 4th, all!

Haha, it's funny how people can be as happy about NOT having the cookout as about having the cookout. :)

Stella, the idea of cutting the cobs in half is great. People always seem to pass up a lot of good kernels :)

Wow, early, you have such a fan collection. Yes, it's pretty amazing what people will throw away.

Here we haven't been super frugal. I am hoping we can reconnect with the 3 questions in YMOYL as an ongoing effort to further reduce our spending (see my "foggy thoughts" thread . . .). We will start that from June.

Also we have sooooooo much food. Last week our grocery delivery service had a $25 off of $100 order coupon so we loaded up on meat. Plus my DH brought home a bunch of surplus food from his fishing trip, so we are swimming in food. We are going to make a big effort to eat down this food.

Went to Ikea last night and picked up a few items, but passed on a bunch more. That place totally overwhelms me!

Not much else on the docket. I am trying to sell a few bikes and we are going to clean out the garage and maybe try to sell a few more unused items out of there.

7-4-11, 4:13pm
We were wanting to get blackout curtains for the baby's room, but they were really expensive! So instead we found some inexpensive panels and DH installed some room darkening shades. It works beautifully and costs much less than what blackout curtains would have. We were able to do both windows for about $30. Not too bad.

We've spent the majority of the day in the nursery cleaning and putting things away. DH wanted to go shopping for some organizational stuff, but I talked him into seeing what we had and what we would need first. I scrounged up several nice baskets from around the house and think I will only need maybe one big plastic container for bath toys and such (our bathroom is too small to keep all that stuff in there).

7-5-11, 8:28am
Our party was amazing! We had such a good time and we had leftovers that carried us through dinner last night too.

This afternoon we are going to my aunt and uncle's house for my cousin's 17th birthday party. The cousin (a different aunt and uncle's daughter) is visiting from Alaska and considering colleges in Minnesota. She is one of the coolest kids I know. She loves my kids and they love her so they are going to make her some stuff for her birthday. I know for sure they will make cards and pictures, but I think we might make her a stuffed felt monster too. The girls love to sew those and my cousin would actually like it. I think this party will be a lot of FFF.

Tomorrow one of my friends is coming over to help me get stuff together for Bella's birthday party. That should be some FFF too.

7-5-11, 10:31am
Today should be a no drive, no spend day, which is a welcome relief after a fairly unfrugal weekend.:|(

I have some grading to do and then this afternoon I am going to get caught up on housework. DH and I will both be eating leftovers for dinner. I am also trying to make a list of what we'd like to give people for Christmas. I know it is crazy early, but I will be out of work for three months after the baby is born and we like to make things, so we have to plan, plan, plan!

I am hoping that DH and I can go over our budget sometime this week. Everything keeps going up, up, up, and we need to make some changes!

7-6-11, 10:43am
We had so much fun at my cousin's birthday party last night! She is in town to attend a summer thing at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for teens interested in art as a career. I must say she is very, very talented. My sister said that too, and my sister is a high end art dealer, so she is picky about art.

My great aunt gave my kids $50. I think I will let them use the $50 for the snorkels they have been wanting. My grandma stuck $50 in my pocket. She usually does that when she sees me. It's very generous of her.

My 11 year old cousin has started an egg business in his suburban backyard. He has 13 chickens. He says he gets about a dozen eggs a day. Grandma bought a dozen eggs for me to try. We had them for breakfast today. So good! He is such a cool kid. I really like him. I may have to buy some eggs from him in the future.

My aunt and grandma sent me home with some of the molasses cookies my great aunt brought to the party (she's famous for those) and some candy. I'll probably freeze the candy. I'm thinking of using the molasses cookies for ice cream sandwiches.

I found out last night that my cousin who is pregnant is moving home to St Paul! I am so excited! She has been living in NYC for years and I haven't seen her in quite a long time, although I keep up with her and her fabulous travels (Italy, the Bahamas, skiing in Colorado and scuba diving in Egypt so far this year) on facebook. Her baby will be about 8 months younger than Travis. That's not really related to frugality, but it's very exciting to me and related to my FFF family party last night.

It's always a trip visiting that side of the family. It used to make me feel a little inferior. That side is comprised of people who are very wealthy and I, partly by choice, am...not. :) That sense of inferiority is changing as I realize that none of them are looking down on me and I actually have a lot of interests in common with them.

7-6-11, 10:59am
@ stella--your family sounds wonderful!

It is still really hot here, so today will be another no-drive, no spend. I am having about five of these a week. I used to think I'd feel cooped up and go crazy, but I really enjoy being home and prefer not to leave if I don't have to. I was going to drive across the river to check on Dad and see how he was doing in the heat, but I called him instead. We have free long distance.

DH and I went over our budget yesterday, and I feel pretty good about what we decided.

My MIL stopped over to give me the check for the carseat and stroller (I ordered it, she paid for it). She wrote the check over by $40 and told me to use it towards a swing or something else we'd like to have. I felt that was super generous of her. That combined with a gift card and a coupon should enable us to get a swing and bouncy seat for around $30 out of pocket, which is less than I have seen them on Craigslist (no luck with garage sales and consignment stores).

We ate leftovers for lunch and dinner yesterday. Lunch today will be leftovers again, and I am thinking my afternoon snack will be some sliced cucumber that needs to be used up. I will probably have to cook tonight, so I think I will make some enchiladas. We do need to go grocery shopping, but I am putting it off until Friday when DH can help me. Before then, I will have to take inventory of the freezer/pantry and make a grocery list.

I also started a new hobby: painting room signs for my nieces. I found some gesso board on clearance for $2 awhile back and have been mixing paints I already own. I am almost finished with my first one. It's my niece's name in bright colors with flowers. I think she will like it. I will keep an eye out for an inexpensive frame and save it for Christmas or her birthday. I almost forgot how much I enjoy painting!

7-6-11, 11:28am
Here nothing much to report. We have been organizing so that is good, but not necessarily frugal.

We are, however, working on eating down the pantry and freezer. Geez Louise, we have a lot of food! I will be making a bundt cake for later on for a BBQ we are going to this evening. I have all the ingredients in the pantry except maybe sour cream. We can walk to the grocery store for that but can't remember if it for sure calls for it.

Kat, I hope you will be able to post pics of the signs. They sound super fun.

Stella, I get a huge kick out of your nephew and his entrepreneurial bent. I love that about kids. They just go for things and don't talk themselves out of it.

7-6-11, 1:02pm
Fidgie, if you want to bake the cake w/o a store trip, you can often sub yogurt or applesauce for sour cream. I know that when I've baked my grandmother's sour cream bundt cake, I've actually never used sour cream in it because it's not something I keep in the house.

The rest of our week is busy with free activities - playdates, lake beach time, childcare exchanges, and a writing workshop/reading workshop exchange that my friend and I are doing with our kids this summer. I work with her sons on reading, she works with my daughter on writing. The kids play together before and after. Win-win! In-between all that, I've got to get some weeding done in my vegetable garden.

7-6-11, 1:38pm
I've recieved several freebies in the mail lately. I make sure I use these items instead of buying full size products. I enjoy the variety and the savings it gives me.

In the last week or so I have recieved: deoderant, postage stamps, several magazines, a can of sparling juice from Ocean Spray, laudry soap, and a large sample of Tide stain release which will last for several loads. I've alos been informed that I won a free full-size bottle of laundry soap and a tube of lipstick on sweepstake sites. These have yet to be seen.

Dh has a strong preference for Tide laundry detergent. I don't mind the product but I hate the high prices. Rite Aid has it on sale 5 bottles for $30. I checked and this is cheaper than what I paid at walmart the last time I purchased it. It came with a register reward of $10 towards my next purchase ( I will use this for sure!) and I had manufacturer's and store coupons equalling another $9 in savings.

I also bought a jar of nutella on sale. I have a recipe for delicious hazelnut brownies that uses this. Yumm! It will be a rare treat-I haven't bought this stuff in 2-3 years.

We bought what I hope will be the last two cans of stain for the fence using a $4 rebate that I had on hand.

7-6-11, 5:41pm
Kelli, that's a good point about kids not talking themselves out of projects like that. Keegan is quite the little professional. He got blank egg cartons and stamped his company logo on them and everything. It's great.

I decided to challenge the kids to use their $50 well so I instituted the $50 challenge. We are going to see how much fun we can have spending this $50. Today we went to IKEA because Cheyenne and Bella are helping me plan theirs and their brothers' room redos. We took along a notebook and wrote down the names and cost of things they liked and talked about colour schemes. I brought along snacks and drinks, so we didn't spend any of our $50 and we had a good time. I'm trying to steer them towards free things in this challenge so they can see how much fun they can have without spending anything. Later this week we're going to make the eggrolls I posted about a few days ago. I decided that any food they make for this challenge that are part of family meals the cost won't count towards their $50. Specialty stuff I wouldn't buy on my own comes out of their money.

I think the room redo project will be fun. I have decided to forgo a toddler bed for the boys and just get a bunk bed. For the moment we will follow IKEAs lead and screw plywood (IKEA uses plexiglass, but that's more expensive) onto the ladder to keep them from getting to the top bunk. Travis is in a crib, so we only need one bed for a while and by the time T needs a bed James will be OK in the top bunk. This is frugal because it means buying a bed they can use for years and years and the bunk bed isn't much more expensive than a single toddler bed.

The girls are getting loft beds. Currently Cheyenne's bedding is purple and Bella's is blue, so we will keep that. Shared stuff will be pink or pink accented. One bed will have a loveseat reading area under it and the other will have a desk, cork board and the blue and purple magnetic boards they already have. I am thinking of painting the walls turquoise and getting one of those paint samples in pink to paint big pink polka dots on the back of the closet-turned-bookshelf and closet-turned-desk. Each girl will have a floating shelf by their bed to hold books they are currently reading and a reading light. I think I may also pay my cousin, the artist, to make a picture for each of the four kids. I love real artwork. The new beds are $100 each. The desks are basically just going to be small tables. We might make them or we might buy them. Either way they won't be expensive. I don't know how much the paint and artwork will be, but not very expensive. I'm going to watch craigslist for a suitable loveseat.

7-7-11, 8:25am
@bke--I am so jealous of your Tide savings! We like it, too, but it is crazy expensive.

Yesterday I took the time to email a company about a problem I had with their product. Hopefully I hear back from them.

We'll be eating leftovers again today. Should be another no-drive, no spend.

7-7-11, 10:17am
I am taking up writing as a hobby again. It's free and easy to do in my spare time. Because I have so much of that spare time. :)

I think today is going to be a stay-at-home and clean day. I am making pancakes with strawberry sauce for dinner tonight. My neighbor gave me some of her homemade strawberry sauce and I have some buttermilk I want to use up. Plus I just love pancakes. Since the strawberry sauce was free that is a very cheap dinner.

Breakfast was soft boiled eggs and toast and smoothies. The eggs were free. Again, a good cheap meal.

Lunch will be fried rice for the kids and some halibut my friend brough back from Alaska for me.

Today I am starting work on potty training James. I had started this winter, but I went on bed rest and that was the end of that. Bella was patiently explaining how to use the potty to him this morning. If this works it will save money on diapers.

7-8-11, 9:13am
I finally made the eggrolls yesterday. They are so good! I froze most of them but we ate a few too and Zach took some to work today.

I felt like superwoman yesterday. I managed to do two loads of laundry, scrub, sweep and mop the kitchen, dining room and entryway, clean the living room, make eggrolls, make breakfast lunch and dinner, do a writing exercise, breastfeed the baby and still spend a lot of time hanging out with my kids, all before Zach and my dad got home. Today's plan is a little less ambitious. I am hoping to take the kids on a walk. That's about my only real goal. Hopefully once Zach comes home we can have some pool time. All in all I have a pretty low key frugal day planned.

7-8-11, 9:37am
Yesterday started out as a frugal day. I spent 8+ hours working on my thesis, which means I didn't have time to spend any money! Ate what we had in the house and turned the A/C up a few degrees so that it wasn't running constantly. In the evening, I went to the gym for my Tae Kwon Do class, as planned, and went to dinner with a friend afterwards (a planned reward for a successful day of writing). It was the dinner out that turned it into a less-than-perfectly frugal day. <Sigh.> I had assumed because we were going to dinner relatively late that we would go grab some burritos at the local Mexican place, which would be cheap (I could probably spend less than $10). But as we stood in the parking lot after TKD kicking around ideas, the Mexican idea somehow got nixed, we discussed a local Chinese/Japanese place, which he nixed as too expensive, and then suggested Indian. For some reason, I agreed, even though I knew that it would cost more than I wanted to spend (and, I suspect, was probably in the same price range as the Chinese/Japanese option he considered too expensive). So why didn't I just offer up that I thought Indian was too expensive? Or even some other lame excuse like, I'm not in the mood for Indian. Ugh. So, although the food was good, it wasn't $32 good. Sure, I have some leftovers, but not enough to make me un-annoyed over the whole thing. I really need to learn from these experiences...eating out is definitely my downfall.

7-8-11, 11:54am
Yesterday I got a $10 rebate in the mail from all the paint we used in the remodel. Will put it in the bank.

Found the exact purse I wanted new on ebay for a huge discount.

DH and I have really been focusing on eating what we have, not letting any food go to waste, etc. Today I need to get some leftover beef in the freezer before it goes bad. I will make chili with it in a week or so.

I made a menu using up what we have in the freezer. I should be able to stick to my budget, though it'll be close.

7-9-11, 8:42am
Managed to stay within budget for groceries (which is especially hard when DH is with me!). ;-) We planned our route and ran all our other errands while we were out, so that saved some gas.

I did not feel like cooking at all last night, but I did manage to make dinner anyway. DH really wanted cheese enchiladas. Enough left for lunch today! I was going to wait to make chili, but it seems like DH would like some right away, so I might make that today, along with some homemade corn bread. He might have a friend over tonight to play board games, so I think I'll make a pitcher of Kool Aid and some brownies for dessert, too ;-)

An earlier frugal I forgot to post is that my MIL gave me an extra crib sheet to use. I was going to buy a second one, but she had one. Saved me some money, and now I can layer them on the crib in case of middle of the night accidents (I forgot who shared that genius tip with me on here, but thank you!).

7-9-11, 1:41pm
I made a tuna pasta salad last night for dinner and even with several people taking second helpings I had enough leftover for lunch today. The total cost was about $.40 a serving, which isn't too bad.

Zach is working for a friend finishing up an electrical job today and this week he will be out of town Tuedsay-Friday so it's a busy week for me. I am planning easy meals. Monday I will toss a pot roast I have in the freezer into the crockpot, which will feed us for two days. Wednesday is my bible study, so we we will just have turkey melts for dinner. Friday I am thinking veggie fried rice. Thursday is Bella's birthday so we will probably drive to meet Zach for dinner. I used to hate it when my dad was out of town on my birthday and he's only an hour and a half away. That means the only thing I need for dinners is a loaf of bread.

