Frugal Friday

It’s hard to keep writing about my boring life after watching the news and the disgrace of Pro-trump supporters. As many have said, there are no words that can really express the outrage and horror of it all. I just hope they get him out before it’s too late and he does something else.

This week I spent $90 at groceries down at our market. It’s more expensive but more convenient too. Plus it supports our local Holiday market. Next week I plan on Costco, so that won’t be frugal but I haven’t been there since the end of November so I guess that counts for something.

We spent $99 on smog/oil change for the van and I will do the DMV on line next week. This is our 21 year old van and it’s still going even if it is ‘pinkish’ ( the red paint on the hood is all faded to a pale red/pink color.:) But we still use for Home Depot trips. I love my van even if I don’t drive it very much. I mostly use my VW which is also 20 years old but the paint on that is perfectly fine.

Speaking of which, half the fence is up and that was another $150 for wood. So at least that much more to finish it. But it really looks nice. I’ll post a picture soon.

We still haven’t gotten our stimulus check as there was a problem with Turbo tax and the accounts. I did receive an email saying they were fixing the problem so that’s good at least. I’m guessing we will use some of that to finish the fence.

We had our propane tank filled this week too and that was $230. That usually lasts us 3 months or so. Our electric bill is still up there but since we’re on the balance payment plan it averages out. The weather has been in the 50’s and low 40’s at night so we aren’t use space heaters in the bedrooms. That should help next months bill.

We started watching Bridgerton and it’s quite good if you’re looking for a series. Plus the Money Heist is intense and superb. We just started Part 3. It’s in Spanish but subtitled.

My no spend month is going sort of ok. I bought a cookbook( Midnight Chicken) which is terrific. So that wasn’t needed but I do love cookbooks and to justify it, I am the COOK here so…( I also bought air filters for the air purifier so that was household. And I bought a pair of Levis. I only have 2 pairs of pants and the one I wear out to town and to doctor appts. It’s a pair of Levis in a dark wash. The other is light denim and is my around the house jeans . So I decided I needed something else to switch off with the other pair. They didn’t have the light denim so I bought black. Not sure how they will go for everyday wear but I’ll try. So I guess overall, I’ll see how the rest of the month goes. NO spend months aren’t usually completely no spend for me but I am much more aware of not just hitting the Amazon button:)

Five on Friday

Finally, it’s 2021. I’m not sure how great the year will be but I’m hopeful. I start Velcade mid month, as expected. I asked about getting my shots in Rocklin which is about 25 minutes away, and he said sure that would work. Mercy ( or Dignity Health),has a satellite facility there and it will make it easier. Unfortunately, I’ve fractured another rib so it’s smart that I’m starting now. Fractures, in case you don’t know about Myeloma, are one of the damaging aspects of this cancer. I’ve had multiple rib fractures, so I know what it feels like. Unfortunate, to have it happen right now and also quite painful. It limits how much stuff I can do around the house. With rib fractures there’s not much you can do. If it’s a vertebrate or another bone they can some intervention. Oh well, I’m just glad it’s not a vertebrate.

We had a fun New Years eve with sub sandwiches from our Holiday Market. We watched the newish Starsky and Hutch and it was fun. We didn’t crack the champagne but will today.

Budget wise, I came under $800 on groceries including holiday food and alcohol. This is the lowest I’ve had since the pandemic started and I was stockpiling every month. Into January I’ll try and keep it between $700-800. That includes food, non food, and alcohol.(mostly wine and some beer). I’m planning a Costco trip mid month so we’ll see how much that adds if I add in prepper stuff. I’m not planning to but will stockpile a few things like coffee, Rosarita veg. beans, TP, and a few other things. The rest is just stuff we need like cheese, fish, bread etc.

