Sunday, May 31, 2015

Today's Frugal Failures and Successes: Sunday 5/31/15



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Happy last day of May!  Where did the month go, though?!  Tomorrow is the start of hurricane season for Florida, ugh.  Hopefully we won't get hit this year again. I do hope for some rain though although not of Texas proportions (those poor people!). It's been a weird year with a wet winter and dry Spring so far. Usually it's pretty much the opposite.

  • My mouth is finally completely cleared of burns.  Finally!  Did I say finally? Because, wow, that took forever.  A whole week and add a couple of days!  This morning I was able to brew coffee for my breakfast and that tasted very good. I missed it, come to think of it. Greg had gotten me a half dozen chocolate frosted doughnuts yesterday (just for me!) so I had a couple of them for breakfast and offered the last one to our son when he got up.

  • I stayed up until 1 a.m., finishing reading Susan's blog and re-reading previous entries on my own blog just for fun.  I love discovering new blogs and reading about people's lives. Facebook doesn't appeal to me at all (I'm not a member) but blogging is awesome.  Anyhoo, I was able to sleep until 9 a.m. (despite that dumb woodpecker still thinking ye old satellite dish on our roof is a tree... at 7 a.m., as usual!) so I got a late start today.

  • Warning: if you subscribe to my blog via e-mail or RSS Feed, you might receive "new post" notifications this week when in fact they were recent posts from the past couple of weeks because I spotted a lot of typos and spelling mistakes (arrgh! I ought to get in the habit of proofreading the posts before they get published, sorry about that) and I'm thinking I might want to go back and fix the mistakes. So apologies in advance if you end up getting a bunch of those pointless emails or notifications.

  • My daughter called me at 9 a.m. from her dad's house, wanting to know if my leg was OK because she had a dream that when she got home tonight, she found me with a broken leg.  So she put me under strict orders to just sit on the couch all day. She called me right as I was looking at my dirty dishes from the previous night and trying to get the motivation to wash them so that was funny timing, hahaha.  Also, later on I texted her with the news that, in fact, Joe Biden was the one who had broken his leg while biking in France, so I suggested she open her own soothsayer business :)

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • I took 7 drumsticks from the freezer that had been in there for about a year and a half, and put them in the crockpot with the large jar of marinara sauce that I made last weekend. I cooked them on high for 8 hours.  Then I separated the meat from the bones.  I served the meat and sauce on top of rotini. I'm sad to say it was not as tasty as I had hoped. It was... bland!

  • From the freezer, I also got a gallon of skim milk that I had bought on 50% off clearance at Save A Lot and set it to defrost on the stove, nestled in a large bowl to catch the extra water.

  • I used all the tomatoes that I had harvested this past week to make a big batch of marinara sauce.  The recipe that I pulled up on my phone this time included some white wine and I thought it was a great idea, so I added about 1/2 a cup of white wine to the chicken/marinara mix cooking in the crockpot as well.  The recipe also called for green pepper so I cut up the green pepper that I had harvested a couple of weeks ago (it had started turning red in my fridge!) and used some diced green peppers that I had frozen as well (also from my garden).  Since I didn't want to use tomato paste or sauce and the recipe called for brown sugar, I decided to use ketchup instead, for added liquid. I wonder how it will turn out!  I'll put it in upcycled jar jars (I think I have enough for 2 large spaghetti sauce jars) and use it over this next week and a half. If not, I'll freeze it.

  • As I was cutting the tomatoes, both Roma and Supersweet 100,  I decided to try keeping some seeds so I collected seeds from each kind and set them in small bowls of warm water to try to dilute the slimy covering.  Later on, I strained the seeds by pouring the water over a half sheet of Bounty and set the sheets to dry on small plates.  I'm still hoping to find Supersweet 100 seeds on clearance at Walgreens, as I did last year during the first week of June, but if I don't, maybe these will produce plants in the fall.  I'm not really up to date on the determinate/indeterminate variety aspect of the problem, so I'm not even sure what kind I have.  Probably determinate, although both the Roma and Supersweet 100 plants that I grew last Fall produced in the Fall and started producing in the Spring again so maybe they're indeterminate. I don't know and I wish someone who does would just tell me, lol!

  • I used 3  plastic snack zipper bags to store the rosemary, thyme, and marjoram that I had dried over the past month and a half.  I'll refill the appropriate spice containers once they're empty.


  • I had a very large cucumber that was threatening to go soft, so I sliced it with the mandolin and made 2 more jars of zesty refrigerator pickles. I reused the 2 jars of pickle juice that we had finished recently and just added some fresh sliced jalapeƱos, as well as the 2 serrano peppers that I harvested yesterday. This time I didn't bother removing the seeds so we'll see if the pickles turn up being too hot or not. Right before I put the jars in the fridge, I realized that I had a small container of sliced green onion from my garden that I still hadn't used, so I dumped the green onions in the jars of pickles as well and shook everything very well.  I don't mind experimenting with pickles!  The cucumber had cost me $0.39 so those were very inexpensive pickles :)

  • I cut up 2 mangoes that looked like they might have gotten bad, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the black spots were only surface-deep. I set out the cut-up mangoes on the kitchen table so my son would snack on them throughout the day. Greg hates mangoes, he thinks they're too slimy.  I luuuurve mangoes and wish we had a tree of them in the backyard.  They apparently don't grow so well in Central Florida, though. They're more a South Florida kind of tree.



