Monday, August 31, 2009

The Week Ahead


Good Monday Morning to you!

I'm hoping this will be a quiet week. The temperatures are going to be much lower than usual, which I love. A harbinger of Fall? Maybe! Real football, instead of that preseason stuff will begin. In fact NC state plays Thursday night on ESPN.

Here are some things I would like to cook this week. Instead of making a detailed menu for each day, I've made a list of dishes to choose from. I went through a cookbook yesterday afternoon and this is what I came up with.

Pork Chops There's a new recipe I want to try that uses dry mustard. I'll let you know how it turns out and if its good, I'll post the recipe.

Green bean side dish

Lasagna

Beef Stew cooked with potatoes, carrots, etc.

Bean Soup
Corn Bread

To celebrate the first football game of the season:

Deviled eggs
Beef Nacho Cheese Dip with Corn Chips (Scoops)
Brownies

The problem is that I don't quite have all the ingredients for these dishes. It would have been more frugal to take my pen and pad to the pantry and freezer and make a list of dishes that I have ingredients for.

These are the things I need to purchase in order to make the above dishes:

A ham hock
potatoes
carrots
cheddar cheese
dry mustard
Velveeta cheese
Rotel tomatoes

To Do This Week:

Go to work (of course)

Spend at least 30 minutes a day quilting

Spend a few minutes a day working in the yard, dead heading and cleaning up flower beds, etc. Its time to start purging some flowers that are finished for the summer and generally clean up everything.

Have you made any plans for the week?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Small Frugal Blessings Of The Week

Good Friday morning to you!



We had some large unexpected repair bills this week for our water pump and air conditioner. It was also time to buy new tires for my "old lady car". But, instead of dwelling on the negative side of this I want to keep things positive!

Oh, what a blessing it is that we have plenty of water and an air conditioner to begin with! And the cost of a new set of tires is about the same as one car payment would be for the average person in America. We've not had a car payment in over a year!

Here are some of the small frugal blessings I've received recently:

1. I received $13.00 into my Paypal account from Ebates. I was surprised that I had reached this amount since I don't normally order a lot of things on line. The amount has to be at least $10.00 and they only transfer the money to you about every 3 months.

2. I was able to answer two surveys this week on line which earned me $6.00.

3. Amazon.Com has pulled out of North Carolina as far as its affiliate program goes so I received $5.79 into my checking account when they closed my account. Ordinarily the amount would have to reach $10.00 before they make a transfer. I assumed that I would never reach $10.00, so had forgotten about it.

4. I was able to order some items on clearance for my daughter and grandson from Old Navy using a free shipping code. I went through Ebates to order and earned $4.48more in that account.

5. I was going into Food Lion and noticed a coupon laying on the sidewalk. I picked it up and it was $2.00 off Scott Toilet Paper. The toilet paper happened to be on sale that day too.

6. I printed out a $5.00 off $20.00 worth of meat at Food Lion this week and was pleasantly surprised to find lots of marked down meat with good dates. I was able to really stock our freezer with some good meat such as beef stew, hamburger, pork chops and inexpensive steaks for only $15.00.

7. I started collecting Coke Rewards points. We purchase lots of drinks at work in the 12 pack cardboard cartons and my hubby gets bottle caps from his workplace. I also have a friend who has given me some codes. I already have about 150 points in only a week! I'm not sure what I'll spend them on, but maybe a "Country Living" magazine subscription.

8. I have 41 Swag bucks. If you would like to sign up for Swagbucks, click on the thingie on my right side bar. That way I can earn referral points when you win swagbucks.

9. My Upromise Account is slowly growing because of E-Coupons. I purchased diapers and Wacky Mac which earned $3.00. I know that's not much money, but I think its neat that the money just shows up in there. E-Coupons are definitely something I will use from now on.

10. If I honor God with my finances, I know that He will bless me in that area. One small way to do this is to follow the rules when it comes to coupons. The Food Lion on-line coupons state "One Print Per Person". But, the print process allows you to print as many as you want. I've decided to only print out one, even though I would love to use some more of those $5.00 of $20.00 meat ones!!!

And you never know what kind of coupons He might put on the sidewalk for you!

Check out the Life As Mom Blog for more Frugal ideas!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Guess who's two today?



Our mailbox exactly two years ago:



Our mailbox this morning:





Small Town America

On any given day in a small town you will see or hear little things that make up daily life. You might see an unusual license plate, friends hugging, or hear a new song coming from a church's loud speaker.