I’m starting another round of decluttering. Mostly this is paper stuff. I’m going thru all our old receipts, medical things and throwing away anything that isn’t needed. Also, little stuff in drawers, like old pens, screws etc. It probably won’t add up to a lot but I’m motivated to do another sweep. I also started a bag for the food bank with food I know we’re not going to really eat. ( I see you canned chicken:) ). There’s nothing big I’m decluttering like furniture since everything we have has already gone thru multiple layers of decluttering. Still, I always like to look at things from a fresh perspective.

I’ve made up my monthly meal plan.

I’m renaming Wednesdays, Pasta Wednesday since that will be my Velcade/Dex day. It’ll make it easier for the others to cook if they know what the plan is. 🙂 I also dashed out to Target to get one of their simple calendars. I loved the one from last year but they didn’t have quite that style. It’s funny how such a simple thing like a minimalist calendar is so hard to find. I checked all over and the nicest were like $20 and up. Even on etsy they were expensive. So Target had just what I wanted for $5.00. It was pretty empty just like I hoped.

Looking back at the year… and ahead!

The year that shall not be named, oh F#ck it, 2020, was certainly difficult.

All the Covid deaths, the necessary lockdowns, enormous food bills, canceling all our trips including Yosemite, Yellowstone, etc, and all the rest. Certainly, the election was totally anxiety-filled and still is until Biden is sworn in. The stuff trump is still pulling is appalling. ANd all the GOP spineless idiots. Some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths is truly mind-boggling. I read in the WP that the idiot( he’s a newly elected representative) that is possibly going to challenge the votes recently said,” he found out that there were three branches of government”. WTF? are you mentally challenged?

At least we’ve been healthy so there’s that. Both of my kids have their jobs, so that’s excellent.

Climate change is worrying with California fires and really no rain. We’ve had a few days but nothing like normal.

Barb, over at “Living Richly in Retirement”, is a great blogger. She recently moved to Texas( very brave in my opinion) and was just writing about going over her budget categories for the new year.

So I got to thinking that I’d like to do that too. I’m going to look back at food( of course the pandemic meant Instacart a number of times), what I spent on Amazon stuff( scary amount), and Home Depot( home improvement). Then I can realistically set some numbers for 2021. Like do we want to set a certain limit? I’m not sure. Basically, I usually look at , Can we afford it? So set amounts might be a good new way forward.

Catagories could be:

home improvements/ this might be just stuff around the house or bigger like the window replacements/

outside/yard stuff( especially in spring and summer we do spend a lot on seeds, plants, dirt/soil.

dining/take out. This isn’t too hard. I usually give us $50. which is pizza night and a taco night.

travel/camping, In a normal year when we go camping, it is paid for in advance, and usually, I bring or give us @ $200 for food or fun. I’d have to add up a normal year but based on 2019 I’d say $1,000.

Annual bills are fixed amounts so I know those numbers.

I’ll keep thinking of other areas too. Clothing etc is generally not a category as we really only buy something if we need it. I need some new Birkies this year and a new pair of jeans. Birthdays, anniversary, we don’t do much but it might be good to designate something.

Medical/ we have Medicare and supplemental plans so those amounts are in the monthly budget. We did get a SURPRISE ( not good) letter from UCD med center saying we still owed $2500 from Barclays transplant. I freaked out. So we’re waiting till she sends what it is in a letter. But I will call and challenge whatever it is as we were told over and over after we reached the deductible it was 100% covered so I have no idea where they are coming up with this. When we did the GoFundMe, $6000 of the 10,000 we got went to that deductible. So???? I’m not as freaked now since it usually takes me a few days to calm down but still it will need to be dealt with and how much going back to that paper work am I going to have to do??? Not happy about this. Plus, WTF, it’s now 18 months later.

Well, I’ll start my list with those things and see what else should be added.

Frugal Friday

It’s been an okay week. I was supposed to go to the eye doctor yesterday for my 6 month retinal scan for my macular pucker in my right eye but I woke up feeling lousy from allergy stuff I’m guessing. I called at 8am and asked to reschedule. Usually I just ‘plow‘ thru as is my nature but this time I just wasn’t up for ‘plowing’ thru. Fortunately, they were very nice and rescheduled me. Today I feel pretty much back to normal. Still a little sinusy.