  • After doing all this cooking/preserving, I turned my attention to the garden.  I harvested most of the remaining Romaine lettuce seed heads and set them out to dry in the breezeway (we have a large countertop there as it used to be the galley kitchen in the oldest part of the house. It's very useful, especially since it's under South-facing windows.).

  • I harvested a few tomatoes and 2 strawberries. One of them made us laugh because it still had the flower petals around its base, so it looked like a strawberry ballerina.  I made it dance to "Swan Lake" and we were laughing.  Just being silly!



  • I also harvested a few dried seed heads from the little clump of Cosmos flowers that I had grown from seed. 
Puny picture... I'll try getting some seeds out of those
tomorrow.

  • While I was out there, I checked the rose cuttings that I had set in potting soil several weeks ago and found that only one out of 6 had actually started developing roots. It's better than nothing!  So I transplanted it into a larger pot. It was the pot where I had tried to plant a poinsettia cutting that never took so it still had soil in it.  I just transplanted the rose cutting and watered it.  I set it in the shade of the other rose bushes. It'll be easier for Greg to remember watering it that way.  

  • The plant labels that I had made from an old cat litter jug had lost their markings (I guess the Sharpie ink isn't as permanent as one might think!) so I was able to upcycle them for future reuse.

  • While I was kneeling down between two of the large pots containing the rose bushes, I kept hearing bees or wasps buzzing around my head and I realized that the wasps that we had disturbed (when Greg took away my barbecue side table to rebuild it) had started building a new nest under one of the rose bush leaves!  Incredible!  I sprayed them away with the wasp spray and destroyed the nest.  Hopefully that won't kill the plant.

  • A couple of the small begonias that I had gotten for free from my library back on Earth Day were missing some soil in their pots (I guess I'm using too hard of a stream when I water them with the hose!) so I replaced it with potting soil that I was storing in a bin.  Thankfully the darn ants haven't found it yet.

  • As I was checking the strawberry plants, I spotted a couple of runners coming down from the large bins so I got two small planters from my stash.  I filled one of them with the potting soil that I had used for the rose cuttings (no waste!) and nestled the runners in them. I watered them with water collected in my bin located at the leaky faucet.  When I come back from France, I will cut them off and put them in another (yet to be determined) location.


  • This is only a frugal victory if the tadpoles eventually turn into frogs so we can have frog legs for dinner (jk!). Wow, I didn't notice how loud the cicadas were until I watched the video!
video


  • Greg finished my barbecue table and put it back in place.  Honestly, the top looked better before it was coated with the water-repellent paint (the kind we found on clearance was the white-tinted one), but look at how cool this stuff is!
video
(Blogger did something weird to this video, the original is much clearer, sorry!)
  • I warmed up the rest of the meatloaf leftovers from two night ago for my lunch and decided that a cold Diet Coke would be nice with that, so I offered my son to take him to Racetrac to get a frozen drink refill with his Sodapalooza cup, thinking that I would use my daughter's for the Diet Coke. Only it turns out that she took her cup to her dad's with her, so my son offered me his cup. How sweet!  I took him up on it after making sure, repeatedly, that he really didn't want a frozen drink.  While I was there, I also redeemed the Racetrac Insider May 2015 coupon for a free small coffee since it expired today.  I filled the cup with hazelnut-flavored coffee but then realized that they no longer have the hazelnut-flavored creamer (noooooo!) so I settled for a couple cups of Chocolate Caramel creamer.  Next time I get coffee from that station, I need to check on the flavors of creamer they have available before filling the cup, because if they don't have hazelnut creamer, I'll just get plain coffee and use the flavored creamers that they have on hand. Today they had French Vanilla, Irish Creme, and Chocolate Caramel, as well as plain half and half.  I kept the coffee for my breakfast tomorrow morning.

  • Last year I had bought Greg one of those large foldable awnings so he could take it on his camping trip with him.  It was priced at about $120 at Target but one week they had it on sale for about $50, only my Target was out of stock that whole week (hmmm....). Thankfully I had remembered to get a raincheck and I would check the shelf each week when I did my grocery shopping.  Luckily, just a couple of weeks before Greg and our son left on their camping trip, the awning came back in stock and my raincheck was still valid so I was able to get it for the cheaper price!  However, during the trip, they experienced a strong thunderstorm and the weight of the water broke off several of the "arms" that folded.  Greg spoke with his son-in-law, who is a welder, and also his dad, who used to be an engineer, and decided to reweld the whole thing instead of throwing it away.  I had yet to see how much he spent in supplies, but I'm hoping it was cheaper than buying a whole new awning, lol.  So, for now, I'm counting it as a frugal victory (he finished the project today). Come to find out, he didn't spend anything on the repairs at all: his dad gave him his old welding kit so he just used that and we're hoping the job will hold up!  So a definite frugal victory for now.

  • I printed a few coupons from my usual sources... even though I won't even be here for most of June!  However, a few coupons had longer expiration dates. Also, I didn't want to not have a coupon available if I came upon some clearances this week :)  I printed very few coupons, though.  I also uploaded digital coupons to my Publix and Walgreens digital wallets.

