Frugal Living

Sunday Savings

We try to keep Sundays calm at our house.
The tasks that I do are elective.
Today I decided to take an opportunity to save money.
My husband travels at least 3 out of four weeks every month.
We choose to look at the positive of the situation.
The advantages are that he gets to be in warmer weather
at least one week out of the month and
we save money in little ways due to his travel.
*JC drives a company vehicle that we don’t have to pay for.
*His fuel and maintenance on his vehicle are paid for.
*He brings home his leftovers including snack and soap remnants.
*His meals on the road are paid for so our grocery bill is less.

Something as small as soap remnants seem petty or crazy
but they serve a purpose.
Consider that my husband stays multiple places in a week.
He has a soap container that he puts the bars in to bring home.
I then transfer them to a shelf to dry.
When I have enough bars, I grate them into a container.
For every ounce of soap, I put a cup of distilled water in a pan.
Then I heat the water to just a boil and add the soap, stirring well.
I’m careful to leave enough room at the top for suds.
I turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for 24 hours.
This is when I adjust the consistency.
If it’s too runny, I add some grated soap.
If it’s too thick, I add some distilled water.
Then I pour it through a funnel into a bottle to store it.
Yes, it’s cheapskate.

My husband also has a habit of snacking
and leaving just a little bit in the bag.
I have a Mason jar now that I put the leftovers in.
He doesn’t snack on sweet, just salty so it works.
Sometimes I’ll add some bread cubes and roast
it all in the oven for a few minutes with added spices.
This doesn’t happen nearly as often as the soap scenario.

Other ways we show our cheapskate stripes:
*We save the pickle juice and make salad dressing.
*We use the library for free ebooks and paper books.
*We listen to free audio books on Librivox.
*We bake our own bread in our $9.99 Bread Machine.
*We buy 25 or 50 pound bags of beans, flour, and popcorn.
*We buy vegetables and fruit without packaging.
*We eat simply: Whole wheat toast for breakfast, vegetable soup and/or beans for lunch, popcorn for “tea time” at 330 pm, and a nice dinner featuring beans, TVP, whole wheat pasta, Tofu, and vegetables. Fruit is for dessert. On Sundays, we enjoy bread crumb cookies for tea time.
*I buy my clothes and whatever household items I truly need at the thrift store.
*We keep the heat at 66 degrees in the winter and rarely turn on AC in summer.
(Gasp! We wear Sweaters, sweats, and socks with slippers in winters)
*When we buy, we buy better quality but not designer items.
*I can’t remember the last time we ate out at a restaurant.
*We make gifts for our close family birthdays and wish our friends well.
*We don’t buy each other gifts for every little holiday.

So, today I made bread crumb cookies, vegetable bean soup for lunch with homemade bread, the liquid soap to store, and still had plenty of time to write after cleaning and reading. Keeping life simple keeps me sane.

We are getting addicted to a more simple life. It’s not for everyone and to each his own, but we enjoy being less stressed and being able to have experiences.

Food

Humble Food and the Classics

Today started with waking early and doing my usual Morning Routine. After the journey to drop the teen at school I came home to tea while the sun came up again. I also made the meal plan in my head today. Last night I soaked black beans and pinto beans.

I turned in the slow cooker when I came home and fed the sourdough starter. I placed it behind the cookers to keep it warm since the house is at 66 degrees.

Them I put together my sister-in-law’s birthday package of two pot holders and four Compassion Coasters.

This is what the Compassion Coasters look like:

That being done, I sat down with Rogue to crochet a trivet and listen to “How to Listen to Music (Beginners Guide to Classical Music) .

It was a little tough to stay with but I managed a few chapters. It’s free on Librivox in the public domain.

I ate a lunch of a bowl of pinto beans. As part of my morning routine I have an apple and a couple of mandarine oranges. I’ll be frying a few corn tortillas soon to prep for tonight’s tostadas that consist of refried beans, TVP “taco burger” and possibly some spinach thrown in one way or another.

For dessert we’ll have popcorn while we watch another episode of Dr Who on Amazon Prime.