I have frozen homemade eggrolls and stuff to make pasta with sauteed tomatoes and olives for lunch. Those are easy and the kids like them. I'm going to get some of the malt-o-meal honey nut cheerios for breakfasts. So basically my grocery bill for the week should be less than $10.

Our activities for the week are pretty frugal too. There's karate (paid for by my Dad), Greek lessons (free), swimming (free) and my bible study (free). That will hopefully make up for next weekend, which is not going to be frugal. Saturday I am going to my friend's birthday party at a tea room and Sunday we are probably going to take the older kids to an amusement park for Bella's birthday present. My mom ended up buying her the scooter and tiara she wanted.

If I can keep doing what I've always done in terms of everyday spending, I think we are going to sock away quite a bit of money this working season and still get some of the home projects we want to accomplish done.

7-9-11, 2:17pm
Wow - everyone is doing so great with their frugal activities! I just love reading about what everyone else is doing - helps keep me motivated to make good choices. Pretty frugal around here the past two days as my partner has been in NYC for work. So I've just been hanging out at home working on my thesis. It's due in 1 week so I need to make some serious headway in the next few days. Have been eating all my meals out of the pantry and will continue to do so. I'm getting low on my preferred green tea, but have several other types that I will just use up instead of making a special trip to the store. Running low on milk, too, but will try to make it a few more days since it is just me. It's really hot and humid here, but I've been trying to keep the A/C set high enough to keep it from running for very long. One weird frugal to report: I had to take my dog to the vet last week because he had split his toenail down to the base. They ended up giving me antibiotics and pain killers for him. Obviously I'll give him the entire run of antibiotics because he clearly had an infection. But after the swelling went down in his toe I stopped giving him the pain killers. I will save them in case we have a future pet emergency. All of my dogs weigh about the same, so I can give them all the same dosage, which makes things like this worthwhile because the next emergency will, inevitably, be with a different dog!

7-9-11, 4:03pm
Sold one of my bikes! Goody! That's $125 I can use toward a new bike. I am surprised I got that much for it, actually. Glad I held out for it. I will keep my other one until I actually secure a new one.

7-9-11, 4:17pm
I'm getting ready to turn off our big freezer until the end of September. This saves us at least $10/month on our electric bill - it's in our garage, so I turn it off for the hot summer months. Our fridge-top freezer is quite full as a result, and I am not going to buy any groceries for at least the next week. I have enough fresh vegetables to get us through the week, and there are some frozen ones we need to use up. It's a busy week, anyway.

I've found a few nearly-free books (library discards, yard sales, used book store clearance shelf) for DD to read on our upcoming long-distance trip. I don't like to take library books because of the likelihood of damage or loss when traveling. I'll put these in my backpack for when she's bored. I'll also mine our craft supplies for easy take-along projects.

7-9-11, 4:40pm
got a pair of New Balance walking shoes, practically new, at a garage sale for $3

Aqua Blue
7-9-11, 6:24pm
Kally, I also got two new pairs of practically new shoes for $1 pair. One is a pair of Keds and the other are New balance. I was sooo pleased. They both fit well and were needed. I also bought two purses at another sale, practically new. One is a Coach and one is a Kate Spode. I paid $1 each. The lady said, my daughter keeps buying me purses and I never like them. I found the exact same coach on ebay for $88! I also got 8 pieces of clothing, all jjill, talbots, banana republic for $6. I love garage sale season. I splurged and bought a pretty aqua blue coffe mug (starbucks brand) for 50c.

7-9-11, 6:52pm
Thursday, Friday and Saturday were all no driving/spending days. Working, eating at home, and free in home entertainment like swimming and enjoying the warm weather.

7-10-11, 8:22am
Twice this weekend I have brought home the leftover coffee at the end of the day. I drink it cold from the fridge. I had been making it fresh at the house but this weekend a pot and a half of fresh coffee would have gone down the drain if I hadn't decided to chill it.

Another fun thing you can do after chilling it would be to put some of the extra into ice cube trays. When frozen, put the cubes into a freezer bag for storage. Use cubes in blender drinks such as coffee plus vanilla almond milk.

7-10-11, 9:10am
Rearranged the pantry yesterday and realized just how much food we have on hand. Now, if I can just remember this when at the grocery store, I should be able to keep the shopping to milk, yogurt, and cheese for the next few weeks. Eventually I will experiment with making homemade yogurt because it's definitely cheaper than store bought and we eat enough of that it would make a noticeable impact on the grocery bill! Also moved some of the frozen items from our second freezer to our primary freezer. If I can get everything to fit in one freezer, I can unplug the other one for a few weeks or months until we need truly need it again. Found an unopened bottle of moisturizer + sunscreen that someone must have given me at some point. I was almost out of the jar I was using and was planning to buy more, so this will hold me over for another month or so. I like the Origins brand, but that stuff is pricey. Lo and behold, I got a $10 coupon from Origins in the mail the other day for my birthday. Only downside, I have to use it in a retail store and there isn't one near me. But the coupon is good through the end of September, so I will make a mental note to visit an Origins store the next time I'm in NYC. Got a book in the mail from paperbackswap.com, which I will save as my reward-to-myself reading for when I'm done writing my thesis. I had a running list of wish list books to actually buy (gasp!), so this will delay those purchases for the short term.

7-10-11, 9:16am
Oh thought of one more - a biggie! I have to go to Philly for a conference in a few weeks. Was planning to get a hotel room, but decided to ask a friend if I can stay with her instead because I assumed she was going to the same conference. Turns out she is not, but she said I was welcome to stay regardless - yippee! I will bring her a jar of honey from our bees as a thank you gift and a "like new" children's book I bought at the thrift store for 49 cents for her 2 year old daughter.

7-10-11, 11:18pm
Hi all! Glad the frugals are going well.

Here, I'm feeling a little discouraged on the frugal front. Not quite sure why . . . so I guess I will outline some of the positives from the last few days.

Last Friday my DH and I had a paddle down the Rum River. We took drinks and snacks from home so we didn't have to buy any. I froze water and brewed tea. We did eat lunch and dinner out that day, though. Lunch was using a gift card, so still frugal, and we split a Subway for dinner, so that was only about $7 for both of us. Did have to use the gas to go up there. Pretty good for a day's entertainment.

Both yesterday and today my band had performances (I am in a 50-or-so person community band). So that was fun. Today it came with free tickets to the Saint Paul Saints game but unfortunately it was SO HOT with no shade that we left after the third inning. It's something I'd like to do again. We bought lunch at the stadium for about $8 for both of us. We didn't pay any parking even though it meant a little bit of a walk.

I guess we are doing ok after all :)

Tomorrow we are going to Door County Wisconsin for the week. We will stay at my DH's sister's cabin for $25 a night. We eat some meals in and some out. Food is a big part of the fun for me over there. We will go biking and hiking and thrifting and garage sale-ing and maaaaaaybe get in a play.

In a week and a half I am going to Costa Rica. We have to decide if my DH is coming later on in the trip. My ticket is paid for and we will have to buy his. Maybe we should do it tonight and get it done with. I will be needing to purchase some clothing for the trip, mainly capri pants, as well as some gifts. I am going to try to look for some food gifts in Wisconsin. Cherries are the big thing over there.

7-11-11, 7:24am
Have a great time on your trip, fidgie!

Saturday some former co-workers threw me a baby shower. It was outdoors and very lovely. They planned a tea and had a light spread of fruit, cucumber sandwiches, and cake. My one friend also borrowed vintage linens and depression glass from her mother. It was so pretty! There were also many nice and practical gifts for the baby, one of which was a very generous gift card that should allow us to get a few needed things for the nursery.

Yesterday my dad took us out to lunch. DH and I spent the rest of the day watching TV at home.

7-11-11, 8:45am
Have a great time on both of your trips, fidgiegirl!!!

Still going along with a collection of small frugals over here. After 2 no drive days, I finally left the house yesterday to go to the gym for my Tae Kwon Do class. I would love to be able to ride my bike to the gym, but am too nervous that my bike would get stolen. It's 16 miles from my house to the gym, so the ride is easily within my capabilities, but my bike is the type that would attract the wrong kind of attention and I would be seriously pi$$ed if it were stolen. I guess I could invest in a more moderate bike, but I'm not sure it is worth it. I'll have to think on that. Anyway, took advantage of the fact that I was leaving the house and stopped at the pet store to buy fish food and a bag of cat litter. I found a rebate form online for the cat litter, so that will end up being free (minus the 44 cents for the stamp).

Finished off some leftovers for lunch yesterday and trying to keep my eating to an acceptable level while continuing to write my thesis. My partner was supposed to come home last night from NYC, but got called for an interview with the Wall Street Journal for this morning, so will be home later today. He'll just want to stay home and relax for the day so that will make things frugal and then we leaves again early Tuesday morning.

Took the opportunity to sew some buttons back onto several pairs of shorts yesterday and this resulted in taking a mini-clothing inventory. If I lose another 5 pounds I'll be set for shorts for a good long while since I mostly only wear them around the house and to garden. Also took the opportunity to throw out a few items of clothing that were well beyond repair and definitely not fit for donation. Did take all the buttons off of things before throwing them out and saved them for future use. Does anyone else do that? I remember my grandmother and my mom were always doing this. I don't have much for sewing skills, but I can replace buttons, so I thought they might come in handy one day considering I have bought items from the thrift store that were missing a button (or two).

Also inventoried the pet supply cabinet and realized that we have a stockpile of dog treats. We hardly ever feed our dogs any type of treat, so I'm going to make a conscious effort to use these up in the near future and NOT buy more! It will free up some space in the supply cabinet for pet supplies we actually do need!

7-11-11, 9:35am
cdttmm I love pantry organizing! It's nice to find all the stuff you have been missing.

Kelli I am so jealous of your trips! You are having a fun summer!

Kat, your baby shower sounds lovely!

Dad informed me that he needs a ride to the airport on Bella's birthday, so we will not be able to drive down to see Zach. That will be OK. It will save us money on gas. To make it up to Bella I am going to make her an ice cream castle. The recipe is in a birthday party book my mom had when we were kids. It's two of those square blocks of ice cream, one in the center and one cut in half and placed on their ends on the sides of the whole block to make towers with upside down ice cream cones on top for turrets. The windows and draw bridge are made of squares of Hershey bar. I got two packages of strawberry ice cream (to make the castle pink) on sale at Cub 2 for $5. It will make a good, relatively inexpensive alternative to a cake since it's the middle of summer and baking would be kind of painful. Bella has been wanting me to make that for a long time, so it will be a real treat for her.

I took the kids out by the pool last night and my friend and neighbor stopped by. Her granddaughter had asked the grandpa to get her some of the macaroni and cheese in a cup and he had misunderstood and bought the boxed stuff. My friend passed the boxed stuff on to me.

Our main present to Bella is a trip to Valley Fair this weekend, but I wanted her to have some little thing to open. She has been badly wanting an inflatable pool ring, so I got her one. It was $2.99 at Target.

7-11-11, 12:37pm
Oooh a castle ice cream cake sounds like so much fun!

Everyone seems to be having such a fun (and mostly frugal) summer.

Turns out my van had a few other problems besides the brakes & power steering fluid leak. A belt had to be replaced because it was rubbing against something. And apparently there is some kind of a gasket or something on the radiator that is a small inexpensive part. BUT it takes a few hours to actually get to it and fix it. >:( We haven't got the bill yet but I am really dreading it.

On to cheerier subjects lol - Our living/dining room is a longish room with a window in the dining area, an outside door at the opposite end hall, and a big picture window with a smaller window on either side of it. The one small window has the air conditioner in it. The problem has been that I can't get any air circulating in the living room area. The small window that is available to be opened has no screen. The windows are really old and the screen was broken and tossed out long ago. I finally got the brain storm to find one of those little window screens you just set in the window & close the frame down to fit the screen. It makes such a big difference. I think we'd often turn the air on when it wasn't really necessary just because we couldn't breathe. Saturday even with the temperature at 88 we didn't need to turn on the air. Yeah!

Today I think I'm going to try baking a loaf of sandwich bread instead of buying one. I bake lots of bread but never tried a sandwich bread before.

I've been consistently drying laundry on the drying rack outside again. Last night, though, I forgot I had a few things out and it rained and the rack got tipped over so the now muddy clothes are back in the washer. lol

It has been over 6 weeks since we've had any kind of takeout for dinner. So I'm thrilled that I don't have to cook dinner tonight LOL Going to FIL's birthday dinner. SIL is bringing Kentucky Fried Chicken. I know it's horrible but ... well, I kinda like it. :|( And I guess having it once or twice a year isn't going to kill me.

Walmart sells a big 5 lb. block of cheddar jack cheese for $14. I think it's a nice cheese, good flavor & melts nicely. And a really good price. So I've been buying that instead of catching whatever is on sale. I cut it up into smaller blocks. Some of it I slice for sandwiches and some I cut into cheese sticks. I finally got smart though and remembered that they make cheese slicers. Specifically to slice cheese - doh! So I used some grocery money to get one. Life is so much easier now.

7-11-11, 1:43pm
HI everyone! Glad to hear that so many of you are having a good week full of frugal choices and fun times. I managed to keep my 4 day spending total to $3.39. I'm kind of impressed with myself if I do say so.

Today is not so spend free. We already filled the car with gas and made a trip to the library and bank. I guess free books are very frugal entertainment and the banking was positive because we had a great weekend at work so a good deposit this morning. I also made a huge debt payment this morning which is worth celebrating. This evening we are going shopping and to dinner. Chinese or mexican I suppose. Its nice to still go out once a week.

Dh and I spent last night sitting by the pool and daydreaming about our version of retirement while ds swam. I really love our little hidden patio in the back yard. Any of you have a club house as a kid? That's our patio- no outsiders allowed! LOL.

I'm drinking more leftover coffee from this weekend. I haven't actually made myself a cup of coffee in over 3 weeks since I started doing this. By the way Amaranth, thanks for the tip-I'll have to try the frozen version.

It was a good mail day too. I recieved a coupon for free peanut butter, 2 free magazine including popular science for ds, and our $70 rebate from Menards.

7-11-11, 6:53pm
DD and I walked over to a friend's house hauling our red wagon with 2 buckets, 2 shovels, and gardening gloves as my friend wants to clear out some excess plants. I love it when I accomplish multiple goals with one activity. Exercise, yardwork, and fun time with DD all in one - and free plants to boot!

7-11-11, 6:55pm
This thread has definitely been an inspiration for me. I'm still trying to write my thesis and I expect that normally under these stressful circumstances my coping mechanism would have been to head out shopping. Granted it would be thrift store shopping, but shopping nonetheless. Instead, when I was stuck at a point in my writing I told myself I could take a break if I did something productive. So, I purged my closet and filled two bags for the thrift store. Rearranged and inventoried the toiletries in the bathroom. Sewed 5 new buttons on a blazer (a project that I have been avoiding for 8 months!). Repaired two broken necklaces. And emptied the compost bin. I have never been so frugal and productive during a time of stress as today! Plus I managed to get a few more pages written and do some reading so that I can write more tomorrow. I'm now curious to see what productive, frugal activities I come up with during tomorrow's writing session!!!