  • I did a chat with Netflix to see if I could put our account on suspension for a month but there's no way to do this. The rep said I could cancel the account since "My List", etc would be preserved, and that since we had a price guarantee on our account through "at least May 2016", he could leave a note on the account so we would still pay the same price if/when we re-upped.  Greg and I decided that, for $8.64 a month, it probably wasn't worth the hassle of cancelling and then reopening the account (if we decided to reopen it) but I still asked the rep to leave the note on our account, in case I do decide to cancel it. After all, Greg and our son never watch it.  I think we'll decide for sure when I come back.

  • I was looking for information on why there weren't any printable Staples coupons on their site (this has never happened before, as far as I'm aware) so I checked a Slickdeals thread.  Someone posted that there was a 20% off regular price ink coupon posted under "Daily Deals" on their site so I checked it out. It expired today so I decided to order the ink cartridge that I would have bought on Wednesday to use my Staples Rewards.  I went through SavingStar (5% back), ordered the cartridge with the 20% off coupon code, applied my $2.00 ink rewards to the order, and also got free shipping.  In the end, I paid $7.27 OOP (it's a one-color cartridge).  It saves me a stop on Wednesday and I'll just recycle the 2 cartridges that I was going to turn in when I go there in July.


  • When my daughter got home, she presented me with a Diet Coke that she had gotten for me with her Sodapalooza cup, as a surprise :)

  • I am loving our outdoor digital antenna!  I rarely have to make it go in another direction but it's so nice to be able to adjust it when we need to with just a click of the remote. Tonight, I wanted to watch Columbo on Me-TV, only the channel was very pixelated (I think there may have been storms in Orlando?) even though it'd been fine for weeks.  I used the small remote to slightly move the antenna and the channel came in clear as a bell!  The "receiver" has a very bright RED light in the front of it, which is very annoying so I usually tuck it behind the TV stand, where I can't see it.  Since, as I said, I rarely have to change the direction of the antenna, it doesn't really matter. I just move the receiver and place it on one of the small stereo speakers that we have on each side of the TV stand while I adjust the position of the antenna, and then put it back in its hiding place.  

  • Bill Nye the Science Guy is on Netflix!  I knew there was a reason not to cancel our account, lol!  31 glorious episodes.  Can you tell I love Bill Nye?  I love Bill Nye.  I emailed my older sons about it because they love Bill Nye too :) I have it on right now.  OK, we're keeping Netflix. 10 minutes later... hahaha, my 13 year-old just came out to ask "Are you watching Bill Nye the Science Guy?!?" so I told him it was on Netflix now and that we'd be watching it for Family Movie Night every week for 31 weeks. He thinks I'm weird even though he loves Bill Nye too.  I was joking about Family Movie Night, although I really want to watch those with him as it reminds me of when I used to homeschool him:)

WE SPLURGED ON:
  • I guess the gas to drive to Racetrac to get the free drinks.  It's about a mile from my house, but it was hot and my daughter had ordered me not to break my leg so I decided to drive.

  • I needed to order something from Walmart.com but it wasn't quite $50 so shipping wasn't going to be free... I decided to re-order large bins to make more self-watering bins for the Fall garden.  My regular brand had gone up by $6, so I ordered a different brand instead, which was about $6 less. I got the free shipping and hopefully the order will come in this week, since the "thing" that I was ordering is for our early Father's Day celebration that we'll hold next weekend.

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • I had a lemon that I had zested last week and left on my counter. I was hoping to juice it today but when I turned it around, it had started to rot so I had to compost it.

Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

My Daily Freebies: Sunday 5/31/15


Here is what I got/found for free today!


  • A pair of lightweight, foldable, stereo headphones from Amazon, free after Discover Rewards redemption and Amazon Prime free shipping. My son didn't want earbuds for our trip and I didn't want him to bring his headset from home (it has a microphone and he doesn't need one for the trip).

  • A small coffee from Racetrac, along with 2 chocolate caramel creamers and 2 packets of Equal sweetener, free with Racetrac Insider May 2015 coupon.


  • Two Diet Coke refills from Racetrac, free with Sodapalooza cups.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Today's Frugal Failures and Successes: Saturday 5/30/15



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • One of the ways I have been coping with my growing anxieties about traveling to France with my 2 teens in a couple of weeks has been to binge watch some TV shows (while doing other things such as backing up my laptop, downloading pictures to my external drive, etc.).  In the past 3 days, I have watched many many MANY hours of TV.  I watched 13 episodes of "The Americans" over 2 days (I bought that season so it was a splurge in all senses of the word), and between yesterday and today I will have watched all 10 episodes of  the first season of "Bosch" via Amazon Prime Instant Video.  This one is much more frugal since we have a free Amazon Prime membership until the end of the year.  I was up until 3 a.m. watching TV.  Ugh but also therapeutic for me as it prevents me from fretting too much. 

