The frugal feeling is in full flower. I've got rotisserie chicken bones in the crockpot with some veggie scraps to make a batch of broth. Dinner was all from the CSA box with the addition of the last of the rotisserie chicken--an excellent strawberry spinach salad. And the NS day got even better when I listed some basement clutter on FB and sold the first thing for $5. Another is being given away tomorrow.
Viewing the 'Food, glorious food' Category
Yes, I bought my paczki (poonch-key) today--raspberry filled for us. Our daughter is busy with theatre stuff all week, so although I pack a lunch and sandwich for her, it's just DH and me for dinner.
All that theatre work means I have long quiet afternoons which seem to be consumed by quiz creation, homework grading, and lecture prep. Besides the paczki, I bought a few fill-in groceries and took the dog to the groomer. My closed savings account added $99 to my big goal. I'm almost at 4 percent. Yep, that seems pretty paltry to me too. But my adjunct class starts in a month which will help my cash flow.
I've started reading some of my Modern Library list of the top books of the 20th century. And Graham Greene is as good as I remember. The small joys of February.
Many of you will remember last year's discussion of paczki. I need to remember to buy some tonight or get up early to find some tomorrow morning.
But paczki aside, it's still cold, snowy February around here. Between last week's car bill and the gas bill, it's still cold, snowy, and frugal February too.
My DD had a snow day on Friday, we had a low-key weekend of library visits, Olympics viewing, and paper grading. All that was punctuated with soup making, crisp baking, quinoa salad prep, and brushing snow off the car every 15 minutes or so.
To increase motivation today, I closed out a small saving account with a teeny balance which will go to the UK House fund when it actually transfers. I seem to be in super-slow winter mode with lots of eating and lazing about. This needs to stop, and will, I vow, by Wednesday. After all, there's still some cranberry apple crisp left.
Ah, the long stretch of January has just hours left. I was reasonably frugal, used up lots of food, and decluttered a fair amount. That needs to all extend into February. Our dog was coughing and trying to clear her throat in the middle of the night, so I was up with her until she settled down. Unfortunately I never did and was awake from 3am on. I thought about canceling class, taking it online, but decided I could push through as I had a partner activity planned for half the class. It turned out fine, and I even abstained from my morning coffee purchase since I was planning on returning home at noon and napping. So, I saved $2 and came home for a two-hour nap. For the next month, I have a pretty darn easy semester, at least relatively. I have four sections of the same class, so it's one prep starting at 8am every day. People complain it's boring to teach just one thing, but sometimes it's just a gift. There's lots of reading and grading, but man, it's just so much easier. What happens in a month? My adjunct class starts on Monday nights. More money, but more schedule balancing.
And we continue to eat through the cupboard and freezer. Tonight before his class DH had leftover pot roast and DD and I ate pancakes and sausages with strawberries. I made half a dozen extra pancakes since the griddle was out which someone will eat for breakfast. It's going well. And payday is tomorrow. And again in 28 days.
I had a long meeting this morning, and at the end, colleagues talked about going out for lunch, but we talked so long it just didn't happen. Lunch out might've been nice, but it saved me at least $10 to go home, read papers, eat leftovers, and watch Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry bake on PBS.
A frugal dinner of a bargain frozen pizza awaits. And the remains of the going-into-meal-4 rotisserie chicken are now in the slow cooker becoming broth. My shriveled grape tomatoes just finished roasting with a bit of oil and balsamic, and they may dress up the pizza. That rotisserie chicken was first served as is, then chicken tortilla soup, then chicken pie, now broth. Amazing. I'm a little tired of being frugal, and have to shop for a potluck dinner tomorrow night, but we'll stay the course for the next week. Since it's hardly like we're going to Monaco the following month, I think it will also be a mostly frugal February.
While this sounds like Dave Ramsey advice, it was really me walking the six blocks to the university today, The sidewalks were full of ice, and I've developed a mortal fear of falling. Day Three of the semester seems to be going just fine, and hopefully today's spending will just be coffee. I see chicken tortilla soup on tonight's menu. It's kind of a flurried evening for us as DH starts his new class and DD is at theatre until 6, so we will eat in shifts.