In other frugal news, I got my BJ's reward dollars in the mail today. Only $6.50, but every little bit helps. And I discovered that the abandoned property division has a $55 check for me, so I filled out the paperwork to recover that money.

early morning
7-11-11, 7:09pm
bke, your secluded patio sounds lovely! Our place is surrounded by huge oriental honeysuckle bushes- a very invasive import, but I do love the way they screen out the world! And they are free! Of course they grow EVERYWHERE, so one has to be vigilant. Put laundry on the line. Our neighbors have lost their house and moved out, giving us their pullets, some feed, a roll of wire, sturdy home-made tomato cages, a kerosene heater and can of kerosene, and misc. hardware. DD caught the birds today and moved them into our barn/coop. Now I have to put the fence to their yard back up, so they can get outside. I've been debating on getting a solar fence charger and running a wire along the outside of the fence to discourage various varmits. They are kinda pricey though. Anyone used them?? We can't use a regular charger since our barn has no electric. Maybe someday.... Couldn't decide what to do for dinner, so we settled for egg sandwiches. Good and cheap. Paying most bills online and running them through my credit card, which turns into cash rewards. Since I pay the credit card online weekly, this works well for us!

7-12-11, 7:06am
@cdttmm--awesome job getting stuff done! It especially always feels good to finish up a project you've ben putting off for awhile! :-)

Yesterday turned out to be extremely fun and frugal. First I went shopping with my mom and my grandpa. It was really nice to spend time with them both. My mom bought me lunch and a sewing basket full of notions to get started. It was very nice of her to do. My mom is an expert seamstress (seriously amazing) and wanted to help me get some of the things I will need as I learn. She also offered me one of her sewing machines if mine (handed down from one of DH's family members) turns out to be a dud.

After I got home, the carseat and stroller our in-laws got for the baby got delivered, and my MIL sent my FIL over with another gift a relative dropped off for the baby, 6 baby outfits in bigger sizes she found at the thrift store, and a bag of food containing home-grown tomatoes and beans and some leftover meat from a church event.

I made shepherd's pie for dinner with some meat and veggies from the freezer and some potatoes that were on their way out. Tons leftover!

Today I am going to spend time at home doing laundry, cleaning, maybe a little grading. I hope to be very productive!

7-12-11, 2:38pm
Yesterday turned out to be an all out fun day for the kiddos. We went to my friends house so the kids could all play together. We did end up getting McDonald's for lunch at my friend's request, but there were seven of us eating and my friend and I each spent $10, so that isn't too bad.

When we got home the boys napped and an older girl my girls are friends with called to see if they wanted to go swimming with her and her mom. They were out for several hours and when they came back, the older girl stayed to hang out and watched the middle two kids while I ran Cheyenne to karate. She even organized the play kitchen. We invited her over for dinner, which was BLTs. I talked to the older girl about possibly paying her to be a Mother's Helper while I do some home improvement projects this summer.

I have four big projects for the summer and Zach has two. I am going to finish the girls room, finish the boys' room, finish the dressing room and find auxilliary storage for pantry items and homeschool items.

Initially I had planned to replace my hutch with kitchen style cabinets from IKEA. I am in desperate need of expanded storage space for homeschool stuff, pantry items and other kitchen supplies. When I thought about it, though, it seemed silly to spend that much money on cabinets when my front hall closet (which is right off of the kitchen) is mostly empty except for some stuff I don't even think I need. I have decided to employ the same solution I am applying to the kids' empty closets and build shelves in that space instead. The lower shelves will have baskets with math stuff, science stuff, craft stuff, toys and games. The middle shelves will hold canned goods and other food items and the upper shelves will have paper products like toilet paper and messy school stuff like paints and glue that I don't want the kids to have immediate access too. That will give me storage space in the actual pantry to hold some pots and pans and appliances I need storage for.

This solution will cost us about $20 in plywood (we're using scrap wood for the brackets) versus over $500 and it can be done in the next week. I may actually keep my hutch now and just refinish or paint it and put different knobs on it. It's not the actual piece of furniture that I don't like, it's the finish. Even with bins and baskets it's a several hundred dollar savings.

I am experiencing some growing pains with my kitchen with the size of my family and the number of people we have over. We have company a couple of times a week and I am firmly committed to being the mom who always makes room at the table for my kids' friends. That mom always knows what is going on in her kids' lives and who their friends are. My friend Erik's mom was that mom in my friend group and I thank God for her presence when I was a kid and teen. As I mentioned we had a friend of the kids' over for dinner last night for BLTs and it took me FOREVER to make the bacon and toast. Same thing the last time I made pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches . I also have trouble with running out of stove space. Rather than get a new stove (kidding, a bigger stove is soooo not in the budget right now) I am going to get an electric griddle. There are a few on craigslist for $20 or less. It will give me the option of using two griddles or just using the electric griddle for part of a meal and pots and pans on the stove for the other. For the toast, my dad has a toaster in storage. I have left it there because I didn't have storage space for it, but now I will, so that solves that problem for free.

7-12-11, 3:39pm
We needed a playstand for our African Grey parrot. I got one on closeout, just the kind she likes when we'd been told they were no longer made.

Got one sheet free for a bedspread (American Indian pattern) and bought a second one for $20 with African design. We had no bedspread that didn't catch doghair a lot (4 dogs).

Called radio offer and got 2 free tix to the International Folk Art Festival here in Santa Fe. We'd never been before and it was great--real international peace kind of thing, 50 countries including some whose governments are enemies of each other.

7-13-11, 6:44am
We had a nice day yesterday. Zach was rained out in the area he is working in, but it was nice and sunny here, so we tackled some projects. I worked on cleaning out the closet I mentioned yesterday and he picked up our friend's 11 year old to help with the front of the house planting area. After a while the kid got a little overheated so I watched him and my girls in the pool for a while. Zach traded with him after that and did the digging while the 11 year old acted as Mother's Helper and kept an eye on the kids for me while I cleaned in the kitchen. He was doing the work for free, but I think I'll slip him a few bucks this weekend after Zach gets paid. It was very helpful and even if I pay him it's still cheap labour.

After that the kid's mom came over for dinner and we all had bratwurst. Zach's friend and business associate came over to give us an estimate on the window well for the eggress window. He can get a discount on the materials because he is installing some for a client and buying more than one at a time. He stayed for brats. He had never had bratwurst before. That blows me away. How do you live in MN for that long and not have tasted bratwurst?

We made Bella's ice cream castle cake, which we decided was the Palace of Versailles since Bella's birthday is Bastille Day. It started getting melty almost immediately, but she loved it. It was not architecturally acurate, but I think I'm the only one who cares about that. I think I mentioned that I got the ice cream on sale, so on the whole it was a frugal way to please my birthday girl.

My friend's birthday is the day after Bella's and she needed help making her birthday cake. It's going to be a chocolate cake with kahlua custard and chocolate mousse frosting. I helped her make the custard and then we realized that it needed to chill for 6 hours so she is going to make the rest at home. I've been teaching her to bake this year so I am going to get her a cake carrier for her birthday present. They aren't very expensive and she could really use one. She has also asked me to help her organize her kitchen, so I will do that as well.

I have realized that next week both Zach and my dad will be out of town. I am calling out the calvalry and letting my friends know. A friend/neighbor has already invited me over to hang out on her porch while the kids play and have a beer. I may have her DD come over again this week and watch the middle kids while I take the oldest to karate.

I have budgeted some money for babysitting and cleaning and I am going to go to Costco and stock up on diapers and food. The good news is that while I am here by myself I will have inertia on my side. It's much easier to just stay home when going anywhere would involve lugging the kids with. We have decided, though, that once a week while Zach is out of town (just far enough away to be a serious pain for commuting) we will meet Daddy for dinner, even if it's just a picnic near his hotel. It gives the kids a chance to see him and breaks up everyone's week a bit.

7-13-11, 9:55am
The thrifty week continues. This morning I made some toast out of the last of the bread, which was on the verge of growing mold. My partner is the big fresh bread eater in our house and he's been away quite a bit lately, so it was up to me! I topped it with some strawberry jam that our neighbor had made and shared with us. It's freezer jam and has been in the refrigerator just long enough that I probably need to finish it off before I leave for MN on Friday or it will have to be tossed by the time I return. Good thing I like jam! :) Was too tired to do much in the way of cooking after getting home from the gym last night, so simply warmed up a can of black beans, threw in some Monterrey jack cheese and ate it with remains of the mostly eaten bag of tortilla chips. Probably not the healthiest meal, but it was cheap and the chips would have gone stale and been tossed sooner or later. I ate some fresh blueberries for dessert, so at least I consumed a good quantity of antioxidants! ;)

Did a load of laundry and hung it out to dry. Did some more cleaning and decluttering, which I know will be a frugal in the long run. It is truly astonishing to me how much stuff we have acquired! We used to live in a fairly small one bedroom apartment with two dogs and two cats. At times it felt small, but it never felt cluttered. Now we live in this enormous house (long story) with three dogs and two cats and it doesn't feel small, but it is a clutter-filled disaster!

Going to finish making the dried catnip for the cats later today. We grow our own and I picked and dried some last week, so now just need to run grind it up a bit and add it to the catnip container. They will be happy kitties this winter!

7-13-11, 10:31am
I didn't end up staying home yesterday as planned. I did, however, make it over to a children's consignment store. I was looking for a swing, a bouncy seat, and a snowsuit for the baby. I found the snowsuit and a really nice bouncy seat. The cover of the bouncy seat is whirring away in the washer as I type. :-) However, I had no luck with swings. I have been keeping an eye out for a used one at garage sales/thrift stores/Craigslist, but so far, I haven't across any that are nice. The nice ones at the consignment store were still $60, and the ones that cost less were pretty grimy with lots of stains, scratches, parts that didn't work, etc. I have some gift cards at Babies R Us plus a 20% off coupon, so I think I may just use those and get a new one for around $30 or so.

I also stopped at Joann's while I was out and about, but I resisted temptation to buy anything (even though I had a 50% off coupon). I ordered a cross stitch stocking kit for the baby for $10 a couple of weeks ago--that'll keep me busy! :-)

Today I have a hair appt and will stop by the post office for stamps on the way back. Then when I get home, I will make some mac n cheese for dinner, along with some green beans from my MIL's garden.

7-13-11, 11:39am
I've been working on using stuff that is in the pantry and freezer so it doesn't go to waste now that we eat so few homecooked meals. Yesterdays breakfast was oldfashioned oats with canned peaches and pecans. All of these items were acquired for free at some time or another.

Last night was spent at home-lounging on the patio, up-dating our finances, and watching a 4 hour movie on the 60's. It was interesting and actually worth the time even though it was much longer than I normally would have spent in front of the tube. It got me to thinking about how complacent I am these days. I don't think for myself enough or stand up for my beliefs like I used to. I don't know where these thoughts will lead but its time to stop letting life go by without leaving my mark on the world. I believe in the rights of individuals and used to march, petition and speak out in general about these types of things. Lately I barely even bother to get irritated enough to shake my head at the closed-minded people around me. Just thoughts and not even frugal thoughts but they came from my frugal entertainment source of last night. ;)

This morning I had the oven on and decided to make a pan of hazelnut brownies using up the last of the toasted hazelnuts in the freezer. These will make great snacks/desserts over the next few days.

I have no plans to spend or drive today. We're just going to stay home and relax. Hope everyone has a great day.

early morning
7-13-11, 8:40pm
Just bought our cat's flea stuff online and saved $25 over the cheapest place I got it last year. Bought from PetcareRX. Price was higher to start with, but they had a 20% off offer and free shipping. Hopefully the stuff will show up, lol. I just used the last I had on hand, so I won't need more for a month. Dried a load of clothes on the line today. I hung them out last night, and DH took them down for me. DD put most of her stuff out, too. Working on convincing DD and DH to use commando showers to save water. Watching kittens - their mother decided she liked our house better than hers- on the back porch. Free entertainment, and they do less damage than the raccoon family (who are also fun to watch). Hopefully I can get the kittens tamed and ship them off to new homes! And if mom is going to stay, she's going to visit the spay/neuter stray clinic ASAP. The raccoon family will have to be relocated, though, if they don't move on soon!

7-15-11, 6:56am
Well, I didn't end up making mac n cheese for dinner Wednesday night as DH wanted to grill. He made some delicious burgers and hot dogs, and there was plenty left over for dinner last night and lunch today (we had other leftovers for lunch yesterday). I will have to cook again today but haven't decided what to make yet. Plenty of options in the freezer, though! I am thinking about making a cucumber cream cheese wrap for lunch. I have some leftover cream cheese and tortillas, and my neighbor graciously shared a cucumber from her garden with me.

Yesterday I got a call from an old professor turned dear friend. She had a full set of Haviland china (service for 8) that she no longer wanted. I picked it up, and it is lovely! I could never afford nice china, and, as we entertain a lot, have always wanted some. She was delighted to find someone who would love and use it, but the best part is, she "released" me from it should I ever decide not to keep it. She said I could give it away or sell it and she wouldn't be hurt. So that is nice to know. It is worth quite a lot, but I plan on keeping it and using it. It is very pretty.

DH also scored a three months supply of slow-release men's mulitvitamins for $25 at a nutrition store on clearance. I have been urging him to pick up some vitamins because his workout is so intense and he has been working a lot of overtime, too. He is really burning the candle at both ends and needs to take better care of himself. We were both pleased with the deal he found!

7-15-11, 6:09pm
Yesterday was totally unfrugal as it was Bella's birthday. Zach was rained out, so we drive down to see him. We had pizza and got unlimited wrist bands for a laser tag/bowling/mini golf place. $70 total including lunch. The boys got tired earlier than the girls so I took them back to the hotel room for a nap. When Zach came back his foreman called and said there was a 90% chance of being rained out today so we went home. We stopped at "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store" (in quotes because I don't know if that is true or not) and spend $20 on candy and root beer. Not cheap, but it was fun. They had a huge selection of microbrewed pop and so many kinds of candy! I got their homemade version of a Pearson's Salted Nutroll. I love those. We have decided not to go to Valley Fair this weekend because it's supposed to be ridiculously hot, so that will save us some money, at least temporarily.

Zach is super excited because a friend of his is going to pay him to install solar panels on his house for extra cash. He loves that kind of stuff.

I have decided that I am going to focus on my house projects in order of expense, from smallest to greatest. I want to let the paychecks build up a bit before I spend any big money. The first one I am tackling is the front hall closet/aux. pantry project, which will cost $20 and should make a huge dent in the functionality of my kitchen and dining room. The second project is going to be painting the girls' room. Those are going to be this week's projects. I am making a schedule for myself so I can keep on task.