  • Some people look forward to trips and vacations. I'm always excited to plan them, but when it comes close to the time to actually go, my innate loner, introvert nature really starts to bubble up.  I don't like taking planes, being in places with large amounts of people, staying at other people's homes, being away from home too long.  And now I'm about to leave on a trip to Europe for a whole month, playing tourist in a country with recent terrorist activity, being warned by my family members (one of them a cop) about all the pickpockets and crazy drivers and fixed radars on the roads, car thefts, car burnings, etc. My 13 year-old son, who doesn't speak French at all, is also anxious (it's his first time flying and he does NOT want to go!), and all three of us are loners who will have to share a room for a month.  Arrrggh. Throw into this some peculiar (or should I say "interesting"?) family dynamics over there, and what can seem as an idyllic vacation to outsiders starts sounding like the field trip from hell to me. What was I thinking of when I decided to do this?  LOL.  I'm kidding. I know we'll have tons of fun and I'm so excited for the kids to meet their French family. My daughter met my mom once when she was 3 so she barely remembers anything. My son has never met anyone. Yeah, I'm not really all that close to my family and the great distance and their lacks of funds for coming to visit hasn't helped.

  • Susan from Retirement Fun(ds) left me a lovely comment on my Food Waste Friday post yesterday so I went to visit her blog today.  You should too!  She blogs from Ontario, Canada and is also a fellow frugalista.  She also posts the most beautiful pictures of the flowers she grows. Oh my!  I have like 1 Red Canna plant, one or two Sweet Williams, 1 marigold.  LOL. I feel woefully inadequate!  But I have lots of flowering weeds, can I count those? Thanks for reading, Susan.

  • I gave Greg the "tour" of the garden to show up how to do the minimal amount of care while I'm gone. He didn't take any notes so I'm guessing he'll water everything once a week :)

  • I offered tomatoes to our favorite neighbor but as it turns out his dad did grow a garden this year (he didn't think he had) and he's getting veggies from there.  So I definitely need to make marinara sauce this weekend!

  • The neighbors on the other side of us (which whom we didn't have any contacts) moved away this week and some new people moved in. I hope they're quiet (we're quiet, the whole neighborhood is quiet!).  We've had bad luck in the past with people who let their dogs bark.all.night.long and left them alone over a 3-day weekend and that house is very close to our property line, on the side of our living room and master bedroom.  So there is no escaping the noise if they make any.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • I noticed a large increase in my Swagbucks account this morning and realized that the SB earned through Orbitz for my recent hotel stay in Tallahassee had finally landed in my account and not a day too soon!  I was still short about 50 SB to be able to order a $25 gift card for only 2,200 SB so I took a couple of surveys that, gasp!, I actually qualified for.  The first survey was for 50 SB but didn't get credited right away (aaaargh!) so I took another one and thankfully, it was.  Yippee!  I ordered the Amazon gift card.  I think I might have decided to get a Target gift card the next time I ordered one, I can't remember...oh well. There's always something we want or need on Amazon anyway.

  • I also earned my daily Bing Rewards credits. I'm up to 94% of my goal now!

  • I was going to buy some strawberry gum for the kids to chew on if their ears bother them on the plane or as we drive through the Alps, but I found some packages of fruit-flavored gum that I had bought several months ago (either on clearance with coupons or that I had gotten for free after SavingStar rebate) so I'll be bringing this along instead.

  • I forgot to mention a couple of days ago, that I had put all my Half.com inventory on "suspend" for now.  I could probably make a few more bucks from them, but I think I'll give those books away to the library along with all the soft cover kid books that I'm supposed to take there next week for their July Book Sale. It's always harder for me to get rid of hardbacks, but I suppose we could stand not to have those 2 cardboard cases in the living room anymore. It's kind of sad that when I was younger I treasured books and would never part with them (we had soooooo many books around when the kids were younger, they were everywhere. It's important for kids to grow around books and that you read to them from the youngest age and then read with them). But nowadays, I tend to view books more like clutter.  Oh, we still have plenty of books, but I'm getting rid of all the books the kids are done with. Yes, I could keep them for future grandchildren, but honestly, I'll just take any grandchildren to the library. I think it's the best gift a parent or grandparent can give their offspring: the love of reading and learning, and the foresight to use their library extensively! My dad is a book lover himself and still has so many books I loved to read as I was growing up.  I told him that if he were to leave me anything, I'd want the books.  It would cost a fortune to have them all shipped over here, but those are the things that would mean the most to me.  My dad used to take me and my brothers to the library every time we visited him (my parents divorced when I was young) and it was awesome.

  • Anyhoo, I finally calculated the profit that I made from selling some of my books on Half.com.  I sold 14 books and made a $32.50 profit (after their commission and shipping fees which, in most instances, were higher than the refund rate they have set).  Most of the mailers I used were reused, the ones that weren't were bought with Staples Rewards.  I either mailed them as part of my regular errands (so no extra gas involved) or I walked to the post office.  It's $32.50 more than I would have gotten by just donating them to the library but I'm not sure I want to go through the hassle of listing books and shipping them again for such a small return.

  • I harvested a few grape and Roma tomatoes, a couple of beans, 2 strawberries, 4 jalapeƱos and 2 serrano chili peppers.

  • Greg continued working on my barbecue side table. I think it's almost done. He sprayed the waterproofing paint on it after I took this picture.

  • I am reading Susan's blog and thanks to her suggestion, downloaded a free e-book from Project Gutenberg called "Foods that Will Win the War and How to Cook Them". It was published in 1918.  I downloaded the .epub version that I can open with Adobe Digital Editions on my laptop. I'll try to peruse it tonight.

