View Full Version : September Frugals

9-1-11, 7:13pm
Haha, I see that several of us were still posting on August frugals even though it's already September!

We had a MAJOR score! DH's winter jacket was fraying at the buttonholes. He had a Filson wool jacket that was a gift about 10 years ago. He'd already sent it in for repair. They replaced it! This is like a $350 jacket. Excellent - now he can get at least another 10 years out of it. If it hadn't been for the buttonholes he could have kept using the other one.


9-1-11, 8:49pm
Sept 1
Major score for sure Kelli..
--big pot of spagetti sauce for supper and plenty for leftovers
--found the meal replacement DS has been drinking on sale and I had $2.00 off coupons so bought 4 boxes.
--got gas today and it filled up for $50.00 and we had not had gas since mid July...saying home a lot really pays off and of course the new car is really good on gas.

9-1-11, 10:16pm
Was making some vegetable soup with chicken bits last night over the Coleman stove and got distracted by a phone call, finished the call and forgot about the soup till a few minutes later when I heard something popping, then I remembered I had left the soup on the stove, long story short it had boiled all the liquid out and the popping was the potato bits jumping in the pan....looked bad as I chiseled it from the bottom of the pan, then I got this bright idea to ad just a bit of water and presto it became the consistency of mashed potato's, I tried it, added a bit of butter and was it GOOD, gonna have to see if I can duplicate it, it was really good, Jamie Oliver look out!

9-2-11, 7:47am
DH went to costco and got us several big cans of tomatoes so I can make a huge batch of meat sauce for the freezer and also to pressure can. Will add to it our garden or local veggies frilled and chopped and local pork & beef. I made enough pks last year so we could have pizza or pasta each week and it was so much better than store bought.

9-2-11, 11:56am
went to the Farmers market and got a bunch of produce to combine with my garden produce to make into meals and freeze. I have made a huge pot of Chili, huge pot of Spaghetti sauce, huge pot of applesauce and several casseroles for the freezer. They will be so good once the weather turns and it helps us from eating out, which we rarely do but sometimes we cave in. Way cheaper than buying already made and much more healthy.

Continuing to sew on quilts made from my stash of fabric. I don't know what I was thinking to buy so much yardage but the good thing is I have made many presents this year and have several stowed for Christmas presents.

9-2-11, 11:59am
flowers, I think all sewers have the same problem! :) I believe you are not alone in this :)

9-2-11, 12:49pm
I have a little one, I finally figured out how to redeem the iTunes gift card I was given in June. I could have used it many times over already, but oh well, at least I will have it to use now! :)

9-2-11, 2:02pm
flowers, I think all sewers have the same problem! :) I believe you are not alone in this :)
I have a hard time not getting mad at myself for being so careless with money. But being in a quilt guild I know that many are plagued with unfinished projects in various states of completion, books and patterns bought with good intentions, and stacks of fabric purchased at $10 a yard. Yet I am so frugal in other places. I guess it is the old Gazingus pin rearing it's ugly head.

9-2-11, 3:48pm
Finally took the plunge and got a Costco card. So, $50 down, but was very careful and spent only $100 (incl. $7 in coupons), about 2/3 of which was a giant package of wild salmon, 3-pack of organic ground beef, and two yummy-looking bottles of wine. Another $8 was a big jug of laundry detergent on sale, which should last quite a while. The rest was fruit, lettuce and Greek yogurt. Had to restrain myself in the bakery and cheese sections! :0! The only disappointment was that I did not find any recycled paper TP or paper towels.

Stopped at another grocery & spent another $100 getting stocked up on dried beans, natural chicken, fruit, vegetables and stuff for DD1's lunches (Indian vegetarian stuff). So far for the school year, I am sticking to $150/wk., but with all these proteins, I can hopefully get that down further for the next couple of weeks when I'll only need fruit and veg, soy milk, bread and maybe some eggs.

9-3-11, 9:38am
I went to Costco too. I didn't get much that wasn't on my list. Zach got me flowers and I got some celery at the kids' request for snacks, but that was pretty much it and the celery hardly seems like a splurge.

James is really ready for potty training. This morning he took off his diaper, went to the door of the bathroom and said, "Potty, Mommy! Help me!" He doesn't like the little potty chair but he is a little scared of the big potty seat too, so I am going to get him one of those seats you put on the big seat. Ultimately it's a pretty frugal purchase if it allows us to go down to one kid in diapers, and the potty seat is meant to work as a stool with the lid down so we can still use it for that. Also, with Travis still a baby we've got both options for him, whichever he prefers, when the time comes. Zach is going to take him for a special Daddy/James outing sometime today to get the potty chair and a package of underwear.

early morning
9-3-11, 2:17pm
Stella, that's great that James is ready to relinquish his diapers! We had one of those seats for our big seat, and it worked pretty well. Nothing exciting here. Staying home today - yay! too hot to do anything much. I finished a cover for my very bright yellow footstool. It's now covered in a rather sedate tan and blue small stripe ticking. I have a large roll of the ticking, purchased for $5 at a yard sale. Two loads of laundry on the line. Ran our average food expenditures for the year so far. Groceries and meals out together still average less than $400 per month for 3 adults, which is less than the food stamp allotment here (based on what DH's friend got as a single adult).

9-3-11, 8:15pm
Today was a pretty spendy day for me, but I had expected that it would be. I went to a crafts fair with sister and a friend. I spent some significant change there, but I didn't buy anything stupid that I would wonder what I was thinking once I got home! :)
Then we went out to lunch and to TJ Maxx and an art supply store (these are two shopping machines that I was hanging with. They are nurses in a bone marrow transplant unit of a large hospital, so they deal with horrible disease and death for a living. When they're not at work, they're all about "can't take it with you!") So I had a good day with no real regrets. The shopping was all done with my saved allowance, so no guilt, and I enjoyed the fine company of these two delightful women, so while it might be a stretch to call it a frugal day, it was money pretty well spent. After all, I'm not saving up for a solid gold sarcophaghus when I die or anything!

9-3-11, 8:46pm
Sept 03
--lunch was out at our favourite and only fast food place we ever eat at--Harvry's--had a two can dine for $9.99 and we both enjoyed it.
--super was salad and french toast made with a half loaf of bread that needed to be used up

early morning
9-3-11, 9:17pm
My cash refund check from my Amazon Visa came in the mail today, and will be saved for the holidays. Found enough stuff in the fridge for burritos for dinner - with the aid of the microwave. I'm not turning the stove on if I can help it!

9-4-11, 6:40am
normally dh goes out for a big mexican burrito on the weekend but because i made flour tortillas; he stayed home and created his own mexican meal and i used up veggies

tried to go to a open poetry reading; free but must have been an error in the paper; it was hot so we took a ride through our communities to see what everyone was up to and then back home for a movie rented from the library

realized and mentioned to dh how often we used to go to the video stores and now we haven't gonein such a long time

today willl be a hike at the local park; since the weather has cooled!

we are also putting together food, items for our next travel adventure; which will be a road trip to my home area and now ond of dh's favorite places for a color tour

also try to do the opposite of everyone; since its the holiday and many people are using it as a last time to go camping etc.; we are staying at home and being tourists in our own town!

9-4-11, 9:29am
Yesterday Zach and the girls and I spent the day working on the laundry room/dressing room, putting up shelving and a few racks for drawers we had gotten last week, sorting things and decluttering. It was hard work, but I think in the end we have a plan that is going to make the space much more useable. I list this as a frugal because the better I am at keeping up with laundry, the more efficient I am with clothes buying. I am also going to see if this can help me "tame the laundry monster" (as referenced in another thread) without buying a higher capacity washer and dryer. As much as I want them, they really are expensive.

Zach has been taking each kid out for a Daddy Date this weekend, which I think is a good use of money, but I have been trying to do the same thing without spending money. Friday Cheyenne woke up really early and instead of sending her back to bed I made us scrambled eggs and toast and sat and had a conversation with her. Yesterday, while Zach was out with Bella, James woke up and I made us scrambled eggs and toast and actually kind of had a conversation with him too. He's two, so it was a simple conversation, but he's really starting to talk more. This morning Bella woke up with Cheyenne when she got up to go out for breakfast with Zach. I was planning to make us french toast for breakfast, but she wanted to play a game and eat graham crackers. We played Crazy Eights and Memory.

This morning with Bella made me think that we need to bring back game night. Last year during the school year Monday night was Karate, Wednesday night was Faith Formation, Thursday night was Game Night and Friday night was Movie Night. I think that was a good schedule. We all seemed to like it. This year I think we will occasionally invite other friends for movie and game night. I think my menu plan is going to be one-dish meals on Thursdays and soup and bread on Friday, which will make it easier to just relax and enjoy those nights.

I've been doing a lot of preserving this past week. I made two kinds of pasta sauce, one garden vegetable, the other roasted tomato and garlic. I also made roasted tomato, onion and thyme relish, which I like on bread and seven quarts of pickles.

9-4-11, 12:31pm
Due to renovations, I am having to use a different branch library than my usual. For whatever reason, this other branch has a much better stocked sale table for their fundraising used book sale. I found the first eight books in the Stephanie Plum series in great condition for 50 cents each. I love reading series in order and for some reason have never done Stephanie Plum although my mom loves them. Perfect for a hot sticky Labor Day weekend...

9-4-11, 9:38pm
Sept 4
--sorted out all my kitchen drawers,washed out and lined with nice drawer liner I had bought a year ago on sale. I usually use cheap rolls of wall paper but, this was such a good buy I thought I would love it all padded and washable, but had not got around to using it. Frugal is using what I have and sorting because I thought I needed storage containers because of missing lids. They had gone behind drawer to back of cupboard so I now know I have plenty.
--leftover french toast from last night supper for breakfast.
--beautiful supper of BBQ ribs I had previously frozen, new potatoes, and local fresh corn on the cob (not as sweet as early in the summer but still good)
--plenty of leftovers for tomorrow's lunch

9-5-11, 9:19am
First month of paying increased rent (in exchange for reduced responsibilities for the apt. building), so I will be watching this thread closely. Need to cut about $300 out of our monthly budget. If I can keep going on my grocery plan, I think $200/mo. will come from groceries. The other $100 can come from eating out - over to the cook-at-home thread! :D

9-6-11, 8:19am
Made up a giant pot of corn chowder yesterday to freeze in meal sized portions for the winter. Going to make up more pizza sauce to freeze either today or tomorrow. We've been doing a fairly good job of eating at home for the past week with the exception of one lunch out while in NYC over the weekend. Our bees have rewarded us with lots of honey this year, so I've been eating a lot of peanut butter and honey on toast for breakfast. It makes for an inexpensive and delicious breakfast that I, hopefully, won't get bored with easily!

Used up a gift card to Home Depot to buy some plants to finish a gardening project. Only thing Home Depot didn't have was a few ferns, so went to a locally owned nursery yesterday and bought those. While there picked up some garlic to plant this fall. It will be our first attempt at garlic, but I've read that it is very easy, and we use a lot of garlic at our house, so should be a worthwhile project! Also found a wrought iron plant holder on the sale table for $6. It will be a fun edition to the container plants on our deck next season!

I'll have to be in search of some larger frugals this month as the car needs to be repaired and we have vet appointments for 1 dog and 1 cat this month. We have the money to cover all of these expenses, but I like to challenge myself to keep the bank balance the same or growing from month-to-month!

9-6-11, 9:39am
Thank you to everyone for the good thoughts & prayers. I really appreciate it.
Danna - I pray Sept. is a better month for you as well.
Kelli - Thanks for all your ideas. Ian is looking for a job on campus this year. Hopefully he'll find something soon. I don't want Tyler to have a job during the school year. He has enough going on already. He has a hard time with some subjects and he needs to finish drivers ed and retake the ACT. He doesn't need any more stress in his senior year lol
I am can't think of any kind of a home business I can do. I don't think I want to work recesses, I'm not real good with disciplining other peoples kids. And I remember the ladies from when my kids were in elementary school and they always looked so grouchy. lol Also not crazy about being a cashier. I'm not sure how much of my problem is fear, or lack of confidence and how much is laziness. :confused:

We took Ian back to school on Friday and on the way home we got a call that MIL was not doing well so we stopped to see her on the way home. She was doing terrible. We didn't think she was going to make it through the night. She did and was put on a new medicine that really helped her and she was looking much better on Saturday. But we aren't sure how much time she has left. So I went back and picked Ian up in Ann Arbor so he could visit with his grandma. Took him back on Sunday in time for a mandatory dorm meeting. MIL in still hanging in there.

So there hasn't been much frugalness going on around here. We're going through a lot of gas.

At the dollar tree I got some The Works tub cleaner. Not the kind in the spray bottle but the thicker stuff in the squirt bottle. I put the cleaner in a spray bottle about half & half with water and used it. It worked great that way.
I've been decluttering. Took a big box of clothes to Goodwill. Setting aside some things for a yard sale.
We're out of dish soap. I was going to go buy some today but I do have some Dr. Bronners I can use.
Friday is payday. We are out of fresh veggies except carrots & onions. Only about 1/3 loaf of bread. And we're out of cash. I am going to try my best to stay out of the store and make do with what we have. I made a loaf of bread last night. It is supposed to be sandwich bread. We'll see if DH & Tyler will use it. I don't think they've ever used homemade bread for anything but eating for it's own sake. We'll see how it goes.

9-6-11, 8:03pm
I am jealous of your Stephanie Plum score, Amelia Jane. Those books crack me up. They are so totally improbable but so amusing.