Tuesday we had a fun day getting our Christmas tree in the Tahoe area. We stopped for coffee at our favorite place in Tahoe City, Tahoe House. They are a local establishment that’s been there as long as I can remember. There coffee is made with some fancy Swiss machine and is almost like a cappuccino with crema on top. Delicious. After that we headed down the lake and found the tree area and a nice tree.

This time of year in Tahoe is one of my favorite. Hardly any traffic and no tourists. Really lovely!!

There wasn’t much snow on the ground but what was there was very icy and made walking a bit treacherous. But it was fun and now the tree is up.

Obviously, we’re not using this whole tree.

Obviously, we’re not using that whole tree in our small house. You still need to cut the base off at 6 inches and the diameter can’t be more than 6 inches. We cut about 4 feet off and put that in the car to bring home for a Yule log. When we got home we cut an additional 4 feet to make another log and then I used the branches for wreath making and around the house.

The permit was $10. I bought it online and when I checked the next day they were already sold out. I think that happened one other year when we were too late.

I made a delicious beef stew in my new white Staub Cocotte. I waited since Black Friday last year for this deal to come up again. The pot is smaller than my Le Crueset and the design is somewhat different. Under the top are small points that catch the moisture and so the liquid doesn’t just evaporate. I simmered it on the stove most of the day and very if any liquid evaporated. I don’t know if the sale is still on, but if you’re looking for a small dutch oven this one is great.

I paid one of our cars DMV this week and the ‘ole’ van is due at the end of January. I budget these in to annual bills.

Today I’m doing a Walmart pickup for some fill ins like salad stuff and half and half. I think my next in store shop will be Trader Joes in a week or so. That way I can get what ever small things I need for Christmas dinner. We always do fondue Christmas eve and TJ’s has a very good fondue mix. I’m not planning on Costco till mid January and that will be because of coffee. I bought an extra bag last time so we should be set till mid January.

I’m planning to do a No spend month or even a No Spend couple of months. I don’t include groceries in that but NO AMAZON!!!! I’m sure, like most people, Amazon is so easy to just click buy and voila, it shows up. So that’s where I need to just stop that except if it’s a need for the house( like garbage bags or the filters for the air purifier).

Tonight is a pizza night, so I want to get the dough made before I go to Walmart so I’d better get going.

On Edge!!!

It’s Friday and we are still waiting for the results. Crazy.

All the articles in the Wash. Post about the Senate still having control is worrisome. McConnell, the asshole, will block everything. Is there any recourse?? I don’t know honestly, but hope someone can figure it out.

I think I’m going to tune out politics after the final tally and just go about my life. At least if Biden wins we will have some sense of decency back in the White House. I can hardly take another minute of trump and his lies, deceit, undermining democracy and on and on.

We watched V is for Vendetta last night. If you haven’t seen it, you should . It is frightening to see what can happen when an authoritarian /dictator takes over. The story is takes place in London but still relevant especially when it references ex-America.( meaning America as we know it no longer exists).

Well, on to more mundane things. We went to Costco yesterday and spent $500. But half of that was Christmas stuff plus beer for B and Z. I tried to get most of the stuff I needed that was on coupon and did well. I got a new Crock Pot that was $10 off, cereal, yogurt, Kodiak pancake stuff. All in all, I saved $75.00. So I call that a win. We picked up a tin of cookies for our post office and a container of Caramels for another gift. We picked up 2 sets of pj’s for B and Z and I got the new Ina Garten cookbook for Christmas. So really food ended up about $250 I’d say.

We have our first cloudy cool day in like forever and it’s a wonderful change. It was supposed to rain and there were maybe 10 sprinkles but at least it’s cloudy.

I’ve been going full board on the sourdough bread. I decided to go back to Tartine and yes, even though it takes longer, it is the best. I’ll post some pictures once they are uploaded.