  • Greg took our son with him to Great Clips as they were both pretty shaggy.  He used our Great Clips prepaid card: $9.99 haircuts instead of $14 and they're prepaid so he only had to pay the tip today. I asked him to pick up a loaf of white bread from Publix too since I've been eating a lot of bread with the hummus that I got for free on Wednesday.  I had meant to go with them but there really wasn't any reason for me to, and I was rewatching some episodes of "The Good Wife" on Amazon Prime Instant :)

WE SPLURGED ON:
  • I should have gone to get the bread myself because Greg and our son ended up getting themselves ice cream... and some chocolate glazed donuts as a bribe for me ;) However, they were pretty frugal with the ice cream as they decided to get the large container of Edy's since it was a better deal than getting 2 pints of Ben & Jerry's.


HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • When I watered the fruit trees yesterday, the leaky hose connection filled up a big bin that I was planning on reusing today to water my vegetables.  However, the bin was empty this morning.  There isn't a hole in the bin and it didn't transfer to the other bin further down the hill by the magic of physics so I have no idea where all the water went.  Prankster?  It's the 2nd time that it has happened.  I had to use the hose to water most of the plants today because of that.

Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

My Daily Freebies: Saturday 5/30/15


Here is what I got/found for free today!


  • A Playtex Sport Combo sample in the mail.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Today's Failures and Successes: Friday 5/29/15




HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Today I decided to do some chores right after breakfast to get the ball started: last night's dishes, the comforter and throw that had been on one of the futons were thrown in the wash, I vacuumed and dusted.  It was nice to know it was not even 9:30 a.m. and some tasks were already out of the way.
  • My daughter is going to spend the weekend at her dad's starting tonight. I will miss her!  She completed her pop-up books for her art class yesterday and Greg and I got to admire it. It really was something! My oldest son came to pick her up. I was so happy to see him. I miss him a lot.
  • I spent time downloading all the pictures from my phone to my external drive and then backing up the external drive to the back-up external drive. This was pretty time-consuming because I haven't been doing it regularly despite getting reminders to do it.  Moving forward, I really need to do it on an ongoing basis, just like paying the bills.  It would really make my life easier and prevent a big meltdown in case something went wrong!

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • My daughter drove herself to school and back, and packed herself a lunch, both money-savers.

  • Our son packed himself a lunch as well.

  • I added 1/2 a gallon of water to 1/2 a gallon of milk to stretch it.

  • I used the 4 strawberries that I harvested yesterday with my morning Rice Krispies.  I'm disappointed to say that they didn't taste any better than my Driscoll's, lol.  

  • Later on, as a treat, I baked one of the cans of Pillsbury Cinnamon rolls that I got for $0.50 after rain check and coupon.

  • Speaking of rain checks, I forgot to mention that I explained how rain checks work to my daughter on Wednesday.  I'm trying to give her ideas of how she can save on food and necessities when she is on her own.

  • I made a batch of Parmesan Garlic Oyster Crackers in the crockpot for my son's snack.  Inspired by a recipe from Alison over at NOVA Frugal Family, I threw a bag of oyster crackers ($0.89 at Aldi) in the crockpot and mixed in 1/2 cup of oil, 1/2 a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, and this time I upped the garlic powder to about 3/4 tsp.  I cooked it on high for 90 minutes, stirring it about every 20 minutes.

  • I washed a comforter and blanket in cold/cold.  I wanted the blanket to remain soft so I dried it in the dryer using the Auto Moisture Sensing setting, but I set out the comforter to dry outside on the patio chairs.  It's a comforter I use on one of the futons.  We do have a futon cover but I have been forgetting to ask Greg to help me put it back on (those futon mattresses are very heavy!).

  • I reused rainwater collected in the bins to water a few plants.

  • The garden is calming down a little, I harvested just a few tomatoes (mostly Supersweet 100 grape tomatoes), 2 or 3 beans and 1 strawberry. I ate it right away and it was disappointingly tasteless, like a true Florida strawberry, actually (not a fan of Florida strawberries).

  • Dinner tonight was Blue Plate meatloaf. I substituted the veggies specified in the recipe for veggies from my fridge that I needed to use up: mushrooms, zucchini, and not-so-fresh-anymore spinach.  The bulk provided by the veggies meant that I only needed to use 1 lb of ground beef ($2.99).  I also cut up some red potatoes and steamed them. as well as half the bag of green beans that I had been harvesting.  Since there were only 3 of us for dinner tonight, I was able to save half the meatloaf and I will be freezing it into 3 individual portions for Greg when I'm gone.

  • While cleaning up the beans, I found several of them that were too large to cook so I shelled them and put out the seeds to dry so I can replant them in the Fall or next year (Kentucky Wonder).

WE SPLURGED ON:
  • Greg met a friend for lunch today.

  • Deep watered the fruit trees with the hose today. Rain is predicted for tomorrow but I've learned not to trust the predictions.

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • No failures today that I'm aware of.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

My Daily Freebies: Friday 5/29/15


Here is what I got/found for free today!