Here are a few that I can remember from recent times that made me smile.

1. I parked beside a car similar in color and style to my "old lady car". The owner was coming out while I was still getting my packages together and tried to open my door thinking it was his car. He was so embarrassed, but I told him not to worry, I had done the same thing recently.

2. On my next trip to the post office, I parked beside a car and noticed a human-size stuffed ape in the back seat safely strapped in the seatbelt. I did a double-take, which I'm sure is the reaction the owner was getting up and down the streets of this small town. LOL

3. I was sitting in the drive through lane of the bank when I heard screams from the car beside me in another lane. I was taken off guard until I realized that a cute little Southern Belle was frantically swiping at a bee that had joined her inside her car.

4. I was walking to the door of Walmart which is located near a church with chimes on a loud speaker. It was 12:00 Noon and the music was "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music". This shows that even a walk through a paved parking lot at Walmart can be magical.

5. I've noticed lately that there are lots of people using motorized chairs on the street. I think this is dangerous, but evidently when there's a will, there's a way. Some of them even have bright orange reflectors on the back. Watch out for them!

Keep your eyes and ears open and you will be amazed at what you will see!

A Slice of My Life

1. You can survive August in North Carolina without Air Conditioning! Our A/C wasn't working for two days, but thankfully has now been repaired. We used several fans set on "high" and had only one near disaster, when my husband tripped over a fan placed in an unusual place during the night! He didn't get hurt, but gave a new meaning to "things that go bump in the night".

2. I won't be able to finish quilting the Spiderman Quilt in time for my grandson's birthday. :o( Its ok. He will have new toys and a quilt won't be nearly as interesting to him anyway. He might be more interested in a couple of weeks. I finished quilting everything except the outside 5 inch border and making and sewing on the binding. I considered machine quilting the outside border to speed things up, but really didn't have time to do even that. So I've decided to peacefully finish it at my own pace. :o)

You can see what the border quilting design looks like if you look closely. The dark markings will be removed with a wet cloth. After the markings are removed the quilting lines won't show up too well in a picture.



3. Fall is coming and I am so happy about that! The first football games of the season are being played and the weather is supposed to be a little cooler next week. Around here that means the temperature won't reach the nineties! :o)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sew Crafty Friday - Hand Quilting Patterns

I've been working on hand quilting my grandson's Spiderman quilt for a few weeks and now need to work on the borders. There is a three inch wide red border and a 4 1/2 inch wide blue border. In the past I made quilting patterns from cardboard. Instead of marking all the quilting lines on the quilt ahead of time, I mark the section I am working on as I go using the cardboard pattern.

I like to use the quilting patterns in my all-time favorite quilting book, "Lap Quilting" by Georgia Bonesteel. I bought this book through mail order in the eighties. I have made some quilts using the lap quilting method, but the best thing about this book is the wonderful quilt block patterns, hand quilting patterns and great "how to" hand quilt instructions.

I have used the book so much over the years that the dust jacket is very tattered:



But, underneath is a nice green hardback book:



These pages show some of the quilting patterns:



The way I make my cardboard quilting patterns is to make a copy of the design I want to use with a copier. I can reduce or enlarge the design to fit the area of the quilt I'll be using it for. Then I cut the pattern out, tape it to a piece of lightweight cardboard and cut it out.



For the borders on the spiderman quilt I will be using this small pattern piece. I'll use a water soluble quilt marker to trace around the pattern piece. I will trace around the pattern over and over, overlapping the one before each time. The finished design will be sort of a chain/diamond look.




Here are some cardboard pattern pieces that I have used in the past. You can see that they have been well used. One of them is a cable design that turns out really well. One of them looks like ocean waves and was used with a sail boat pattern.



Maybe I can show you the finished quilt soon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Whatcha Working on Wednesday - Fall Bags

Today is Whatcha Working On Wednesday at Leslie's blog, My Country Home.

Saturday I made this Fall pocketbook and wallet for a friend who furnished the fabric. I love the fabric and am so happy that there is enough fabric to make myself one!



This time I used velcro for the wallet and am very pleased with how it turned out. I have been having trouble with the snaps that you put on using a hammer. Sometimes they held great and other times, not so great. I was always worried that the person using the wallet would be getting a defective product.



I am also still working on hand quilting the Spiderman Quilt. I must get off this computer and make a few stitches before going to work this morning! Have a great day!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kitchen Chores

Saturday I posted a "To Do" list for cleaning my kitchen this week.

