Monday, August 29, 2016

Weekly Savings

This covers the past two weeks of savings.

We needed an extra can of paint for the built ins for the living room.  We had purchased untinted paint from Sherwin Williams during a sale.  This meant that we could have it tinted at any time for free (or return it if needed).  That is another plus about shopping at Sherwin Williams.

While digging around for something in the freezer, I noted several items that could be used for easy meals.  I made a note of those and have been using them to stretch my original menu.  Focusing on using what we had meant that I only spent $19 last week at the grocery store.

I ordered several items from thredUP (referral link).  I did place an order only after sorting through my closet.  I saved quite a bit of money and everything was in excellent condition.  I still have several items on my wardrobe wish list and will continue to keep an eye out for those.  Shopping second hand clothing requires some patience, but it is possible to find what you want at a good price.

We returned several unused items to Lowe's for a refund.  That was money that could be used to purchase other needed items.

I received a deposit for a book I sold on  I find that very easy to use since I can just post the books and wait for them to sell.  I do price them a bit below average.  Since the books are almost always free, any amount is a profit.

I used the last bit of a fresh pineapple to make a pineapple crisp.  It was a nice dessert made using ingredients on hand and saved the pineapple from being tossed.  Although truthfully the chickens would have preferred the second option.

I baked two loaves of bread in the toaster oven.  My big oven has issues which would require it to be pulled completely out to be worked on.  Since it is hot and we are moving soon, it hardly seems worth the effort right now.

I continue to make use of our regular trash cans for the construction trash.  I fill mine to capacity and have topped off my parents' trash can the past two weeks as well.

My father-in-law came over one day to help W with some work on the new house.  I had picked up a chicken to roast in the slow cooker.  I prefer to buy Springer Mountain Farms chickens.  They do cost more, but the taste is amazing.  We ate dinner.  I shredded the leftover chicken to be used in another meal.  I put the bones in the slow cooker along with carrot, onion, and celery to make broth.  Stretching the chicken makes it more cost effective.

In spite of the busyness I continued to do the usual:  dried laundry outside, packed W's lunch, and ate meals at home.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

A Catered Tea Party by Isis Crawford finds sisters Bernie and Libby catering an Alice in Wonderland tea party for a frustrating client, Zeb Zalinsky.  Zeb is murdered in the middle of the tea party, and his pricey teapot disappears.  While the idea for the book was something I thought I would love, I had major problems connecting with Bernie and Libby.  I struggled through the book because I did not care for any of the characters.  The story had no rhythm to it.  I have not read any other books in the series which might have caused me some problems.  I will give this series a pass in the future.

Maggie Cox Bryan's latest book is Death Among the Doilies.  I have read other books by this author.  This is the first book is the Cora Crafts Mystery series.  This book is packed full of action and side stories.  It reminded me of an action movie with so much going on.  Cora and her friend Jane move to a small town in North Caroline to open a craft retreat.  Problem after problem arises nearly ruining the first retreat with the worst being Jane becoming a person of interest in a murder.  The characters and basis of the series (the craft retreat) are wonderful.  I am looking forward to more books in the series!

disclosure:  I received these e-books from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Weekend Book Review: In the Mood for Quick Family Food

Jo Pratt's latest book is In the Mood for Quick Family Food.   I have mixed feelings about this cookbook.  I marked several recipes I thought we would enjoy.  I always prefer to try out a recipe if I have time.  Being that I am currently very short on time, the "quick family food" part was definitely a positive.  I chose the recipe for Very Special Fried Rice.  I realize that fried rice is easy enough to make without a recipe.  I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand and just enough time to cook.  W was happy with how it turned out.  He specifically mentioned that including some pineapple was a nice touch.

The positive is that the recipes for the most part are quick to make with minimal processed foods.  The negative is that many of the recipes will probably not go over well with children.  I think that perhaps British children are more open to eating more foods.  The children I know are much too picky to eat dishes such as One-pan Hot-smoked Salmon Biryani or Pea and Tuna Fishcakes with Caper and Lemon Mayonnaise.

