Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thrifty Tuesday.

I like Tuesday. It sure beats Monday, that's for sure. I made a rule never to do business on Monday. People are too stressed. If you call me Monday morning before ten, chances are I won't answer. I save it all until Tuesday. By Tuesdays, I've got my priorities straight. Today for instance, I took my son to Denny's for breakfast. Yes, I could have, and probably should have, made my own pancakes, but it turned out that their Grand Slam is only 3.99 right now, so breakfast for two certainly didn't break the bank. they also gave me a rewards card and said I will get a free hamburger at some point. Then we checked out the Best Store of all Time. I finally found a king size bed skirt that matches my bedding, yay! It will cover the tomato soup cans nicely. I found a twin one as well, though this was not such a surprise. Twin bedding is ubiquitous. I also got the boy a backpack, new with tags, for six bucks. His other one has holes in it from his dragging it on the ground instead of wearing it. We found a like-new lunch kit as well. When we got home, I rolled out the newsprint and let him go to town with his new-to-him 3D paints. What a blast he had! I treated myself to a mani-pedi while I read blogs and farted around with Picasa. I had used this program before and I liked it, it is easy to use. The photo above was taken by my cousin. She has an eye for photography. It must be genetic with all that creative brilliance running through her veins. I lightened it a bit and added the text. I like the back lighting that gives our hair that ethereal halo effect.
For supper, I made mac and cheese casserole with some cubed pork thrown in from the freezer. Anything covered with cheese and homemade breadcrumbs is probably an effort by me to clean out the leftovers from the fridge. Just don't tell the boy. Any day that one can use up leftovers and hit the thrift store is a good day, indeed. Tuesday is my kind of day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Coupons and Dumpster Diving

Look at what I scored! I never used to admit this to anyone, let alone proclaim it in a public forum, but now I can, without shame, call myself a Dumpster Diver. OK, so this wasn't technically inside of the dumpster, (eew!) but it was dumped, and I did dive to get it. It's a partially used roll of perfectly fine newsprint paper! Who would throw this out? Well, I suppose if one were moving or downsizing they may not wish to burden themselves with a large roll of discarded paper...but...uh, I digress...ahem.... My son is going to be thrilled! Imagine all the fun drawing we can do. I just had to share this with my faithful readers. I know you'll understand my excitement, even if my real life peeps don't. If you are reading this, dear, just look away. You knew what you were signing up for.

The other new thing is that I am back on the coupons. I took a little break because I was beginning to become a tad obsessed and overwhelmed. I had stacks of coupons in a photo album that mocked me with their expiry dates. I was throwing out more than I ever used and then feeling like I had wasted my time clipping and sorting only to end up chucking them. Also, I was buying silly stuff just because I had a coupon, which is not very frugal. Now, I have wised up a little. I have decided to only clip coupons which are actually useful to me, such as those for bread and juice. The rest, like those for air freshener plug ins and scented candles, go directly into the recycling bin . They do not pass go, they do not cost me two hundred dollars. I also have a new system that I am trying out. I used to use this mini photo album, which was OK because I could see all my coupons at a glance, but it was hard to get them out of the book quickly in the store. It was awkward and conspicuous. Also, once, I brought the book in my shopping cart and it was actually inspected and tagged by the store greeter. I did not like this! I wanted to be a bit more discreet.
After some searching, I found a mini, expandable file folder at the dollar store. I like it because it is a good size and fits inside my purse. I can open it quickly and find my coupons at the till, because they are filed alphabetically. No one objects to my rummaging around in my purse at the counter, but a book of coupons is taboo, for some reason. I am careful to be obvious about what I am doing, so that no one thinks that I am shoving stuff in there. My short lived, pre-adolescent crime spree when I was eleven cured me of shoplifting for life. They scared me good!
I may change to filing the coops by categories later. For now, though, it is working because a) I don't have so many coupons that I can't keep track of them and b) I can find them quickly if I spot a good deal in store that matches my coupons.
So that, my friends, is my latest evolution in couponing. I know that many people out there are coupon experts, but I have decided to remain an amateur.
I still like getting the dollar off a lipstick.
It makes me feel like I did when I was eleven.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Free Fun

We spent the weekend doing fun start-of -summer activities. Saturday was the aptly named Sunshine Fest, which I heartily enjoyed because most of the attractions were free! Free bouncy castles galore, free face painting, free lollipops and free entertainment. We even got a cheap on-the-street festival haircut, but I had to trim it up a bit once we got home. I didn't mind, the hairdresser still saved me a lot of work and time and the boy's hair was starting to look mop-like. I'm sure he felt a lot cooler after being shorn on the street.