So far I have cleaned the oven. My stove is pretty old, 25 years old to be exact. It has lots of little quirks, but still works. The oven temperature is always too hot. The burners are hard to put in and take out. I plan to keep using it as long as it works at least as good as it does right now. But, when we do buy a new oven, I plan to get a smooth top one. My mother and daughter recently purchased smooth top stoves and I like them. I didn't think I would at first, but after cooking on my mother's stove during her illness, I have grown to like the fact that they are so easy to keep clean. No more messing with burner pans, etc.

Here is my oven after being cleaned. There are some little worn places in the enamel which is what those dark spots are on the bottom, but it is clean. I used Dollar General Store brand oven cleaner and am pleased to report it worked great.



I'm not ashamed to even show you a picture of something cooking in the oven now! This is a chicken pot pie we had for Sunday dinner yesterday.



This is the top of the stove after the burners have been removed. The top of the stove flips open and I cleaned under that too. Yuck! It really needed it. The metal rack over the stove is where I hang utensils such as spatulas. I cleaned that area and am thinking about taking it down completely. When I decide what to replace it with, I may just do that! The burner pans were beyond cleaning, so I purchased new ones from, you guessed it, Dollar General. It looked so much better when I was through.



I forgot to put "clean the microwave" on the list! I most definitely need to do that too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This Week's House List

This week I want to concentrate on working in my kitchen. You know how you go along cooking and doing dishes day in an day out and all of sudden you realize everything is really in need of thorough cleaning? Well my kitchen has reached that point.

This is my list. I plan to work on it all along, a few minutes here and a few minutes there. What doesn't get done will just go on the next list.

1. Clean oven
2. Clean burners and top of stove
3. Wipe down all counter tops
4. Wipe down all cabinets
5. Clean baseboard areas
6. Wipe down fronts of appliances
7. Clean refrigerator, inside and out.
8. Clean light fixtures
9. Mop Floor
11. Declutter
12. Check for cobwebs
13. Wash windows
14. Clean mini blinds and curtain
15. Vacuum under refrigerator and the coils
16. Clean sink area Flylady style.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Frugal Friday - Making Use of Coupons



Elizabeth has begun a new blog called "Saving Pennies". One theme of her new blog is to feed the hungry, by using coupons and sales.

It would be wonderful if people everywhere would use their coupons to help stock food pantries, wouldn't it?

Here is one example of making use of coupons to feed the hungry:

Like many of you, I received several coupons for Rice Krispies Cereal from Vocal Point. One of these coupons was even for a free box. The others were for $1.00 off each box. We would never eat that many boxes of Rice Krispies, but it occurred to me that this would make a great food pantry item. To sweeten the deal, last week Food Lion had these large boxes on sale for $1.99. So I purchased 5 boxes using the $1.00 off coupons, making each box only 99 cents. So for $5.00 I was able to get 5 boxes of cereal for my church's food pantry.

I know $5.00 isn't alot, but many times I will think in terms of spending $5.00 for groceries to donate to the food pantry. I try to get the most groceries I can get for that $5.00. Some weeks that might be 2 boxes of spaghetti and 2 jars of spaghetti sauce.

It also helps to think in terms of some people not having the means to put other items with the food. Who ever gets the Rice Krispies, will need milk. So that is a drawback. I wonder if some people even have electricity to cook the food. So in that case it would be nice to donate canned meats or other items that don't have to be cooked. Any ideas for that?

Today is Frugal Friday at Life as Mom. You can get lots of frugal ideas by checking out all the posts!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Slow, But Sure Savings with E-Coupons, E-Rewards and Swagbucks

It does take patience to see savings results, but I've been slowly building some savings with the following:

1. E-Coupons at Upromise.com. I signed up with Upromise a couple of years ago, but up until a month ago, had only accumulated a small amount of money toward the college education of my grandson. But, a fun new way to slowly accumulate savings is their new e-coupon system. Each month a new list of coupons is posted and you activate the ones you want to use.

I have my store cards for Food Lion and CVS registered with U-Promise, so when I buy the items for which I have activated the coupons, they automatically go into my Upromise savings account. I am only using the e-coupons for items we really use AND that I also have a paper coupon for. Even better is to buy something on sale, with a paper coupon, earn extra bucks and also to have an e-coupon for college savings.

Example: Occasionally I will purchase items such as diapers for my grandson. This week Huggies are on sale at CVS, 2 for $18.00. I had 2 paper coupons for $1.50 off each. CVS gave me $4.00 in extra bucks. U-promise had a $1.50 e-coupon. I think that's called a "homerun" in couponing circles!

