Monday, December 29, 2014

Thrift Store Drinking Glasses

At our housewarming party, our friend gave us a beautiful set of tall and short drinking glasses. We absolutely love them. However, it is inevitable that glasses will occasionally be broken. When I broke a short one, I was upset and dismayed that eventually enough of the glasses would be broken that we'd either have to get rid of the set or have mismatched glasses. Then one day at a thrift store, I found a glass that matched the set. It cost $.59. I scooped it up, happy to have a full set again.

Now, every time I'm at a thrift store, I scan the glasses for both tall and short glasses in our set. It is a fairly common design, so I've been able to scoop up several. We now have extras and when the occasional glass breaks, it's no big deal. I pay between $.25 and $.90 per glass. This is cheaper than the cost to buy a new set.

While for certain sets, it may be a long shot to find replacements, it is definitely worth a quick scan when you are at thrift stores or yard sales. You just may find a cheap fill-in to stretch your set.

This Week...Beyond Money 12/22 - 12/28

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* I put in a new garden bed lasagna style so it will be ready for spring. Trucker got me a new-to-us fire pit (online yard sale, $20), so I was able to break down the horrible fire pit made from broken cinder blocks that was there when we moved in. That area is on the north side of our garden and gets the best sunlight, so I'm thrilled. I laid down cardboard boxes from my job, then put kitchen scraps on top of that, coffee grounds both from home use and Trucker's job (His boss and coworkers are awesome to save them for me), and finally shredded newspaper and leaves. It'll all break down fairly well by spring and I get 25% more growing space!

* I used one of my gift cards for the grocery store where I work. For the $7 card (plus $1.90, and this is factoring in my discount), I got: a container of sour cream ($1), 4-pack toilet paper ($.90), 1 lb clearance steak ($3.40), loaf of roasted garlic bread ($3.60, while this was a bit of a splurge, it's a huge loaf of bread and one that I've been wanting to try. This will see us through many meals).
* After-holiday clearance shopping: butter $2.50/lb (4; this is a great price for here, sale price is usually $3, and regular price is over $5/lb), cranberries for $.50/lb (8 pounds, to dehydrate to use in baking and water kefir flavoring), canned biscuits for $.25/can (6; this is cheap enough to justify having just for a quick meal of sausage and biscuits when I'm short on time), microwaved mashed potatoes for $.29/1.5 lb package (this is $.20/lb and cheaper than I ever find potatoes, cream or chives. This is not a regular item for us, but for this price I bought some), loads of chocolates at half price. We'll use this for snacking for months, as gifts and in baking.
* I made baklava to use up some phyllo pastry someone had given me. It was a little less sweet than I'm used to...which means it was perfect!
* I tried my hand at making homemade pocky sticks. They tasted perfect. They are the ugliest things I've ever seen (I didn't have the right sized piping tip, so I used one that was too big. This was a mistake). So while you don't get to see pictures, Trucker did get a nice snack.
* It was nice one day, so I grilled out pizzas. So good

* On Thursday we did our annual Chinese-buffet-and-a-movie date. It was perfect, as it always is.
* We went out with friends one evening. I hesitate to mention it because I messed up. I spent way too much money that night. Granted, what I consider spending "way too much" is probably a lot lower than what many people do, but I still regret it. I had a fun time with everyone, but could have been more frugal and enjoyed it just as much. The next day I was (over)thinking about it, and realized that I had allowed my focus to drift from our goals to a temporary fix for a crummy day at work. It gave me a much needed kick in the pants to work harder towards our goals and I didn't spend any money the rest of the week. In fact, on my next day off, I stayed at home and did frugal tasks the whole day.