To help eliminate our overseas transfer issues, we're opening up a Chase savings account--mostly for the SWIFT transfer capabilities, but also for the $200 bonus. Our local bank --which I love--can't seem to accept SWIFT international transfers, although I've sent money out from them. And DH needs to withdraw some British money for his tuition. I can't say we've come to complete agreement on that issue, but he'll pay for half with British cash, and we'll cash flow the other half. Graduate school is an expensive hobby, but perhaps one day he will teach. And the $200 bonus for keeping 15K in the account will lessen the hurt for me a bit. I opened a Chase for the bonus several years ago, but he's still eligible.
I have many meetings on Friday, but it's nice to be 3/4 through with the teaching week. In thinking about uber-frugality this month, I think we've been more frugal than usual, but probably not up to uber. Maybe I can find a few ways to increase cash and limit spending in the remaining week. We have been good about eating through the pantry and freezer, and the chicken tortilla soup will help with that. Hmm--maybe a few things to sell? Or make some time to review our internet service? Anyone have ideas for a couple quick wins?
It is gorgeous here with about four inches of snow. Yes, it made driving a little scary this morning, but I have a short commute and left early. However, the snow emergency plowing compelled me into the parking ramp at the university again this morning, but it's so lovely.
Classes Day Two have gone well. Most of my students seem fine, though it's hard to tell right away.
I'm headed home to do some housework and maybe start a pot of tortilla soup. For some lame-brained reason I subscribed to a Dave Ramsey Food Ideas list on FB looking for frugal meal ideas. I don't think it's the list for me as Sunday night they were discussing ways to eat squirrel. However reading their suggestions had my DD laughing so hard it might have been worth it for the humor alone.
I almost hate to ask this, but have any of you eaten or considered eating squirrel? I suspect that other (many) qualms aside, it's probably a regional thing.
This is one week of seemingly nothing but meeting after meeting. I somehow escaped the parking monitor when my last meeting went (ugh) 90 minutes over. No excuses for that, I think. In other non-eventful news, I was invited to a brunch tomorrow and baked banana bread from the freezer bananas and bought bacon as requested. Now it's been canceled as my colleague got a last-minute class, so I think we'll be eating banana bread and bacon and something else in the days to come.
I've transferred some $ from Swagbucks toward my big goal which has hit $3800 or a whooping 3.8% funded. That seems sort of sad to me, but slow and steady, I guess. Today is the day our London students leave for the UK. So wish I was rolling my big suitcase out to the car too.
I've had a couple of lovely days. Yesterday a tedious meeting turned into a happy occasion as two of the top three places in our writing competition were taken by MY students from last term. I couldn't be happier if I won myself. The prizes are small-ish with the top student earning $150, but it's so fun for them and great for their resumes. I've also made progress on readying my classes for the upcoming term.
We got lots of decluttering done, and today I made $15 on a selling some of that stuff. And I had lunch with a colleague--one of those lovely long lunches because it's so fun to talk with them. I cashed $50 out of Swagbucks which is going to my big goal. I'll credit my totals when it hits the bank.
And I made the most delicious mac and cheese yesterday from a recipe on a can of evaporated milk. Fattening and decadent, but used up lots of pantry stuff and delicious.
We're all home today for MLK day which has turned into a nice snowy organizing day around here. We continue Uber-frugal helped by the overflowing pantry and freezer. I've just started bean soup for my DH's lunches this week. I had beans in the pantry and a ham bone in the freezer. I also extracted a bag of CSA carrots from the freezer which I'll put in the soup and try roasting some with dinner. I'm not sure about roasting veggies which have been frozen, but we'll give it a try. yesterday's spending was a canister of oatmeal and the church offering. We're also going to sit down today and try to fund DH's grad school tuition more mindfully. His classes handily total (ugh) $5200/year, and I think he finds that figure staggering as do I. But if he wants to continue, some cuts will have to be made elsewhere. We'll see what happens. For now, the decluttering and the freezer contents reduction have been very satisfying. Ideally I'd like the chest freezer empty by spring break.