Zach's friend, the one who he is doing the solar panels for, is going to be finishing our egress window well. He got a $25 discount on the well.

7-16-11, 12:06pm
@stella--sounds like you all had great fun on Bella's birthday! Your idea of attacking your to-do list according to cost is a great one. I feel overwhelmed by the number of projects we have going and really need to follow suit!

Last night DH wanted to rent a movie from Redbox, and they didn't have it. He wanted to go home and get it from the cable company, which costs $6 (such a ripoff). We went to the movie store and got it instead. Saved around $3.

DH and I have some errands to run this morning. We are planning our route to save on gas.

It is supposed to be really hot tomorrow, and sometimes my dad doesn't like to cook Sunday lunch when it is that hot. I understand that completely, but we can't afford to go out to eat and pay for all three of us at the moment, so I am making a corned beef dinner tonight so we will have leftovers to eat if my dad doesn't want to cook tomorrow.

I've been snacking on veggies from the garden lately, along with some whole carrots I washed and cut up on grocery day. I love having fresh produce ready and available!

I do have some bananas headed south, so I will have to make some banana bread when I make DH's breakfast muffins for the week.

early morning
7-16-11, 3:19pm
More of the same here. It's HOT, and DH is having a bad week, so we're eating left-overs, BPJ, bean burritos, etc - none of us want to cook. The laundry is all on the line, the house is closed up to keep in what's left of the cool. We have a window a/c unit in our bedroom, which is where DH spends much of his time. It's upstairs and gets very warm, otherwise. But that's all the a/c that runs, unless we have overnight guests. Downstairs I open up early and turn on the fans, then close things up and lower the shades to keep it cool. Works pretty well, and is almost free. Pulled free credit reports today - we've been getting a few creepy calls from a collection agency looking for someone with my first name and DH's first name as their last name. I emphatically told them not to call back, but thought I'd better check the reports, just in case. Everything is fine, though. I try to pull them three times a year, once from each agency. DD agreed to go visit her grandma after work, so I don't have to run over there today. I cancelled breakfast out with friends for tomorrow, since DH is not doing well - a temporary savings, anyway!

7-17-11, 8:07pm
Hello folks, haven't had much to report lately. Had a definite un-frugal on Friday. Went out to Talbot's at lunch time. Huge sale, everything 65% off with an additional 50% off, except for the full-price pair of pants I bought! On the other hand, they fit me quite well, and that is a rare find, so I'll categorize it as "expensive but worth it." I also hit the farmers' market for the first time this year and was a model of restraint, buying only blueberries (very yummy ones).
Today I did the Kohl's $10 card thing. I've said before that I feel a little guilty about this, but they do keep sending them to me - it's not like I'm stealing them from the neighbors' mailboxes or anything :) I decided that I owed them a good long, open-minded browse, which I did, and then bought four cards for a total cash outlay of $0.60. I know people who get great clothes there, so I've concluded that we may not have one of the better Kohl's in our town, and also that they don't do very well by petites. I'm 5'2" and 98 lbs, so regular sizes just don't work for me.
I also earned another $25. Macy's gift card from my E-rewards survey site. We've been dining at home (I think everyone here recognizes this to be a huge money-saver) and keeping cool with fans and fudgsicles.:cool:
We're going to a concert Thursday night, which will be an expense, but we've planned & budgeted for it, and we already have our tickets, so we're really looking forward to it.!pow!

7-17-11, 9:17pm
My favorite frugal dinner tonight ...grilled cheese sandwiches.

7-18-11, 8:24am
worked an extra night last week and am feeling flush because of it and also because i have been tracking every penny again and doing very well at staying within the household budget with my fella. we have to take the car in for inspection, and unless there's something terribly wrong (which i don't think there is), we will have enough cash to pay for it out of our household account.

i moved in here about a year and a half ago and it feels like we're finally hitting our stride in terms of working together to achieve goals/ communicating about money / etc.

7-18-11, 9:43am
Returned a baby swing that got poor reviews on Saturday. Found a cheaper one with good reviews, so with store credit and the refund on my credit card, I'll come out ahead about $25.

Brought cold sandwiches, chips, and fruit to my dad's house for lunch yesterday. It was too hot for him to cook. Then last night I made corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Put all the veggie scraps in the freezer for stock. Leftovers for lunch today. Will use the rest of the meat to make cream of reuben soup and some homemade corned beef hash.

This morning I made toast out of bread heels. It's a small frugal, but sometimes those get wasted here. I also saved the loose shredded wheat in the bottom of the cereal box so I can throw it out for the birds. It gets too mushy to eat with milk!

Today I plan on writing for a little while and then cleaning/organizing the house. Should be no drive/no spend. I also made a list of things to use up and prepare for the freezer. I have corn to blanche, cheese to grate, oranges to zest, strawberries and bananas to use up. The goal is no food waste.

7-18-11, 2:26pm
Kat, I saw a baby swing at a consignment shop and thought of you :)

Here, not too much. Some good ones, some not-so-good ones.

I decided not to get an iPad to bring on my upcoming trip. I got a new job, the one I was interviewing for a few months ago (yippee!) and I'm hoping part of my work tools might be an iPad. I wouldn't be able to keep it forever, but I could delay spending OUR money on one for a year. I instead bought a bluetooth keyboard to go with my iPhone. I will be able to do the same things as an iPad would have done, mainly blogging was my concern, just on a smaller screen. I tested it out in the Apple store and it works great. The bummer is that I paid full price because I didn't have the foresight to order one online. Oh well, that happens sometimes. It always happens before a trip, it seems :) Plus, if we ever do get an iPad, we can use the bluetooth keyboard with it as well. Or I can take it to work and use it in my classroom after this year is up. Then I don't have to sit with my back to the kids to type things up on the SMART Board. Or one of them can hold it and use it to enter items on the screen for the class. I so vastly prefer that to writing on the board.

Got some little gifties to take with me for the people I know or may meet. Bought some yummy peanut brittle, some books for the school (all in great shape at Half Price Books), and a baby gift for one of the gals. I probably could have done better on the baby gift but it was only $10 so that isn't so bad. It's a little hard to find unisex gifts! Don't know if she will be having a boy or a girl. A lot of my suitcase will be gifts from myself and another lady . . .

DH is getting a travel book from the library instead of buying one. We almost always do that now. We never regret not having our own copy. After the trip is done, well, who cares?

Used up a Jimmy John's gift card today for lunch. DH won it.

I need to do quite a few more thing for the trip so should probably do them instead of being on SLN! :) :) :)

7-18-11, 3:31pm
Today has been a wonderfully relaxing and frugal day (a "slow down" kinda day :) ) My frugals so far:

--made to-do lists on scraps of paper
--laundry with cold water, small amount of detergent, 1/3 a dryer sheet, and some hang drying (no clothesline, but I do have a wooden drying rack)
--blanched 8 ears of corn for freezer
--rummaged around in the pantry and made some sugar free jello with mandarin oranges for a treat
--lunch was a wrap made with leftover tortilla and cream cheese with some garden veggies
--took six bags of homemade stock out of the freezer to use in tonight's soup (cream of reuben--will make use of corned beef leftovers)
--made baked cinnamon chips out of the rest of the leftover tortillas
--grated up some bulk cheese for the freezer
--packaged up some bulk ground beef for the freezer
--zested a bunch of oranges
--made muffins out of sad bananas and strawberries
--washed some big freezer bags to use again (the stuff that was in them was wrapped in smaller baggies)

My MIL also stopped by with a huge bag of green beans. The last ones were delicious, and these will be great to use toward DH's 5-9 challenge.

7-18-11, 4:24pm
Congrats on the job Kelli!

Eeek! I feel like I'm leaking money!

Saturday I went to the tea party for my friend's birthday party. My friend prepaid for the party, so instead of exchanging money, we just agreed that I'd pay for the next outing. On the way home she wanted to show me a consignment store near her house that has some great deals. I got a really, really cute shirt, tags still on it, for $14. It was originally about $50.

Saturday night we decided to go out for dinner at a Thai place and Zach and I treated our friend. It was not cheap, but we did have a good time. On the plus side James, who is one of those kids who will only eat 7 things, mostly cottage cheese, yogurt and fruit, ate steamed pork buns and pad thai. That felt like a serious coup.

Sunday we skipped out on Valley Fair because of the heat and went to the aquarium. We got the membership because it wasn't that much more than the basic cost of the aquarium. The cost would have been outrageous if we had just paid for the day, but we'll get our money's worth out of the membership.

Last night Zach got a call that he wasn't going to work today because the area he is working in was drenched with rain over the weekend and the jobsite needed to dry out. He decided to go do some work up at his friend's house about an hour away. At 11PM his boss called and said that he couldn't get a hold of Zach on his cell (friend's house is out of range) and he was hoping Zach could go fill in at a local jobsite. Since he will go over 40 hours even with 4 days this week, any additional time today is overtime and overtime is good money. I called his friend and his friend was working in the city, so I packed the kids up and drove up there to deliver the message. By the time we got there the kids were hungry and tired of being in the hot van, so we stopped at McDonald's for lunch. Not frugal. I did try to minimize the damage, though and instead of getting each kid a happy meal I had the 3 older kids share a 20 piece McNugget meal for $10. It was worth it, though since otherwise Zach would have missed out on hundreds of dollars of OT.

My extra pantry is built! $20! I am a happy woman. I'm working on reorganizing it today.

7-18-11, 5:28pm
Yes, the McD's was worth getting the OT, for sure!!

7-18-11, 7:33pm
Congratulations on the new job, Fidgie!

7-18-11, 8:13pm
Thanks gals! I am excited.

7-18-11, 9:21pm
Fidgie -- hearty congratulations!!!
Kat - sounds like you had a very satisfying frugal day. I always feel like I've accomplished a lot when I have days like that.

My recent frugals are just the usuals. Line-drying the laundry, cooking at home, doing free or inexpensive activities with DD. I did use a credit card cashback program to get my MIL a birthday gift card. That will save us the cost of mailing something to her.

7-18-11, 9:35pm
Congratulations Fidgiegirl! :)

7-18-11, 9:52pm
July 18
I haven't been here in awhile had some very frugal and some not so...
You all seemed to being doing great! Congrats on the new job, Fidgie!
Earlymorning sorry to hear your DH is not doing well and am knowing all to well this week how that feels..
DH is not doing well and then Dgrandson with special needs broke is wrist in two place, it is set and he is doing good with the cast.

Frugals have been
--Dsil's visit ran into supper time so I quickly made fresh herb and cheese omelets and salad, very tasty and cheap and she appreciated it a lot she was having a bad week.
--Ds and family visited for two days and fed them all with only an extra $30.00 from Costco
--brought snacks and water to appts and visits to emerg.
--cleaned out fridge after company and used up the last of fresh things yesterday and today.
--only spent $130.00 on groceries this month
--ate lunch twice at hospital and took taxis the one day DH was admitted to hospital...parking is $11.00 and taxis were $22.00 I figuered it was worth the extra for no hassels
DH has had a build up of fluid between the lining of the left lung and the lung, after one visit to emerg were they tried to drain with a needle (1/2 litre that time), on the 2nd visit three days later they admitted him because he was in distress from pain in chest and back. The next day they inserted a tube into the chest and drained off 2 litres of fluid, it will remain there so a nurse can visit 3 times a week and drain. His chemo meds have stopped working and the kidney cancer in the lungs has grown (reason why he is getting the fluide build up) and he now has a spot on the spine behind the left lung. The postive is that there is another drug they will try as soon as they get the lungs under control....we are trying to remain hopeful this drug will work. It is hard because the first drug worked wonderfully for 4 months and then this..Prayers and postive thoughts are always appreciated.

7-18-11, 11:46pm
danna and early, thinking of both of you. **Hugs**

7-19-11, 5:13am
Sorry to hear about your DH, danna. Hugs and prayers!

@fidgie--congrats on he new gig! Don't know how I missed that news--must have been reading too fast! ;-)

7-19-11, 6:08am
Danna I am praying for you and your DH! This must be such a difficult time for your family.

Unbelievably, in between running all over creation yesterday I managed to reorganize my pantry. It looks so nice! I was able to get my breadmaker and cake stand off the counter, so I have quite a bit more counter space now. I was also able to get a few of my bigger frying pans out of the oven drawer and onto the pegboard in the pantry, which is a huge help too. I left space in the kitchen pantry for the electric griddle and rice cooker I am planning to get soon. I will check thrift stores and craigslist for those. My kitchen is going to be so much easier to keep clean and organized now!

There are still two shelves of my extra pantry left open. I am planning to start moving some of my homeschool supplies in there today. That will make a big difference in my dining room. Now I think I will keep my hutch and just paint or refinish it.

I had my Mother's Helper/babysitter come over yesterday for 2 hours to watch the kids while I worked on the pantry and to watch the middle two kids while I took Cheyenne back and forth to karate. I pay her $5 an hour, so it's pretty cheap labour and it made life much easier on me. Today she and her mom are going to take the girls out to the pool while the boys nap so I will have some quiet time. That will be useful because I have been up since 3:00AM when Zach got up for work and will probably need a nap. They aren't charging me for this. This is just a friend thing.

Yesterday when Zach was working for his friend he was talking to his friend's brother, who is a mechanic and telling him that the A/C went out on my van. We are having a heat wave, so that pretty much means I'm stuck at home for the week. The brother offered to come out to the house to fix it. He's charging $50 to recharge it. If he has to replace the compressor it will be $60. I think the fact that he is making a house call is fantastic.

I made veggie fried rice for dinner last night, a double batch. I was intending to have it for dinner tonight too, but Zach asked if he could take it for lunch today and I agreed. I have more options for dinner than he has for lunch. I think we'll have hot dogs and smoothies instead.

Cheyenne's karate teacher offered me a discount if we pay monthly instead of every six weeks. It's $27 a month or $50 every six weeks. My dad pays for it, but he will be happy to have the discount!

7-19-11, 10:19am
@stella--sorry to hear that the air is out on your vehicle, but I'm so glad you decided not to run around without it. The heat and humidity are dangerous this summer!

Last night I didn't end up making the cream of reuben soup because DH wanted homemade corned beef hash instead. I was planning on making some of that anyway, so I did--a huge double batch. It's amazing--leftover meat + some potatoes, an onion, and a green pepper = one seriously happy hubs! :-) I made him a few eggs over easy to throw on top, and he was in heaven! We have a lot of leftovers; I'll make some soup later in the week when it (hopefully) isn't so ridiculously hot.

I still had a few bananas left, too, so I made some banana bread. The recipe called for soup cream, and it turned out really good! I made two loaves. I kept half of a loaf for us and sent the rest to work for DH to share with his co-workers. Hope they like it, too!

I really need to clean my house this week. I spent so much time in the kitchen yesterday that I didn't get to much else! I think I will finish the kitchen first, though, before moving on the rest of the house. It is mostly done, but I need to clean the floor and scrub out the fridge. I think I have some green onions that I can add to the veggie scrap bag in the freezer, too.