If you have adventurous eaters in your home the negative may not be a factor.  Then by all means give this cookbook a try.  I do recommend looking over the recipe index first.  The quick recipes may win if your family is not picky.

disclosure:  I received this e-book from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Furry Friday: Leo

I was on my way to take some pictures of the new house I came upon Leo lounging in the yard.  No matter what I did he refused every shot except a profile.  I guess he has decided he has a "good side".

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews: A Pair of Cozy Mysteries

Die, Die Birdie by JR Ripley is book one in the Bird Lover's Mystery Series.  Amy and her best friend, Kim, open a bird supply shop (Birds and Bees) in her hometown in North Carolina.  A few days before the grand opening Amy finds a dead man in her storeroom.  Thanks to her nosy renter she is the prime suspect.  The story line has potential but fell a bit flat in this book for me.  I am hoping it is like the first episode of a new television series and just needs time to develop.  I enjoyed the birds and bees aspect, but the rest does not stand out among the crowd of cozy mysteries.  It was interesting enough that I would give the second book a try though.

Sarah Fox is the author of the new Pancake House Mystery Series.  The first book is The Crepes of Wrath.  Marley agrees to run her cousin Jimmy's pancake house while he is in the hospital recovering from pneumonia.  Things are going smoothly until Jimmy is found murdered.   Marley sets out to solve the mystery and decide what path her life will take now.  I enjoyed the characters and setting of this book.  I can easily see myself seeking out more from this series.

disclosure:  I received these e-books from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Christmas Gifts

Tell me I am not the only one thinking about Christmas gifts!  Since we are building our new house without a mortgage, every penny counts.  We have not become complete misers just yet though.  Christmas gifts are going to be much simpler this year.  None of the adults on W's side swap gifts.  It is children only on that side.  My side does gifts for the children and a gift swap for the adults.

Three of the children (two nephews and a niece) are older so gifts for them might be harder to figure out.  I am thinking I will just cave and give them all a bit of cash.  Unless I can come up with an idea for the teen boys.  Any help?

Two children are young - barely over a year old.  They do not need any stuff so I am going the practical route and gifting both with baby wipes.  I can buy a bulk packages from Amazon and divide it between the two.

The remainder of the children are girls - six of them.  To stay on the safe side I am making all of them the same thing.  I have an abundance of yarn and wanted to do a nice scarf for each of them.  I have narrowed it down to two options.  I am torn between a regular scarf or an infinity scarf.  It is best to make the same thing for all of them to cut down on drama.  I can customize each scarf to each girl's favorite colors.  Which would you make?

That leaves the gift swap.  I will keep my out eye for a deal - maybe something on clearance.  I might see if I have some extra items around the house that could go into a goodie bag.

I also need something for my four church children.  I may do a favorites bag of candy and snacks.  I know their parents would appreciate a consumable gift.

I have friend gifts in mind.  Since several of my friends do read my blog, that must remain a secret for now.

Let me know which scarf you prefer and if you have any handmade teen boy gift ideas.  I would also like to know if you are planning ahead for Christmas gifts.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Weekly Savings

We stuck to the meal plan for the past week.  I did a big grocery shop and should only need a few fresh items for the remainder of the month.   I hope it will save time as well as money.

I wanted to do centerpieces for the tables at my church for the Pastor Appreciation dinner.  I was short on time but found an idea on Pinterest that I could use.  It consisted of paper plates, tissue paper, double sided tape, and a wooden stick.  It was simple but served the purpose.

W and I are laying the tile in our new house ourselves.  We have been told for our area this is a savings of $4,000-$6,000.  That is a huge amount.  While it is hard work, it is still much easier than finishing dry wall.

We picked up the appliances for the new house rather than paying a delivery fee.

Those are the highlights from this week.  What have you done to save money recently?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Weekend Book Review: The Last Days of Night

When I first started The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore, I wondered why I had chosen to read it.  By the third chapter, I was hooked.  The book is fiction but is based on factual events surrounding the outset of electricity in the US.  It mixes legal issues with science and just a dash of romance.