Well, didn't stick to the no buying plans today. The homemade bread is great for toasting but kind of dry for sandwiches. And I didn't like the way the Dr. Bronners worked on the dishes. Maybe I used too much? But I got my favorite bread B1/G1 so it wasn't too bad.

I had defrosted a chicken so I roasted it and then used part of it for chicken pot pie. yum! I knew if I just served the roast chicken DH & DS would wolf the whole thing down. Now I have the other half for something else. And the carcass for stock. I also used up the last of the bag of frozen peas & carrots.

After I rest my feet for a bit I'm going to use up some bananas in muffins w/chocolate chips.

early morning
9-6-11, 10:49pm
Yesterday was half-price day at my favorite thrift. I spent $6.50 total, and got 2 vintage wooden tennis rackets and 4 vintage badminton rackets (these will sell), a nice copy of Reader's Digest Practical Problem Solver (14 cents! I have one and will give this one to one of the kids), an unused journal (from the Smithsonian Museum store, with old floral prints), 6 mugs to use as gifts, 2 partial boxes of lovely Christmas cards, 3 silk scarves (I use these for lots of things), and 2 pillow shams for the sofa, or for DH's myriad of pillows. Of course then I had to run on down the road to our favorite non-local grocers, Jungle Jim's, (http://www.junglejims.com/) which is always an adventure. I managed to spend an unplanned $30 there, but bought some hard to find items, a couple bottles of interesting beer, etc. Actually I spent a lot more than that overall, but I was/will be reimbursed for all of it, and got points on my Visa card to boot. Today it was back to work with my packed lunch, coffee, water, and snack, and tomorrow will be the same. Watched a borrowed video tonight, and pulled together a fast dinner from leftovers. It's nice and cool here at the moment, so the air conditioners are off, yay!

9-7-11, 10:15am
Hi everyone, I'm back in the game again. I just needed a break I guess. Now that school has started and we've gotten through our busy season at work, I feel like I can start focusing on being more frugal again.

Its cold in the house this morning but I refuse to turn the heat on. I have the door closed to the room I'm in to keep it as warm as possible.

I drank free coffee this morning while doing my video values for Rite Aid this month.

After spending $3500 in hospital costs last month and finding out that my mother has to have more surgery next week I have finally, after many years of trying, managed to go vegan. Some part of me just said, enough is enough, and I'm easily suceeding at doing this for the third week. I know that doesn't seem like much but it really feels like its gonna stick this time. I consider this a huge frugal because of the on-going health benefits of changing my habits. Plus, I'm spending less on food by not eating expensive meat and dairy products.

We are going out to dinner for free tonight-my parents treat. I'll probably be stuck with salad and not much else but that is ok-its my choice. My guys on the other hand, will have a nice prime rib dinner with all the fixings for free. A very nice indulgence for them.

I'm going to the library today to pick up more vegan cook books to look through. I like doing this and its much cheaper than buying them.

I'm doing swag codes and sweepstakes today for any freebies I might win. This is something else I haven't done much of lately. Its fun frugal entertainment.

Not much else to add for now. Hope everyone has a great day!

9-7-11, 5:09pm
Nice to see you back, bke!

Not much to report here. A coworker gave me some crackers she didn't want to take home after generously providing food for a meeting. No one else wanted them, so I will have some with my leftover dinner tonight.

Not much else to report! Oh well!! :)

9-7-11, 6:58pm
Hey BKE, Glad to see you again. I was wondering if all was well. Is Swagbucks worthwhile? I recently signed up at Donna Freeman's behest, but at the rate I'm going, it's going to take me a year to earn a $5.00 Amazon gift card.

9-8-11, 7:54am
I'm still getting tomatoes from the garden, so I'm still making spaghetti sauce, salsa, etc. I try to get enough in the freezer to last us a year. Nature doesn't always cooperate, though.

9-8-11, 9:32am
I am getting on a more frugal kick. I've been continuing to process tomatoes. This time I made a big batch of plain roasted tomatoes that I can add to soups, make a sauce with or add to chili.

Yesterday we went to Half Price Books to get a copy of Little House in the Big Woods. I have most of the Little House books, but over the years a few have been lost. I got it for $2.99. I wanted to own it rather than getting it from the library because if my kids are like me, those books are ones they will reread time and time again. So far they are loving it!

I also got an Usborne Encyclopedia of Oceans for $3.50. We're doing an ocean study prior to our California trip. This book also has links for each page on the publishers website. For example, on the shark page we can watch videos of different kinds of sharks or take a quiz about sharks.

The girls begged for a stamp kit on heirogyphics. It was $7 and I relented because it goes well with out Ancient Egypt study, but if they get bored of it we can give it to my nephew who is absolutely nuts about Egyptology. Yesterday they were writing each other secret messages in heiroglyphics and decoding them. It was hours of fun.

We also went to Harriet Alexander Nature Center yesterday. The kids loved it. They especially liked looking at all of the animal skeletons and pelts. We went walking on their marsh boardwalk and saw lots of butterflies. It was a nice, quiet afternoon.

Today I am going to take the kids to a playground in the morning so I can hopefully wear out the boys with fresh air and have time in the afternoon to work on laundry and read with the girls.

Tomorrow we are going raspberry picking with a friend of mine and having a picnic. We'll have raspberry dutch pancakes for our dinner.

We've been planning out our trips for the year to help keep costs down. We'll be hitting 18 states by March and we've gotten through planning for three of them. We are giving preference to free activities and inexpensive food places and double checking all of our memberships for reciprocity with museums in the places we are traveling to. We're staying with family members in several cities so that will cut down on the cost a bit.

We've decided that we won't buy any drinks on the trip (except for the odd coffee for tired grown up) but we will all have our water bottles with us. We'll try to eat out only once a day and when we are with my mom or grandma we will keep the eating out to a minimum and eat at home. We're going to keep healthy snacks like whole grain crackers, string cheese, fruit, trail mix, granola, veggies, raisins and peanut butter in the cooler so we can make meals from them. When we are in the Southern part of the U.S. (where it's not -10 in the winter) we will use Zach's mini propane grill or the camp stove for some meals. We can make hot dogs or hamburgers or, on the stove, breakfast. I could hardboil eggs for later. I'm aiming to keep the eating out for the month we are gone under $600.

9-8-11, 1:12pm
Rosa- I like swagbucks. I have it set up on my tool bar so its easy to access. I simply make a point of doing enough searches (often random stuff) to earn points on any given day. I also answer the daily poll and click on the survey page for a point even though I don't complete the surveys. I average about 10-12 points a day. At the moment I have 3265 in points and $10 in amazon.com gift certificates. In the past I have redeemed probably $20-25 in amazon gift certificates. I like books and know I can use the points towards free books if I so choose but will probably use my points towards Christmas presents.

I have been cooking up a storm this morning. I haven't been well prepared food wise the last two days and its making me hungry and cranky (just ask my dh-lol!) I made spaghetti marinara with vegan meatballs thinking it would be enough for two meals and then turned around and ate the whole thing in one sitting. I also made a batch of maple dijon potatoes and green beans that should last 3-4 meals. I have the last of a batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies in the oven as I type this. I should make it through the weekend pretty well now unless the guys decide that something looks tasty and helps me eat it.

We were given peppers and tomatoes by various people in the past few days. Dh made sauce and canned 8 jars this morning.

We recieved new last night that our school district was given a grant by the state that makes both breakfast and now lunch free for all enrolled students k-12. Meh, I won't look a gift horse in the mouth. Savings is $250- 300 a year I estimate.

While probably not actually a frugal, I bought some vegan cupcakes at a bakery about 45 minutes from home last night. They are so stale that I threw them away. Seriously poor quality! I emailed the ladies that own the bakery and politely told them how dissapointed I am because I would want someone to repect me enough to tell me.

Today is a no spend day.

9-8-11, 1:24pm
We've decided that we won't buy any drinks on the trip (except for the odd coffee for tired grown up) but we will all have our water bottles with us. We'll try to eat out only once a day and when we are with my mom or grandma we will keep the eating out to a minimum and eat at home. We're going to keep healthy snacks like whole grain crackers, string cheese, fruit, trail mix, granola, veggies, raisins and peanut butter in the cooler so we can make meals from them. When we are in the Southern part of the U.S. (where it's not -10 in the winter) we will use Zach's mini propane grill or the camp stove for some meals. We can make hot dogs or hamburgers or, on the stove, breakfast. I could hardboil eggs for later. I'm aiming to keep the eating out for the month we are gone under $600.

I think I mentioned that on our long road-trip this summer, we brought our espresso maker and popcorn popper in a plastic tub along w/ other kitchen stuff, and we used them a lot. We also filled an iced tea dispenser every day (sometimes mixed with lemonade) and used our water bottles. Be aware that some places (Florida!!) have awful water from the tap, so we ended up buying water here and there, despite our best efforts.

Definitely try the hotel-room grilled cheese - bread and cheese wrapped in foil, grilled with the hotel-room clothes iron. Awesome! :cool: We also relied on hotel breakfasts a lot, but they were pretty dire. I would get some extra fruit and stuff to round those out if you book motels w/ "continental breakfast."

If you are stuck and need to do fast food sometime, I recommend Wendy's - we were working with a group that contained a celiac and a vegetarian & everyone could eat there. Even my hamburger-loving DD2 decided to have a baked potato one time instead of a burger. The salads are also pretty good as far as fast food goes.

Also, we planned a couple of special lunches/dinners out to try regional foods - we had BBQ in Alabama and seafood in Florida. Those splurges were worth it.

And two words - hotel. pool. Awesome fun at the end of a long day of driving!

9-8-11, 1:26pm
PS One hotel/picnic meal everyone enjoyed was tostadas - tostada shells, refried beans, lettuce (kids also just ate lettuce leaves plain), cheese, salsa. Heat the beans and cheese in the hotel microwave or if picnicking, just eat room temp. Really good!

9-8-11, 3:27pm
Made Italian soup using the roasted tomatoes I froze the other day. It was awesome!! Also cooked/cut and bagged 2 doz ears of corn for the freezer. Made a natural cold remedy recommended by a friend. Next on the list is to try making homemade horseradish. Found a recipe that will allow me to can it.

9-8-11, 3:50pm
Haven't bought anything at all in a couple of weeks - we're eating up everything from the fridge and shelves, and supplementing with garden stuff.
It's been fun - but will have to make a grocery run soon.

9-8-11, 5:18pm
I have tried to be frugal this week. I put on a crock pot of pinto beans yesterday for supper, but dh wouldnt touch them. He said they were not any good:0!

So he got leftovers from the night before, so I guess it was sorta frugal. I went to goodwill Tuesday to find luggage but no go. I will just have to keep looking.

I splurged today and bought the Deadwood complete seasons dvd for 60 bucks. But I am hoping that this will help push us over the edge to doing away with cable. We have been spending alot of time watching The Shield on dvd and it has been nice.

9-8-11, 10:31pm
Welcome, nickiefriend!

9-9-11, 10:15am
Great ideas Bastelmutti! I need to make a list of travel food ideas so I can remember them.

Welcome nickiefriend!

Today we are going raspberry picking with a friend of mine. I think we will bring a picnic. It should be some good FFF.

Other upcoming FFF events in the next week are a visit to a historical farm, free with membership, and a visit to a nature center with a new nature play area that Rosemary told me about. We have been to the nature center, but I looked up the nature play area on their website and on facebook and it looks like so much fun! That is free.

9-9-11, 8:01pm
It isn't exactly frugal as the annual membership costs quite a bit, especially when you add it up for four people, but we have been making very good use of our gym memberships since we got back from our trip. I have made it to the gym for my own workouts about 5 times a week, plus taking the kids swimming nearly every day. DS and I have developed a routine where we alternate swimming laps while one of us keeps an eye on his little sister, who is not a strong swimmer yet (but getting stronger every day). I was really struggling when we first started, but now can easily do 10 laps in groups of 2-4, as can DS. I am really noticing the effect on my muscles and body shape after just two weeks of this -- everything is firming up quite a bit. So, getting a good overall body workout that is helping me meet my health and fitness goals without spending anything I hadn't already spent -- score! And the kids are loving the swimming and getting great daily exercise, too, which is nice. They also are so tired in the evenings that they go to bed without a fuss -- priceless!

Inflation has really kicked in here and it is harder and harder to be frugal with our meals. Part of it is related to change of diet (more organic, more high quality protein, less starch and filler), but most of it is inflation. I usually stock up on meat once a week, and what used to cost me about $7-8 is now $10-12 for the same amount of chicken, beef and pork. Meat costs are as much or higher than in the US. I don't know how people on Chinese salaries manage. We have good managerial level expat jobs/salaries, and I am feeling the pinch. But at least we have wiggle room in our budget. We're going out to eat much less than we used to, so overall our spending on food is not going up as much as it could.

BTW, Stella, just want you to know that if we ever decide to leave Beijing I am SERIOUSLY contemplating moving to your neighborhood so we and our kids can hang out! I love your descriptions of your daily life and all the cool stuff you do with your kids for very little cost. Inspirational!


9-9-11, 8:09pm
Went to Kohl's today with a coupon for 20% off and an idea to buy a blazer. Didn't find anything good enough and then went to Goodwill and bought 2 blazers for $13.50 which were better quality than brand new! Will pay something to adjust sleeve lengths as I am petite but well worth it as I work in a job that a suit jacket adds a layer of warmth and looks professional. Yay!