Well, I’m off to anxiety land waiting….

Frugal Friday

It was a frugal week overall. The grocery shop at Trader Joe’s will go on November’s grocery bill. So far October has been around $800 all inclusive. That’s food, non food and alcohol. So actually I’m ok with that total. For 4 people eating 3 meals a day, I’d say it’s quite good.

Gas has been quite reduced since we don’t really drive anywhere. I fill my VW up about every 6 weeks and that runs around $30. The Santa Fe fills up about once a month at $50. So really that is a big savings.

All our annual bills are done for the year so that’s also a savings as we wont have property tax or Allstate till next spring. I paid the property tax way early( for once) and that’s kinda nice. Usually I’d wait till the first week of December to do it.

We don’t have family to buy gifts for so that reduces Christmas spending. I usually get my brother a GC to either Tractor Supply or Starbucks. Then I send my sister a consumable gift usually wine or something a little fancy.

For us, I keep it simple. For each of us, one book(almost always an Easton Press), one piece of clothing, something fun, and something they need. My son will get a GC to Home Depot since he’s working on the barn and rebuilding/strengthening part of it. I still end up spending more than I’d like but it’s not bad. I try and buy all year long when I see something then I don’t have to think about it. Pre pandemic, I would often find things at the thrift store all year to put away for Christmas but not this year. I’ve gone into Goodwill 2x since the pandemic started and it wasn’t all that interesting.

Tonight is pizza night and I think we’re going to order something. I need to check but I think we’ve done 2 takeouts this month. Well, I know one was the free pizza from the store and my daughter bought Tacos one day so I’m not sure what else we did this month. Anyway, I don’t have the pizza dough made so that kinda settles it anyway.

I finished the Return of the King yesterday. The trilogy takes me about a month to get thru and is thoroughly enjoyable everytime I read it. This is my 3rd or 4th time. Next up I’m going to re read, To Kill a Mockingbird as part of that takes place at halloween( BOO Radley!!). Anyway, I was going to start Dracula which I also read once a year but maybe later.

Five on Friday

*Let me be the first to say, Trump and Melania testing positive is just what he deserves for not taking any precautions or even taking Covid-19 seriously. We never go anywhere without masks and sanitizer. We don’t mingle in crowds or go to Target to browse. Nada!! ” So stupid is as stupid does” Forrest Gump!!

*My son is very creative and loves to build things related to movies/props/video games. So using a 3D printer he built this

and another angle

This is from The Portal Game; The Aperture Science handheld Portal Device. ( For us non gamers, this is a video game)

Pretty amazing! and he figured out the electronics so it changes colors,red to orange to green to blue.

Way beyond my comprehension. Maybe all that homeschooling and building projects did something?? nah, I think he’s just super smart.

*Yesterday I made a very yummy applesauce cake with the left over apples I had. It turned out way better than I thought it would.

I dusted powdered sugar on top to make a finishing touch. It’s almost gone this morning!! The recipe also did not use eggs and I wasn’t sure about that but it was fine.

*Budget wise, things are pretty good. Except for the Ikea trip we didn’t spend any extra. Since we do Ikea maybe 2x a year, I’m okay with picking stuff there like extra kitchen towels, pantry jars etc. Plus, if you have an Ikea near your Tuesdays and Wednesdays they open at 9am for over 65. It was great to get in there and there were only a few people in there. No kids! Very worth it! We will need to still pay the AAA fair California bill but we haven’t gotten it yet. I’m guessing it’ll be there any day in the mailbox. Plus the other big expense will be property tax. I’m planning on paying that when we drop our ballots off at the county voting box.

*I spent a little down at the market for milk and a loaf of rustic bread and Guiness Stout for the Welsh Rarebit I made for dinner last night. I love Welsh rarebit. It’s basically cheese sauce on toast. The recipe was form the NYT (mark Bittman). It was a little strong on the stout.