It takes about 3 weeks for the e-coupon amounts show up in the Upromise account, but again with patience, you will see the savings slowly add up.

2. E-rewards for U-Promise: This program offers to pay you to do surveys, but the payment goes into your Upromise account. The only catch is that only a portion of the money goes into the account. For example, if you earn $25.00, $5.00 goes into the account. If you earn $50.00, $20.00 goes into the account. If you earn $100.00, $50.00 goes into the account. Right now I have about $25.00 in the E-rewards account, but will wait as long as I can to hopefully get up to $100.00 for the best deal.

Since my grandson is only 2 years old, I hope to have enough money in my Upromise account to be of a some small help to him, by the time he is college age.

3. Swagbucks: I signed up for Swagbucks, which is simply another search engine. Instead of using Google, I just use Swagbucks. About every 2 or 3 searches I win 1 or 2 swagbucks. This too is very slow, but after you accumulate enough swagbucks, you can order free merchandise. My goal is to accumulate 70 swagbucks, which will earn me a $10.00 Starbucks card. Most of the gift cards are e-cards, which is great, but the Starbucks card is an actual plastic card that you could give as a gift, etc. There are all kinds of things you can order, with many different amounts of swagbucks.

4. Another internet deal that accumulates slow savings is Ebates.com. I don't order on-line too much, but if you go to E-bates to get to the internet site you are ordering from, you earn money which they call your "Big Fat Check". If you order lots of things on-line, you should definitely be using Ebates!

Have a great day and remember: Slow savings is better than no savings!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Garden Bounty

We are still getting some great garden produce, even though we only planted a small amount of a few things. The challenge is to make use of them when you don't have much time for cooking! Its so much easier to choose convenience foods, but I'm really trying to use some of the garden veggies every single day. The secret is to use simple easy recipes.

My guys love fried okra. Yesterday I cooked a pan and then made a few pieces of fried cornbread to get the most use of the oil. By the way, isn't cooking oil expensive these days?!!!

Okra cooking in the frying pan:



My hubby spreads out the tomatoes on newspaper or a dishcloth to ripen. The little green ones you see on there were blown off in a storm.



Today our temperature will reach 100 degrees! I will not be walking during my lunch break today!

Friday, August 7, 2009

College Bound Birthday Cake



My Stepson will have a birthday tomorrow and in exactly two weeks will be moving into a college dorm at ECU. So, I made an attempt at a birthday cake with a college theme. Ladies, decorating cakes is hard! Let me just say this: When you buy a decorated cake, its worth every penny. Anyway, I guess this cake is ok for a homemade cake. For those of you who don't live in NC, the school colors for East Carolina University are purple and yellow.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Time Management Tip - Get Motivated!

If you are wondering what got me started this week with all this Time Management stuff, here's the answer:



I simply picked up one of my "reference books".

When I was cleaning on Saturday I ran across my "time management" books and got started reading them again.

Each of these books contain reading material that have helped me to get organized in the past. I can't say which one is my favorite, because they all have at least one of my favorite topics. The chapter on being EARLY and having a FRONTLOG in the "How to Have a 48 Hour Day" is the one I'm trying to put into use right now. I couldn't lay my hands on my organizing books by Emilie Barnes, (need to get my books organized!) but any of her books will help to motivate you.

So, my time management tip for you today is to go to your own book collection for inspiration or even better, see what your library has available to help you in this area. The above books are kind of old and so you could probably buy some of them on Amazon for just a few dollars.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Time Management Tip - "While You Are At It"

Good Morning!



I think its a Southern term, but we often say we'll do something "while we are at it". This means while we are doing something we'll go ahead and do something else or do an extra good job. For example, "While I am at it", (folding clothes), I will go ahead and put them away.

Here are some ways to put this into use:

1. Never go up or down stairs, or from one end of your house to the other, without bringing something with you. If I can remember to do this, I can accomplish lots of little things without ANY extra time. Before going upstairs, I will glance to see if some folded laundry or hanging clothes need to go upstairs to a closet. Before coming downstairs I glance to see if there are enough dirty clothes that need to go down to the washing machine to start a new load. That also goes for trash, water glasses or any item that's not where it belongs. I am putting this idea to work in the bedroom this week. Every time I leave the room I look to see if there is something I can get out of there to its appropriate place.

