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Archive for November, 2020

New laptop

November 30th, 2020 at 06:43 pm

In preparation for retirement, I knew I would need a laptop - since the one I currently use belongs to my job.  With today being 'cyber-monday' I went on the HP website and they had a few door buster sales.  I really dont understand the different types of laptops, but know my basic needs (which are very basic) and found one that I felt would work.  Total cost was $550 after upgrading a couple of options and adding on Microsoft 365 and 3 years of antivirus.  I am happy with the price, so long as the darn thing works for 3-5 years!  It won't get here until the first of the year, but I am not in a rush to get it so long as it arrives before I retire (which right now is somewhere between March and June).

The hubs 25 year old truck, which has 326k miles, may need some repairs soon.  The nice thing is that the hub is a mechanic and can usually get parts at a discount and do the repairs himself.  (Hense the reason the old truck is still plugging along).  He estimates about $1500 for the parts.  But he will do a thorough check of everything first, to make sure that's really what it needs.  This is a very small price to pay for the work that ol truck continues to do.  I shudder when I see replacement cost on a similar truck...  That is one expense we will eventually face and are planning for...but I am all for keeping this one running as long as it can!!

Today would have been our day to travel to the vacation home...a little bittersweet, but still so thankful my family is all healthy and we can re-plan at a future, hopefully safer, time. 




Frugal comfort food!

November 30th, 2020 at 12:29 am

There is something so rewarding about creating delicious comfort food for a fraction of what you would spend otherwise. I made a fresh warm loaf of bread this morning, and pulled a bag of leftover split pea soup out of the freezer. I heated up a bowl of the soup, added a few spices, cut off a nice crunchy end piece of the bread, added some butter, and WOW, lunch was served for under $.50. Food on the cheap!

The hub is on a road trip today with DD3 and the grandbaby to see his dad, so my dinner will be a repeat of lunch. Another $.50 and what an inexpensive day it was for me! (I am sure the hubs day will include gas, lunch, much more expensive than mine.) I am spending the day with a nice fire in the wood stove as I decorate the house for Christmas, do some laundry, and watch some TV. My kinda day for sure.  I am on vacation this next week, so I am not moving as quickly as I normally would on this Sunday. What I don't get done today, I can finish tomorrow!!

A dear friend's hub has covid, and is really not doing well. He has underlying conditions and is fighting for every breath, very weak. He is not in the hospital, they are saving those beds for the most critical situations... I sure hope he pulls through. So far, no improvement. But today he isnt worse than yesterday, so maybe he made it past that tipping point.

I didn't buy a single thing for black Friday this year. That is a FIRST for me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25th, 2020 at 07:36 pm

Happy Thanksgiving friends.   I hope your holiday is blessed and filled with all the yummigoodness!

A few days ago, I was about to pour out the last little bit of coffee from the carafe and decided instead to pour it into my big pot of pinto beans.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  The flavor kick it provided was a nice rich one.  I maybe added a half cup, maybe 3/4.  But I will probably always add a little coffee to my pinto beans going forward!

Two of my daughters are in new homes this year, and both are anxious to host holidays.  So tomorrow, we will go to one house in the morning for breakfast/coffee and the other in the afternoon for dinner.  It is a nice change from the days when I cooked for a few days to have everyone over to my house.  I kinda like this!!  I am helping with food costs, but dont have to do all the work!!  

Today is my last work day until Dec 7.  Even though the family trip got postponed, I still want the time off from work.  I have pushed myself the last few weeks to get my annual work goals to near completion, so I can really relax while I am off.  I plan to use the week off to check off as much declutter/clean as possible.  Since the hub is home, I can use his help on the heavy stuff, which will be really helpful.

We plan to go to the coast on Friday.  Our friends are camping for the weekend, and visiting them will be a nice day trip away.  The weather is supposed to be nice (high 50's) which will be perfect campfire weather.

Again, best wishes to you all for a fabulous day tomorrow!



Do you buy in bulk?

November 23rd, 2020 at 10:07 pm

We picked up a 50 lb bag of dry pinto beans today.  I usually pay $1.18 per pound, but buying in bulk brings the per pound cost down to .46.  Now, I just need to figure out how to store them so they are still good when I get to the end of the supply.  I am looking into food storage tubs.  I figure I will need 2 - 5 gallon tubs.

I am also looking for bulk flour, to see if I can bring my per pound cost down as well.  The best I have found recently was $2.29 for 10 lbs.  I am keeping an eye out for holiday sales and other sales in bulk to see if I can do better.  I have a good set up for 10 lbs, but if I get much more, I will likely need another 5 gallon storage bin for flour.

The bins are an expense up front, but will be offset if they help preserve shelf life and are still in good condition for future batches.

I am a newbie to bulk buying/storing and would LOVE ideas that some of my more seasoned frugal friends may have to share!!  Do's, Don'ts and anything in-between is welcome!