Since we had pizza on my birthday, tonight I will do either breakfast for dinner or a frittata with some potatoes or???? mystery night!!

*BTW, if you follow Flylady this is a 2 zone week. Yesterday started the Entryway/dining room zone. Always a good time, if you have a dining room to declutter,simplify and minimize what you have. I don’t have a ‘real’ dining room. Our table is in the main room. I have the Heywood wakefield hutch which holds my Tepco pine cone ware. So all I do is wash the glass on it and dust. I also make sure the table is clear except for my beeswax tapers and seasonal decor( right now it’s the little white pumpkins from the garden, and our linen napkins in a bowl.

Ok, that was 6 things with a lot mixed in:)

Budget Friday

I’m trying to come up with a good blog title for Fridays. I’m not sure Frugal Friday quite fits.

Overall, we are frugal because we have no income per se except SS. So maybe just Budget Friday would work. I’ll see. But budget-wise, all Octobers bills are in. We do have the 2 annual bills of house insurance and Allstate which is twice a year. With ALL the insurance companies getting out of insuring California property, for the most part, we are now having to do the California Fair Plan which is added to the AAA insurance. We went from our annual bill being slightly over $1,000 to now we are slightly over $2,000. Quite a jump.

Costco was just at $450, so that will go on October’s food budget. About $70 was wine and beer. I did buy a bottle of nice champagne for celebrating birthdays. Actually, it wasn’t expensive at $15.00. Plus there were a few prepper items and 2 bags of Starbucks coffee that was on sale. With all 4 of us drinking coffee we go thru quite a bit. But I don’t see us going back to Costco till the very end of October or even the first week of November which could then include any Christmas food or items. Prepper stuff included tuna, Cholula sauce, TP, another case of water, extra butter, and extra cheese. The only thing I didn’t get and I need is some tamari sauce. I’ll probably just go down here to the store and pay their price. The best place to get low sodium tamari is Trader Joe’s but I don’t think I’ll be getting there any time soon.

So far this morning I have made pizza dough, washed living room windows, cleaned the ceiling fan, and am just about ready to clean the rest of the sunroom.

Our lovely fall weather continues with absolutely beautiful days with temperatures in the mid to high 80’s. Next week does have a few 93degree days but this time of year that doesn’t seem so bad.

Budget-wise, I did my LLS for the UHC premium and my medicare which they cover for 2 months so that will be here in a week or so. I am very grateful to LLS for my grant (myeloma) as it does cover health insurance. If we had to pay OP for us both it’s almost $700 so I’m not sure how the budget would do. Probably we would be in the red. But there are gifts sometimes even with having cancer.

B did order the boards for the house ( 5 of them) so that was $120 about. But the siding needs to be fixed. Other stuff, even the fencing by the barn is optional and can be put off if we don’t have extra money.

If you’re looking for a new TV series, The Boys, is quite good. It’s super heroes that are darker more evil and is well done. We just started Season 2 on Netflix.

Well, that’s a wrap for now.

Friday Stuff

There are fires everywhere here in California. There is smoke everywhere and it’s best not to be outside too much. We did walk this morning but only a mile as you could see the smoke haze as it got light.  Vacaville is around an hour and a half or less away so that’s where most of the smoke is coming from. There’s also the fire near Reno and the smoke is filling the Tahoe Basin. This was the week we were supposed to be in Tahoe so perhaps it’s all for the best. So many people were getting evacuated that I -80 was shut down in Vacaville and Fairfield. Pretty scary stuff.

I feel somewhat optimistic after the DNC that perhaps the winds of change is toward decency again. But after the last election, it’s hard not to feel like something awful could happen. I honestly do not think our democracy would survive another 4 years of Trump. Extreme? maybe or maybe not.  We’re planning on taking our absentee ballot down to Auburn and drop at the office of the registrar. Easy to do and we’ll know its there.