Mr. Moore does an excellent job of weaving fiction into the true story of Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla.  Lawyer Paul Cravath and singer Agnes Huntington are wonderful supporting characters.  The Last Days of Night is a wonderful historical novel.  I especially enjoyed the author's notes at the end explaining the factual points woven into the story. I loved the book!  It is one of my favorites from this month.

disclosure:  I received this e-book from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Furry Friday: Thea

Thea has never shown any interest in being a house cat.  She prefers lounging in the yard and visiting the chickens.  She does come into the new house to visit.  I think she sees is more of a storage area like where her food bowls are rather than a house.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August Menu

We are still working hard on the new house.  At the same time things are slightly calmer.  I had a day to plan meals for the last three weeks of the month.  I focused on simple meals and wanted to use items we had on hand supplemented with a few purchases.  The meals are not all super healthy, but I am trying to get by as best I can right now.

Spaghetti Pie, Salad, Garlic Bread
Hamburgers & Fries
Copycat Mexican Pizzas
Turkey Sandwiches
Ham, macaroni & cheese, peas
Tuna Casserole, Salad
Snacky meal - ham, hard boiled eggs, cheese, hummus, carrots, etc
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Fish Sandwiches
Corn Dogs
Stew Beef & Vegetables
Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Peas
Pizza & Salad
Stuffed French Bread, Salads
Copycat Crunchwrap Supreme
Big Salads
Beef Pot Pie
Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Barbecue Stuffed Potatoes, & Salad

I think this will cover us for the remainder of the month.  I should only need a weekly trip to the grocery store for fresh items.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Weekly Savings

The past few weeks have been so busy that I felt like we have not been very good about savings.  We ate way too much convenience food although we did have a few frugal meals.  I bought a whole chicken and made chicken salad.  I kept up with bread making so that we did not need to purchase bread.  I used some of the leftover chicken and rice and frozen vegetable mix from the freezer to make homemade fried rice.  It was cheap and filling.

I shopped around when purchasing items for the new house.  I bought faucets from Amazon and Home Depot to get the best prices.  We waiting until Sherwin Williams' 40% off sale to purchase paint and stain.  We continued to do all of the work ourselves.

We purchased a new mower deck for our mower.  This might not seem like a savings, but the deck was much cheaper than a brand new mower.  W did the replacement himself to save labor costs.  I shopped around for belts and the grass deflector to get the best price on these items.

We have been watching "The Great British Baking Show" for free on the PBS website.  Episode one is no longer available for free, but the remaining episodes are.

I made some note cards using some free postcards that were sent to me along with some cardstock.  I also made a few with flower pictures I had taken and cardstock.

I have continued to line dry clothes rather than use the dryer.

I have cooked in the toaster oven rather than the big oven.  This keeps from heating up the kitchen too much.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Weekend Book Review: The Bluebonnet Betrayal

The Bluebonnet Betrayal by Marty Wingate is the second book in the Potting Shed Mystery series that I have read.  This is book five in the series though.  Pru is asked to step in briefly and oversee an exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show until the gardening club responsible arrives from Texas.  Pru ends up with a permanent position when the real leader Twyla Woodford ends up dead.  Pru enlists her husband to go undercover and help her solve the mystery of Twyla's death.

I was afraid that I was not going to love this book as much as the last since the setting was in London rather than Pru's hometown.  A few chapters into the book I had a new cast of characters to love.  The flower show setting with gardening again as a main theme gave me another book in the series to love. I continue to enjoy Ms Wingate's writing style.  I am looking forward to the next book in this wonderful series!

disclosure:  I received this e-book from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Feathered Friday

Our bantam hen with the 15 baby chicks got upgraded from the brooder once her babies got bigger.  We started them off in a large dog pen.  The chicks could go through the fence, but the mama hen could not.  This ensured that the babies stayed close by.

Once the babies got a bit bigger, we let the mama hen out with them.  They followed her and roamed all over the yard.  With the hot summer weather they often sought shade for a break.  One afternoon I found them resting and snacking under the fig tree in our yard.

Then would fly up into the low branches of the fig tree to peck at the figs.  After their break they went back to looking for bugs.  Each evening they return to their pen for supper and bedtime.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New House Update

I posted an update on the new house project here.  I have a few more planned for the rest of this week so hope over to A New Home in the Country to catch up on the progress!