Today we were off to the local airport for Wings and Wheels, with all things having to do with, well, wings and wheels. We did lots of fun free things, including : drive a go-kart, fly a paper airplane, get a balloon sword, stickers, and tattoos and see all kinds of aircraft and a helicopter demonstration. It was a lot to pack in before lunch! When we got home, I realized that I had missed a spot on my shoulders with the sunscreen and they both looked like cooked lobsters. Ouch. By the way, that water pump above was a cool steam powered engine which we were simply fascinated with. It also made me very thirsty to look at it.
By far, the best of all:
The admission tickets were free from the radio station. Hooray!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

As promised~ Cheese Bread

Don't you wish we had Smell-o-vision? Or Taste-o-vision? I made this recipe from the one Kristen posted over at The Frugal Girl. Today she has Italian cheese twists. Oh my! Must do that one too! I didn't get too fancy with my dough shaping, I just made one loaf and four mini loaves, two of which my son gobbled up while still hot out of the oven. OK, I gobbled a little bit, too. This bread has all the elements; soft, cheesy and wonderful. Served warm with a little bit o' butter? That's a little bit of heaven right there. What a fantastic addition to an otherwise regular Tuesday night meal. It was very pleasant to warm up the house on a rainy evening. I made another batch of granola, too. This time I added some chopped up trail mix in the last five minutes of toasting for that added bit of luxury. Along with supper, this is the most cooking I have done for a while. With the warmer weather and busy schedule, I haven't wanted to turn on the oven, so it was a treat to have a hot meal for a change. Now I have plenty of prepared food to work with for the rest of the week. Hooray for batch cooking! Saves energy in more ways than one.

OK here's another beauty shot, just for the heck of it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Making Bread and online window shopping

The Schwinn Romper Grosgrain Giveaway
Did you know rompers are back in? Darn my over efficient packing of all things crafty and sewing related! Hubs knew I would miss them, I told him I could make it through the summer. I can't. I can't make it through the summer. I must craft! I made cheese bread tonight using the Cheese Twists recipe over at The Frugal Girl. Oh. My. This bread is so soft and delicious. I made it into loaves which I photographed and may share tomorrow. For now, must get the child off to bed. It's raining. A good night for homemade bread.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Self imposed confinement

I am holding a spontaneous Open House. We noticed that the upstairs apartment is holding one today so we decided to piggy back on their traffic. We figure the Realtors would do the same thing if they could, so why not? I already had one young couple come who had come to see another apartment, so I guess it's working. It also means I can't go out in the beautiful sunshine today :(

Do you want to hear about my frugal staging tricks? First, I bought new towels and bathroom accessories which are folded up neatly and put away when we are not showing the place. In the living room, I used slipcovers and new throw pillows. The lamps are from Walmart but I fancied them up with some Freecycle tassels. Now, here is my deepest darkest staging trick which is almost laughable it's so crazy. But it works.

My bed, which is a king, was a mattress and box spring on the floor and I was going to get my husband to build something like a platform type to get it off the floor for showings. We plan to get a new frame eventually but I needed something in the meanwhile. I phoned my stepdad, who is a carpenter and had to spend some time in a basement apartment near his job with spare furnishings. After some hemming and hawing and vehement discouragement of using MDF from Home Depot (an insult to his craft, or "cheap sh*t" as he called it) he finally let me in on his frugal bed frame trick. I bet you all want to know what it is, don't you? OK, I will tell you, but don't laugh! Especially once I tell you that my bed is the perfect height off the floor and this cost me next to nothing: OK, here it is...are you ready for this? Friday, you already know, because you are my best friend and I tell you everything. And yes, she smirked, but she did not laugh at me.
So there you have it. Tomato juice cans. I needed twelve cans for my king size bed. If one were patient, they could pick through recycling for the cans. I bought mine at the grocery store. Up to you.
OK go ahead and laugh at me. I don't mind. I won't cry into my pillow at night :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Advice to a New Graduate