7-19-11, 11:23am
Despite public outcry the city passed a special assessment for fire/police depts. $227.42 for every house. The first half is due Sept. 14th. Not an outrageous amount but the budget is pretty darn tight right now. We'll be paying Ian's tuition just before then. 2 xc camps for Tyler also. Plus we have to start paying for Tyler's trip to Disneyworld with the band. Then we have Deja's bday on 9/22, mine on 9/27 & Tyler's on 10/8. I opened the envelope from the mortgage company and enclosed was a refund on our escrow of $227.43! LOL We get to keep a penny of it! hee hee Thank God for His blessings. And sense of humor lol

Well, at least with the heat we are getting some good breezes. The clothes don't take too long to dry outside most days. Up until Sunday we were able to keep cool without turning on the air even with the temps up to 88. But the humidity hit on Sunday and it looks like it's here to stay for a while. I hate using the air, but I hate to be hot even more.

Ian made a fire in the fire pit and we sat out talking til pretty late Sunday night. FFF at it's finest.

DH's nephew is getting married next month. For a shower gift I got the "dessert bar pan" she had on her registry at Kohls. Used a $5 coupon plus 15% off and got it for $16. Bought a box of brownie mix & some potholders from the $ store. I'm "wrapping" it in a cute waterproof tote bag also from the $ store. Nice gift for under $20.

Tyler wants to take classical guitar lessons. The cost is $20 a lesson. I told him we can only pay half so he'll have to do the rest.

7-19-11, 12:45pm
Despite public outcry the city passed a special assessment for fire/police depts. $227.42 for every house. The first half is due Sept. 14th. Not an outrageous amount but the budget is pretty darn tight right now. We'll be paying Ian's tuition just before then. 2 xc camps for Tyler also. Plus we have to start paying for Tyler's trip to Disneyworld with the band. Then we have Deja's bday on 9/22, mine on 9/27 & Tyler's on 10/8. I opened the envelope from the mortgage company and enclosed was a refund on our escrow of $227.43! LOL We get to keep a penny of it! hee hee Thank God for His blessings. And sense of humor lol.

Too funny, Azure! I don't think things like that are a coincidence ;-)

7-19-11, 12:51pm
Plus we have to start paying for Tyler's trip to Disneyworld with the band.

Are there some fundraisers he can do to help pay? I remember that when we went on band trips (awesome, awesome, awesome experiences) we were always expected to participated in the fundraisers. For one we got about $10 per discount card sold. I went wild on that one! :)

ETA: So awesome on your check arriving in the mail. Also not so sure it could entirely be a coincidence . . . :)

7-19-11, 11:12pm
Hi everyone,

My buddy and his wife just started a website that would help the frugal track how much money they save total. The site is free, and brand new. I'm helping them get the word out, but I really do think that you would find value in it. The site is www.TotalSaved.com. Please take a look, and if you like it, share it with some friends. I'm sure my buddy and his wife would appreciate it.

7-20-11, 6:06am
Azure that is funny! God does have a sense of humour!

Kat, how do you make cream of rueben soup? That sounds like something Zach would love.

Zach came home early with heat sickness yesterday, so I found a shop in West St Paul that sells evaporative cooling products. They were not very expensive at all. I got him a hard hat cooling cap with a neck shade, a hard hat band cooler and neck coolers for his entire crew for under $20. $20 is much cheaper than a trip to the hospital. It's supposed to be 100 degrees and humid today. I have a little more peace of mind knowing he at least has something to help cool him down.

Because of the heat Zach is starting work at 6AM today, so I got up with him at 3:30 and made him a bagel and an egg sandwich for breakfast. Poor guy needs every break he can get today.

My pantry reorganization is still coming along. I am hoping to finish by this weekend so I can move onto my next project, which will either be painting the girls room, reorganizing the dish cabinets or finishing the dressing room shelves. I am leaning towards reorganizing the dish cabinets. It really is working well to do the projects in order of cost.

If I can help it I am not leaving the house today. No drive. No spend. I am skipping my bible study for the week because of the heat.

7-20-11, 6:34am
Stella, I'm also staying in as much as possible today, and we rescheduled DD's afternoon violin lesson for a later week. This kind of weather makes me feel terrible - plus every time I go outside, I can't see for 5 minutes until my glasses unfog. Can't believe the humidity. I hope the cooling items help your DH & his crew!

Frugals - we're really clearing out the freezer and pantry. Nice to see more space.
I made an arrangement with a friend's college-aged child to drive us to/from the airport for an upcoming trip. We'll pay her based on a great hourly rate + mileage, and it will still cost about half of a shuttle or airport parking.
End of July/early August is when the bulk of school supplies are on sale at lowest prices. I downloaded the supply list for DD's school and went through what we already had - we will only need to get a couple of things.

7-20-11, 7:59am
This kind of weather makes me feel terrible - plus every time I go outside, I can't see for 5 minutes until my glasses unfog. Can't believe the humidity.

Rosemary and Fidgiegirl, are either of you waking up to find your house windows fogged up? I have had that a few days in a row and I can't remember seeing that happen before.

7-20-11, 11:11am
as usual reading everyone's posts is inspiring.

We are managing the heat by only using heat producing appliances at night (dishwasher and washer), closing drapes and windows on the side of the house with sun, rotating as the sun does, and doing our labor in the morning and evening. I just finished gardening and will sit under a tree in the yard with my book and ice water. pasta salad is made for dinner.

Eating as much out of the garden as we can. Today we had omelettes with chopped onion, pepper, zukes and tomato for breakfast, tomato sandwiches for lunch and for dinner pasta salad with sauteed veggies and fresh grated parmesan cheese. My blueberry bushes are producing tons so that is most of our fruit along with my first watermelon.

Rode my bike over 1200 miles so far this year, that is a lot of gas savings.

will ride our bikes to the community pool and shower there this afternoon.

7-20-11, 11:34am
Stella - yes, the fogged house windows are from condensation on the outside - just like we get inside in the winter... because the dew point is so very, very high! It was something like 83 yesterday.

Another frugal: we've picked at least $30 worth of raspberries so far, and there are a lot more to come. (based on farmers' market pricing)
A few years ago I decided to focus on fruit because of the greater payoff and less availability of local fruits compared to veggies. We still grow some vegetables, but the fruit plants require a lot less work input - they're all perennial.

Aqua Blue
7-20-11, 12:43pm
Love walgreens markdowns. I got 4-16 count bigelow green tea for 74c each and 4-7oz bags of pistachios for 1.24. Both things I like so good deals to me. laundry is out on the line.

7-20-11, 1:47pm
Wow is it hot! We've been working hard at staying cool and hydrated like everyone else. The kitchen at work is always about 10-15 degrees warmer than outside. So lots and lots of iced water being consumed around here. Yesterday my guys were kind enough to clean the pool while I was at work. 10 minutes after closing, we were swimming. Such a heavenly experience. Later in the evening dh was nice enough to make some fried chicken with fresh tortilla chips and a tomato heavy fresh salsa for dinner. We ate on the patio next to the pool. I even indulged in an ice cold beer which is a rare thing for me.

Even with lots of sun screen, I am a bit too red today so I will have to be careful if I swim this evening at all. I plan on waiting until the sun starts to set if I go out at all. I'm pretty fair skinned and just don't tan as easily as I used to.

Ds and I ran errands today. I requested a balance on our debt at the bank. I don't know if you all know this or not but we sold our house on a land contract and still owe on the mortgage to the bank. We are making the equivilent of several payments on it each month but it will be a while before we have it entirely paid off. Our cash flow is high enough that this is not a concern and in the long run will be a very good money maker for us. Anyways, I requested the balance due at the bank today and there figures are about $135 lower than mine which is wonderful.

We recieved our summer property taxes last week. They ended up being lower now that we live here. Everyone has been telling us that they would go up but thankfully they were wrong.

I stopped at Rite Aid and used a rain check and the $10 coupon I had from the Tide deal to purchase 4 boxes of tampons and 4 king size candy bars for a total of 36 cents.

Aqua Blue- can you give me any details about the pistachio deal at walgreens? Brand names, coupons used, etc? Thank you!

I made a grocery list and organized some coupons for tonights shopping trip. Every dollar saved is well, a dollar saved!

7-20-11, 2:25pm
I know, Kat, Stella, & Kelli, it is too coincidental to be a coincidence lol

Kelli, There have been fundraisers for the trip and more upcoming. Also every time I work at the concession stand for baseball/football games I earn $15 toward the trip. I think his $800 trip is going to cost less than $600 but we have to make payments so that the money can be sent to the tour company before the trip.

Went for my mammogram today. While I was in Lansing I finally found a CVS pharmacy that had my Bifera iron in stock. I've been looking for most of a week. And not just looking at CVS - it's out of stock all over the place. Anyway, I had $11.50 in CVS bucks & a $2 coupon so I ended up paying $6.49 for a $19.99 product. Stopped at Dollar Tree to buy a card then dropped the wedding shower gift off with my MIL. Visited with the in-laws for a while then came home and had ice cream for lunch. The air in the van "sort of" works.

My very generous MIL gave me a check for $500 for back to school stuff for the boys. :D They both need winter coats & jeans & Tyler needs a new backpack and I had not been able to figure out how to pay for it. Wow that is a load off my mind.

7-20-11, 3:20pm
@ stella--I am going to try this soup recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/Delicious-Cream-of-Reuben-Soup-185381 I've never made it before, but it sounds good!
@Azure--that was nice of your MIL!

Same old boring stuff here--eating at home, using up leftovers, staying home, etc. I did make a list of projects that need to be done before the baby is born. I think we'll target them by cost like Stella suggested in her posts. Also, I took a few minutes to write Cascade to complain about their dishwasher detergent packs (which left a weird film on my dishes and didn't always open). The other day I got a coupon for a free Cascade product of my choosing. :-)

Other than that, just washing out bigger ziploc bags that didn't hold messy stuff. Making my daily lists on scraps of paper as well.

7-20-11, 3:33pm
We are doing a fun experiment today. I followed Gardenarian's link in the solar charging thread to a stroy on building solar jars and it referenced another article about baking cookies on the dashboard on hot days. You know I had to try that. They are outside baking right now. The kids think I am both absolutely insane and the coolest mom ever.

I emptied a box of peaches I had bought into a bowl so I could use the box to hold paints for the homeschool supplies section of my new pantry. I discovered that about half of the peaches were that perfect, extra juicy ripeness that would be gone by tomorrow, so I decided to use up an unopened bottle of white wine I got when my mom was here to make peach sangria. Most of the recipes I looked at added triple sec or Grand Marnier, which I am out of, so I added some raspberries and Chambord to make raspberry peach sangria. I was out of vanilla, so I used homemade vanilla sugar to make the simple syrup. Hopefully it will be good. It sounds good, anyway.

This weekend I am planning to get the stuff to make Gardenarian's solar jars. I think we'll use this as a jumping off point for a unit on solar energy. I have some solar paper we can use to make sun prints and Zach is installing solar panels for a friend, so he can show them to the kids and talk about those. If I can talk Zach into helping me I think we should make a sun oven too.

7-20-11, 5:54pm
As usual, everyone is doing a fantastic job with their various frugal endeavors! Not much of excitement to report here, trying to do the minimum number of loads of laundry and hanging them on the line to dry. Eating what we have at home rather than eating out or making special trips to the grocery store...although we did have to stop to buy bacon last night. Fortunately, the grocery store was on the way home from the gym, so it wasn't an out-of-the-way special trip. Drove to a meeting today that could have been done on the phone, which seems like an un-frugal, expect that I think the in-person-meeting will actually pay off in the long run. It was to design and deliver a customized training program for a Fortune 100 company. I went to the meeting thinking it would be a 1 or 2 session training and I think I may have sold them on a 6-8 session training and possibly longer. Cha-ching. So the $15 in gas was probably a wise investment!

I'm going to run a number of errands tomorrow, so will make a list in advance to make sure I can do it all as efficiently as possible. Also, I have a job interview tomorrow night, which I'm hoping goes well. Even though I am just now feeling the effects of my layoff from a year ago, it would be nice to have a steady paycheck, even if it's small. I have resisted the urge to go shopping for a new outfit for the interview and will instead wear something I already own.

Aqua Blue
7-20-11, 6:22pm
bke, unfortunately they weren't a special and I didn't have a coupon. They were "Everybody's Nuts" and they were in the markdown section. The date is still good-mid Nov. I find a lot of good deals at one of the three Walgreens in town. it isn't the closest one to my home, but whenever I am in the area I stop and am almost always not disappointed. I also got 7 oz bags of Walgreen's select chocolate covered almonds in rasberry, lemon and carmel for 99cc (close out) I bought several bags and will use them as snacks at my next card party(if they last that long, LOL).

My other frugal is I am on the home stretch of stripping my wood floors. I pulled up the icky carpet last summer and have been slowly stripping them with that citrus stripper. They aren't perfect more, wabi sabi(If I remember that word right). But they also aren't bad. After I get them stripped then I will varathane them. I think I can do the varathane in two sections in each room, moving the furniture back and forth. It has been a slow project, but cost about 1/4 of what the estimate was to "professionally" refinish them.

7-20-11, 8:48pm
No-spend day, with limited driving (DD had a morning swim lesson a few miles away).
Continuing our summer exchange with a friend and her sons: she's doing a weekly writing workshop with my daughter and I've been reading and writing with her sons. However she had a realization last week that she really did need them to learn to do some chores, so now I'm working with them on that. They are nearly 8 and have never had chores until this week. DD's had chores since age 3 so I know there is a lot they can do. Today I taught them to clean a bathroom, and we were at our house, so now I have a nice clean bathroom.

7-21-11, 12:25am
stella, did the cookies work??

7-21-11, 5:44am
Yes they did! They don't brown, though, so they don't look appetizing to me, but the kids liked them.

I am seriously considering having one of my kitties put down. He is getting old and he is getting quite skinny. This morning he was complaining loudly as he tried to get down the stairs and while Zach held him. His back legs are really bothering him. I made him a nice big hiding place in the family room under a table with a sheet and laid down some towels. I will keep the kids out of that room today. He's asleep now, but it's upsetting to see him in so much pain. Poor kitty. Reasonably, though, I am not sure it makes sense to pour a lot of money into fixing this, if it can even be fixed. I feel bad about it, but I think it might just be his time. It's hard, though. I've had this cat since I was 20.

7-21-11, 7:13am
Stella, put the poor thing to sleep...you would know best if his time has come. A very good friend was in such denial about her cat being near death's door that we were haranguing her about it...eventually she had a crisis with the cat which was harder all around.
Euthenizing our devoted pets when they become old sick & feeble is the bargain you have to make to do the right thing when you take on a pet. Hugs!