9-9-11, 8:47pm
Lhamo I would love that! I do live in a great place. Minneapolis/St. Paul in general is a really good place for kids and my particular neighborhood is just full of awesome people and fun stuff to do.

We got four pints of raspberries today. Not as much as I was hoping, but with four little kids in tow it was good enough. The kids had such a great time. Even James was excited. I'd hand him a berry and he would get all excited "I help you!" and put it in the bucket. It makes for slow picking, but it was worth it. I made a big batch of raspberry sauce for pancakes. We'll have raspberry pancakes tomorrow for breakfast with some sausages we got at the farm.

After school got out for the public school kids the girls took off to play "Christmas Kitty Cafe" with their friend. They have been playing this often. They drew a menu, a welcome sign and tables and chairs on the sidewalk with chalk and invite the kids that pass by to eat at their cafe. It is apparently decorated with pretend Christmas ornaments, which is why it is called Christmas Kitty Cafe. Today, because it is Cheyenne's half birthday (which she has written on the calendar and reminded me of a dozen times today) I let her take some brownie bites Dad brought home from a meeting out to eat at their cafe. After that they went swimming with their friend and her dad. They came home and the kids had a pillow fight and popcorn for dinner. She has declared it "The Best Half-Birthday Ever." Good Deal.

Tonight will not be frugal. Tonight I am taking my friend, who has been in a negative rut at work and at home for far too long now, out for a night on the town. My treat, as she is very stretched for money right now. I seriously think that girl is about to explode. It's mostly just a bunch of little things that seemed to come to a head last week when she had to fight the State Fair traffic at work everyday and go in by 6AM, 3 hours early. You know, just one thing after another until you think you're losing your mind. She loves karaoke so I think we are going to find somewhere for her to do her thing. She'd do the same for me if the roles were reversed and that is priceless.

9-10-11, 4:57pm
Nothing important to add, other than a little clothesline drying today! On the second load as I speak. Additionally, two bag-loads of cans and bottles ready and waiting for drop-off at the recycling/bottle depot for Monday. So nice to return those empties and wave bye-bye!

9-10-11, 5:34pm
Went to farmer's market today and got more peppers for freezer. DH will make our last bunch of pickles for the year (we hope and pray). I just made a batch of baked beans and will pressure can them tomorrow. A friend gave us some zucchinis which we will grill with peppers and eggplants, chop and freeze to make some more light on the meat veggie pasts sauce for canning and freezing when we can get to it.

9-10-11, 5:37pm
We had a productive day of garage sale-ing this morning. We got some seats for the canoe (for a duffer). One of those DH will resell. Also scored shaver cartridges for him for less than $1 each (he uses fancy pants ones), also some hand weights for when I do internet workout videos for .25. Additionally DH bought an antique minnow bucket to eBay.

9-10-11, 6:55pm
On the down side, I was irritated to spend $20 for an awful lunch at an event today. The event itself was fun. Next time we're brown-bagging it even though it might look kind of weird at this type of event. My kids ended up just eating white bread and salad. Ick.

9-10-11, 8:15pm
Sept 10---the last couple of days
--cut off the bottom of a tube of back cream for DS and got 2 uses out of it...also, found same cream Voltratan Gel at 2 150 ml tubles for $18.49 at Costco...the last one was the lowest price I could find and it was $17.49 for one tube of 150 ml..yeah two X as much for a $1.00 more and of course that means paying way less tax also.
--I have not had the time to spend on even the few plants (tomatoes, zuccini) that I had planted in the spring...I was out in the yard clean up a bit tonight; (the whole yard seems to have gone to weeds)
moved around the one tomato plant I missed stacking and low and behold I saw red as in four lovely large tomatoes all turning red and beautiful...it felt like a gift.
--took DS out to breakfast for my birthday (Sept 11 not the best day for a birthday anymore) we got their Ultimate Breakfast and shared, and it was more then enough for both of us.
He is taking me out to the Keg tomorrow for lunch...with a Gift Card his Dsis gave him at Christmas
--large pot of Chicken soup for supper using up a couple of caracus from roast chicken I had previously froze. Enough for Supper tonight and lunch on Mon.
--used up a box of salt, a brand I don't like for eating anymore to make a batch of weed killer for the back yard.

9-10-11, 8:36pm
@danna, isn't it amazing some of the savings that can be had at those stores - and also the (to me) exorbitant cost of medications? We haven't found that everything is cheaper per unit at Costco, but for these types of things, fantastic score.

@bastelmutti: so frustrating. And people do think it's weird :( I had a weirdo moment today. I was telling my friend that I really appreciate it when running event organizers break out the cost of the shirt separate from the running part of the event. I am happy to pay for the event itself, especially when it includes timing. However, I don't need more shirts, and certainly don't need more generic cotton ones. So when I have the chance to pass on the shirt, I'm glad. Well, he looked at me like I was an alien. He is happy to take all the shirts he can get, I guess, so I'm the weirdo.

9-10-11, 9:13pm
Patched the driveway and had the carpets cleaned today. Hoping to get a good number more years out of both of those things. It had been >5 years since the last carpet cleaning (I've spot-cleaned) and it was time. They look great and it was perfect weather for them to dry quickly.

Other than that, the usual - cooking at home, line-drying clothes, etc.

9-10-11, 9:22pm
I make it a rule to buy meat only when it's on sale, then I stock up. We also have a vegetarian meal twice a week and rarely eat out. I had been trying to get our monthly grocery bill to $200 a month (there are two of us), but most of the times, it's around the $225 - $240 range, depending on sales and stocking up. I don't buy convenience foods or cleaning supplies. (Ummmm, ummmmmm, less is more, less is more...)

Anyway! :o) I don't have a cold room so I have to process the spuds from the garden. Have 7 bags in the freezer now, more to do tomorrow and another batch of tomatoes. I'm 'bout sick of dealing with tomatoes. I think it's called being blessed with work.

9-10-11, 10:27pm
@bastelmutti: so frustrating. And people do think it's weird :(

I know! It was soggy, semi-flavorless reheated frozen lasagna. Ugh. With meat, so DD1 didn't eat any. No other choices, so DD2 didn't eat any. After I had told them it would be grilled stuff like hot dogs, hamburgers and hopefully veggie burgers like usual. At least then you can mix & match. My friend's son who is lactose intolerant couldn't have anything either. Next time I will plead vegetarian and just bring something for all of us.

9-10-11, 10:29pm
Next time I will plead vegetarian and just bring something for all of us.

A good plan! :)

9-10-11, 11:08pm
Well, I just spent a bunch of $$ on Amazon. However, these were long-contemplated purchases and I grouped them on purpose to save on the shipping. We always get our Pur filters through Amazon and it was time to order those. We also needed a different bike pump, although now I feel rash about that because DH is thinking about getting a plug in one. Shoot. Also I finally bit the bullet and got the wireless headphones for our TV. Lately I've been wanting to read in bed in the evenings and am sick of hearing the TV. Ok, so some impulses here. Or maybe DH will forget about the plug-in pump idea. ;)

9-11-11, 7:59am
I had a weirdo moment today. I was telling my friend that I really appreciate it when running event organizers break out the cost of the shirt separate from the running part of the event. I am happy to pay for the event itself, especially when it includes timing. However, I don't need more shirts, and certainly don't need more generic cotton ones. So when I have the chance to pass on the shirt, I'm glad. Well, he looked at me like I was an alien. He is happy to take all the shirts he can get, I guess, so I'm the weirdo.

I think we are all weirdos when we practice frugality and practicality. The scouts on my street were selling popcorn. I wanted to give a donation, they can keep the popcorn. When you do this the kids don't know what to say so you have to speak to the parents to explain. Who think you are weird.

My garden hasn't been great this year so I went to Farmers market and got a bunch of veggies and combined with my harvest have been able to fill my freezer. I'll be visiting my kids next week so will show up with frozen meals, which they will appreciate in their busy lives. Way cheaper than bringing them out and way more healthy.

Got beach towels at the end of season sales, I am making totes for everyone with a beach towel in it. They all swim at pools in the winter and beaches in the summer so this will be a great present for Christmas

9-11-11, 11:29am
Got beach towels at the end of season sales, I am making totes for everyone with a beach towel in it. They all swim at pools in the winter and beaches in the summer so this will be a great present for Christmas

What a nice gift, and practical. Those towels can be expensive and it's so nice to use a nice, big beach towel!

9-11-11, 11:57am
It has been a fairly frugal weekend. We have not spent anything other than groceries, and that was enough! :0! Spent the day watching more of our dvd series, and today I have beans on for chili tomorrow and I froze several jalepenos and green peppers that were left in my garden. There will be more too, so that is awesome! Windows still up, and sheets drying on the line outside:+1:

9-11-11, 12:01pm
I think we are all weirdos when we practice frugality and practicality. The scouts on my street were selling popcorn. I wanted to give a donation, they can keep the popcorn. When you do this the kids don't know what to say so you have to speak to the parents to explain. Who think you are weird.

I do this all the time - I've never understood the whole "let's disguise charity as capitalism" thing. Maybe some people would just want to buy the popcorn and aren't really concerned with the donation part - but often they are "selling" things I would not to buy, but I want to donate.

9-11-11, 12:52pm
DH divided an unopened organic bath bar bought at a yard sale. It was so big it would have broken a toe if used whole. Got 4 bars for the price of 1. Made taco dip, carrot cake, and cookies yesterday so I do not have to cook today... leftovers are wonderful!

9-11-11, 1:42pm
I do this all the time - I've never understood the whole "let's disguise charity as capitalism" thing. Maybe some people would just want to buy the popcorn and aren't really concerned with the donation part - but often they are "selling" things I would not to buy, but I want to donate.
I totally agree. The kids down the street used to sell this popcorn crap that I didn't want anything to do with. I wanted to donate, but for some reason they couldn't take money. So I always purchased the cheapest product they were pushing, and then usually just tossed it. Thank goodness they grew up.

As to frugality, last night I was looking at ebay for the athletic shoes I like. I've been wearing this style for about 5 years, and have worn holes in about that many pairs. I love 'em and have had no foot problems at all in that time. Unlike when wearing willy-nilly sale shoes from Ross. Unfortunately this style is no longer made, and it's been getting very difficult to find a pair that doesn't cost full retail price. Then, wonderfully, I found a listing for 3 new pair in my size at half retail price, but they offered 'expedited' shipping for $12.99. I didn't need them fast so I asked the seller if it would be less for 'regular' shipping. Well, one email led to another, and I ended up getting all 3 pair, and he changed no S/H at all! It's also from out of state so no tax either. I am very pleased.

domestic goddess
9-11-11, 4:19pm
Yes, we are coming up on that time of year. School is sending home fund-raising materials, so are scouts, and other organizations.

domestic goddess
9-11-11, 4:27pm
Not sure what just happened there, but anyway. I am not going to buy a bunch of overpriced, unwanted merchandise just to give a donation to an organization, so am going to be contacting school, etc., to find out how they prefer that donations be given. The kids are never told, and, anyway, there are some organizations that I just can't support. It's too bad that we all have to be attacked by bags of popcorn, cookies, wrapping paper, candy, mugs,...honestly, the list is endless!

9-11-11, 8:07pm
DH and I went to the flea market today and he passed up Grain Belt glasses of which he has many so want not a need! I spent $1 on a pretty ceramic serving bowl. Only other purchase was $2 for a paper bag of organic pears - just picked from their tree - could have had 3 bags for $5 but am glad I held out for the smaller amount - plenty for the 2 of us. Good, cheap fun on a sunny morning.

9-11-11, 9:08pm
Harvested blue potatoes today. And traded tomatoes for zucchini with my friend Mrs. Nguyen. Yummy!

9-12-11, 2:06pm
First time posting on the monthly frugals page. Here's what I'm doing today: Making homemade split pea soup this morning with a ham bone that's been pretty well picked over. Also, now that the weather has cooled off some, I'm also roasting a turkey that I bought deeply discounted last November. Last frugal thing for today: I'm making a quilt sample for the shop I work at part-time. The shop pays for the materials and after it's finished using the quilt as a store sample, it comes back to me. I'm going to use this one as a gift for my Dad if the shop's done with it my Christmas.

9-13-11, 12:34pm
Welcome to the thread Nella!

We are doing a homeschool unit on Little House in the Big Woods and it is inspiring me a bit. As a homeschool project we are going to make our own butter. It's not cheaper than store-bought butter but it's a fun project and it's not expensive. I also want to try making johnny-cakes and cheese. I love projects that do double duty, or in this case triple duty, food, fun and education.

Last night Dad and Zach were both out, Zach at work and Dad at a class, and after karate the girls were lobbying for pizza from a pizza place. I suggested as an alternative going to a playground and taking along some whole wheat crackers and summer sausage. Normally I'd have a vegetable or fruit too, but we had eaten big green smoothies and two salads each for lunch, so I knew we were good there. The kids agreed. We had a nice time and everyone was satisfied.

9-13-11, 1:52pm
We're in the mood for pizza, too, so today I got some rolls, sauce & cheese & we'll make French bread pizzas in the grill.

9-13-11, 7:31pm
Had company for lunch today. Made "stuffed green pepper soup" using leftover rice, homemade tomato sauce (that I just learned how to make), and used peppers before they went bad. Also, a fruit salad with the abundance of fruit in the house, cheese bread, and homemade brownies. It was very good and was happy to use up "stuff" in the house.