  • 1 full bottle and 1 mostly full bottle of pancake syrup from my daughter's Ag class.  The teacher made pancakes for the seniors and there was a lot of syrup left. My daughter asked if she could bring it home and the teacher said yes, as she didn't want it. She texted me to let me know about it and was all chirpy about it, lol. My frugal daughter!



An Incomplete and Unmotivated Food Waste Friday

Inspired by The Frugal Girl blog who started it all...
I have felt unmotivated on several levels this week and it reflects on the fact that this post is going to be incomplete and inaccurate.  I wasn't even going to post a "Food Waste Friday" post today, not because I didn't have any, but because I didn't record it and I didn't want to bother with it.

You know how you go on a diet and everything is honky dory and you're recording your points or calories or what not and you start losing weight and, after a while, you figure: "Why am I spending so much time recording all of this?  I know what to do, I can do it without recording it and everything will be fine..."  but then what actually happens if that you stop holding yourself accountable and the portion sizes start to creep up, and the weight starts to come back up, and pretty soon you're back where you started?  Yeah.  This is almost how I feel about Food Waste this week.  Not that we have reverted to a lot of Food Waste, it's just that I don't feel as motivated to try to use up what we have before it spoils.  My mind (and anxieties) are on our trip to France, looming in 2 weeks, and I'm using that as an excuse to somewhat fall off the frugal wagon.

But then I saw TraceyBee's (from Just Keep Swimming Mama Fish!) post about her food waste and she has more serious issues to contend with than my "blahs" and burnt palate, so I figured I ought to at least try to remember what food waste occurred this week.   So, thanks, TraceyBee, for the inspiration!

I didn't take many pictures so this will be an incomplete and uninteresting post, at least visually :)

  • 1 5-lb bag of red potatoes. I had bought 2 bags at Aldi a few weeks back, when they were $1.99 each (or was it $0.99?  I can't be bothered to check!) and put one bag in a large bin since I had read that potatoes keep better in the dark, and it had worked quite well with Russet. However, it didn't work this time. One of the potatoes was probably already starting to spoil when I got them but I didn't open the bag to check. Result: most of the potatoes were rotten when I opened the bin yesterday and the stench was so bad... and then I proceeded to unknowingly let the bag drip all over my floor as I was taking it out to the composting bin.  It was just seconds before I was to cook dinner and now my kitchen stank to high heaven (there are few things more stinky than rotten potatoes, IMO).  So I just dumped everything (save the bag) in the compost bin and spent 10 minutes mopping the kitchen.  Lesson learned: either only buy 1 bag or open the bag at home and examine the potatoes before storing them. After all, I rinse my strawberries in diluted vinegar so why not at least inspect the potatoes?!

  • The rest of the lettuce that I had harvested from my garden. I harvested a bunch of it that was overgrown, but since it was Parris Island lettuce (which is a type of Romaine lettuce), it was meant to be crunchy anyway. I stored it for a couple of days in the salad spinner that I had filled with water.  The first 24 hours, it worked great!  The lettuce was still fresh and crisp and I used most of it for 2 large salads.  However, after 24 hours, I had to compost it as the lettuce had started to get soft and the water didn't smell too fresh anymore.

  • The leftovers from the Moroccan Chicken dish that I cooked last Wednesday. It wasn't a hit with my family and too harsh on my newly burnt mouth (I burned my palate by drinking coffee that was too hot a week ago and I'm still recovering. Major OUCH).  Then we left it on the kitchen table overnight so I had no choice but to throw it away.


  • A mango that I had bought from Save A Lot.  It looked fine and ripe from the outside, but when I opened it, it was all brown and spoiled on the inside.  It went in the compost.


  • I dropped an egg or two (I think one egg on two occasions this week) on the floor because I was being rushed and careless. Also, Greg had forgotten to put the egg carton with one of the eggs back into the fridge overnight so if I hadn't subsequently dropped the carton, I would have thrown the egg away anyway. Then he and I had a discussion about the fact that only Americans obsess about cold eggs, and we agreed that neither of us would have been overly concerned by consuming the egg anyway (our kitchen is kept at 72-73 right now anyway, so it's not like it's sweltering!). But I need to be more careful when I handle eggs, especially in the mornings when I still feel sleepy!

What I saved:


  • I have been harvesting a lot of tomatoes and couldn't eat any this whole week (tomatoes aren't recommended when you burn your mouth because they're very acidic) so I made a batch of marinara sauce with the Roma tomatoes. I had enough to fill one of those large jars of salsa from Aldi.  I will use it this weekend to make chicken cacciatore and I will make another batch of it with the grape tomatoes that we haven't eaten yet and freeze it.




  • We ate all the leftovers.  I once hated leftovers but now I really miss them when I don't have any for my lunch!


    Thursday, May 28, 2015

    Today's Frugal Failures and Successes: Thursday 5/28/15



    HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
    • Eeeek! I can't believe it's the end of May already. Already?! The kids will be out of school mid-week next week.

    • Greg's truck started fine this morning and he's not worried about it despite acknowledging that he also noticed the reticence of the truck to start, sometimes.  I'll probably be the one getting struck in some parking lot next week when I go shopping. Yes, we have road side assistance, but I'd rather just deal with the problem before it comes to this point! I suppose he's being the more frugal of the two? The truck had never not stall on the way to the airport, is all I'm saying...