7-21-11, 8:17am
Stella in the mean time you can try if you haven't already giving the cat like 1/2 aspirin a day...like us old people a lot of the problem can be arthrisi..it gives them a lot of relief.
We were told this by a vet for a cat that had, had a large abscess when it was younger and it worked like a charm...worth a try for now, because if that is the problem there isn't much else a vet can do either..
Good luck and having said this I agree with others keeping a sick pet going because be care if not fair to them...hugs

Aqua Blue
7-21-11, 9:30am
The two things we can give our pets are 1) a good life and 2) a peaceful painless death.

7-21-11, 10:31am
Thank you guys!

I think Anakin may have died and I am afraid to look. After the kids woke up and I got them situated I went down to visit with him after leaving messages with vets and babysitters. He had pulled himself out onto the floor and appeared to have lost most of the function in his front legs too. He groaned and laid his head down for a minute. I gave him some treats and petted him and he licked the treats, then laid down his head again. The phone rang and I went to answer it and when I went back he was gone. There is no more sound at all and he isn't in an obvious place. He has been groaning and crying loudly all morning. I am a little panicky. On one hand, I kind of hope he is gone so he is out of pain. OTOH I have a paralyzing fear of dead animals and I don't know WTH I am going to do. Hopefully one of my friends will come over soon and at least lend some moral support. I don't want to lose it in front of the kids. Eeek! I am shaking as I type this.

iris lily
7-21-11, 10:52am
Stella, I hope kitty cat is at peace and that someone you know can swing by and pick him up, wrap him in a towel, and--what? bury him?

Here, we bury some of our cats and have the vet take the body of others.

7-21-11, 11:21am
Stella, thinking of you and your kitty. re: dead animals - I understand - what I can say from my experience is that a minutes-dead cat is easier for me to deal with than an overnight-dead cat. We buried our recently-passed cat in our yard, and I was the one who carried her out, wrapped in an old wool sweater of mine that she would have loved.

It is so difficult to say good-bye to pets, especially when they've shared so many significant times of your life.

7-21-11, 12:05pm
Thank you all! You are the best! My next door neighbor, who is also the best, came over and found him. He is actually still alive and resting peacefully a hidey hole. I closed off the family room so the kids and other cat can't get down there and I am letting him have his space. My friend is coming over this afternoon and I am going to take him to be euthanized. I am feeling better now that I have a plan. The kids were freaking out at first, but they are coming to terms with it too. Sorry. I didn't mean to hijack the thread.

Bringing it back to frugality, I called several vets and the humane society and the humane society is far and away the cheapest. Most of the vets I called charge between $200-$300 and the humane society charges $50. Ugh. What a morning.

Mighty Frugal
7-21-11, 12:23pm
Stella your post is making me cry. poor kitty. I hope he passes with little pain

Mighty Frugal
7-21-11, 12:30pm
On a frugal note (to keep my mind off of poor kitty) I won a family pass (for 4) to African Lion Safari. Which is exactly as the name states (but not in Africa). So we'll head over there some day this summer. The prize is worth $125 so big score for me!! It has the safari as well as an awesome splash pad, a train ride and boat ride all for the price of the (free) admission. We'll pack lunches to make it more frugal (and my eldest is the pickiest eater this side of the Great Lakes)

Came back from our week long cottage rental holiday. We used the $$ I made at our annual garage sale so it was kinda/sorta a 'free' holiday. Paid for the cottage in the spring so no nasty bills coming ur way-and we splurged-no nickel and dime-ing n the trip..ice cream for all!!!

Trying to keep the air cond off all day (we live in a rowhouse so attached on both sides so not too hot) and just run it at night when electricity is wayyy cheaper!

Buying loads of in season on sale fruit...mmm...cherries

Having an awesome summer so far (I made this poster entitled '2011 The Summer of Awesome' that I hung on our bulletin board at home. And I am trying to live up to the statement. So far so good. Kids and parents are having a blast!!

7-21-11, 4:40pm
Stella, sorry to hear about your kitty. We huge pet lovers (3 dogs, 2 cats), so I know all too well what you are going through. But from what you have described, you are making the best choice for your kitty.

Okay, and now I have to think about my frugal actions for the day or I will start to cry!

It is painfully hot here today. The town issued a heat emergency and opened cooling centers to help people cope with the heat and humidity. I've got the central air going and my house is cool and comfy. Today I'm not concerning myself about the electric bill...we installed solar panels for a reason and on a day like today, they are a fair amount of energy, so I'm letting the A/C run.

Would have loved to have a no drive/no spend day, but had a long list of errands to run, so chose the most efficient route and managed to tackle a number of things. Took the trash and recycling to the dump and learned that our permit has expired and we need a new one. For some reason I was under the impression that our permits were provided free as part of our property taxes. Turns out that is not the case, the permit is $25 per year. I didn't have cash on hand to pay so they said that I could come back another day and get a new permit and they still let me empty my trash and recycling. This gave me the time to think about whether we should get a new permit or pay for private pick-up. To take our own trash to the dump is 34 miles round trip, so I need to run the numbers to see the permit + the gas + the bag fees are still less than private pick-up. I suspect that it is, but I want to make sure.

Went to Home Depot and got some potting soil to re-pot my indoor plants. I had a $4 off coupon for the potting soil, so that was great. Also got some supplies to make two planter stands for about $14. Should be a fun and frugal project to work out when it cools off and the wind stops blowing. It involves spray paint so today's weather conditions are not conducive to actually doing the project, but at least I have the supplies.

Broke down and stopped at the local dairy farm that makes ice cream and got a double-scoop waffle cone for lunch = $4.80. Probably could have gone for the single scoop in a sugar cone, which would have been cheaper, but I figure if that's my biggest splurge for the day I'm probably doing okay!

Went to the thrift store and dropped off 3 bags of clothing for donation. And...didn't go in the store to buy anything!!! I'm trying to do some major de-cluttering and not going in the thrift store is a major step in the right direction.

Rescheduled my haircut appt until next week. Sure I'll spend the money eventually, but hopefully I'll be able to schedule it at a time where it doesn't mean a special trip to town. I also rescheduled my appt with my marketing person for next week, which will also give me the chance to line it up with other errands so that I'm not making a special trip for that appt.

Got a coupon from Friendly's for BOGO 3-scoop sundaes. I think I will use it tomorrow when my partner is back from NYC and we will make home made pizza and then have ice cream for dessert as an early b-day celebration. My b-day is on Saturday, but I am off to Philly for a conference, so won't get to celebrate with him on Saturday. He actually seems bummed that I won't be here for my b-day, which was very sweet. I'm happy with something low-key like pizza and ice cream, so I'm looking forward to a little celebration tomorrow!

7-22-11, 7:34am
Stella in the mean time you can try if you haven't already giving the cat like 1/2 aspirin a day...like us old people a lot of the problem can be arthrisi..it gives them a lot of relief.
We were told this by a vet for a cat that had, had a large abscess when it was younger and it worked like a charm...worth a try for now, because if that is the problem there isn't much else a vet can do either..
Good luck and having said this I agree with others keeping a sick pet going because be care if not fair to them...hugs

Danna, that is a dosage for a dog, not a cat!!!! Cats process aspirin very, very slowly and will hemmoarge with that kind of dosage. 1/4 of a baby aspirin evey other day is more than sufficient but this should be under a vets advice. In addition NEVER give a cat tylenol or advil it is poison to them.
Stella, sad news about the cat...I hope the vet visit went peacefully.

7-22-11, 10:23am
Thanks everyone! I couldn't match up babysitting and appointment times yesterday, but I have four offers of help for today, so I will have one friend babysit and the other come with me to take him in. Uff da. What a crazy week. I am ready to say good-bye now and so are the kids.

Onto the frugals now before I start to cry. I am almost done with my new pantry reorganization and starting to think about next weeks projects. The sun jars are our homeschool science project and I think I am going to reorganize my dishes cabinet this week. My dishes are kind of mismatched thanks to breakage and inheriting dishes when my dad moved in and it's time to get a set that matches and ditch the old ones. I'm getting two sets of these (http://www.target.com/Room-Essentials-Glazed-Stoneware-Dinnerware/dp/B002MBZDYS/ref=br_1_6?ie=UTF8&id=Room%20Essentials%20Glazed%20Stoneware%20Dinner ware&node=12945771&searchSize=30&searchView=list&searchPage=1&sr=1-6&qid=1311343401&rh=&searchBinNameList=target_com_category-bin%2Cnumber_of_pieces%2Cprice%2Cmaterial_type%2Ci tem_shape%2Cpattern_name-bin%2Cfinish_types-bin%2Ctarget_com_brand-bin%2Clifestyle-bin%2Ctarget_com_character-bin&searchRank=reviewrank&frombrowse=1) for a total of $50. I want to take the doors off of my dishes cabinets and have them open. The dishes cabinet is part of a pass-through from the kitchen to the dining room and the dining room gets all it's natural light from the pass-through from the kitchen and from a wrought iron fence that separates the dining room from the living room above it. That sounds confusing, I know, but the point is that taking off the cabinet doors would greatly increase the light in the dining room. If I do that I need well organized cabinets, though, hence the new dishes.

7-22-11, 5:25pm
Stella, glad to hear you and the kids had the opportunity to prepare yourself for your kitty's passing. It's so hard to lose a pet as they truly are members of the family!

Aside from that...love your choice of new dishes...what a great find! Sounds like your pantry re-org is working out nicely - you are such an inspiration!

Not much to write about in the frugal category today...it's really hot here and so there has been a lot of time spent indoors in the A/C. At least the heat has kept me at home for the most part so no opportunity to spend. Well, there is always internet shopping, but I'm pretty good at NOT engaging in that as a pastime.

Ate up some leftovers and some carrots from the garden for lunch. Found the bolt cutters in order to start a gardening project, which kept me from having to go to Home Depot to buy a new pair of bolt cutters (that would have really irked me). Now just need to wait for the second coat of spray paint to dry and that project will be complete. I'll have a pair of matching plant stands for less than $20 - yay!

7-22-11, 5:37pm
(((Stella)))--So sorry to hear about your kitty. Even though it is difficult, you are doing the kind and loving thing. I hope knowing that brings you a little comfort.

The last couple of days have been pretty frugal. Yesterday I cooked up a big batch of soup, some sloppy joes, and a batch of beans from my MIL's garden. Cooking earlier in the day and reheating for supper seems to work better for me since I feel tired and sore by the end of the day.

My MIL came over yesterday to help me take my cats to the vet. She brought us a tomato from her garden. :-) The trip to the vet was traumatic for all involved, but the kitties are up to date on their shots now and have a clean bill of health. They were really mad at me yesterday, but today all has been forgiven.

Last night DH had a friend over. They played a board game and ate the food that I made along with a pitcher of Crystal Light. This is an improvement for us as DH and this friend usually go out to eat or order delivery when they are together. I've been trying to put an end to that since we have less money coming in, and it's working! The friend seems to like home-cooked food, too.

This morning I had to take my dad a couple of places. I got gas while we were out. I also resisted temptation to buy stuff at the thrift store. Then I got home and resisted more temptation. One of my favorite stores is having a really good online sale with free shipping. I really wanted to buy some shorts and a dress, but decided not to. I don't know what my body will be like after the baby is born, and all sales would be final--no returns. I think I'd probably regret those purchases, even if they were cheap!

This afternoon I ate a simple lunch of cut up carrots, cucumbers, a sandwich, and some leftover jello. Tonight DH and I plan to watch a Netflix movie. I am hoping he will make me some popcorn on the stove, too :-)

7-22-11, 10:57pm
Stella... so sorry about your kitty!

DH and I went out to lunch, had turtles sundays for dessert and went to a move. After coupons.. spent $20. Not too shabby!

7-23-11, 9:09am
After having to take my dog to the vet three weeks ago for a severely split toenail, I'm feeling smug about my own emergency veterinary skills this morning. The same dog, one of the three we serve, was limping about this morning. At first I thought it might be a continuation of the toenail issue, but quickly realized it was a different foot. Laid him down on the floor and inspected his toenails and pads to discover a small cut and what appeared to be a splinter in one toe pad. Got out the tweezers and tried to remover the splinter, but it was too deeply embedded. So got out a needle and went to work. Took several minutes, but finally managed to remove the world's largest splinter. The wound oozed a fair amount of blood for a splinter, which tells you how big the splinter was and how deeply and firmly it was embedded. Cleaned up the hole with the antimicrobial wound cleaning/drying solution we bought from the vet previously. We'll keep an eye on it to insure it doesn't become infected or develop any further issues. But, it seems I just saved us a trip to the vet and who knows how much cash. Thankfully this happened with the dog who doesn't mind having his feet manhandled. The other two dogs would have been a nightmare to deal with and probably would have required sedation to do the same procedure. Feeling pretty good about this frugal success!

iris lily
7-23-11, 12:03pm
Stella, I've got those same dishes only in different colors. I've got one set in red, one set in green, and they mix with a patterns set that's got red and green in it.

7-23-11, 12:04pm
Thanks everyone! I am doing pretty well actually. It was hard when I brought him there, but once it was done, I was very much at peace. He was in so much pain it was a pretty easy decision.

The kids needed cheering up last night, so I took them to Target and let them spend their own money on snorkels, something they have wanted for a very long time. Now they want nothing more than to spend the weekend in the pool. If we get a break in the storms today I'll let them, otherwise tomorrow looks like a nice day for swimming. My next-door neighbor has her great-niece and nephew, who are the girls' ages, over for the weekend so we'll go swimming together when we get the chance. It should be a FFF kind of weekend.

I am holding off going to the grocery store until I've been to the farmers market tomorrow before church. I can usually get quite a lot of stuff at the farmer's market for $20-$30. I am planning to do all my prep work for veggies right away, so during the week it's easy to prepare. I am posting my menu here because then I will remember where I put it. :)

Italian sausage with peppers and rice
Chicken enchiladas verde
Breaded pork cutlets with tarragon sauce, spaeztle and green beans
Honey mustard salmon and a salad
Spaghetti carbonara and salad
Herb and swiss frittata
Creamed new potatoes, peas and carrots with french bread

All I need is some salad greens, eggs, new potatoes, carrots and fresh peas. I have everything else for this menu. I'll need some lunch and snack stuff too, but it should still be a pretty inexpensive week.

Cheyenne made us omelets for breakfast this morning. I made green smoothies to go with them. She did a really good job! The older kids, especially Cheyenne, are really interested in learning to cook, which should one day prove to be a pretty frugal thing for us.

I was really tempted last night to get take-out. My appointment for the kitty was at 6:30 and I was not in the mood to cook. I decided when I got home that I wasn't really in the mood to go out either so I made pasta with jarred sauce and some green beans. It wasn't gourmet, but it was cheap and easy and good enough.

I am considering taking on a new student part-time in our homeschool. My friend has a middle schooler who wants to do online school instead of continuing to flounder in his shark-tank of a school. She and I talked about it a bit this week and she has no problem with it, except that she needs people to keep an eye on him and make sure he does what he needs to. I think between the kid's grandma and I we could do it.