9-13-11, 9:21pm
I was in the grocery today (cats would not let me come home w/o food for them) and saw some sausage on good sale. There were various flavors, then I spotted one that said 'lower fat' and decided to get that. When I picked up the package, I thought it seemed a bit smaller than the full fat kinds. It was. It was only 12 oz compared to the 16 oz of the others... Same brand, same style of labels. Kinda ticked me off. So I didn't get it. Still have some other in the freezer anyway.

9-13-11, 9:25pm
Stella, re: Little House homeschooling - there is a Little House cookbook that I've seen, the library might have it.

It's been a frugal week mostly because I've been too busy to do anything that might involve spending money. I don't really like feeling this busy.
Major score today, though: got a postcard in the mail for 2 free tickets to the local orchestra, and was able to get them for a performance when my mom will be in town and can babysit DD for us. Between the cost of babysitting and the usual cost of those tickets, that's about a $110 date night for free.

9-13-11, 11:12pm
I finally retired my Filson wool mackinaw to Goodwill. Maybe I should have sent it in, but honestly, I had gotten several lifetimes worth of use out of it in the fifteen years I owned it. It was patched all over from places the moths got it, and it had faded from red and black to very pale red and black. It just seemed time to let it go.

9-14-11, 8:18am
Discovered a great library book sale - a bag of books for a buck! Bought about 10 books and suspected that I already owned one of them. Lo and behold, I did. (The curse of owning a lot of books.) Turns out that there were 22 people with the book on their wish list at paperbackswap.com, so was able to post it and send it off to someone who is searching for a copy. In the process, realized that I had duplicates of another book and posted that one as well. And all of this must have led to some good book swapping karma because my request for a $65 book about Tae Kwon Do was filled! I love the fact that most of the books I post and trade I acquired free or nearly free and yet the books I'm requesting are often quite expensive. Definite frugal win for a book lover like myself! Of course, this has not kept me from entering a bookstore and buying brand new books this month...but my book buying habit has gone from ~$100 a week on average (no, that's not a typo!) to ~$10 a week on average.

Been eating lots of produce from the garden and need to make a plan for preserving what's still coming in. Should be able to make a few more batches of fruit leather with the pears and apples and some more pizza sauce for the freezer with the tomatoes and peppers. Have a plan for planting a fall crop, but we'll see whether I can actually put the plan into action!

Our dogs eat a prescription dog food for dental reasons and it is expensive! At the vet's suggestion, I tried mixing it half-and-half with another quality dog food, but that didn't work out so well. But I've discovered that I can actually feed them less than I was feeding them and they are doing just fine. In fact, the one dog was getting a bit chubby and now she is slowly dropping those pounds so this is a good thing. And, two out of the three dogs have fantastic looking teeth and gums and no doggy breath. The third...well, she's a tough case. I'm going to have to try brushing her teeth. But only one dog with a need for biannual dental work at the vet is definitely more frugal than three. Yes, an odd instance of frugality, but I'll take it where I can get it!

Have managed to avoid visiting the thrift store, which usually just results in buying things I don't really need. Will be stopping today to make a donation and look for some jewelry that I can re-purpose. Hopefully I will be able to minimize the desire to look at everything else!

Made it through the first 3 weeks of school and have only eaten out once, due to some less-than-fabulous planning. So far I've been pretty good about being prepared and bringing snacks with me. Hopefully I can get settled into a routine and minimize the number of lunches out this semester -- last year it was a 2x a week occurrence.

9-14-11, 9:17am
We're just keeping the spending to a minimum in general.

I'm doing a pretty good job of searching through the cupboards and freezer for dinner items. A little bit of food goes a long ways when you're the only one eating it. I'm also being quite sucessful at not wasting leftovers even though I'm eating solo.

My friend, the grocery store owner, gave me a couple extra sets of coupons this week. I'll probably "trade" him something from the restaurant since he eats here almost daily.

My son did a great job of determining which school supplies he really needed and which were just a waste. IE: we didn't buy scissors-there are always a ton floating around the class room for him to use.

Dh cut his own hair the other day.

I'm starting to see the health benefits of changing my diet which is a big frugal.

I'm doing my usual sweeps, swagbucks, foodservice rewards, and quadreaders today. Every penny counts!

Today should be a no spend day.

9-14-11, 9:18am
Forgot one.

We found a ton of reduced priced peppers at the store last night: jalepenos, serranos, etc. Dh will make and can sauce out of them-this is our favorite condiment to use on everything from eggs and potatoes to steaks.

9-14-11, 5:42pm
Rosemary thanks for the tip! That cookbook sounds right up our alley.

cdttmm that is a great score on the books!

We have had a nice frugal day. I got the kids started on their grammar and writing work early so we could spend a good chunk of the morning outside. We went to a park nearby intending to go on a nature walk in the woods and by the lake and discovered that the historical society had put up placards by a bunch of dirt trails into the woods that lead to the ruins of parts of the stockyard that was on the same property in the 1800s. The kids had a fantastic time running in the woods finding the ruins of the ice houses, pumphouse and other landmarks. We walked to the fishing pier and noticed a creek running off from the lake. We saw lots of interesting bugs and a dead shrew and had a brief discussion about sediment as a result of a sediment build up in the lake near the creek entrance. It was good fun, good learning and best of all, free. Thanks to the exercise and fresh air the boys and I napped all afternoon and the girls played.

I am keeping meals simple this week. We've had sandwich type meals two days in a row and tonight we are having an asian style vegetable noodle soup. Tomorrow is corned beef in the crockpot at DH's request and Friday is homemade mac and cheese and a salad. No one seems to mind.

A neighbor gave us some apples from his hobby farm. I was thinking of making applesauce, but the kiddos have already eaten most of them whole. Oh well. At least it's healthy.

I was looking at my menu for next week and I think I will mostly just need fresh produce, milk and bacon.

9-14-11, 8:50pm
"I think I might have finally scored a victory over the squirrels!" (she said, donning her Elmer Fudd cap).
I won an award at work and chose a $75.00 Visa card. One of the things I bought with it was a new feeder that I had scoped out online from Wild Birds Unlimited. It's a tube feeder with weight control, i.e. too much weight on the feeder (such as a squirrel) pulls down a cylinder that covers the food portals. It really seems to be working well. If successful, it will save us a fair bit of money on bird food. They were also running a deal where you got 20% off a new feeder if you brought in an old one, so I brought in one that we haven't used in years. I was especially glad that I had no real out-of-pocket cost thanks to the gift card. And I got rid of something that we weren't using that was just taking up precious shed space.

9-15-11, 8:56am
Nice job with the birdfeeder, rosarugosa!

I always love hearing about your adventures with your kids, Stella. And your home-cooked meals seriously inspire me to do more!!!

In fact, after reading this thread last night I got motivated and made up a big batch of pizza sauce for the freezer. Normally we roast tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic on the grill and put them in the smoker for a few minutes in order to get a good smoky flavor happening. But my partner is the grill/smoker person in our house and he has been in NYC for the past few days preparing for the honey festival. So, I improvised and roasted everything in the oven. It came out pretty well - it is definitely not as fabulous as when we use the grill and smoker, but it is tasty enough and I am sure we will be happy to have it to enjoy in the dead of winter!

Need to plan and execute the planting of the fall crops. We've got a cold frame so that will extend the season for us by a number of weeks. Also need to pick the apples and either dehydrate them or make them into fruit leather. I have to work today or I would just commit today to those projects. I may have to plan for a late night in order to get some of that stuff done!!!

Other than that, just trying to keep it frugal around here. Went to Panera Bread yesterday and claimed my free cookie since the offer expired yesterday. I'd already gone to Starbucks earlier in the day with a friend and we'd shared some mini-donuts so I brought my cookie home and put it in the refrigerator. I'll eat it later today or tomorrow as a treat. I'm trying to limit my daily sugar intake, which has been way too high in the past few weeks!!! Also went to the thrift store and although I was planning to only look at jewelry I ended up scoping out the rest of the store. There was no jewelry worth considering, but I did manage to score a brand new pair of pants - the tags were still on them - $44 pants for $4 and they fit perfectly! Got a few blazers and since it was half-price day I paid $3 each for 3 of them and $7.50 for one. I was proud of the fact that at the register I opted out of one blazer that I decided I wasn't in love with and one pair of pants. Also bought some books. Yes, I know, I need to stop with the books!!! But one will go to my older brother as a Christmas gift - it is in like-new condition. Another I will use as a reference tool for teaching and a third was a book I almost bought new at Barnes and Noble for $28. Much happier to have paid $2.80 for it!!! The other books were just ones that caught my eye and at ~$1.50 per book I have a really hard time passing them up. Especially because I know that I get many hours of use out of them over the years. I very rarely buy fiction so most everything is a reference tool. My partner always tells me that books are obsolete and that the internet is the ultimate reference tool...perhaps he's right...but I find it so much more enjoyable to find information in books than online.

9-15-11, 12:56pm
I have spent the morning on the phone with my accountant and an investment specialist because I have won $26,000 from Unilever and Family Dollar stores! The prize is awarded as a $25,000 529 tax-deferred college fund and $500 in store gift cards for me and another $500 in gift cards for the teacher of my choice!! All this from an on-line sweepstakes!

Yes, I'm being very careful and making sure its legit and everything seems to be on the up-and-up. Ds can use the money at any college or trade school of his choice to cover housing, tuition, books, etc or I can cash it in if he is foolish enough not to use it and only take a 10% penalty.

Its going to be so much fun choosing a teacher to award $500 to. This is a poor county and $500 is going to be a lot of cash for someone!

A COLLEGE FUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

9-15-11, 1:47pm
AWESOME BKE! What a fun dilemma to have.

That squirrel deterrent feeder sounds pretty cool, Rosa Ruga.

Things have been "interesting" around here. On the way to MIL's house on Saturday the jeep started acting up - stalling out every time we slowed down. So we took it into the shop on Tuesday. Luckily it was "only" a $184 dollar fix. But add it to the $2000 repairs on my van. The new dehumidifier, new(ish) washer/dryer, new furnace, broken water pipes , well, it really stinks.

Happily, MIL is still hanging in there. We thought we were going to loose her 2 weeks ago. She is on a new med. that has suppressed the cancer to the point where she is more alert and breathing better but she could still die at any time. DH is taking time off work here and there and we're doing a lot of running back & forth but this time is very precious and we know it.

As a result of her declining health she and FIL decided to gift us with $10,000. It is a huge blessing to our finances but bittersweet. We will be able to pay off all the above listed expenses plus put some into an EF and get DH his long overdue new glasses among a few other things we've been putting off. DH was very upset when they first tried to give him the check. He refused it. After talking to his sister and me, we helped him to see that it was something his mother wanted to do before she passes so that she can see us enjoying it. She LOVES to give gifts. And this would make her happy.

The new furnace is almost in. LOL Like everything in this house it is taking twice as long and with more complications than anticipated. They were here for 10 hours on Thursday and will be coming back tomorrow at 8 am. And then they will have to come back another time to do the vent cleaning. So I'm getting a few no drive/no spend days out of it. ;) I told DH they may be loosing money on the labor by the time they finish up.

DH looked online and it looks like we should be eligible for a tax break (rebate?) for getting the new furnace. And perhaps from the electric company as well. Yeah! Plus lower heating bills!

Did get out yesterday to get a few needed groceries. I also had a $17 rebate from the dehumidifier purchase at Menards. So I stopped in there and got 2 huge boxes of juice filled fruit snacks for free. I'll take those to the next couple of XC meets for the kids.

Made another batch of yogurt. Made chewy granola bars. Gave some to the furnace installers. Made french bread and fried rice for dinner on Tuesday - yummy. Used the left over french bread for french toast for dinner last night.

Did not buy school pictures this year for Tyler. He will be having Senior Pictures taken soon, which will (I sincerely hope) be MUCH better than the annual school pics. Last years was really bad.

Looks like I'll have some acorn squash and a watermelon ready to harvest pretty soon.

Mighty Frugal
9-15-11, 3:45pm
ow sweet Azure, I'm sure your MIL is very happy to gift you this money.
bke-wow! Incredible!!!! So people DO win lotteries -haha

Well, not much frugal but each evening my dh dumps his change from his pocket and puts it on the side table closest to my side of the bed. I have been taking this change and dumping it into the family vacation account piggy. It's adding up fast (in Canada our $1 and $2 are in coin form)

Also, dh trash picked the most AWESOME 70s styled outdoor lounge chair. It is an ordinary lounger that you can lay on but it came with a cool weatherproofed padded cushion in orange, yellow and brown flowers-so cool! It's now on our front porch. I wonder how long it took for the neighbour who put it out to see it on our porch-haha

Then latere that evening he scooped up 4 boxes of Christmas ornaments from the 60s or early 70s-so kitchy! The neighbour was still out so hubby asked if it was ok and he said 'oh yeah, take take, I don't put up a tree anymore-you have young kids'

There was something else but my feeble mind forgets:)

9-15-11, 4:00pm
Originally posted by Mighty Frugal.
Then latere that evening he scooped up 4 boxes of Christmas ornaments from the 60s or early 70s-so kitchy!I am so, so jealous and envious of you! Old Christmas ornaments are the best!!! Nothing compares. Nothing.

9-15-11, 7:06pm
Wow bke! That is fantastic!

Not as good as bke's score, but I feel like I hit the jackpot today. My friend/neighbor came over today for some grown up conversation and brought along a bunch of her DD's outgrown clothes for Cheyenne. There was a beautiful dress that will work as a Christmas dress and a ton of pants. This is timely because Cheyenne just outgrew her pants and these fit perfectly.