    • I made myself 3 big to-do lists of things I need/want to accomplish before I leave for France and I have exactly zero motivation to do any of them this morning!  Ever feel that way?  Ugh.  Kicking myself into gear... right.... now!

    FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
    • My daughter packed a lunch and drove herself to school, saving us money and time (as usual, one fewer round-trip!).

    • I packed a lunch for Greg to take to work and our son packed his lunch for school.

    • I'm thinking that I'll make Blue Plate meatloaf for tonight with some of the ground beef I bought yesterday, spinach I bought last week, mushrooms from two weeks ago, and make a side dish of red potatoes. Never mind, I ran out of time. I'll make it for dinner tomorrow night.

    • I'm now eating the 2nd box of ancient Rice Krispies that was on my cereal shelf.  The expiration date was in 2012 but they're just fine.  They're actually quite delicious with sliced strawberries on top and they're too mushy to hurt the roof of my mouth, which, yes, it's still hurting quite a bit.  I think that I might never have hot coffee again and instead just drink mine cold, lol.

    • Last night I took the 5 lbs of lunch meats that I bought at Aldi and divided them into 1/4 lb packages that I froze.  Today I split the 5-lb chub of ground beef into (5) 1-lb chunks, cooked one for dinner, kept the other for tomorrow night, and froze the other 3.

    • I reused rainwater collected in the bins outside (I can't believe the water barely evaporated with all the heat we've had recently and one of the bins has tadpoles in it, yay!) to water the garden. I did use the hose to refill some self-watering bins.

    • I harvested a bunch of tomatoes (mostly Supersweet 100 grape tomatoes), a very small amount of beans (my plants were parched!), and 4 strawberries.  So excited to have strawberries (even though I bought 4 quarts of them just yesterday, lol). I need a lot more plants to get more berries, though.


    • I harvested Romaine, spinach, and green onion seeds from the seed heads I had cut recently and set out to dry.   


    • I printed seed packets from a template I had saved several years ago.  I used card stock I had bought several years ago, when I was homeschooling.  I used the seed packets to store the seeds that I had harvested.


    • I cut off more Romaine lettuce seed heads and set them out to dry.


    • I took the rosemary, marjoram and dill that I had harvested over a month and a half ago and set out to dry and collected the consumable bits that I added to the appropriate spice jars in my kitchen.

    • I harvested fresh oregano, basil, sage, and thyme, placed them in upcycled plastic meat trays and Chinese take-out containers, and set them out to dry on my kitchen windowsill.

    • I received two $5.00 off $25.00 coupons from Lowe's in the mail.  Greg will put them to good use when he goes to buy the supplies for our ceiling project.

    • For dinner I grilled hamburgers on the barbecue ($2.99 for the beef, $0.45 for 4 buns) and cooked the bag of sweet potato fries that I got for free yesterday.

    WE SPLURGED ON:
    • Calling my dad in France. Not a huge splurge since we kept the call pretty short, but it'll be tacked on to my phone bill.  My connection was horrible, I could barely distinguish the words he was saying. I noticed the same thing when I called my son in Orlando last week.  I never had that problem with my iPhone 4 (3G), and I suspect it's either my phone or AT&T LTE network.  It's very annoying!  I called Greg to see if the problem replicated and I could hear him better but the electric "hum" whenever my interlocutor speaks was still there. Arrrgh.

    • The 3rd season of "The Americans" on Amazon Instant. In HR, no less!  I just finished Season 2 and I couldn't wait to watch the rest.  Oh, we had a $0.01 instant video credit so I paid $24.98 instead of $24.99.  Big savings!

    • I bought 2 e-books on Amazon and sent them to our son as a "gift" so he could download them to his Kindle Fire for our trip.  One of them is the summer reading assignment that he needs to do, and the other is a book that he had wanted to read but that our library doesn't have.  The kids will be using their Kindle on my family's wi-fi connections to play games and check their email so I couldn't borrow library books for them (because they would expire while we're gone and disappear from their Kindles).

    HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
    • When I divided the lunch meats, I prepped the freezer bags in advance (labeled, etc.) and totally forgot that I could use the actually bag that came with each lbs of lunch meat as one of the freezer bags.  So I threw away 5 wrapper/bags and used 5 new freezer bags, which was a complete failure on all sides!  I hope that I'll remember that next time.

    • I had to throw away a whole 5-lb bag of red potatoes because they had rotted in the bag that I kept in a bin.  So much for keeping potatoes in the dark so they don't spoil and so much for saving money by buying a couple of bags when they were on sale.  On the positive side, I don't have to stress about cooking 10 lbs of potatoes before I leave, now!

    Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

    My Daily Freebies: Thursday 5/28/15


    Here is what I got/found for free today!




    Coupon Printing in Chrome: An Update



    Recently, I posted a tip that explained how to print coupons from Chrome 42.


    Tonight, I was alerted to a new problem, which is that as of Chrome version 45, to be released later on this year, we will need to use a different browser to print any coupons that use "NPAPI, including Silverlight, Java, and Unity".

    This is disappointing, as the vast majority of the coupon sites use Java and I doubt they will change.  So it looks like we'll either have to download 2 different browsers and switch back and forth to print coupons, or just abandon Chrome altogether and move to Firefox or something else.