I rather enjoy the humble food we eat. The TVP is actually a luxury that we have just once or twice a week at most. We want to stay plant-based as much as possible. The refried beans are simply smashed pinto beans with some homemade onion soup mix thrown in at the last. We then throw them in a skillet with a ladle of liquid from the slow cooker and let them cook down into the mushy paste that we love. The corn tortillas I do buy at Costco for a ridiculously low price of under $4 for a 100 of them. I can’t make them for that nor do I want to. The red delicious apples are usually 98 cents a pound at the local WinCo Foods where I do most of my grocery shopping. Last night I combined the two leftover soups we had in the refrigerator and some of the vegetable stock that I made yesterday from the leftover vegetable scraps. Somehow I always get lucky and it was tasty. Even though we eat humble food, we do enjoy fresh vegetables and fruit as often as possible. We are trying to use what we have before we buy more. Unfortunately last year we were not as mindful and we wasted a lot of produce that spoiled. Onward, we are doing our best not to waste or to produce wasted such as packaging whenever possible. I buy bulk produce, staples, coffee, and spices. By buying in bulk we also stick with pretty humble food too. I’m really okay with that. Simple foods are still good foods. People forget that. We get so busy using food as a status symbol that we forget what matters. I’m not saying people shouldn’t enjoy a gourmet meal out sometime. I’m just saying that for everyday life, simple food is less stress, less money, and better for us.

Later, after taking the Rogue for a stroll, I sat outside and listened to Vivaldi Four Seasons with a glass of red wine from the box above the fridge. Life is good

Zen Routines

Tuesday Soup Day

After my Morning Routine, I stopped at Winco Foods and bought

Pinto Beans 25 Pounds @ $15.20 ($16 for the same if I bought it out of the bin.)

Garbanzo Beans 25 Pounds @ $26.84 ($28.25 for the same if I bought it out of the bin.)

We use both of these types of beans very frequently in our Plant-based Lifestyle so there’s no worry about using it all up and dry beans keep forever. Literally.

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After I came home and unloaded the beans, I pulled out the vegetable scraps that I’ve been saving in the freezer. Admittedly, it won’t be this much in the future because after these plastic bags have been used a few hundred times, I’ll be using glass jars to store them in the freezer.

I save my onion peels, leek tops, kale that’s starting to fade, and the celery bottoms or middle leaves. You can also see some asparagus bottoms in there. I cut off the tough part and save it to flavor soups in a batch like this.

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This bag was a group of vegetables that was nearing the end in our refrigerator so I dumped it all in a bag and saved it for soup.

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Every time I peeled carrots or cut celery sticks I put the peels and leftovers in a bag for the freezer to save for soup stock.

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Here I dumped one bag into my Wolfgang Puck Triple core skillet. (I’m pretty proud of this one. I bought it at the thrift store for $5 without a lid. That same day as I was bragging about it to my home care client, she grabbed the glass lid she had to fit it and was incredibly pleased that we’d made a match and she was rid of the spare lid.)

Then I added the bag with the leek tops etc and put the lid on. Medium heat for a few minutes will thaw the vegetables and cook them down enough to add more.

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This gave me a few minutes for an Italian Roast coffee and enjoying the morning sun with Rogue, our little Scotty-Cairn Terrier.

Next, I added the third bag of the dreaded Kale, broccoli ends, and such with enough water to cover about half way up.

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Now I’m off to do laundry and do my Tuesday Cleaning Routine.

Lunch was a lentil basil vegetable soup, apple, and Mandarin orange.

I spent the early afternoon listening to “How to Live on 24 hours a Day” by Arnold Bennett while I crocheted Compassion Coasters for future gifts. I’m using up the yarn I have before I buy more or do other projects. My books by Marie Kondo came in the mail today too so after school Tea Time was popcorn, tea, and books.

Frugal Living, The Beginning, Uncategorized, Zen Routines

Money Monday

Mondays are pretty pleasant. It took a lot to get here but I took baby steps. I don’t generally go to work on Mondays unless my home care company has a needed shift to fill. Most of my work is done on Friday and Saturday so when that dreaded Monday comes for everyone else, I can sit back and relax.

In the past, I didn’t structure my free time so my mind would take over and I would get everything from hyperactive projects to sadness to take up my time. I finally got smart and learned to structure my time a bit so that I get things done and yet rarely stress about any of it. Today, for example, is Money Monday.

Money Monday is pretty easy because we do these steps for a Zen Life 365:

1) Put everything possible on online autopay. Everything from the Mortgage, Credit Cards, Utilities, Solar, Car payment, and phone service is put on a payment schedule online so we plan well for our budget.