I always have tremendous conference presentation nerves which I don't totally understand since I stand in front of students and talk every darn day. But despite a hot room jammed with people, our talk went fine. I did a little networking, ate a rather lousy free lunch, and am now ready to start again on semester work. We all have Monday off for MLK day, but DD is in her intensive study mode.I think I'll spend a chunk of the day tomorrow and Monday getting everything lined up for the semester.
We are diligently--and indeed joyfully--eating through the pantry and freezer. Last night's excellent enchiladas incorporated taco leftovers, a lonely somewhat shriveled sweet potato, the chipotle cheese no one was eating, and one can of the four cans of enchilada sauce clogging up the cupboard. We also have a lot of pumpkin so I made a large loaf (now half gone) of pumpkin bread. I just extracted a bag of mixed beans that will transform into soup for DH's lunches next week.
I spent nothing yesterday and had a happy day at home.
Not much willpower required as we're in a quiet zone right now. I'm finally almost over my cold, and only spent some cash on groceries over the weekend. We went nowhere else and did nothing. How's that for boring? DD has school exams coming up and rejected the offer of a movie. I'm working on a conference talk and spent a good part of the weekend doing a lit review. Later today I'll put it all together, create a PowerPoint, and an annotated bibliography. I love these projects so I'm happy as can be.
Tomorrow I'll go glasses shopping and spent some time at the university working on my annual review and next term's projects. It will be good to get out!
Leftovers loom for lunch (how's that for headline?), and perhaps for dinner as well. I tried a new pot roast recipe from Cooks Illustrated that was pretty darn good, so I'm looking forward to the dinner leftovers. I need to do some intensive tidying around here too. DH and I are still working on our jigsaw puzzle--a Monet sea scene. I feel a little dorky saying it, but we're enjoying doing it together.
January quietness hasn't turned into January blahs yet--probably because It's so nice to have a break from the classroom. Two more weeks of this bliss to come.
Yesterday DD and I were right next to a local Target store. I had a return, but we also walked through the entire store without spending anything. I didn't buy the gift card deal either. Now granted I was in a Target the day before, but this may have been one of the few times in my life I went through a Target without a purchase.
We did spend a bit at the grocery store, but they were having a reopening sale and I got peanut butter, and a case of bottled water for 99 cents. We normally don't drink bottled water, but I always think it's good to have some around in case of emergencies. Bread was 49 cents--not a favorite brand but good enough for sandwiches and chicken breast for $1.49. We made chicken Parmesan last night ( or chicky chicky parm parm if you're a Parks and Rec fan)
It's been a splendid day as my classes are just working on final projects and I'm there to offer advice and feedback. It's nice not to have to "perform" some days.
I'm on a mini-declutter roll. I took a bag of stuff to Goodwill this morning, and as I put the rest of the Christmas things out, I'm sure they can be sorted and culled. Friends gave me a lovely Molton Brown gift set for my birthday--it's my favorite English bath brand. The gift set included trial size shampoo, but I'm a shampoo monogamist, and I thought, heck, try to sell it. It sold for $3 on the local FB list which I'll add to my totals. I'm feeling frugal--time to make some soup!
We went to a local Christkindl Market last night. Lots of food vendors, gluhwein, sausages, etc. in a very prettily lit market. DD had a couple gingerbread men, and I bought three jugs of bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup I'd seen on a local food show. The guys who own the tree farm were there selling it, and I had a sample shot and was convinced. Deliciously bourbony syrup that will be a great Christmas gift for my two foodie nephews and their wives. I bought three bottles, and intend to give the other away, but it was really really good and may end up in our old fashioneds or on pancakes.