    Personally, I don't find either solution satisfactory. It's going to be a huge PITA :(

    What browser do you use?  Do you print coupons from the internet?


    Wednesday, May 27, 2015

    Today's Frugal Failures and Successes: Wednesday 5/27/15



    HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
    • My grocery shopping trip ended early in the morning because Greg's truck felt a little "hesitant" every time I started it and I didn't want to risk getting stuck somewhere with a bunch of groceries so I went home right after Aldi.

    • Today wasn't a day for meat bargains: neither Save A Lot nor Target had any marked-down meats so I only bought what I actually needed.

    • I went back out with my SUV once my daughter came home from school. It wasn't too big of a fail since the majority of the errands I still had to run was in town anyway.

    • I found out that my sister did get fired from her job, even though she had the testimony of 20 people who said she didn't do what she was accused of.  She is consulting with a lawyer. In the meantime, the little bit of good news is that she might be able to fill in for people on leaves with another company.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her.

    • I didn't venture in the garden at all today so I didn't harvest anything. It didn't rain so I really have to water tomorrow morning.

    FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
    • Greg worked from home, saving us about $20 in tolls and gas.

    • My daughter drove herself to school, saving us gas and time (1 fewer round-trip). She brought snacks to school but I had her buy her "entree" since we had ran out of bread and I hadn't defrosted any Flat-outs.

    • Our son packed a lunch (he had made his sandwich before we ran out of bread!)

    • Today was the first time in a very long time that I didn't redeem any freebies at Racetrac since it's still "free coffee" freebie time and my mouth is still bothering me. Greg suggested I get it anyway and freeze it, but I thought it was too much hassle and I didn't trust that I would remember that I had frozen coffee in the freezer so I skipped it.

    • A shopper offered me her cart at Aldi and wouldn't take my quarter.

    • Greg and I had leftovers from dinner for lunch.

    • My oven parts came in!  The rack fits perfectly.  I did a happy dance and my daughter laughed at me :) Later on. Greg replaced the baking element so the oven worked perfectly to cook the extra large pizza that I had gotten for dinner AND I was able to bake both halves at once (since it's too big to fit in the oven in one piece).  Woohoo!  The pizza cost $4.99 at Aldi and I topped it with some Black Forest and Hickory Smoked ham from Aldi as well.

    • I earned my daily Bing Credits and I'm at 81% of my goal.

    • I needed to finish running my errands, which included the library, so I gave my son a ride to his teen program at the same time so I could pick up a new book from the library (I'm keeping the e-books for the plane trip).

    • The magazine donation pile was HUGE!  I picked up 8 food-related magazines (I'll cut out recipes from them when I get back from my trip), and 3 knitting magazines.  My daughter and I have been talking about my picking up knitting. I tried it a couple of times before and I do want to try it again, although it will be hard to ignore the call of the internet!

    • I brought the Sodapalooza cups along (my daughter didn't want a drink) so I got a Caffeine Free Diet Coke for me and a cherry frozen drink for my son.

    • My son received the wargaming manual that he had ordered from England and they also sent him a miniature as a freebie :)

    • I forgot to mention that last night I downloaded a free Word Search app.  I like those kinds of mindless games to keep me occupied on the plane.  That, Mahjong...  no strategic games for me, lol.

    • Greg downloaded a book from Amazon. It was on sale for 92% off, priced at $1.99 but free to us since we had some Swagbucks/Bing Rewards gift cards on the account!

    WE SPLURGED ON:
    • Lots of packaged snacks this week. My oven wasn't working so I decided not to feel guilty about buying them.

    HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
    • I don't think we had any failures (aside from going way over budget with the groceries, of course, but that's not really a failure since I stocked up on food for Greg next month).

    Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

    My Daily Freebies: Wednesday 5/27/15


    Here is what I got/found for free today!

    • 1 box of Skittles from CVS, free after redemption of coupon won in Skittles sweepstakes



    • 1 envelope of Fancy Feast Classic and 1 small can of Fancy Feast Delights cat food, found in a cart in the Target parking lot!



    • 4 cans of Campbell's Healthy Request Chunky soup from CVS, free after sale, coupon redemption and redemption of ECBs.


    • A bag of Alexia Potato Puffs and a bag of Alexia Sweet Potato from Publix, a $0.13 MONEY MAKER after BOGO sale and coupons.


    • 2 soft drink/frozen drink refills from Racetrac, with Sodapalooza cups.



    • 2 10-oz containers of Sabra hummus from Publix, free after BOGO sale and coupons.



    • A thriller from my library system, free with my library card of course!


    •  8 food-related magazines, from the library's donation pile.



    • 3 knitting magazines, from the library's donation pile.



    • A small coupon insert and several Boxtops for Education, from the library's donation pile.



    • The latest issue of the South Lake Press, left at the library by the sales rep since it's not distributed in mailboxes. (I keep on hoping there'll be coupons in it!)



    • A box of samples from PinchMe.com, containing: a small container of Kraft Classic Italian grated parmesan, a container of Splenda minis, 3 small tubes of Gold Bond skin lotion, and (2) $3.00/1 Method laundry detergent coupons.



    • A wargaming figurine, from Warlord Games, a British company from which we ordered a wargaming manual for our son.  They sent him the figurine as a freebie :)