She also brought me some of her homemade salsa and a lifetime supply of Lincoln Logs. There's a castle and a fort among them. That will be years of fun for all of my kids, including the one I'm married to. :) She brought James some of her sons matchbox cars. He LOVES matchbox cars.

We confirmed that we are going to have a Halloween Costume making party. I think that will be fun and it will certainly be frugal.

9-15-11, 8:57pm
Cdttmm: If you're going to have a weakness, books are a pretty wonderful one to have. Besides, sounds like you've pared down the book spending a lot.
BKE: That is amazing, wonderful news. Congratulations!
Azure: What a generous gift, and good timing with the van and the furnace, etc. You're so right about the bittersweet part though, but no reason not to appreciate the financial relief.
Mighty: You can't beat free! I've had an old mahogany TV cabinet for at least 30 years that a neighbor was throwing away. It's been kitchen storage, a bar, and now it's a linen cabinet.
Stella: Nice score on the clothes and the toys, but - does the dress mean we don't get to dress up as monsters for Christmas? I was kinda looking forward to that! :)
Not much to report here. Was frugal to a fault with my allowance this week, then a baby shower at work yesterday claimed most of my frugal efforts. Oh well, at least I was able to contribute from what I had saved without dipping into other funds.

9-15-11, 9:04pm
bke - Awesome news!!! Reminds me to keep entering sweepstakes! I have picked up a few prizes in in-store give-aways, including an American Girl doll, so the 30 seconds it takes to enter can pay off sometimes.

9-15-11, 9:19pm
Oh my gosh, bke!!!!!!!! That is AMAZING!!! Congratulations. All your hours of sweeping online have paid off.

Here not much to report, well, wait! I did get a new bike with lots of goodies on sale. Since I sold one of my vintage bikes a few months ago, I'm considering that money to have gone toward it, so I got a good deal in the end since it was already marked down $200. I rode it tonight and enjoyed very much!

9-15-11, 9:22pm
cdttmm, I was reminded that YOU had inspired me to try something, too! Grooming a dog! Haven't done it yet, but requested a book from the library, watched some vids online, and going to see if my mom will let me try on one of her doggies. We'll see! My parents are getting kind of slim on money so if I could do a passable job, I'm sure they'd like to save the $$ on grooming. They won't care if they look perfect, just so they stay relatively clean and the hair is out of their eyes. Any resources you know of would be appreciated! (I hope I'm remembering correctly that it is you who knows how to do this . . . :) )

9-16-11, 6:06am
bke - wow, wow, wow!

We're hosting a farmers' market dinner this weekend that we offered at our annual church auction. It coincides with the end of the harvest from our garden and so the timing is perfect. I'm going to the farmers' market today but about half of the food will be even more local than that!

9-16-11, 7:10am
LOL Rosa, I think Bella still wants to dress up as a monster for Christmas, but Cheyenne might not join her. Bella loves her costumes!

9-16-11, 10:37am
Thanks everyone! This is such a funny win. Ds is 11 yrs. old and a straight A student but the thought of going to college is as torturous as having to hold his mother's hand in public. He'd almost rather die! For me, it means that I can retire asap without the guilt of not helping with college. Its always in the back of my mind that I won't quit working if ds needs financial help with school.

I guess my frugal for today is that fact that I took the sweepstakes papers to the bank and had them notorized for free.

Sounds like you got some good stuff from your friend Stella! Things like Lincoln logs and Legos make the best toys!

Azure-I don't know what to say except that I feel for you and your family. Stay strong. I agree that accepting the money was as much a gift to your inlaws as it was to you.

9-16-11, 11:59am
At the beginning of the summer my dad payed for a car repair to give Zach and me a chance to build up our EF after his lengthy unemployment. I have been paying him back a little here and a little there and had paid back about $250 of the $900. Last night he told me not to worry about the rest. I tried to insist and he told me that he's probably got another 20 years left in him and there's plenty of opportunity for give and take. I was planning to give him more this weekend, but now that will go to savings.

9-16-11, 6:49pm
Originally posted by Bke.
I have spent the morning on the phone with my accountant and an investment specialist because I have won $26,000 from Unilever and Family Dollar stores!Super-fabulous!!! So happy for you I am. Enjoy!

9-16-11, 8:48pm
So I've been doing some heavy-duty thinking and philosophizing about frugal/simple living. I'm a ponderer, and
here's what I've been pondering:
I really like the Mr Money Mustache Blog (despite, or partially because of, the oh so silly name?)
I've been thinking about what he posted about how being a producer is so much better than being a consumer. It can make you smarter (Don't know how to do it? Learn). It can make you stronger (Many productive activities are good exercise). It's good for the psyche (Ah, the pride of accomplishment!) And it's good for the bank account (Last but not least, and an obvious benefit).
I've also been thinking about something Stella said a while ago. I'll paraphrase very loosely, and Stella, feel free to jump in if I get it wrong. It was words to the effect that much unnecessary/recreational shopping is born from frustrated creativity, i.e. we want to make or create something, but it's too much work, we don't have a glue gun, etc. etc. so we just go buy something, for the little thrill of accomplishment. Except we usually haven't accomplished much :(
So my takeaway/conclusion from this ruminating is that I'm going to make a list of creative projects that I've been wanting to do for awhile, and try to tackle them during the winter. "The Creativity Project of Winter 2011/2012."
I feel like I've curbed my consumerism by a large margin over the past three years, but I'm still not quite where I want to be. I don't expect or even want to be a total minimalist, but I'm not quite where I want to be yet, and I think I'll know it when I get there!

9-16-11, 9:10pm
Went to a yard sale today and found a 1956 Betty Crocker cookbook that was AWESOME (50). It tells how to make all kinds of things from scratch. Talks about being able to keep egg whites in a jar in the fridge for x days and how to use the egg yolks to make ice cream in the refrigerator. Interesting to note how to cook a squirrel, quail or rabbit, filet a fish etc.... Also found a book on herbs that gives directions on herb combinations for different ailments. More ideas on how to be more frugal!

9-16-11, 10:12pm
@frugal-one, those are fun books to find.

@Stella, you have a nice dad :)

@rosa, I also love MMM! That post really spoke to me, too, or at least one that I'm about to link to did, if we're talking about two different things :) (Here it is, if you missed it. He's less than dainty, BTW.) (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/13/domestic-outsourcing-practical-or-wussypants/) It makes me think about things like fixing the car or, as I mentioned above, grooming a dog! That said, haha, DH's car just had problems and he wanted to check out the sparkplugs before taking it in but I insisted he just bring it to the shop. It's a lot easier to do the kinds of stuff MMM is talking about when not slave to the work-clock. :|(

The creativity project sounds fun, too!

9-16-11, 10:15pm
Frugal-one: If my new feeder doesn't work, I might be looking for some squirrel recipes!
Seriously, DH has a Betty Crocker that is definitely his go-to book. So it must be a great book, because he makes some really great food.

9-17-11, 9:21am
Rosa, I think that sums up my feelings about creativity. I really have found that to be true in my life. It's when I feel the most stymied creatively that I spend the most.

Kelli, yes I have a super nice Dad! He's fabulous really.

Frugal-one that is a fabulous score!

I still have to work up a menu for this week but I really don't need much. I have a full pantry, two full freezers and enough fruits and vegetables to feed a family of chimpanzees for a week, so other than milk and a few thises and thats I should be fine. This is how I like to start the fall. I still have to process apples and get some squash, but overall I feel good.

Cheyenne is making everyone omelets for breakfast this morning. She is so proud of herself! I don't know that this is strictly frugal, but in my head it's related. If my kids inherit my love of cooking, and at least the older three seem as though they have, I have plans for the future. I'm picturing old fashioned group cooking days where we can make and can sauce, pickles and salsa, freeze pie crusts, biscuits, soups, stews, lasagnas and bread dough and other stuff like that. I can see different kids having different specialty dishes. Cheyenne has a particular fondness for Asian food. Also, with that many people capable of cooking I'd imagine we'd never end up eating out because of tiredness.

Another sort-of related thing, the girls decided on their own to declutter some of their unused toys. They put together a whole bin for donation without me having anything to do with it. I was quite pleased. They are moving from being interested in having a ton of toys of their own to liking the sets of toys, like the Lincoln logs and legos, that everyone shares.

Speaking of legos, today is my friend's son's birthday party. They've requested legos or gift cards to the lego store. I was going to go and buy a giftcard, but I decided I'll just give him cash instead. It's not worth the gas to drive all the way out to the Mall of America just to get a giftcard. The lego store takes cash too.

9-17-11, 11:07am
you guys, i have been indulging in way too much retail therapy these last few weeks. mostly online shopping -- makeup, shoes, jewelry. i have to stop using this as the way i deal with stress ... cause the stress isn't going anywhere and i need to save up some money again!

ugh, it was a rough night. my grandma fell down, and she seems pretty out of it in general the last week or so. she has no appetite, forgets to eat, etc. i've been going over there twice a day for an hour or so to check on her, but if i'm not sitting there reminding her to take a bite every few minutes, she doesn't eat. and then she gets so weak and dizzy when she stands up to go to the bathroom. vicious cycle and i'm not sure what to do about it. however, i'm sure that spending all the money i make is not the right response. i need to find another way to deal...

9-17-11, 12:36pm
Rosarugosa ... So funny! Actually when I was a kid we ate squirrels and rabbits. They were very good. The only other thing I remember my mother saying you needed a lot of squirrels for a meal since they are so small. The other book that I got recently is Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything". I now have an old version and new version on how to cook from scratch. These should both really come in handy I think. Today I plan on cleaning out the freezers and food cupboards. I sure wish I had as full a pantry as Stella!

Went to a few yard sales today and found myself Clarks sandals. Checked online and they are on sale now at 20% off for $85. I paid $1. Also bought my almost DIL a pair of Keen sandals that retail for $95. I paid $2. Both pairs of sandals looked never worn. Shocking to me! Am I correct if you buy shoes and they are not a good fit you can take them back? Also found Saran wrap. Can't understand why anyone would get rid of that. The woman said she never bakes so... ??

Madgeylou... I wonder if that is the case with my MIL. She has lost all kinds of weight too. We live far away and there is no other family to check on her. Sigh.

9-17-11, 7:28pm

Cheyanne might enjoy these Asian oriented food blogs I follow -- Eating Asia is really amazing as it gives real insight into the culture that underlies the food:


Scroll down to the entry on Beyond Pho in Hanoi -- that one had my mouth watering. and their posts on food in Chengdu, Sichuan are great - make me miss my old stomping grounds!) Basically if you are interested in Asian food you can spend hours here....)


Diana Kuan's recipes are really great and usually quite simple. YOu might want to try the tea eggs with the kids -- very easy to make and a nice savory variation on hard boiled eggs. Great for fall/winter.

Those are two of my favorites. Enjoy!

Actually, food blogs have become a huge frugal pleasure for me. I still have somethign of a cookbook addiction, but it is so nice to be able to look something up on the fly and experiment.

WE've been doing pretty well on the frugality front. Managed to get in and out of Ikea yesterday while only spending about $15 on house stuff, all of which was on our list. And I didn't buy a few things that were -- decided not to splurge on new covers for the dining room chairs after all, since spending nearly $150 for six covers seemed a bit excessive. The covers we have are beige ultrasuede, which is a pain because it shows the dirt, but it is highly washable. the alternatives we were considering would have been different fabrics and probably would look worn after a couple of washings.

I did spend a lot on food, but all stuff that we eat regularly that is cheaper at Ikea than other alternatives -- coffee, organic pasta sauce, smoked salmon and dark chocolate.

Probably will eat all meals in this weekend. Though grocery costs have gone way up, we still spend less when we eat in than when we go out.


9-17-11, 8:15pm
Today was a no drive/ no spend day. Dinner varied for everyone but it involved using up things that would go to waste. The guys ate chicken with leftover mashed potatoes and a salad of fresh tomatoes, onions and peppers. I ate 2 veggie sandwiches on whole wheat bread and drank a glass of soy milk. My frugal was about using up food before it spoiled since I'm the only one eating these things and the guys ate leftovers from work.

I recieved my free postage stamps from quadreaders yesterday.

I'm on line now to do sweeps ( yes, I'm still interested in more wins!!) and swagpoints. The guys are hanging out doing their own thing so no one minds me being on the computer this evening. I make sure that my computer time doesn't interfere with family time.

9-18-11, 11:11am
madgey, sorry about your Grandma :( (((madgey & Grandma)))

9-18-11, 3:20pm
madgey, sorry about your Grandma :( (((madgey & Grandma)))

thanks, fidgiegirl. she seems a bit better today after us basically haranguing her to eat all day yesterday -- she has more pep at least! we located an agency around here that works with frail elderly folks to help them stay home and are going to reach out for some support from them tomorrow ... hoping we can make sure she gets all the care she needs through this. whether she gets better or if it's her time to depart this life, i just want it to be as simple and painless and easy for her as possible. i think we can get some more support to make that happen.

in frugal news, we planned out our meals today and i did all of our grocery shopping AND i resisted going to sephora. baby steps. :)

9-19-11, 9:22am
Thanks for the links Lhamo! Cheyenne is going to love those!

Madgey I am praying for your grandma and for you and your family. What a tough time!

We had a good weekend. We miscommunicated Friday night about a birthday party we had planned on going to. I thought he was saying he was too tired to go and he thought I was saying I was too tired to go. It turned out we had both wanted to go, but maybe it was for the best as it was at a bar and could have been expensive.