He is a smart kid and I hate seeing smart, interesting kids fall through the cracks. He is also really knowledgable about things he is passionate about and I think it could be good for both him and my kids if he assisted me in teaching the younger kids in a few subjects he enjoys, like science. Kind of the one-room schoolhouse thing. I do that with my older kids too. I have them read to the babies, which is good for the babies, good practice for the big kids and good for me because it buys me 10 minutes here and there for prep time. The last time he was here he watched a documentary about prehistoric sea creatures with them, giving them additional information he had found on the subject and answering their questions. He has mild Aspergers so the social practice is good for him too. We could split the cost of needed materials, which would be frugal for both of us.

7-23-11, 12:05pm
Stella, I've got those same dishes only in different colors. I've got one set in red, one set in green, and they mix with a patterns set that's got red and green in it.

That's kind of what I was thinking too. They would be easily mixed and matched.

7-23-11, 12:07pm
Stella, hugs to you guys about your kitty. I am really sorry. We lost our last pet, last July and it's such a hard thing to go through especially with kids. :(

iris lily
7-23-11, 12:07pm
We hosted a neighborhood patio party last night. People are supposed to bring their own drinks but I like to have some extra around. I kept a reign on what we bought and so, we had very very little leftover: 1 bottle of beer, 2 bottles of water. Well, plus two bottles of white wine, but I am taking those to a party tonight and will NOT bring them home. Those wine bottles have been around here for more than a year. I don't drink white, and summertime is the time to get rid of white because that's what most people like to drink.

I am tired of having leftover soda, beer, and wine around here that just gets dusty.

7-23-11, 1:33pm
sorry about your kitty, stella. RIP anakin!

iris lily, we had a little party here last night, too, and ended up with just a little bit of leftover food -- tortilla shells and chips, cheese, vodka, rum -- stuff we will use! we made a 6 lb. pork shoulder into carnitas and it is GONE, along with a massive load of pickled onions, spicy friend black-eyed peas, and sauteed mushrooms.

we harvested several bottles of wine from our social circle, too, which is funny cause we're not much of a wine-drinking crowd for the most part. we do mixed drinks and beer -- i guess everyone has bottles around to get rid of! it was a good time and we only spent about $60 on it which is less than a nice dinner out would be.

it was my fiancee's colleague's last day at work yesterday, and she brought the leftover sheet cake to the party -- it was MASSIVE. like a foot wide and 30 inches long or something. i can't help but think whoever ordered this cake didn't really think it through as there are only about 20 people who work in their lab. at any rate, a good third of the cake is still downstairs. i don't even know if i have a trash bag big enough to throw it away!

7-24-11, 8:36am
@stella--those are lovely dishes! Pretty color, and they got great reviews, too!

Yesterday DH and I ran some errands. We went to the library and contested a fine we had already paid, and the librarian did not make us pay it again. I *finally* got my hands on Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. It has been out for months!

We also went grocery shopping and came in $10 under budget. We only have $50 a week (and that includes cat stuff, health and beauty supplies, cleaners, etc.), so I feel like just staying within budget--let alone coming in under--is worth celebrating. DH has really been craving tacos lately, so that is what we did with the extra money. Nice simple lunch date--totally worth it. :-)

After we got home, I took a nap and DH cleaned the house (I know--best DH ever!). Later we kind of felt like eating out again, but I heated up some leftover soup, sliced up some veggies, and made us some sandwiches instead. Then we finished the rest of a movie we had started on Netflix.

Today we will have lunch with my dad. I think for dinner tonight I will make some homemade mac n cheese to serve with the rest of the green beans my MIL gave me.

Other than that, just little odds and ends things. I saved a couple of styrofoam trays that came with some corn on the cob to mix paint on. They are sturdy; I should be able to get several uses out of them. DH also finally got his money back from an ebay claim--he never received an item from a seller. So that is $80 back in his fun money fund.

7-24-11, 9:32am
Thanks guys!

Zach and I talked ourselves out of driving to Wisconsin for Diana in Wisconsin's birthday party. She made cheesecake and we do love spontaneous adventures, but it's a little too far.

This weekend has been decidedly unfrugal. Zach wanted to take me out for a date. We usually just go somewhere for coffee, but he wanted to splurge a little. We went to a yummy hole-in-the-wall BBQ place for dinner and then went to see the new Harry Potter movie in 3D. It was so much fun even if it was expensive.

Zach decided that he wanted to finish the dressing room organization this weekend, so we went to IKEA and got some laundry hampers. The set-up will now have a laundry hamper for each person, one for towels and one for bed linens. There are seven people in our house, so we will wash one person's laundry a day plus towels on Monday and bed linens on Tuesday. Because the load belongs to one person, there's a lot less sorting. I am very excited about this, but it wasn't cheap. $93 for all of the hampers.

I am also not able to get to the Farmer's Market today because we were up so late and both of us are tired now. We will probably go to our town farmer's market during the week.

So that's my confession. :) Hopefully today I will have something actually frugal to post.

7-24-11, 12:03pm
Stella, so sorry about your kitty. We've been through it a few times, and it is so painful.
Kat, I'm in awe of your frugal grocery budget. We struggle to stay under $100 for 2 adults and 2 cats. We did buy a 2-lb bag of frozen shrimp this week, which will yield us 3-4 dinners, so the per-meal cost is quite low. We really love seafood, which has gotten so expensive.
We went to our concert Thurs night and had dinner before the show. We stayed within budget, which was good. We ate at the 99 Restaurant, which is a really decent value. I got panko-encrusted cod with asparagus served on a bed of linguini with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes for $9.99. I ate the cod and asparagus at the restaurant, and then ate the pasta, etc. for dinner Fri night since DH was working. So that was a really good price for essentially two meals (I can seldom eat an entire restaurant entree).
I did my first online survey for Pinecone Research. It was pretty quick and painless. Apparently they give you an average of 2 surveys a month at $3. each, so this won't make me rich, but $72. per year for something quick and easy is an acceptable tradeoff to me.
We've been keeping cool with fans, since we don't have a/c. It got up to 104 on Friday, so I'm proud of our endurance. Those big, floor air-moving fans by Patton are the best!
I'm about to place an online order with Seabear.com, including some smoked salmon for us (great no-cook summer meals), an upcoming birthday present for a friend, and some products my Mom likes for xmas, because they are offering 40% off my entire order. I consider this quite a deal since I purchase products from them on a fairly regular basis. And these are gifts that don't contribute to anyone's clutter! If anyone is interested, the offer code is SBHF721, and the offer ends tomorrow.
Last but not least, I wrote a check paying off the balance on our HELOC loan, which leaves us totally debt-free. That feels like a real accomplishment! I took a fair chunk of our emergency fund to do this, but we decided that it was silly to pay 4.25% when we could pay it off with funds that were only earning us 1% in our savings account. Now the challenge will be to build up the e-fund again ASAP. We're not totally on easy street, because DH lost his corp job last year, and he only recently found a new job that pays a LOT less. But he likes this job a lot (he loathed his old job) and we should be able to make it work without the HELOC payment and with a continued focus on frugal living. Sites like this one have been an enormous factor in reshaping our relationship with money, and it turns out that we can be happy with a lot less money than I would have thought possible a few years ago :) Thanks for the support group!

early morning
7-24-11, 3:22pm
Danna - how is your DH doing? I've been thinking about you guys and sending good vibes. And stella, I'm sorry to hear about your kitty. We have to have our last dog put to sleep several years ago, and I still miss him, but he had a good long life, and I know your cat did too. Kat, your grocery budget is amazing! My frugals are few of late, outside the normal, day to day stuff - haul our trash, take food and drink to work, wash in cold water, hang laundry, do all errands to/from work or Mom's, buy only what we really decide we need (ok, some of us do this one!! >:() I fixed my clothespin bag with some old denim, and it should be good for another couple years. Today we met friends for breakfast at a faux down-home country chain place. We do this every 6 weeks or so. DD declined to come, but asked us to bring her back a biscuit and an order of hash-brown casserole. Instead of getting an ala carte order, I spent an extra fifty cents to get a meal with TWO sides, made them both the hbc, and brought one home, along with the leftover biscuits from the table. My friend was stressed about an upcoming medical procedure and didn't eat much of her meal, so she sent it home for our porch kitties, and it was much appreciated!

7-24-11, 6:38pm
DH saved the day today. He noticed the oven wasn't heating up for his weekly bread baking. He figured out that it was the igniter (Gas stove). He removed the igniter from the broiler and installed it in the oven position and it worked like a charm! He'll buy the part at an appliance place so that he has a backup. He's a pretty cool guy about fixing things. He really got rankled by the fridge and washing machine repairs we paid through the nose for...he deduced the problems which were confirmed by the repair guys who spent about 5 minutes replacing a component. Sigh! He's my hero!

7-25-11, 7:08am
Thanks for the sympathy about Anakin everyone!

Rosa, a hearty congratulations on being debt free! That is fantastic!

Early Morning, I use that trick sometimes to feed my toddler at restaurants. It's so hit or miss if he'll eat anything anyway and it's cheaper than ordering a kids meal.

Mesrki how fabulous that your DH was able to fix the problem! I love having handy people around. I am so not one of them. The kids tell people "Daddy is a fixer, Mommy is a maker." :)

Zach is getting tired of sandwiches for lunch, and I can totally understand that. We've been discussing other options to avoid him eating out and he suggested getting a little grill to take to work. I am fine with that, but it's not in the budget this week. Having done a science experiment with the kids last week in which we successfully baked cookies on the dashboard of my car, we decided to make a little sun oven for him out of a peach box and aluminum foil to heat up hot dogs and my homemade egg rolls. He will stick it in the dashboard in full sun with the windows closed. We did a similar experiment with hot dogs when I was in middle school. It's worth a shot.

The girls and I went to Costco yesterday. Among other things I got the stuff I needed to start making my homemade granola again. Everyone in the family loves granola (or "granilla" as Bella calls it) and it's very inexpensive.

My teenage cousin is going back to Alaska on Wednesday so she is going to come and hang out with us either today or tomorrow. I am so excited to see her! I want to take her walking up to the park to see the art gallery. She is an exceptionally good artist, so I think she would enjoy that. It will be some good FFF.

Zach and I talked each other out of driving to Wisconsin for Diana in Wisconsin's birthday party. It would be fun to see her again and we do love last minute adventures like that, but it was a little too far to really be able to justify it. We are planning to see her sometime this fall.

I very thoroughly cleaned out my fridge last week and I must say it is giving me untold amounts of joy opening my nice clean fridge and finding exactly what I need when I need it. My inner twelve year old thinks this is a sign that life has finally beaten me down. :)

7-25-11, 9:23am
We're having a no-drive day today. DD and I might bike to see a puppet show at a park later today.
I picked 3 quarts of beautiful, fresh raspberries from our yard yesterday - and there are a lot more on the way.
Hanging the laundry outside, cooking at home - all the usual stuff.

Stella, sorry about your kitty. I know how hard that is. I still miss the two cats we lost earlier this year.

7-25-11, 8:23pm
A few frugals here, today. I drove home from PA last night, skipping out on the last 2 days of the conference I was attending. If I'd realized how un-enthusiastic I was going to feel about this conference I wouldn't have bothered to register and attend in the first place, which would have been even more frugal! So, ended up saving $50+ in parking plus whatever I would have spent for meals. Also made me a lot less stressed, which is priceless! It rained most of the day, so I didn't bother doing laundry since I wouldn't have been able to hang it on the line. I guess the one good thing about owning too many clothes is you can always wait another day to do laundry! Had a no drive, no spend day, as I didn't feel like going anywhere after having gotten home so late last night. Ate some leftovers for lunch along with some strawberries and blueberries that we grew. Will eat some summer squash for dinner since the garden is producing a bounty. Took advantage of a quiet day at home to roll some coins so that I can deposit them at the bank this week. Added some titles for books I'm interested in to my Wish List on paperbackswap.com. I love getting free books and I have a load of credits, so will try to wait until someone posts books I want rather than buying at the bookstore. Yes, I know, there is always the library...I'm still working to develop that habit!

7-26-11, 8:49am
I was clearly in need of new workout tops. For some reason, the "thrift" stores out here have prices that are nearly as high as buying retail, so after checking several and being disappointed, I just bought a five-pack of men's V-neck undershirts for about $6. They are white, so they reflect the strong Florida sun, and are easily laundered. The only problem is that they are 100% cotton, so although they are cool, they also get quickly soaked with sweat and take forever to dry. I do a one-hour walk outside every day, and then follow it with a 30-minute weightlifting workout indoors. I've just begun changing my shirt from the wet one to a new dry one before doing my weightlifting, and it's working well. I think I will be asking for some tops made of Coolmax or other wicking fabric for holiday gifts, though!

7-26-11, 9:21am
Thanks for the kudos on the grocery budget, folks! To be fair, there are only 2 of us and 2 cats. I live in a part of the country (the Midwest) where the cost of living is low, and we can shop at places like Aldis. I also work from home, so I have a lot of time to cook from scratch. :-)

My dad made mac n cheese for lunch on Sunday, so I didn't make it for dinner that night. Maybe I'll make it tonight.

Yesterday I was really, really sick all day, so we did pick up something for dinner. Only spent $10 though and have leftovers for lunch today. The good news is that I slept most of the day, so I didn't have a chance to spend any money :p I did manage to update our finances and set aside $63. I hope to put away another $100 or so after DH gets paid on Thursday.

I will likely be spending most of the week at home. I need to get things ship shape for when the baby comes. I need to pack a bag for the hospital and get things put away in the nursery, plus make a few meals for the freezer. I'm not due for around four weeks, but it dawned on me yesterday that she could come early, and I should be prepared!

7-26-11, 10:32am
Today is going to be a harvest day. I'm going to pick some blueberries, beans, and summer squash. Need to figure out a plan for freezing whatever we don't eat today or tomorrow. Our apple trees are full of apples, but clearly won't be ready for harvest for some time. I am going to have to do some serious preservation of the bounty when the time comes! I think I will also move everything from our other freezer into the one in the kitchen so that I can unplug the other freezer. Even with our solar panels our electric bill is going to be high this month due to the need for lots of A/C. Have to figure out meals for the next few days as we are going to see Harry Potter tomorrow (belated b-day outing) and I don't want to spend money on snacks/meals while we are out if we can avoid it.

7-26-11, 11:47am
While I'm thankful that it wasn't worse health-wise, yesterday was a total frugal failure. I ended up in the emergency room with shortness of breath, dizziness, and a headache. This had been happening in various degrees since Friday and I finally decided I couldn't make it go away on my own. I had thought it was simple dehydration.

2 EKGs and a CAT scan later, after thinking I had a blood clot in a lung, it was determined to be extreme fatigue and dehydraton. I tried really hard to take care of myself in all that heat last week but it wasn't enough. Now I'm out of work until friday and poor dh is doing it all. On top of that, I will have some huge medical bills coming in the mail shortly.