The three of us stopped at a neighborhood spot that came highly recommended by a friend. Great food, but they didn't have the service right. Our long wait was relieved by the appearance of an appetizer wrongly delivered to our table which we ate. Oh well, it was free, and they ended up comping our drinks because things were so screwed up. Then a nice drive around a neighborhood called Candy Cane Lane to look at the Christmas lights. Lots of fun and family time for not much cash.
I've spent hours reading annotated bibliographies, so even eating lots of the omnipresent turkey seems like fun. We gobbled up turkey fried rice last night, and both DD and DH had turkey sandwiches in their lunches.
One of my students appears to be using voice-recognition software for his writing, and last night I read this sentence: "John is an expert in can e see all a G." At first I thought it was just a typo, but now I've sussed it out. But what a headache. They do not pay me enough.
I'm biding my time waiting for the workload to lighten. After this stack of bibliographies, it's just group projects. Two more weeks of classes: Serenity Now.
Not much in financial news--coffee spending and a can of crescent rolls for tonight's turkey pesto delight.
Our next-door neighbor came over this afternoon with a bird in the hand. She'd bought a frozen turkey breast and thawed it for Thanksgiving, but ended up going to her daughter's house to take care of her grandkids. And now she's headed out of town for a week, and didn't want to roast another turkey breast. Well, you can't really look a gift turkey in the mouth, can you? But this make seven turkeys/breasts I've roasted in the past three weeks--two for the congregate dining site, one for us, and three for our Thanksgiving with friends. I've made bone broth from all of them; indeed the freezer is fully stocked (get it?) with broth. And yet. So I roasted yet another bird this afternoon and besides the turkey sandwiches, it looks like turkey tikka, turkey fried rice, and a turkey pie is coming up soon. If you hear us gobbling.. . .
In minor other news, I had an emissions check on the car today, bought coffee cream and salad, and graded endless papers. More poultry adventures on the horizon. Three more weeks in the semester.
I had a productive day, despite too many meetings, and other errands. And I made a delicious smoked sausage, cabbage, and other veggie dinner. Several loads of laundry done, a couple baskets pressed or fold and put away too. In some good financial news, I got a check for $100 from a book review I forgot I did.
Looking forward to getting more stuff done, some bills paid, and a great relaxing weekend.
I searched our local news this morning to see if I could find more out about the closure and police cars at my bank branch yesterday. Sure enough, it was an robbery that happened about 10 minutes before I got there. There was a chase, a crash, no one injured but suspects captured and cash recovered. We live in what must be the quietest suburb of our city, but seems like things happen everywhere these days.
I did a bit of shopping yesterday, renewed the Costco membership and bought lots of things to make our increasingly busy weeks simpler. It smells lovely in the house with the turkey breast roasting and potatoes simmering on the stove.
Twice today I visited our local bank branch, first at 8 when the drive-ups were closed so I decided to come back later, then at noon when it was also closed: closed and surrounded by police cars with the branch full of police officers. I have no idea what was going on, but glad I wasn't there when whatever happened occurred.
It's that point in the semester when I'm buried in work, so household things are in super-simple mode. Lots of soup made and simple meals. I did start to defrost a turkey breast figuring there could me some more soup and sandwiches out of it this week.
I'm not the only busy one. DH has a presentation in his history class this week, and DD spends all her time building stage sets for the school production of 1984. Tonight I'm out with colleagues, DD is at a birthday party so DH will be home with his European History paper.
I've e-mailed my hellish student's advisor, re-posted, with warnings, my syllabus's notice on "discourteous behavior," and am arranging a meeting with her and her advisor. I refuse to spend the rest of the term thinking about her behavior. While I was at it, I e-mailed another advisor with concerns about his student's progress. He was shocked as she has reported her classes are going well, especially mine. I beg to differ; she is almost at the point of no return. My 100 students this term seem to have 100 issues rather than the usual 10 or so. Sigh.