2) We don’t carry cash. This makes tracking easier and we are instantly accountable.

3) We use Google Drive (Linked to our family email) to build spreadsheets and store receipts so that each of us can view the expense record from anywhere.

4) Receipts are scanned with our TinyScanner app using our smartphones as soon as it’s in our hand. The rule is that we don’t leave the parking lot until it’s done.This work done right away means that we don’t have to worry about keeping physical receipts including the mess that goes with them.

5) Every Monday I sit down with a cup of tea in the afternoon and enter our expenses into our monthly spreadsheet. This takes just a couple of minutes because we prepped well enough and because we don’t spend nearly as much as we used to.

This year we have goals to pay off our credit cards and one of our vehicles. We are saving money by eating frugal vegan meals and by avoiding needless little shopping trips where we would be tempted to buy more than we need. Instead, we stocked up on what we need and have more time to spend at home as a family together.en

Cleaning, Frugal Living, Rituals

Zen Fridays

Fridays used to be busy at our house. Then I changed my thinking. They have a routine that has become joyful.

I get up early every morning because it’s my peaceful, quiet time for coffee and reflection. Then the teenager sits with me for half an hour before we eat breakfast. Breakfast is simple fresh fruit. I stay in my loungewear to take him to school. On the way back I buy fruit and vegetables for the weekend. When I get home I put vegetable soup in the slow cooker and cut up finger vegetables for home and work. This is when I prep for the boys’ meals while I am at work. I make sure there is freshly made bread on Thursdays. I’ll make another bread like tortillas or cornbread too. While I work in the kitchen I listen to an audiobook. While soup and bread are cooking I clean bathrooms and floors. Then I put the soup in Mason jars and let bread cool. After a quiet lunch I shower and put on makeup. My hair is a wash and finger comb with gel so it’s about 30 seconds work. Right before I go to pick up the teen, I make phone calls for appts and reconcile the monthly spreadsheet for expenses to date while I have a cup of tea. My Thursday plan makes it a pleasant day because all I have to do is grab my backpack and food bag to go when we arrive home after school. I’m lucky that I work all of my hours in one go from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.

Cleaning

Embracing Kon Mari

When Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up” came out everyone was reading it and reviewing it. So, as is my nature, I refused to get caught up in the mainstream. I avoided it for a long time thinking that it was another book on decluttering and minimalism so I really didn’t need to read it because all of that is very simple. I couldn’t think of a good enough reason to read more on less.

Then one day a couple of weeks ago, I remembered the Overdrive app. It’s one that lets you use your local library membership to check out ebooks and audiobooks. I was excited to try it and began exploring the app and the books my library had to offer.
There was Marie Kondo’s book available as an audiobook and so I downloaded it to see if I was really missing anything. The audiobook convinced me that I wasn’t wasting my time because I could do other things while I was listening.

I liked it so much that I put a hold on the ebook version and checked out her subsequent book, “Spark Joy” at the library the next time we went. I especially liked Spark Joy because it’s a simple little book that hits the highlights of her tidying method as well as such things as how to fold clothes and what to do with the little things (kondo is what she calls them) that seem to be everywhere.

Suddenly everything about organizing makes sense. Like a crazed woman, I went through the whole house following her methods and finally making order out of our home. It’s not that we have as much as many families. We have enough but we don’t have the massive storage spaces to go through that many families do. I was grateful for that but still, I spent a fair amount of time creating order here. Possibly the most helpful thing she talks about is not having multiple spaces for the same types of items. Store by category, not by convenience. Also, the way she teaches us to fold clothes with love and attention seemed crazy at first but after I put my clothes in order with her suggestions on color and flow, I found the logic. Even when I embraced becoming a minimalist, I never had quite the joy I have now by adapting her insights and methods. Now I see what all the fuss is about.

Will I go back to the way it was before? I can say a resounding no.

Marie Kondo’s methods make putting things back where they belong so easy as well as truly influence me not to keep anything that I don’t truly love. Although that seems unconventional at times, I can say that there are things that I love based purely on the things that they can accomplish for me rather than how they look.

Two pieces of advice on getting her books: If the thought of organizing your home seems overwhelming to you, then start with Spark Joy. It tells you just exactly what you need to get started. Then go back and read her first book if you get stuck or you need more details or just for the sheer pleasure of reading it knowing that you are already on your way to a joyful and tidy home.