7-26-11, 1:43pm
@cdttmm--your harvest day sounds lovely. There is something wonderful about harvest and preservation. So natural and intentional.

@bke--so sorry to hear about your rough day yesterday. I am so glad that it wasn't something more serious! I know it is hard, but try not to worry too much about those bills right now. Just be kind to yourself, rest, and let your DH care for you. Hope you get to feeling better soon!

7-26-11, 7:08pm
Aldi's sounds like they have really good deals. We don't have any near us, but perhaps some day we will. I still think you're pretty disciplined, though. We have the same family makeup and DH is a good scratch cook, although our cost of living in the Boston area is probably higher.
Sorry to hear about your ER visit and glad you are on the mend.
Sounds yummy! I bought some blueberries at the farmers' market today. I got some last week and they were WONDERFUL!

7-26-11, 7:27pm
bke, what a pain! I am glad it wasn't anything more serious too.

I took the kids on a picnic and swimming at a beach on a local lake today. We had so much fun. The girls used their snorkels to look at fish and James and I splashed around in the shallow water with Travis in the Moby Wrap. This particular beach was part of a resort in the first half of the last century and they had poured concrete and covered it with sand quite a long way out, so it is the safest beach I know of with little kids. It was perfect weather for it.

Sunday night Dad, who has horrible stomach problems, had a particularly rough night. In light of that I decided it would be kindest to save the Italian sausages and peppers I had planned for a night when he isn't home and I made chicken fried rice instead. It's becoming a staple in out house because it's cheap and I can use what I have on hand to make it. Last night's combo was chicken, zucchini, summer squash, carrots and peas. Yum!

Zach is likely going to be rained out of work tomorrow so they are working extra long shifts the four other days to make up for it. This will save us quite a lot in gas, actually and he'll make the same amount of money.

7-26-11, 9:21pm
Rosa - Way to go! It must feel great to have that debt gone.
Stella - so sorry about the kitty. Oh, we had chicken fried rice last night. mmmm that is good stuff! I always think the best part is the smell that hits the air the moment the spices go in.
BKE - I'm sorry to hear about the ER visit. Take it easy for a while.

This past weekend was our annual girls weekend with my 5 sisters, mom & an aunt. We usually go up north but this year we just stayed local at one of my sisters house. Did not spend all that much money but had a lot of fun staying up too late talking. And my mom surprised us by giving each of us $100! We ate out a couple of times & made the traditional taco dinner at home. Did some shopping but I didn't buy much. Did a little bit of crafting.

I try to buy a box of popsicles out of every check to go to the coach for the kids to eat after XC practice. Yesterday the coach was out of town so instead of running to coaches house as they usually do on Monday mornings several of them ran into another town and had ice cream, visited friends and then ran back. It was really hot yesterday so they stopped by here and I gave them all water & popsicles. Tonight I helped Tyler & a couple of the guys make up a bunch of water balloons to play with at practice. Tyler thought it would be a good bonding experience for the team. And he bought the balloons himself.

The bad news is that we got the email today that U/M tuition will be going up by $800 to $1000 per semester. Aaack! We should be getting the actual bill in the next 2 weeks. I'm trying not to panic before it gets here.

The AC has been off since Sunday evening. The temps have been in the 80's but the breeze has been blowing pretty good & it has had a cool feel to it.

7-27-11, 12:32pm
Ugh, I lost my post yet again! Why does this happen so much on this one thread I wonder?

Anyways, thanks for the kind words everyone. I really hate that I spent so much money on health care simply because I needed a vacation. I try hard to take care of myself but I know I've been feeling exhausted and in over my head for months. Between the IV in the hospital and all the Gatorade I've been consuming, the dizziness is 100% gone now and the shortness of breath hasn't returned. I've been sleeping more than I've been awake since getting home Monday night. I have to admit its the first time in years that I've allowed myself to really feel guiltless about sleeping to my hearts desire (no pun intended). Between work and having a child and a dh that survives quite nicely on 4-5 hours sleep a night I feel like I've been sleep deprived for years. My needing to sleep so much more than him has always kind of been an issue-just kind of hard for him to understand-but I think he gets how real it is now. I don't think either of us will push me so hard after this.

I don't have health insurance so the bills are gonna be pretty terrible but we'll find a way to pay them. I cried before I left for the hospital at the thought of it hurting us so much financially for me to be sick. Now, I'm trying to be positive. It cost a lot of money but the tests show that I have a healthy heart and decent blood pressure in a family where both my mother and brother started having issues by the age of 25. If I stretch it, theres a frugal in there somewhere-lol.

Ds has been helping me keep up with the basics in the house so I can rest. One load of laundry on both Mon. and Wed. Tues he scrubbed the shower for me. Its nice that he is so willing and able to help out.

Get this, Sunday he noticed that the toilet was in need of cleaning and asked his dad if it was ok if he got the cleaner out and took care of the problem. Dh and I just looked at each other and quietly smiled.

Yesterday and today should both be no driving or spending days.

I think I will probably go back to work for a short day tomorrow. We have a large catering project on top of everything else planned for saturday and we need to start getting things prepped.

7-27-11, 1:57pm
bke - glad to hear that you are home and doing better! Continue to take care of yourself and don't let the standards by which others can function be your guide for what you need. Listen to your body and take care of yourself!

Not much in the way of unique frugals happening here, with the exception of talking myself out of spending $$$ today. I had to teach this morning and was really hungry afterwards, which made it very tempting to stop for a slice of pizza for lunch. But, I stayed focused and went home to eat instead. :) This had the added bonus of keeping me from going to the thrift store for half-price day to "just look around" which almost always results in my buying something.

I need to buy another drying rack for use indoors during the winter and I have some Bed Bath and Beyond coupons, so I think I will make that purchase on Friday when I need to go back to town for work anyway. Fortunately, I don't have a deep love for Bed Bath and Beyond so I won't be tempted to buy anything but the drying rack.

Got asked to speak to a group of high school students next week. It's not a paid speaking opportunity, but it will give me a chance to continue to hone my message, so I am going to take advantage of it. Also gives me the chance to see a good friend whom I would otherwise make a special trip to see, so I consider that a frugal move!

Managed to organize my day for tomorrow such that I can make one trip and knock off several errands and appointments. I am trying to be better about not making special trips when I only have our minivan available to drive. It does not get the best gas mileage so trying to be very aware about where I'm driving and how I can combine trips.

Think I'll do some laundry and take advantage of the nice weather for line drying!

7-28-11, 9:59am
I forgot to mention that during the girls weekend there was a clothing, accessories exchange. I got a ruana. Brand new from Chico's that my sister had won at a womans expo and never used. I will definitely use it.

Yesterday the only driving I did was to make a deposit at the credit union. While in the area I made a quick stop at Goodwill. I'm looking for dress shirts for my DH. Since they didn't have any I didn't spend any money.

Had 2 over ripe bananas and found a recipe for banana cinnamon muffins to use them up. The muffins were pretty tasty. Made chewy granola bars using up choc. chips & dried mixed berries.

Had a load of clothes drying outside when the rain started so I brought the rack into the breezeway.

7-28-11, 1:06pm
@azure--enjoy the ruana! They are beautiful, aren't they?

Nothing too spectacular going on here. I've stayed home pretty much all week since it's been hot and I haven't been feeling too well. DH got paid today, and I was able to set a little extra aside to get some last minute things for the baby. The two places that I registered sent me a 10% coupon for everything still on my registry, so that will help a little with things that I can't seem to find used.

Other than that, just been trying to cook at home and eat what we have. We did eat out earlier in the week when I was sick, but we are back to eating at home now.

7-28-11, 1:27pm
Kind of a slow day here. I am making two batches of granola for breakfasts and omelets for lunch. Cheyenne made everyone breakfast, bread with nutella and a cup of yogurt. We went on a walk to the park and the kids wanted a treat. I made them spend their own money.

This afternoon I am going to work on the laundry, that is if Travis ever gives up and naps. Zach got the laundry system I mentioned in an earlier post set up and I am LOVING it! Well worth the money.

7-28-11, 3:33pm
OK this afternoon is a freaking miracle. The girls and their friend Wesley have been playing outside for two hours and both boys are napping. I've organized all of the dirty laundry into each person's laundry basket, washed a load of laundry and eaten a peaceful quiet lunch and had an iced coffee all by myself. The best things in life really are free.

7-28-11, 9:52pm
stella, that sounds like a lovely (and probably rare!) afternoon. glad you got to savor it!

big news (to me anyhow :)) -- i got a new job! last week, we found out we need $1000 worth of work done on the car to pass inspection, and on a broke-feeling whim i looked on craigslist and found a tech writing job. interviewed on wednesday, start on monday. it's a contract for just a few months, but the pay is really good -- about 3x what i am making at the restaurant. gonna be a busy few weeks starting there, working out my notice at the restaurant, and working on wear the shift, but i reckon i'll survive. it'll be really great to be able to sock some money away, not to mention no more late night bus rides, and lots more time with my honey in the evenings. good stuff all around!

7-29-11, 7:35am
Congratulations Madge! BTW I showed your skirts and dresses to Zach last night and informed him that I am going to be buying something soon.

Relating to that, I have decided that I need some new clothes. I used to have such a fun sense of style and I don't think I've worn much other than t-shirts and jeans now for a few years. I keep telling myself I'll spend the money when I've lost all of the baby weight, but I'm starting to feel bad about myself and that is the biggest weight loss killer of all. I'm going to try to keep it reasonable and spread my purchases out over a few months and I'm trying to keep it semi-virtuous by buying stuff from independent businesses like Madge, thrift stores and consignment shops. I also want to get a new haircut. I need to find my style for my 30s.

7-29-11, 7:48am
OK I hit post before I was done.

Also relating to the weight loss thing, I have been wondering how I could get time to exercise without the kiddos and without hiring a babysitter or joining a gym. I've been getting up at 3:30-4:30AM because Zach gets up then, but I have not been motivated to do workout videos at that time. I do, however, find it really energizing to go for walks early in the morning. It hit me this morning. My dad is still home until 7AM. The kids don't wake up until closer to 8AM, so I can leave the house at 5:00 or 5:30 and get a good walk in before Dad leaves. I did it this morning and I feel fantastic. I walked by the lake and saw the new sculptures they've installed in the park and watched the sun rise over the water. Good for the body and good for the soul.

Later today I am going to take the kids on a picnic at the park. When were there yesterday they asked if we could and I agreed. They will have fun seeing the new scultures too. One of them is a little house you can play in, so that one will be especially fun for them.

We thought Zach had to work this weekend but he is off. That is excellent news. Now we have two days together for family stuff. I am going to suggest taking the kids to see a breakdance battle being held in Minneapolis. I think they would like that. Tonight is movie night for the kids. We got Karate Kid from Netflix.

7-29-11, 8:09am
Congrats, Madgeylou!

Kat, I do love the ruana! Not colors I would normally buy but for free, oh yeah! It's hard to be pregnant during the heat of summer. I hope you're feeling better.

Stella, I love Karate Kid! However, when I went to show it to the boys when they were younger I realized there is a LOT of swearing & it is more violent than I remembered it.

DH woke up and found a foot of water in the basement. The sump pump seems to have stopped working. So he's off work today trying to get it taken care of. :0!

Today is payday and if I dare leave DH alone with the flood I will hit the credit union and then do my big grocery shopping trip. Big lots for the $5 liter of evoo; Aldi which is right next door; Horrocks for produce & lunch meat (turkey, hard salami & black forest ham, yum) at $5 - $6 for $2 lbs.; Walmart for the 5 Lb of cheese for $14 & $4 big box of popsicles; & Meijer for most everything else. All that stuff is in a 5 mile stretch of road so it sounds worse than it is lol

7-29-11, 9:20am
Our day started out frugal - I made a batch of laundry detergent, and potted some begonia slips I'd rooted and a baby aloe plant for my mom. We also watered our garden and porch plants using water from the rain barrel.

It's gonna be a spendy day, though, as this is our big monthly stock-up at Sam's, Aldi's and Big Lots day. I also bought the dog's heartworm medicine online - expensive, but $10 cheaper than buying through the vet plus free shipping. Every bit helps.

7-29-11, 9:41am
eep! azure! good luck with the basement! hope you guys can get it sorted without too much pain!

crunchycon, i have been thinking about the homemade laundry soap thing and it seems fairly simple but for some reason it still intimidates me a little!

stella, i would be super honored to see you in one of our garments! i think it is important to feel good about the way you look. doesn't have to be fancy or "high-fashion," it just has to feel comfy and stylish to you. i kind of cringe when people say we're in the fashion industry because, although i love fashion, i also see a huge dark side on the production level and on the human level. i think it's a lot more about personal style than it is about fashion trends.

but anyway, all this just to say that i think you're right that putting a little care into how you look makes a huge difference in how you feel. just yesterday i got a new haircut (first one since christmas-ish) and feel very tidy and cute now.

7-30-11, 8:44am
@azure--sorry to hear about the basement! What a mess! Hope your DH was able to get it all cleaned up!
@madgelyou--your business is really growing! You have many lovely things to offer. Maybe when I am done having kids and know what size I will be, I will order some things!
@stella--You shouldn't feel bad about yourself! Your youngest was born what, four or five months ago? The weight will all come off in time, but until it does, there is no reason you can't be kind to yourself and start finding your style again. I've seen your picture, and you are already very lovely! A couple of cute things, a new haircut, maybe some accessories or make-up if you are in to that....DO IT! :-) And remind me I said that after my kid is born LOL

I stopped at Goodwill yesterday, which is right by my doctor's office, but I didn't buy anything. I also placed an online order for some things we still need for the baby. My 10% off code didn't work, so I called customer service. The representative not only took off the 10% but also gave me free shipping for my trouble. Saved me $30 total. Also resisted temptation to order pizza last night. Heated up leftovers instead.

7-30-11, 2:00pm
Thanks for the encouragement Madge and Kat! I know it will be worth the money. This time, around four months after I have a baby, is usually when I look in the mirror and think, "OMG Stella! It's time to quit looking like you just rolled out of bed at 3:00 in the afternoon everyday. Take a shower. Get a haircut. Look like you care!" :) I think it's because by this time I'm usually sleeping all night again.

I am doing my meal planning today. It won't be a super cheap week because I am stocking up on meat, but I think ultimately it will be frugal.

I need dress shoes for all of the kids so I am going to a used kids' stuff store first. Hopefully we can find dress shoes there.

It turns out that Zach does have to work today, but it's all overtime and some of it is possibly premium time. That eases the pain a bit. :) I am hoping to stick all the money he makes today into savings when this check comes.

The girls have requested a homeschool project involving cooking. They will pick two meal recipes (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and one dessert recipe from a kid's cookbook each week and we will make them together. I really like the look of this (http://www.chopchopmag.org/) magazine, but I am holding off on getting it. We have a couple of kids cookbooks and the library has a ton of them. I'm going to look for blogs too. I've always done some cooking with the kids, but this will be a more thorough instruction.