Congrats to my hip-to-the extreme cousin Jake who graduated this year and is now a full blown adult. Craazy. I think back to when I was that age and thought I knew everything and well, the fact is, I am much the same person now that I was back then, I just know a couple more things.
I hereby bequeath my pearls of wisdom from my vast experience in the real world.
Pearl #1 When you are eighteen, dating men who are eighteen is not at all what you are interested in doing, but it's probably what you should stick to for a while until you get your feet wet. 18 yr olds are good to practice on, they are just like puppies and they are about as harmless. They will follow you around loyally around with the hopes that you will scratch their bellies. This is what you should aim for. They also have an insatiable appetite, so have lots of kibble available, but dole it out one. piece. at. a. time.
Pearl #2. Move out! Many (including your parents and grandparents) will try to extol the virtues of mooching for a couple more years while you get established, but in my experience, nothing teaches you money management quicker than the fear of being evicted or having your telephone and utilities cut off for non-payment. Life experience requires just that; Experience. Your parents' couch will probably still be there when you inevitably bankrupt yourself and have to live on vending machine Cheetos bought with scrounged change from a friend's couch. So get out there. Fall on your face and get it done with already. All these thirty year olds who are just starting to get out in to the real world make me wanna puke.
Pearl #3. Do all that crazy shit. Get a job in Alaska. Play in a rock and roll band. Get married then annulled in Vegas Ala Britney Spears. Now is the time. Once you have kids is NOT the time. So do it now. P.S. Don't have kids yet. Not yet.
Pearl #4. One should waitress at some point. It keeps you humble.
Pearl #5. Just because you're doing all that crazy shit, doesn't mean you've lost your head completely. You know what's right and what's stupid. Stay away from the really stupid stuff. Your adult self will thank you for it. No regrets. It's all about the journey.
Pearl #6. Know that you are loved and that I have plenty of Cheetos.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer time and the livin' is easy

We made our first exploratory visit to the beach yesterday. I decided on a whim to go get milkshakes after school and go to the beach because it was hot and I didn't want to do housework. I'm glad I took the opportunity because today it is raining cats and dogs.
This is my sister and I on a summer's day past. I am the overexposed baby on the right. I tend to look like that in the sun, even now. I've never been a tanner. I just love my sister's Dorothy Hamill haircut. She always did keep up with the trends. I can safely make fun of my big sis because I don't think she knows that I blog. Ha ha, little sister's revenge :D
I have been getting out a lot to local events lately and in particular the craft fair that I visited for the first time last year. Once again, it was jam packed with artisans from all over hawking their wares. I managed to restrain myself to buying gourmet fudge (and only with the persist ant urging of a co-worker, "You HAVE to buy this fudge, you just HAVE to!") and a CD of children's music. The little guy also talked me into a $5 zip lock bag of wooden blocks, which were such a great deal and an open ended toy that stimulates creativity, I just couldn't say no. My boy knows me like he knit me, educational toys are a sure bet with me.
All in all it was a music filled, sweet experience. The best part? Spending a good time with my friends that I met at the fair.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Peanut butter granola

I googled this recipe after I made it and it was similar. I didn't really measure my stuff, I just used what was on hand and it turned out really good. The only problem with it is that I can't stop munching it.

About a quarter cup of butter.

1/2 cup sugar (I used pancake syrup) honey would work too but I was out.

about a half cup of peanut butter.

as much oats as to make a moistened but clumpy texture. I guess I used about five to six cups.

I also had some peanuts, so I chopped them up finely to make about a half cup.

Melt the sugar butter and peanut butter in the microwave. Toss with oat and nut mixture until moistened. Spread out onto oiled cookie sheet.

I cooked this in an oven which had been heated up to 350 then turned off. Basically I was through cooking supper and used the residual heat to make the granola. I set the timer to turn it every ten minutes. Then I forgot about it and went to bed. Good thing I remembered to turn the oven off. I also greased the cookie sheet. I don't imagine for one second that this is lo-cal granola, but it is the first time I have done granola in the oven without it burning. It toasted up nicely but not as hard as the stuff you buy in the store, which is just fine by me.

I was glad to make some frugal granola, because I had to atone for my spendiness (I know, I know, not a word) this weekend.

It was totally worth every dollar.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cheap toilet paper and other blunders

This article made me laugh and it reminds me not to get too obsessed in my quest for frugality. The lady with the extra caskets made me snort. I too have had a bad beauty school experience, but I have also had a good one, so I am on the fence about that one. Like maybe a beauty school mani-pedi would be OK? Actually, I have seen bad gel nails and I can assure you they are not pretty. Cheap toilet paper? Well, it doesn't last very long, so that makes me wonder if I should just invest a little more to begin with? What's your worst idea for saving money? Your best? Have a read if you are so inclined and leave a comment in the comment section.