We really did enjoy our French girls, but I estimate we spent perhaps $500 extra in two weeks. Is that possible? First--the food. We were in charge of all three meals--an easy breakfast, packed lunches, and dinners. Admittedly my dinners were somewhat fancier than usual; after all they were guests. I skipped out occasional leftovers dinners, bought and made more desserts than usual, and wow--the baguettes. I brought the girls to the shops with me and while baguettes may be half a Euro or so in France, the $3 baguettes--often two a day--really added up. They made me laugh with their requests for "a bit of bread." The very nice artisan loaves we usually buy were rejected and they just wanted baguette. Then there were the tickets--Haunted Houses, China Lights, movies, bowling, trampoline park, wildlife center. I grouponed a few, but yikes. And pizzas. But it was really lovely getting to know them, their family stories, the talk of French schools, their views on everything. They live in a beautiful part of Provence, and I got the impression that one of the girls comes from some serious money. They have a beach house in St. Tropez, a boat on the Med, and lots of ski trips. Her father is a dentist. The other girl just shook her head and said, "We do not have a summer house or a boat." Though it was a lot of work, we were sad to see them go. They left us lovely notes, lots of little gifts, and big hugs with some parting tears.
So--tonight I clean out the fridge, make celeriac soup, boil down some chicken bones, and try to make up some time.
My ravaged budget will need more than one week, but I'm starting with one. The groceries left over will help us through this week. More on the French soon--fun, but budget destroying. And sleep destroying.
Leftover soup for lunch. Leftover tacos for dinner.
List a few items for sale, and come up with a plan.
Chalk up a trip to the Wildlife Center and lots more groceries towards our French fund. Today I took them to the shopping mall, and DD got a new pair of boots and a long cardigan. I think she's watching the French girls and their clothes. One of them says her favorite thing is fashion; the other says her favorite thing is desserts. They're starting to feel very relaxed here, but my baguette budget is going to have to be much larger than I anticipated. On October 30 we'll be on rice and beans, I think.
We've had another fun day with the French. They shadowed my DD yesterday at school, and are starting--slowly--to get acclimated to the time change. Last night we went out for pizza and then to China Lights--a huge display at the Botanical Gardens. It was magnificent, and they really enjoyed it. One of my university students works there and she shared a link for discounted tickets which helped the budget a bit.
Today they're in Chicago for a tour, the Willis Tower, the boat trip, etc and won't be home until 10 tonight. My DD has the day off from school, but we're attending conferences and she's working on a stage set, so I'm hoping--hard--to get some laundry and grading done.
I picked up some meatloaf mix yesterday, so if I don't have to cook much, it would be grand. One of my French girls loves "le cookies!" and the other eats mostly bananas so far, and they struggle to get up in time for breakfast. This weekend we have a trip to a nature center planned and maybe some apple picking. Sunday looks rainy so it's a trip to the shopping mall which they are eagerly anticipating.
We had more than an inch of rain overnight, and it's cold and blustery. I came home from school, googled a recipe for kale and potato soup, and found my inspiration with the Pioneer Woman Olive garden potato soup knockoff. Luckily i had Italian sausage in the freezer. I added a few leeks from last week's CSA box, and it looks delicious. I subbed fat-free evaporated milk for the cream to cut the fat.
Cleaning out the fridge is one goals for the week--mostly in preparation for the French girls' arrival on Tuesday. We had an info meeting last night, and I certainly hope we don't get the ones who smoke and drink! But before then, I need to get ready for our road trip to Fargo for my aunt's 100th birthday. It's been so busy at school, I haven't had a moment to think about anything. Eeek! Lots to do. I'd better get on it!
I thought the brilliant new bathroom (aka the budget buster from hell) would be done today, and I could share pictures. But something funny happened today; at least I think it was funny still. I came home to the dumpster gone, the floor protection all rolled up, and the bill on the countertop. But no bathroom mirror. So I gave their office a call, the receptionist put me on hold for a loooooong time, and I finally got the master carpenter who assured me the mirror was coming on Friday. I honestly think they forgot to order the mirror. Everything else has been sitting in our living room for 7 weeks, and the carpenters sounded a little flustered.And the junior carpenter mistakenly drilled a hole in the tile today when he was hanging the shower curtain rod, so the crazy tile setters are coming back tomorrow. As much as I'm eager to get in there, the extra couple of days will, I hope, mean I can wait for the cash DH transferred from the UK to hit. A long day full of students and endless meetings, but I brought my lunch and only spent the requisite $2 on coffee.