Saturday we cleaned, decluttered and organized most of the day. Sunday we decided to follow through a bit on Cheyenne's request to learn more about Asia. We had lunch at a Chinese restaruant owned by a friend of mine. The prices for their buffet are quite good. All of us ate for $20. Then we went to the Japanese Garden at Como Park, which is free. We went to the evening mass. It was a nice day.

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I printed some fun hidden picture pirate stuff for the girls and I am making eggs and toast and cutting the toast into pirate ship shapes with my pirate ship cookie cutter. There's a new sculpture in the water at the park that is a miniature pirate ship and the kids were all excited about that, so I am going to have them write a story in their story journals about The Pirates of the Lake. I am going to write one too. That sculpture really captured their imaginations last week, so I think they'll like that assignment. Bella was convinced that the ship had been made by fish and Cheyenne decided there were mermaids in the lake to go with the pirate ship. They decided some rocks in the lake were a Native American village made by fish and mermaids and the pirates were raiding it. I think we have a lot to work with here.

9-19-11, 9:47am
I love the way your children think, Stella! The imaginative connections are priceless!

9-19-11, 10:15am
The install on our new furnace was completed Friday morning. Yeah! It runs so much more quietly than the old one. And the heat did seem more even which will be nice during those cold winter days. However, they still need to come back and do the vent cleaning. AND Saturday morning we realized that the pipe that they moved the water heater from (it had to be moved & properly vented) is dripping like crazy. So I'm waiting for them to come fix that.

Also on Friday I drove down to pick up Ian in AA. Used up some salsa for dinner by making Mexican chicken. And then I worked at the concession stand for the football game which gives us another $15 off the cost of Tyler's Disney trip. The band is performing at Disney on spring break.

Saturday had an early morning XC meet. I took one box of the fruit snacks and made some no bake cookies as my contribution to the team. We had sandwiches & brought some water from home for lunch. It was a beautiful day!

Took the boys to Kohls to get them their winter coats. The coats were on sale & I had a 30% off coupon. Ended up getting Ian a cute faux leather jacket with a sweatshirt hoodie. And Ian got 1 new shirt and Tyler got 2. Tyler couldn't find a coat he liked. So we spent $97 and saved $183. Plus I got $20 in Kohls cash to use later this week.

DH was taking a nap so Ian started the grill & grilled some hot dogs for dinner. It was his first time grilling. After dark he made a fire in the fire pit and grilled marshmallows and sat around talking for quite a while.

Sunday we had a picnic lunch in the back yard. Pulled pork sandwhiches - yummy! So we had some nice FFF moments. Forgot another FFF - Ian wanted funnel cakes so he made us each one.

Visited DMIL. Had white pizza for dinner. So good besides being easy & inexpensive! Then took Ian back to school.

So today I am waiting for the furnace man. Doing dishes & laundry. Think I'll use up some leftover rice in crockpot caramelized rice pudding. I know DH likes that. Not sure what's for dinner yet, though.

On the down side DH's father is getting out of control. They had to call in a social worker for an emergency visit. And they may be taking him to the hospital for a psych eval & to get his meds changed up. I may be going to sit with MIL for a while today.

9-19-11, 1:28pm
Went to the NYC Honey Festival this weekend. Bought $20 in raffle tickets (it was for a good cause!) and won $75 in gift certificates! Brought home 3 loaves of fresh bread from the bakery that we didn't end up using at the honey festival. It was supposed to be for the honey tasting contest, but we ended up using dipping sticks instead, so we got to keep the bread! Used a loaf to make up what we affectionately call "ghetto" pizzas (slices of bread covered in pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese and put under the broiler for a few minutes). The pizza sauce was homemade from the last of the tomatoes from our garden plus some peppers. I added in some garlic and some rosemary that I found in the refrigerator. Overall, a tasty and relatively cheap meal.

Spending today catching up on some housework and relaxing. Had a meeting this morning about an etiquette dinner that I am giving for the local university. They are paying me a sizable amount to teach students proper dining etiquette for formal situations. Should be a lot of fun!!!

Need to figure out what to do with the grocery bag of apples that I have. Likely they will be made into applesauce or fruit leather. Just haven't decided which one, but should probably get that project done today as the rest of the week is going to be busy!

9-19-11, 4:56pm
Thanks Siouxz! I like their imaginations too. I think a good imagination is one of the best frugal resources one can have.

9-19-11, 5:14pm
Dh's birthday - dd and I took a free introduction to leathercrafting workshop and made a bookmark and money clip. I found him several excellent books at a library book sale (.50 each) and made him a card with my new skills in Calligraphy.

Made a feast of roast vegetables (sweet potatoes, various other potatoes, carrots cooked in honey and apple cider vinegar) and tofu burgers. Very tasty and affordable!

9-20-11, 7:57am
We saw friends the other night and bought through them a 50 pound bag of yukon gold potatoes and about 35 pounds of winter squash for just $24. They have a friend who goes out to the agricultural area in the state and buys directly from the farmers. We were telling them that the wild grapes were ripe and we picked some for jam making. Our friend brought us out to her back yard and she had tons of wild grapes and told us to take as much as we want! This couple now has a kid in college and are now feeling a financial pinch that they never had before. I was proud when they told us how much they admire us for our frugality and willingness to grow and preserve our own food. We will bring a loaf of DH's fabulous artisanal bread to them and their friend as a thank you.
Other frugals made baked beans and pressure canned them for our pantry. Planted a cool weather crop of swiss chard and hope it will be big enough to eat before the frost kills it. Pulled up all the green beans and beets.

9-20-11, 11:26am
Frugal plans for today - finish defrosting the chest freezer. Walk to the library to return a book. Wash sheets & hang outside to dry. Start working on the menu plan & shopping list for next week so I'll be ready to go on payday Friday.

And the biggie- which is all about state of mind, is to stop focusing on what I'm running out of and figure out what to do with what I have until payday. I'm worrying because I only have 1 trash bag left until Friday and I need to put it in the trash can today. And the milk will probably run out. And the laundry soap. And we're out of eggs. Nothing that's really a big deal but it stresses me because I hate to say to DH that we're out of things. I think it makes him feel poor. Last night we spent money we should not have due to the stress of the family situation. Again nothing big but I need to put a stop to it. A large can of veg. beef soup & a brownie mix on my part. And ice cream & chocolate syrup on DH's part. I just hope he doesn't ask me for gas money! :0!

I have some sirloin defrosting for dinner but I'm not sure how I'm going to cook it. Need to make sure I have a good mix of quality protein & carbs so Tyler will be ready to run for tomorrows meet.

Sooo, I may not be running out of laundry soap before Friday. I can't get the basement door open to get to the washer. lol

The furnace guy came yesterday and put a clamp on the leak and said it will seal itself in time. But if it doesn't in the next few days call them back. I think it is actually leaking faster now. But I can't get into the basement to empty the water bucket! I hope it seals up before my water bill goes through the roof. Those old pipes are a real pain in the behind.

DH called me yesterday to come and sit w/MIL. When I got to the house there were 2 ambulances out front. But they paramedics said they couldn't take FIL in because they could find no organic problems with his health and he was answering questions appropriately. The cops came and said the same thing. So even though he had threatened his daughter with his cane and was being a total bully and inappropriate he is still at home. But we packed up MIL and moved her to SIL's. Haven't yet heard if anyone has checked on FIL this morning. By the time I got home I was starving so I bought the soup and made grilled ham & cheese & soup for dinner. And brownies. We NEEDED brownies. DH got home and said we really do NEED brownies. But they are missing ice cream. So he went to the store for ice cream and chocolate syrup. I'm sure I slept better because of it LOL

Sorry for the novel, but I do feel better now lol

9-20-11, 12:30pm
OK, guess I'm adding cleaning the pantry to my frugal to do list. Looking for WD 40 for the door hinges and discovered a few things that I'd forgotten we had. oops Guess this job is waay over due

9-20-11, 4:58pm
I am using the leftover roast chicken from last night to make chicken wild rice casserole for dinner. I'll use the carcass for stock.

I am in such a good mood today! My friend who helps me clean helped me finally get my laundry room, craft room, bedroom and dressing room cleaned up and organized! Now I can easily sort through the clothes and change things out for winter.

We've also discussed starting a monthly craft group with some other women we know. We'd have potluck appetizers and wine or tea and work on our craft stuff while we talk. I think it would be fun and it would definitely be frugal.

The kids got the rest of their older friends' Lincoln Logs. Wow! There are so many Lincoln Logs! They have already had hours of fun with them.

9-20-11, 5:03pm
Paid off another bill this month!! Got some coupons in the mail because it was my birthday month - one was for a free watch battery replacement, which I needed, so that saved me approx. $8.00. Another coupon was for a buy 1, get 1 free pizza buffet, so one night last week, DH and DS used that. It's the little things in life! LOL.

9-20-11, 7:33pm
Decided to not drink so much soda. I'm not going to purchase any liter bottles or cans to bring home anymore. I never did buy cans, and the liters always were purchased at less than $1 each, but it'll be healthier and I'm all about the little things these days.

9-20-11, 8:52pm
Paid off another bill this month!! Got some coupons in the mail because it was my birthday month - one was for a free watch battery replacement, which I needed, so that saved me approx. $8.00. Another coupon was for a buy 1, get 1 free pizza buffet, so one night last week, DH and DS used that. It's the little things in life! LOL.

Way to go!!
ps - I'm almost your neighbor - I'm by Abilene

early morning
9-20-11, 9:35pm
Volunteered at an event over the weekend and brought home several pounds of pulled pork and sausages, plus we were well fed at the Friday night volunteer dinner. Froze some pork for later, eating the rest this week - yummy! Put off a trip to Gettysburg this fall in favor of a cheaper, closer-to-home weekend. We like history of all sorts, so we're going to drive historic RT 30 through Ohio. I've done Rt 66 from Chicago to St. Louis, Old 25-Dixie highway through Ohio on some of its many alignments, and bits of the Old National Road -Rt 40 - again through Ohio. Not expensive for day trips, and lots of local history to discover. The county is downsizing - big surprise - and I don't know how it might affect us. Boss says I'm golden, but... not in the mood to spend extra money. We aren't union but generally go by seniority. I have the most of the academic staff, but I'm really pushing to NOT base any layoffs on that alone. I am afraid that our kids will end up being short-changed if that's the criteria (not by me, but....). Why doesn't management see - and react to - poor performance?!?!?

9-20-11, 10:19pm
In attempting to salvage 1/4 pound of already thawed hot Italian turkey sausage, I accidentally made a very good chili. Throwing this and that into the crockpot used up canned kidney beans that have been sitting in the cupboard for a while, the last bit of a jar of oregano which was nearly impossible to get out with a measuring spoon (I just gave the bottle a good whack and dumped it in unmeasured), half an onion that was headed over the hill, leftover spinach with the vegetable broth that came from steaming it, and some corn that was close to getting freezer burn. Made at least four servings and it was nearly free. Love it. :D

9-21-11, 7:23am
It sounds like Zach's work season is coming to an end for the year a bit earlier than usual, probably ending Thursday. I'm actually OK with this. We are in pretty good shape for it and I am excited to get to spend more time with him again. Honestly, even with me practically single parenting these past couple of months while he's worked crazy hours I have been able to get a ton of stuff done, so I am excited to see what I can do with him here.

I've been thinking about it and our needs are pretty minimal right now. Our basic needs are met. I have a well stocked pantry and freezer, so much so that I didn't buy any groceries at all this week.

We also have a lot of free, fun things to do. The girls have their "Party Club" that they started, their Girl's Club at church, Faith Formation, Karate and play group at church. I've got my class at church, my women's group, the neighborhood cooking club, my craft group, my Friday Night Girl's Night with my friends, and plenty of friends coming over for coffee. Oh and a friend and I are starting a group to work through The Artist's Way together. Zach has all of his volunteer stuff, his Knight's meetings and some side work with a friend of his. None of that really costs much money. Actually, outside of karate, which my dad covers, and the $5 donation for ingredients for the cooking club, they are all free and none of them even requires much in the way of gas. All are within 2-3 miles of my house, some of them within walking distance.

Another money saver is that Zach and I have discovered a good, cheap place that is open late to go for our dates. As you know, we like to go out and just have alone time together somewhere and dad doesn't care as long as the kids are asleep. We had been going to get coffee and pie for about $15+ tip each time, which isn't super expensive, but we go out often enough that it adds up. We recently discovered that a pizza place nearby has $1 mini pizzas after 9PM with the purchase of a soft drink or coffee.

I have some projects I am really excited about getting to work on. I have 3-4 unfinished embroidery projects I need to work on and a few skirts and pants to make for the kids. I have fabric to make pajama pants for Zach too. The girls and I were also working on a project a while back to make a bunch of cloth napkins and cloth sandwich bags. I think we'll work on that too.

9-21-11, 9:14am
I think reading for inspiration has been one of my biggest frugals this week. I have always enjoyed ERE but have recently discovered the forum. So many people who are dedicated to retiring ASAP! I also continue to enjoy MMM. Dh and I commonly spend our evenings talking about what our needs and expectaions for retirement are.

I am making a shopping list this morning and will search for any appropriate coupons to go with it to help keep costs down. We don't need much this week but are running out of some basics like bread and soy milk.

Swagcodes, sweeps, and quadreaders-you all know my routine!