I needed to do a fill-in shop before I do Costco at the end of the month so I decided to do Walmart pick up.  It was actually great. I forgot how easy it is to do and I love I can add on since I forgot a bunch of things and then everyone wanted to add a snack or fruit or something. I ended up just over $100. So that’s great. If I bought the same stuff at Bel Air it would easily be $200. One new thing I’m doing that I got from the Tightwad Gazette is to keep track of price points. It’s quite interesting to see the price differences. I’m sure if I was a couponer I could do better. But so far Costco still has most store prices beat.  For example, a half-gallon of organic milk runs about $4.79 in the stores. At Costco 2 gallons is just over $10.00. That is a huge difference.  There are lots of other examples too but what is at issue is you need either a second refrigerator or a freezer or have 10 kids which will drink all that milk. We just freeze the milk till we’re ready to use it.  Anyway, it’s been a fun exercise it frugality.

My right side ribs are pulled again and I’m having limited mobility with it but since I’ve had chronic rib fractures due to Myeloma, I just figure It’ll pass. Of course, the concern with myeloma is it does affect the bones so fractures are a common result of this cancer.  I see my doctor next week so we’ll see what he says.

I’m still making some freezer salsa and waiting on the next batch of Roma tomatoes to ripen. Probably by Sunday I’ll be able to make some more tomato sauce.  We definitely will have plenty to get thru the winter. I’ve been drying basil too since we have a nice crop this year.

We’re in between projects and since it’s been too hot outside to work on fences or anything for that matter. In the house, I still want to get painting done but we need to go get that paint at the Benjamin Moore store and that’s down by Trader Joes in Roseville. So maybe next week. Also there are a few pine boards in my office that need replacing so I’d like that to get done.  We are also planning on redoing our outside laundry since the floor is in bad shape. It’d be nice to have laundry somewhere in the house but there isn’t any space for a washer and dryer unless we built an addsition which we don’t have money for. Well, I’m grateful for what we do have.

 

Frugal Friday

With the abundance of cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes, I’ve been making lots of salsa.

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First, I followed the Ball recipe for salsa to the letter and even with the added safety of a 1/8 of citric acid which is done to keep the acid ratio correct.  I ended up with 4 pints of beautiful looking salsa for wintery days when you want to think back to these beautiful summer days. KIDDING……right now it’s supposed to be 102 today and 105 tomorrow.  Yes, summery but not my idea of fun.

Then I made freezer salsa which is super easy since there is no canning. Just up in the food processor and whip up. Put in jars with enough headspace and freeze. And, oh my, it was delicious.  I even made one scrambled egg just so I could pour about 1/2 cup of the salsa on it. It was more like salsa with an egg.  Yummy…

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Today is normally pizza night but with this heat, it ain’t happening. Even if we ordered it’s still too hot for pizza. So I’m making a nice spinach soup that we can have either chilled or slightly warm. My favorite recipe is from the catering mystery series that starts with ” Dying for Chocolate”. It’s a great series with the main character as the caterer who also happens to solve murders. So her recipe for Goldielockes Gourmet Spinach soup is delicious. She doesn’t use a stick blender to mix but I do since I prefer it as smooth soup.  Then if I’m really motivated, I might make a few grilled cheese bites to go with it.

So, the prepper barn pantry was getting pretty warm with this heatwave. So we went to Home Depot and bought the cheapest cooler we could for the window. It is keeping it marginally cool but we also have a swamp cooler out there but the switch was not working and the part needed to be ordered. So it arrived this morning and now it is fixed ( thanks to the handyman husband).!!!! So the barn temperature is at 72 which is really good.  So I’m pretty happy about that. Since we don’t have a garage that could be a designated pantry and kept cool, this is the best I can do.

On the frugal side, all the bills for the month are done except the water bill which comes in on the 20th. I have auto-pay for that so it comes out of our checking.

My LLS check arrived for my Medicare amount and prescription Part D amount. Always very grateful to the LLS and its donors that provide these grants to many people all of who have some type of blood cancer.

Well, off to clean up the kitchen.