We roasted a turkey breast on Sunday, have had two dinners from it, and lunches all week. Thankfully we have another in the freezer because semi-austerity is going to have to continue for a while. CSA veggies tomorrow will help too. In a effort to keep my big goal coming, I transferred $25 from Swagbucks and am adding on the trifling interest for September. Very eager to start paying myself back for the bathroom.
I've had a bunch of financial decisions to make lately, and this may be the month of saying no to many things. My fabulous girlfriends are going to NYC in December, and oh how I'd like to go. But airfare, hotel, Nutcracker tickets, dinners out--it would be 1K at least. My aunt's 100th birthday is coming up, and it's 570 miles from here. How I'd love for all three of us to fly. But I said no to that too--and we're driving. Airfares were almost $500/each. We'll get an audio book, take turns, and just do it. With my class, I could've covered all those extras, but heck, I have plenty to do here.
Payday can't come soon enough though it's going to take us some time to dig out. I did do some Swagbucks, cashed out, and added $100 to the big goal. And now that fall weather seems to have arrived, I've been cooking up a storm--including a fridge clearing veggie soup for DH's lunches.
The good news is HOORAY the bathroom should be done early next week. Pictures to follow! My only spending is that $2 cup of coffee to push through my morning classes.
Yesterday's garage cleaning did mean I found some more items to sell and declutter. I've sold DD's red wagon from her childhood days (kind of sad?), and it's awaiting pickup with the bathroom light fixture.
I've also cashed $25 out of Swagbucks which is being transferred to my Big Goal UK house fund.
In other frugal news, some of the fridge veggies found a new home in a pot of soup, and I've made extra brown rice and quinoa for salads this week. DH is taking soup to work for lunch all week.
My adjunct class starts tonight, so it's good to be back in the earning cycle. it's just composition, but maybe I'll have another superstar like my ex-con from two terms ago.
Not me, just the bathroom! Our bathroom contractors showed up at 7:30 this morning and spent the day taking out the sinks, toilet, vanity and wall tile along with removing the light fixtures and towel bar for reuse. I'm giving the relatively new and nice Kohler faucet to a friend; she may also take the light fixture. While I'm still a bit anxious about the cash, we're also excited. DD and I watched the eclipse at the university. We have a widely respected astronomy department, and the director of the planetarium is a real treasure. We were able to buy glasses there for $1, and had a great time sitting with friends. Lots of them constructed box viewers, brought picnics, and enjoyed the humid afternoon.
I do have a bumper crop of tomatoes. It may be time for a caprese salad. While I've enjoyed the tomato canning of years past, I'm probably going to pass this year. The semester is sneaking up on me, and I'd rather get prepped. We had BLTs for dinner tonight with some coleslaw. Any one have some fabulous summer easy dinners to share? I have the August menu blahs. I can figure out how to use my CSA veggies but am uninspired otherwise.
We've been getting by on freezer food, fill ins, and CSA veggies this week, supplemented happily now with garden tomatoes, but it's time to buy some things. We seem to need all the staples from olive oil to tortillas to eggs and milk. Perhaps a Costco lunch is in order!
We're joining together with some folks from church to serve dinner at a local AODA halfway house tonight. We've talked about it for a while, but they had an emergency opening in our three monthly dinners there, so we signed up. One family is bringing chili and cornbread, another desserts, and I thought a big fruit salad and some veggies and dip would be a nice addition. It should be a good experience for all of us. I'm aware sometimes of the bubble we live in most of the time. One of our members is on the board and she has shared some amazing stories.
All of this prompted a big shopping trip to Costco yesterday for fruit and veggies. But 85% of them will go out with us tonight, and I'm helping a friend move tomorrow and will bring the rest with me then.
Packing for London now!
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