Aqua Blue
9-21-11, 11:37am
bke, what does "ERE" and "MMM" stand for? Thanks

9-21-11, 1:17pm
Sorry. The Early Retirement Extreme Blog and MrMoneyMustache blog. Both are pretty popular these days with others on this site. Both have sucessfully retired before the age of 40.

9-21-11, 5:57pm
I have some projects I am really excited about getting to work on. I have 3-4 unfinished embroidery projects I need to work on and a few skirts and pants to make for the kids. I have fabric to make pajama pants for Zach too. The girls and I were also working on a project a while back to make a bunch of cloth napkins and cloth sandwich bags. I think we'll work on that too.

Stella, can you tell us more about the cloth sandwich bags? That sounds like a cool idea!

9-21-11, 6:57pm
BKE: I'm really enjoying the MMM blog as well. I think he helped us make the decision to take money from E-fund/savings and pay off our home equity loan, leaving us debt-free. We had already been considering it, and he helped nudge us along. We're glad we made the move. You might want to think about trying Pinecone Research (if you aren't already). Their surveys only take about 10 minutes and they send you a $3.00 check for each one. That's not a bad return for 10 minutes.
Stella, My DH's new work is seasonal too and has just ended a bit sooner than we expected. In the past, we both had totally stable incomes, so we've been getting into new budgetary territory this past year or so. I think we're up for the challenge - we'll see.
Went out to luch with some friends Monday at a foodcourt-type place. Lunch cost almost $8.00 for something that would have cost me $2.50 at the office cafeteria. It was well worth it to have lunch with the girls, but from a $$$ perspective, I'm glad I don't do it often - and I'm glad the cafeteria is an option for me. I do also bring lunch from home sometimes.

9-21-11, 9:00pm
Anne, I have seen a lot of patterns for the cloth sandwich bags that use oilcloth like this one, (http://www.craftbuds.com/make-reusable-sandwich-bags/) but I just use plain old cotton since they seem to keep the sandwiches moist enough and they're as easy to wash as a cloth napkin. I didn't really use a pattern. I just make a square shaped bag with a lip on top and sew vecro to attach the lip to the bag. It's easy and it works well.

Rosa it is defintely an adjustment moving to seasonal work. We've been doing it so long I'm not too worried about it anymore, but there's always a little nervousness as you adjust from having tons of money and no time to having tons of time and no money.

9-21-11, 11:21pm
re: cloth sandwich bags. Modern "oilcloth" is vinyl, which is not food-safe. If you hunt around on the internet you'll find long discussions dedicated to whether various waterproof or water-resistant fabrics are actually food-safe, including PUL and nylon. I think cotton, like Stella suggested, is probably best.

My mom and I got great haircuts today from advanced students at a well-known beautician-training school - for the same cost as your average walk-in place.
DD has been thrilled this week to take leftover soup for lunch in the food jar. I am thrilled that she's been so easy to please!

9-22-11, 6:18am
Gosh it's been so long since I posted on this board! Have had frugals, but was really busy over the summer with school for me and taking care of the kids.

I am volunteering one day a month in our school lunch room. Apparently new this year is a if you volunteer, your child gets one free lunch each month. He only buys on pizza day, so only four times a month but having to pay for one less is nice. Then I was told to take home some of the excess produce on the counter. It was excess from our food bank for our church and the produce was going to go bad if someone didn't take it. I scored a bag of carrots, onions and a couple green peppers. They are all fine, but I guess wouldn't last till next weeks pickups. Last week someone gave me organic apples and tomatoes and then another person gave me plums. The apples became applesauce and the tomatoes became roasted tomato soup. My friend didn't know you could make applesauce from red delicious apples, I was a bit confused by that but yeah for me.

Found out that I should be receiving some money soon from my Uncles estate. It was unexpected when I got the note from the lawyer a few months back, but will be put to good use. I went back to school this summer and I am doing it without loans. This money (I don't know the exact amount, but probably about a grand) will help pay for my winter/spring semester.

Haven't turned the heat on, we had some iffy nights last week but the house did well in maintaining it's temp. Quoted out our new hot water tank, I finally found the plumber we used in the past (they changed company names) and he'll be doing that in a couple of weeks. I'm hoping with the new tank that our gas bill will go down a tad.

Last weekend we went to the Renissance Festival here in Michigan and were able to get in for free. Our friend received 8 free tickets from her aunt who is a vendor. We did spend a small amount on some food, but not having to buy tickets made it possible to go. It would have been $60 for the tickets without any discounts.

This is a small one, really only saving $60 but, it is a relief not to have to worry about. My husband was really busy at work in the spring and because of that we were able to pay our boys tuition in full. We also only have 6 more payments on one of our cars and it's all ours, paid off early! This year is got new brakes, a new battery and new tires. Our friend is very car savvy and changed out the brakes and battery just for the cost of parts and a bottle of something;).

9-22-11, 10:24am
Rosemary I have wondered that about oilcloth too, which was part of my decision to use cotton. The other part is that I have a lot of cotton fabric on hand and no oilcloth and I'm cheap like that. :)

mara61 welcome back! I'm happy to see you here this morning!

I have almost made it through the whole week without buying groceries. I will have to go to the dairy tomorrow for some more milk.

My kids seriously need to get out of the house today. I think we are going to have to go to a park or something like that.

I am determined to add a nice chunk of cash to savings out of the next two paychecks. Hopefully about 2/3 of the total amount. If I am able to do that we will be going into the winter with the most money in the winter fund we have ever had. I don't know why, but that makes me feel motivated to save even more. I think I might possibly be able to save another $1000 between now and our trip even with Zach laid off.

I have my class tonight and I am excited about it. This is going to be a long week for me. I thought that Zach was going to be done after today, but it looks like he may be working tomorrow. He and my dad also have an all day Knights event on Saturday. Anyway this class will give me some much needed adult time. Dad is watching the monkeys.

9-22-11, 10:41am
Rosa: Check out the forums on the Early Retirement Extreme blog. I'm impressed by the number of intelligent participants there. Many of MMM's readers found him on Jacob's site. Congrats on being debt free-it must feel amazing! I used to do Pinecone research way back when they actually gave you $5 a survey. I kind of got burnt out for some reason and stopped participating but its something to consider doing again.

Last night's shopping trip was a frugal sucess. I used several coupons and ended up spending only $32. I brought home the following for free: 2 hair conditioners, a shampoo, lg. jar of pasta sauce, and a bag of reese's minatures. It really pays for me to plan ahead and make my purchases at the larger, farther away stores. I bought Hall's cough drops across the street last week because ds needed them. I paid $1.79 for an 18 ct. bag. Last night I bought 2- 40 ct. bags with a coupon for 68 cents a bag.

So the strangest thing happened last night. We stopped for an early dinner at the mexican restaurant we frequent here in the middle of nowhere. We stepped into the place and look directly at Edward James Olmos (Almos?), the actor. It was him and the woman he was dining with, 2 men at another table, and us. I've seen famous people several times when living in NJ and Chicago but here, the only celebrities that ever come around are the kind that kill animals for a living on television. Funniest part is that aparently the younger generation doesn't have a clue as to who he is. One of the servers didn't know who he was and the waitress working for me this morning didn't know who he was either.

9-22-11, 2:32pm
Tried making dutchess potatoes for the freezer with the free potatoes gotten with purchase... I used the diffuser and they retained the water. So today I made potato soup instead with the mess. Not as good as usual but ok. Got 2 pairs of Coldwater Creek jeans, a pair of Merrell shoes, and a wonderful thermal lined hooded sweatshirt for $25 (retail in excess of $300) at a nearby thrift store. Lucked out and was able to cash in on their senior discount.

Looked up Edward James Olmos and have never seen anything with him in it???

BTW I used the diffuser for canning this year. It is one of the greatest things IMO. It diffuses the heat of the large kettle and prevents it from overboiling. I also used it earlier after I made soup to keep it warm on the stove. Nothing sticks or boils over.

9-22-11, 10:56pm
mara, welcome back!

bke, I know who Olmos is! Neat!

Used up a bunch of food at our house, including preparing a soup for the crock pot tomorrow with zucchini, green beans and corn that were on the verge of going bad. Also made the broth from junk I had in the freezer, you know, in the scrap bucket for broth-making. Threw in some cauliflower that had been lingering in the freezer. Threw in some brown rice. We'll see how it all comes out. Made brownies for DH's lunches from a mix we had on hand and threw in some marshmallows that were hanging around (result: meh.). Made a pot of iced tea. Made chili and cornbread for dinner!! Ran the dishwasher twice!! OMG! Really busy evening in the kitchen. But now I have freezer lunches for six days (leftover chili) plus whatever comes out of this other soup experiment. I almost went to Jimmy John's today because I ran out of freezer lunches. Instead I whipped up a sandwich and tossed it in a cooler since I wasn't going in to the office right away. I was lovingly thinking of all of you as I did it :)

9-23-11, 12:25am
We had lunch brought in for the event I was coordinating most of this week. Most people didn't eat their side salads, so I got to take them home. I have had nice salad several times this week for virtually free! And a few cups of fruit. And I also snagged the leftover pastries for the kids -- and myself (guilty confession!). Now you know why I haven't posted on the health and fitness thread this week! That and the fact that I was working 12hour days. Glad its over and looking forward to the weekend.

Oh, I get to submit my taxi receipts for reimbursement when I have these off-site work events, so that's another frugal plus.


9-23-11, 9:36am
lhamo and fidgiegirl-great frugal food saves!

It seems to be my turn to have the cold that everyone around me has suffered from lately. Thankfully, I stocked up on cold meds during our shopping trip earlier this week instead of buying the expensive stuff locally. I hate taking the stuff but its not possible to work with a runny nose and a cough either.

Dh put $40 worth of gas in the car this morning. That should be the only spending we do today.

I rented a dvd from the library earlier this week, for some frugal entertainment this weekend. It only costs $1 vs $3.17 if I were to go to the store for a movie rental.

Here's one I feel guilty about. I love nice quality leather bags and purses. Preferably large shoulder bags. I only own one at a time but I like higher-end bags. The last two cheap purses that I owned started falling apart almost immediately where as, the last expensive one I bought, lasted several years. I spent $100 on a large shoulder bag while out shopping the other night. I have been searching for one for months that was to my liking. Its a great size, sturdy, and should last for ages but I feel really bad about spending so much money. It was originally $209 but marked $99 at TJ Maxx. I haven't convinced myself to take the tags off of it yet...

There isn't anyone available to cover for me at work this weekend so the bulk of my afternoon is going to be spent resting. I don't feel too bad but I want to make sure my health keeps improving.

Have a great weekend everyone!

9-23-11, 12:04pm
bke - an Olmos sighting - that is awesome!

A few frugals here, some not-so-conventional. ;)

I've been letting our cats outside into our fenced yard when I am out there to watch them. They have taken to peeing outside. An unintended frugal as this saves on cat litter!

Did a great job of eating at home this week. Even managed to take lunch with me to work yesterday saving me between $6 and $8, which is likely what I would have spent at the sandwich shop. I need to make this a habit!!! I only go to work 2x per week, but it still adds up.

Saved 10 cents per gallon on gas with my rewards card. Managed to plan it such that the gas tank was practically bone dry, thereby netting the largest possible savings!

Got promoted to the next rank in my Tae Kwon Do class, which meant I had to dye my belt brown. Everyone has managed to screw this up and had to dye their belts a second time. I followed the directions exactly (not my strong suit!) and was successful on my first attempt. Saved myself from having to spend another $6 for dye remover and more dye. :) Decided that after two years of consistent TKD training that I would spring for a new uniform. Actually decided to buy two in order to make laundry more cost effective. I was regularly washing small loads of laundry because I needed to wash my uniform so this will minimize that, hopefully.

The garden is waning but managed to gather about a half-dozen cherry tomatoes so will eat them for lunch along with some mozzarella that I bought on sale and the last of the free bread from last weekend's honey festival.

9-23-11, 4:00pm
Re: sandwich bags. I have some commercially made ones from a natural living store & they are nylon covered in cotton. You might need a serger for that combo, though.

BKE - Olmos! How cool! He's a great actor.

I am looking at a kid in braces as of Nov., so I need to see how much we can sock away until then. If I pay cash, I get 5% off. I am hoping that the price is in the neighborhood of what it was last time. If so, we already have most of the cash we need. Friends have been quoting higher prices lately, though, so I am thinking of calling for an estimate or something to prepare myself for sticker shock.

early morning
9-23-11, 10:16pm
fff tonight - drove a few miles north to a small airport for a free cruise-in/classic auto show, and balloon glow. They only had 4 balloons, but they were pretty! I like looking at old cars too - and old airplanes! Dsis brought us dinner (she had coupons), and I made coffee to go. DD's Aldi trip was about half of the usual, since we've been stocking up little by little, to the point I now feel comfortable just buying what we need for the week, plus some of our beef. There's still quite a bit in the freezer, and this year's beef will be off to the butcher this weekend.

9-23-11, 11:29pm
Bastelmutti, I was surprised to hear a coworker lamenting that she has to put her kid in braces for the SECOND time and the girl is only a seventh grader! When I was in high school in the 90s none of my friends EVER had them younger than that - more like 9th/10th grade. Maybe they have changed their approach since then - I regularly knew kids in braces at the elementary school I worked at, even as young as 3rd grade. I just wonder what would have changed. One thing is sure, the orthodontist will now make twice the money on my friend's kid!