2. Sometimes getting things done is just a matter of DOING it. So "while you are at it" means just do it. If you are walking across the floor barefoot, like I always do, and feel dirt on the floor, GET THE BROOM AND JUST GO AHEAD AND SWEEP. I have been known to go put on flip flops just so I won't feel the dirt. :o) If you are passing through an area and see items that are out of place, grab them and take them to the right place, "while you are at it". Did you spill lasagna on the oven door while taking it out? Well, wipe it off, "while you are at it".

3. If I am going to do a job, I might as well do it well, "while I am at it". I know, I know, that sometimes its better to do a quickie job than none at all. For me its better to concentrate on one area, doing a little each day if there's no time, until the job is done well. This week I am working in the bedroom, so yesterday morning I tackled dusting one section of the room. This only took about 5 or 10 minutes. When I got home, I worked my way around the room dusting and getting any cobwebs in corners. This morning, while I am in there getting dressed for work, I will do a little more. When the dusting is done, I will vacuum. I noticed the drawer where my earrings and necklaces are stored is in total disarray and I plan to put ice trays or other containers in there to organize that area. Soon the room will be done!

4. Don't put simple things off! They will multiply into a big job. Example: In the bedroom. I was leaving the room on my way to make coffee and the bed caught my eye. I thought, "while I'm at it, I might as well get that bed made up". It only took a couple of minutes and was one job out of the way. When I go back to get dressed, I can go ahead and start dusting or any other chore I wanted to get done before going to work this morning.

THIS WEEK'S PROGRESS ON THE LIST (see previous post):

1. I have made great progress quilting the Spiderman Quilt. I didn't feel well Sunday and so I stayed home all day. I worked on the quilt several hours while it poured rain. We had 5 inches of rain on Sunday! I also worked on the quilt for a while after work last night.

2. I made great progress in the bedroom and have dusted about 1/3 of it.

3. I did the deposit and the library books have been returned.

4. I made lasagna for supper (and wiped up the spill on the oven door!)

5. I swept the dirt from the kitchen floor as soon as I felt it with my bare feet.

TODAY:

1. I will continue to work in the bedroom a few minutes before and after work.

2. Supper has been planned (bbq chicken)

3. If its not too hot, I hope to walk at lunch.

4. Will continue to quilt Spiderman while watching tv.

5. I would like to cut out a Fall pocketbook.

How are you coming on your time management and/or lists this week? I'd love to hear!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Time Management Tip - Being Aware of Time

ITS TIME TO CHIME!



Do you really think about what you are doing or going to do, or just do what ever pops up that needs to be done? Are you being carried along with the currents of your day to day life or making some progress toward your dreams?

Instead of saying to myself, "Oh! I need to do the deposit today!", or Oh!, I need to return those library books before I get fines!", I want to know what I'm supposed be doing ahead of time without being in a panic. I often get up at 5:00 A.M. or earlier and then when I need to leave to go to work at 7:30, I wonder where in the world did the time go?

Today I am planning my week which includes a list of things I want to get done and things that have to be done. The beginning of the week is a good time to do some planning. The beginning of a month is also a good time to get motivated about this. Its like a mini-new year's day for new resolutions.

Sunday afternoons are the best time for me to plan for the week and also a good time to organize coupons and a grocery shopping list.

Some of the things on the list aren't that important, such as clean in the bedroom, but help me to focus on something I would like to get done this week. Other things, such as preparing for family member's birthday on Saturday, are more urgent.

Without some kind of plan the time just comes and goes and a week is gone without any real progress except for basic survival!

Here's my list for the week:

1. Daily Devotion and plan exactly what will need to be done that day
2. Work in hubby's and my bedroom (dusting, vacuuming, straightening, etc.)
3. Deep clean/mop the laundry room floor
4. Family member's birthday on Saturday (cake, gift, etc.)
5. Quilt on Spiderman quilt every day (time is getting short!)
6. Work on Fall Pocketbooks
7. Family get together on Saturday
8. Weekly deposit and pay this week's bills
9. Return library books
10. Iron some shirts
11. Make clothespin bags for Etsy Shop
12. Blog Posts

This list could go on and on...., but I can't! So I've tried to only put down the things I think I can make a reasonable attempt to get done or make progress toward.

Having a guide (and its only a guide!) will help me to plug time leaks. I can work a few minutes on some of these things instead of or while watching tv or while something is cooking in the kitchen, etc.

Then at the end of the week I can look back to see how I did!

Won't you join me in making a plan for this week and then working the plan? Don't let time and circumstances control you! Control your time and.... well most of your circumstances.

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