Update:  I found 6 food safe 5-gallon buckets with lids on Amazon.  I used some points that I had, and my final out of pocket cost was $20 for 6.  This will give me a few extra containers for other bulk buys.  Of course, trying to minimalize - buying extra made me twitch a little, but I am confident these will come in handy as I strive to drive food costs down. 

Shook it off

November 23rd, 2020 at 06:14 pm

The bloggers on this site are so inspiring and supportive of each other.  THANK YOU for indulging me in my last pity party post rather than beating me up.  I am happy to say, it was a very short-lived tantrum, and life is back to whatever normal means. 

The rental company of the house I reserved initially was kinda nasty about my postponing the trip.  I get it.  But when there is a statewide mandate of no more than 6 people from 2 households allowed, and our plans were 20 people from 3 states and 5 households, I would think they might be a little more understanding.  Alas, the next day they called and gave me a full refund travel voucher for use at a later date, which is all I wanted.   So we can re-plan the trip anytime before May 31.

I had bought the grandkids each a big throw as a side gift for Christmas.  (The trip IS still the GIFT).  I have asked parents to please explain that the trip is STILL the GIFT from gma and papa.   They will get their blankets at Christmas and we will enjoy time together as we can until the trip!

Having the hub home is a little challenging on my frugal plans, as I suspected it might be.  Smile  But I give him credit for at least trying.  Our grocery bill was much highr than what I have been spending- but we also have more options, which I know make him happier.  I will plan to stay more frugal during those weeks when he is gone for work.  It's all about balance and marital bliss.  Big Grin



Pity party for one (and I know I need to get over it, it's not all about me)

November 17th, 2020 at 10:25 pm

First, I am going to start with I know I have SO MUCH to be greatful for.  I get it. And I know it. 

But I am allowing myself a bit of down time this afternoon.

1.  I had to cancel our big family trip.  With everything going on right now, it was not feasible to pull our huge family together for a full week.  I would much rather help be part of the solution, than the problem, so I pulled the plug.  But it still sucks.  We will push the trip back to spring or fall and hopefully be able to fully enjoy a safer trip at a better time.

2. The hub is still not home.  He was due home last Friday, but because of his alternate has Covid, and then weather causing flights to be cancelled, he still isnt home.  Hopefully tomorrow, but again today the weather is iffy, and we still arent sure.  The bright side of course, is that he has earned several extra days of pay during the delay, but again, this is my pity party.

3.  Our trip was my Christmas for the kids and grandkids.  I dont have a plan B.  I hope everyone understands that the trip will still happen.  CHristmas from Gma is just delayed a few months. 

My family continues to be safe, everyone is healthy, and the hub and I are still employed.  I have so much to be greatful for.  

This too shall pass. 

My pity party will be short lived, but GAH, this sucks.  Covid sucks.  2020 sucks.  

Ok, vent over.  I will reset shortly, but for this moment, I am just sad. 


Inexpensive meals continue

November 12th, 2020 at 08:00 pm

Yesterday I pulled out one of the half chicken breasts from the Costco frozen chicken.  They are huge.  A 10lb bag of chicken yields 9-10 half chicken breasts - so about a pound each.  I baked it with some seasonings, lemon juice and butter and made some quinoa.  So good.  I was able to cut the breast and quinoa into thirds, and made 3 meals out of it.  Since this made 3 meals, I calculated dinner at $.90!

For breakfast, I made a scramble using 2 eggs with ham (leftover from the slab for the split pea soup) and a little cheese.  I toasted some of the crusty bread and for about $.54 had a nice breakfast sandwich.

For lunch I had some split pea soup, which cost about $.50 per serving. 

I also snacked on some of the cheese and salami leftover from my girlfriend day last weekend.

And finally, I had a single very ripe banana that I needed to do something with.  So I made a tiny batch of banana muffins.  Flour, sugar, egg, banana, baking soda and powder and a little salt...and popped 5 muffins in the oven.  This will make 5 yummy snacks from something I almost tossed (and historically would have)!

Today will be much of the same, as I use up the leftovers. I am having fun with this micro-budgeting on my food expenses.   

I also stopped at the dollar store yesterday and picked up some storage bins.  I spent the afternoon organizing what is left in my closet.  I am still not 100% happy with the results.  I intend to go back through whats in those bins and downsize even more in the coming weeks.

This week - Split Pea soup

November 10th, 2020 at 07:33 pm

I have a big pot of split pea soup in the crockpot today.  I love this soup.  It ended up costing about $3 to make.  I used half the ham slab that I picked up for $2.99.  (The other half I will use with my eggs to make a nice breakfast scramble the next couple of days).   I added the usual veggies - onion, carrot, celery, garlic and some spices.  This will make 8-10 servings. I finished the last of the pinto beans last night.  I didnt need to freeze any, as they were yummy right up until the last bite.