I bought some clothes tonight and glad I did. I was not enjoying my clothes and they were not making me feel very good about my appearance. I will get rid of a few things. I did ok on price. Nothing spectacular, though not full price: 5 new items (mix of shirts/pants) for about $100. More than many on our dear thread might have spent, including me at certain moments of my recent history, but I am cool with having spent it. It should round out my wardrobe for the season, anyway and since clothes shopping is a stressor, I am happy not to have to think about it for a while and that it was relatively painless.

9-24-11, 10:17am
I had my girl's night out last night at my friends house. So much fun! There were four of us and we were laughing so much we were hoarse. Who needs expensive entertainment?

Last night we all went to MarketFest at church because Zach was volunteering. My friend makes fleece headbands for winter and she was selling them there. I needed to get the girlies a new hat anyway and she had a deal going. The double layer ones were $5 each and the single layer ones were $2.50. I got the girls doubles because they go outside all the time and singles for me and James. James' can be folded to be a double because his head is so small and I'm just a warm blooded person. I'm glad I can buy them something handmade and affordable.

Today is a busy day and only moderately frugal. We have to go to the dairy and then we are going to the park for an art festival they are having. All day there will be free art activities, concerts, performances and other art related fun for people of all ages. I think it's going to be amazing.

This afternoon is the annual Polka Mass at church. We are definitely going to that! After that we're having our Fall Fest. Fall Fest isn't super cheap, but it's so much fun. There's going to be a giant inflatible hamster ball for people to roll around in, lots of fair-type food, bingo, kid's games and concerts. There's usually a giant slide and bounce house and this year there are fireworks. I don't feel bad about the money. It's once a year and it's one of the main ways the church raises money for building related projects.

Tomorrow we will be going to Fall Fest at the Cathedral. That will be a little cheaper because the kid's games there are, according to my dad, free.

We're starting to organize the neighborhood pumpkin parade again. That's some good frugal fun. The neighbors bring their pumpkins and have an early evening parade with people and animals in costumes and wagons for the pumpkins. The wagons are decorated and the pumpkins are lighted. It's great.

After this weekend we are wratcheting down the spending a lot. I am going to try to keep the groceries for the week under $100 and we're going to mostly find free things to do. I feel an embroidery, knitting, crocheting and sewing kick coming on.

9-24-11, 10:56am
Yesterday was a weather-imposed frugal day as it was pouring rain here so I had no interest in leaving the house! I ended up washing all of the linens in the guest bedroom -- a task I had been putting off. It would have been more frugal to do them on a sunny day so that I could line dry everything, but the weather doesn't seem to want to cooperate. Will have to go out today as I need to go to the post office, so I will try to be thorough in my list-making and run some other errands at the same time. Also, I will try to get organized so that I can fill out and mail the 2 rebates that I have sitting here. One is for my contact lenses and the other is for the dogs' heart worm preventative. They are only worth $15 combined, but I will take it!

I have not been tracking my spending or calculating my net worth on a regular basis the way I did after first reading YMOYL. But the other day I discovered in reviewing some statements that my retirement fund is actually 25% LARGER than I thought it was. Wow!!! A nice surprise, but it makes me realize that I got lucky and I could very easily get unlucky. So I am going to try to get back to tracking my spending and calculating my net worth.

One last thing. Learned from the vet that if I have my dogs' dental cleanings done in January or February they are discounted by 15%. Of course, I have to take them in for preliminary blood work before hand, so I need to be strategic in how I approach this since I have complete blood work done on them during their annual exams, which falls in September. I hate to pay for blood work twice, but will have to this time around. They don't need dental cleanings every year -- maybe every 3 years -- so I will try to slowly shift their annual appointments 4-6 weeks later for the next few years so that their annual appts fall in January and then I can have blood work done and get a discount on the dental cleanings. Of course, I could always try brushing their teeth daily and that might prevent the dental cleanings altogether...

9-25-11, 7:01pm
A good friend at work will be off at the end of the week - she is going to Las Vegas for her daughter's wedding. I wanted to a little send off for her and decided to bake a cake/cupcakes and headed to Michael's to look for wedding-type cake ideas. I wandered weddings, stickers, baking, floral and ended up buying some toile-looking cupcake papers in black and white (the wedding colors) and will make the decorations out of scrapbook paper I already have and will stamp out the words "Mother of the Bride" and add her school photo. $1.99 for the cupcake papers - already have the baking supplies. I just want her to know that we wish her well!

9-26-11, 12:23am
I have to post this because you guys will get a kick out of it. My huge frugal victory for the weekend? Deciding NOT to have DH pick up a Vitamix in HK once he discovered that they cost almost US$1000 there! Now I just need to decide if I want to "save" myself another $500 by not buying one from the US either. A penny saved is... more money in the bank.

Had a total frugal failure on another front, though. Was feeling a bit stir-crazy being home with the kids all weekend, so made a trip to the new bookstore with lots of pretty shiny imported books. Nothing cheap there. And I pretty much let the kids pick out what they wanted once I realized that my initial limit was not going to get them much. DS got three books, including a Garfield collection (his favorite comic), the pocket edition of the Dangerous Book for Boys, and a book on C++ programming. DD got a lego brickmaster set and a berenstain bears book. And I got You, on a Diet for myself (and also sort of for DS, as they are doing a unit on health at school these days and it is supposed to have a really good overview of how digestion and hormones, etc. work). Total damage? Nearly US$140. OUCH! Oh well, all good stuff that will be enjoyed for a long time. Made me doubly glad that I discovered our home county's library system in the US now has books for Kindle. I downloaded two already this weekend, and finished one (a memoir by a lady who worked in Per Se restaurant in NYC when it first opened -- pretty fun read). I am really loving my Kindle and now I will be able to read a lot more newer titles for free, so that's fun.


9-26-11, 8:44am
My frugals are pretty simple and not too newsworthy. I have a cold but hate cough drops so I used up some hard peppermint candies that have been in the house forever. They kept my throat moist without being all stinky and medicine-y. I'm drinking sweetened tea this morning instead of my usual coffee. Both the tea and the sweetener were free samples that I discovered in the cupboard-probably from our last hotel stay.

I was really craving something indulgent to eat after work last night. Nothing sounded quite right or wasn't a vegan choice. Instead of having dinner with the guys, I took a shower and regrouped. I ended up making a nice batch of vegan waffles that were delicious and really hit the spot. Ds even ate 2 as dessert! There are enough leftover for me to make another meal of them either today or tomorrow.

9-26-11, 8:52am
Had a lovely fff afternoon yesterday. Took Ian back to Ann Arbor and stopped at the Arboretum for a kite festival. We missed the actual kite making & flying but arrived just in time to see a Japanese drumming school perform. Very cool in a grassy clearing in the woods. Also saw the U/M Chinese yoyo club perform. And we had fun watching the kids run around with and without kites. Afterward Ian treated us to lunch at his dining hall.

9-26-11, 9:37am
Fidgiegirl, re: braces -
Yes, they have changed their approach. They do an initial correction for a short time and then another set when the kid's permanent teeth come in. This will shave about 2 years off of her braces time. Total time is supposed to be less than 2 years. It still involves a retainer afterward. I know braces are a tricky issue, but I feel that with my DD, it was a necessity, not a cosmetic thing, considering how her teeth were coming in. And our ortho office provides me with a clear price breakdown upfront, which makes me more confident about what we're getting.

9-26-11, 9:49am
A few frugal moves this weekend. Our apple trees are dropping apples like crazy, so I gathered up everything on the ground and prepped them to make fruit leather. But halfway through the process I ran out of energy, so made fruit leather with what was ready to go in the dehydrator and shifted gears and made an apple crumble wit the remainder. I have a cold, so that really put a damper on the weekend. I hate taking cold medicine, so I have been drinking a lot of tea and water and just trying to power through it. Of course, when I did finally decide I wanted to take some Nyquil so that I could sleep I discovered that we didn't have any! So I improvised and took a Claritin-D and that killed the congestion enough to allow me to sleep. Think I will do the same today because I already have the Claritin-D on hand and I rarely use it because I can generally keep my allergies in check with the non-decongestant version. Since I don't really have any cold symptoms other than congestion I hate to pump myself full of a bunch of other stuff that is in the Dayquil I have on hand.

Despite having a cold, went to two Tae Kwon Do classes yesterday. They are at 2 different gyms and there is a 90 minute break in between and the classes are in the middle of the day. Instead of grabbing a slice of pizza at the pizza shop to eat between classes I went to the grocery store and bought yogurt, a banana, and an energy bar. $3.20 total and that included 2 more energy bars (they were on sale and I had a coupon!). I came home after the second class and ate the leftover homemade pizza in the fridge. Frugal success!

And, finally, my unemployment claim went through so I actually got 3 checks in the mail, which was a pleasant surprise as I thought I was going to have to meet with the mediator before anything would be approved. The money helped to beef up my checking account enough that I should be in good shape for the next 3 months and not need to touch the emergency fund or savings account.

Not so frugal for the day...took the dog to get her dental cleanings and to have a lump on her tail biopsied. The estimate was $700 with a good customer discount. Ouch. I now vow to put serious effort into brushing my dogs' teeth.

9-27-11, 11:32pm
Made a great trade today. I'm tutoring a senior gentleman in how to use the new computer his kids gave him as a gift (how to get email, access the internet, etc.) in trade for a Singer Featherweight sewing machine that his wife hasn't used for decades. Great frugal day for me!!

9-28-11, 4:20pm
Nella that is a good score!

Azure that kite festival sounds lovely.

I am feeling restless this afternoon and I am tempted to go to the fabric store. Instead I think when I drop the girls off at faith formation I will take my computer to the patio overlooking the lake at the park and do some writing. I need to get the creative juices flowing and I know that's why I'm tempted by the fabric store. That and my utter determination to add colour to my living room. But my birthday is a week and a half away, so I can spend birthday money on fabric if I still want to. I might just go for a walk soon too. The boys are napping, the girls are out playing with their friends, Zach is working on his own project and I appear to have some time all to myself on this lovely fall afternoon.

9-29-11, 8:24pm
Hi all

Long time no visit. I don't feel like we've been so frugal, but I guess we have been doing the same stuff, so all of that is good. We have not eaten out all week. Last week we ate out like seven times! So biiiiiig improvement.

We might be getting the house we've been trying to get since April. I don't want to really get too into it, because I feel like it would be jinxing it. If we get it, we will be spending some money here coming up. We both have mixed feelings, but want to get into a different place, too. So . . . here we go. Anyway, I got some materials at Menards today. I saw they were on sale when I was researching online yesterday, so I got my butt over and got the supplies. Saved about $12 and spent about $25.

DH saved us from going out to eat tonight. We have been eating squash from the garden, too.

I put a sweater on eBay. The sell pretty well. It is a Smartwool sweater that I got carried away with on sale and it isn't truly the right size for me. Dang it. Would have been a lot better savings to never have bought it at all! :)

9-30-11, 7:48am
. Would have been a lot better savings to never have bought it at all! :)

Almost any of us could have written this! In my decluttering I often say "what was I thinking, just throwing money away." Hard to get over this hurdle, isn't it?

For the whole month of September we ate one lunch out, every other meal drink and snack at home.
As I wrote in the decluttering thread, I have been using my fabric stash and patterns I had to make items. I love quilting and have made beautiful presents for my children and grandchildren, really the only ones I buy for. And they love what I make.
Finishing up the last of the garden produce freezing soups, I have made a half dozen recipes that are really good, along with tomato sauce and lots of frozen corn and peppers, to stock my freezer. I have been paying a lot more attention to the sales at the store to fill my pantry. When I have a nice variety of food in the house we don't get tempted to go out.

9-30-11, 10:53am
Stella - I do most of my sewing (mainly bags, purses, smaller household items) with remainders. Does your fabric store have that option? Also, lately I have been picking up cheap clothes at the thrift shop - think t-shirts, sheets, fleece blankets and jackets - to use as fabric. I can usually get a t-shirt for $0.50 and some of the other stuff for $1.00, especially if I go on 1/2 off day. Last night DH wanted a tea cosy to keep the kettle warmer, so I whipped one up from an online pattern, outer and lining fabric from my remnant stash & part of a fleece jacket for the padding. It maybe cost $2.00 in all. Oh, and I avoid looking at yummy sites like Reprodepot so I don't salivate over the super-cute fabric and concentrate on my pretty cute remnants instead!

9-30-11, 4:35pm
A few days ago while walking I talked to a neighbor who was feeling poorly. She said she had a sore throat and pain all the way up to her ear. I came back later and gave her a natural antibiotic that I made and a sore throat tea bag. She was really appreciative and gave me a half bushel of pears from her yard that she had sitting on her porch. So far I have canned pears and made fruit leather. I went and got two more sheets to make more leather. Strange how you do something just because and it comes back fivefold!

BTW I talked to her yesterday and she said the "antibiotic" did the trick. She now feels better and the pain to her ear is gone. If you are interested it was called 'tried and true cold kicker' recipe from the Keeper of the Home website. It has ginger, onion, rosemary, sage, horseradish, cloves, cayenne pepper put into apple cider vinegar.

10-1-11, 10:12pm
I did not work this summer - and unlike previously summers did not have a big tax refund (the kids/young adults are out of college thus no tuition write-offs) - had more than enough thanks to hard-working DH. We met all bills including auto savings and retirement investments. But there were not a lot of extras - eating out, in particular. Back to the school year and work, suddenly one dinner out each week, lunch on Sat and Sun. He felt "broke"over the summer so I feel like I have to give a little now. I feel like it's up to me to plan at least one lunch during the weekend - and have to be willing to go along with the other 1 or 2 meals each week.