Tomorrow is Veterans day - a huge shout out and thank you to all Veterans for their services! 

My job is closed tomorrow, so I have the day off.  It is also the first of a 14 day step-back period for our county, and several counties in our state.  They are hoping to slow the Covid cases as we have had a significant increase in the last several weeks.   I wont really need to change anything for this period, since I stay home unless I need groceries or visit one of the kids homes.  I need to go by the dollar store to get a gift bag for a baby shower gift.  The shower is this Saturday, I will likely drop the gift off and, if I cant social distance adequately, wont linger long.  I don't want to risk exposure to someone who may not know they have the virus.  I am high-risk and risking getting it is just not worth it to me. 

I have been using our wood stove exclusively for heat.  The hub has had a wood yard for years and our wood is primarily free.  He works on log trucks in exchange for free wood.   Being home FT, I have learned the settings to heat the house without overheating our upstairs. 

I have also successfully trained my brain to turn off all lights when I am not in a space that needs lighting.  Overall, I am making the mental shift to living frugally and it feels great!

I am also finding our home much less chaotic with the decluttering efforts.  I still have a long ways to go, but the spaces I have finished are staying very clean and organized - and are actually calming to be in. 

All in all, super happy with progress - the hub rotates back home for a month starting on Saturday.  We shall see how well I can maintain everything while he is home.  Smile  Stay tuned!



Fun weekend and the car is back!

November 9th, 2020 at 02:10 am

I finally got my car back from the shop.  $207 out of pocket, the rest was covered by warranty.  I used the car to run errands on Saturday and to go watch my gd for DD3 today while momma painted her bedroom.  Gd will be turning one in 3 weeks.  She is toddling and is just a sweet, happy girl.  Thoroughly enjoyed my time with her. 

On the way home, I stopped and picked up a small ham slab (on sale for $2.99) to go in the split pea soup for this weeks soup.  Total cost of the soup will be about $4 and will make about 10 servings.  I made a loaf of bread on Saturday, and have enough left to last another 2-3 days.   

On Saturday, my friend came over for a girlfriend day.  We had planned on going to a local winery, but the weather was not cooperating since we would have had to sit outside (covid).  So we met here at my house and enjoyed the firepit on my deck.  I picked up some salami, cheese, grapes, pickled asparagus and pretzel chips at Costco- plus a couple bottles of grand reserve Chardonnay for just under $13 each. We spent much less than we would have at the winery, and I have a ton of leftovers to enjoy the next couple of weeks.  If I split out what we ate, I guestimate our girlfriend day cost about $50 (including wine) - not the most frugal day, but it was very enjoyable.  We visted around the fire outside and then when it got too chilly, we came inside and played a card game.  All in all, very awesome day.  I used my allowance to pay for the food and wine, since this was a special occasion for me and not something that should come from the food budget. 

I have one bowl of pinto beans left for tomorrow, and will be making the split pea soup for the rest of the week.   The store also had Jimmy Dean Delight breakfast sandwiches on sale for $5.49 for 4.  These are my go to breakfast or lunch when I need a quick, easy meal.  Higher protien, and reasonable carbs.  So I picked up two boxes and tucked them into the freezer.  Costco had a big container of greek yogurt (plain) on sale for $2.99.  I have blueberries and granola left over from last week, so this will be breakfast for several days.  

I spent some time decluttering one of our rooms this weekend and found an unopened container of Folgers coffee.  It is from our move a couple of years ago- so will provide at least a couple of weeks of "free" coffee for me.  Smile  

The hub will be home from Alaska next weekend and we will have almost a full month's food budget to live on, since I have been eating so cheaply. 

Feeling very good about choices this month.  


Gorgeous fall continues! And still, no car.

November 2nd, 2020 at 08:56 pm

Our fall weather continues to be amazingly beautiful.  Sunny, warm, and just nice to be outdoors!!  I do have a fire in the wood stove, because temps drop at night and the house will stay around 60-ish if I dont heat it up.  

DD3 loaned me her car again this past weekend and I went to town Friday night and yesterday.  I picked up coffee at Target but didnt need anything else.  I did use the last of my Kohl's cash to get a new pair of  winter jammies.  My usual winter jammies consist of fuzzy bottoms and a long sleeve tshirt (unmatched, of course lol) ...all at least 5 years old.  So I splurged on myself (for free!)   My other trip to town was to DD2s house.  They invited me over for steak dinner - which was yummy and a nice change from soup.  Smile

Now, I am back to no car again.  I sure hope mine is repaired this week, so I don't have to keep borrowing DD3s.  Being without a car has made me realize just how seldom I really 'have' to use it.  I do intend to reduce trips to town in order to reduce gasoline costs.  

Like others, I am very ready to have election day behind us.  I'm beginning to feel that a united nation is becoming a pipe dream...the divide between right and left is so vast.  In my opinion, this is fault of both sides.  Sad times for sure.