* Went for a 3 mile walk in a local park. It was in the upper 50s, so we wanted to get out and enjoy it. There was a surprising amount of life and color for this time of year. Our general rule is to get outside any day that it is relatively dry and unseasonably warm (so for this time of year, if it's above 40 and not raining, we're at least walking around the neighborhood)

* One day was ridiculously warm (upper 60s!), so we turned off the furnace and opened some windows for fresh air. We were able to turn off the furnace two other days when it was in the upper 50s.
* On one of my days off I didn't leave the house so I wouldn't be tempted to spend any money. I also used that time to do frugal tasks like baking from scratch (freezing some for later), cooking meals for the week to avoid take out, cleaning, preparing a garden bed, etc.
* Put away more of Trucker's tip money. Really encouraging how fast that adds up.
* It's a silly little daily thing, but I thought I'd mention it. I use swagbucks to do all of my searches. When I'm researching an article or looking up recipes, I'll often win swagbucks. I save up until I have enough for a $5 Amazon card (450 points). I get a card about every other month, so it really is a small thing. However, I feel that since I'd be doing searches anyway, it only makes sense to get a little something back from it. I am currently saving the cards until later this winter when we start to buy beekeeping items. I'm hoping to have $50 by then to put towards smoker, veil, etc. Even small things are worthwhile if they don't take too much time or effort away from more important things.

Waste Reduction:
* I used the last little bit of a bottle of hand soap as bubble bath.

* I got a $5 gift card as a "customer service" reward for helping us have a good holiday season. This brings my total up to $42 worth of gift cards this month. This job perk is absolutely wonderful!
* Leading up to the holidays, the break room was filled with free samples of everything from (alcohol-free; don't think I was getting toasty at work) ginger beer to chili to candy. Most days I nibbled on a little something that was sampled and brought my lunch home to use another day or send with Trucker.
* I bought new work pants at a thrift store. Two pairs got holes, and only one is repairable (when I get around to it), so I needed something new. I found two pairs for $3.49 each that fit well, are within the uniform requirements, and have good pockets.
* I worked overtime one day leading up to the holiday. I also now qualify for holiday pay, so I'll have an extra day's wage on the next paycheck. We'll put the extra money into savings for our furnace replacement.

* I helped Trucker with his new book by reading and editing it.
* Two coffee dates for writing.

* We're focusing more on staying hydrated. We have a few health issues that are exacerbated by dehydration, so we're trying to get in the habit of sipping water regularly throughout the day.
* Went running a couple of days.
* Trucker bought me a good jump rope because I said I was thinking of getting one for exercise on days it's too cold and gross to go outside.

What did you do this week?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Egg Drop Soup, or: The Easiest Dinner Ever

I love going out for Chinese. The entrees are good, sure, but it's the side stuff that rocks my world. The first time I made crab rangoon at home I was in heaven and called that dinner.

Today I made stir-fry for dinner. I was craving some good Chinese restaurant soup. I had some chicken stock in the refrigerator, so decided to try my hand at egg drop soup. Oh my. How had I not been making this for years?

This is simply the easiest, cheapest, tastiest soup I've ever made, and it's pretty healthy too. It takes five minutes, tops. The recipe is not exact; you can tweak it based on how hungry you are, what you have on hand, and how many you are serving. The amounts given are what I made tonight. It gave us enough for four side servings.

1 quart of chicken stock
2 eggs
1 green onion
salt and pepper

Heat the chicken stock on the stove until it's boiling. Beat the egg well. Drizzle the egg into the boiling chicken stock while stirring vigorously. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with chopped green onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. That's it.

I make my stock at home, so the cost is negligible (made using bones and veggie scraps leftover from cooking). Two eggs cost me about $.30. The green onions have been regrowing in my windowsill, so we can call those free. This recipe cost me $.08 a serving.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

This Week...Beyond Money 12/15 - 12/21

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* Two words: Seed. Catalogs.
* Lots of growth on the salad greens. I'm allowing them to grow a little more, then later this week I'll thin the containers out to give the plants adequate growing room.

* Found pineapples on sale for $1 each so I bought three. I'll eat a little fresh and dehydrate the rest. It'll be a nice change of pace from the dehydrated apples we've been eating. We also found bags of 6 clementine's for $1. I bought one bag as a treat.

Food Preservation:
* Nothing this week, as the weeks leading up to the holiday is crazy in the baking business.

* This week Trucker and I started a shared file in the cloud. We have compiled a list of date ideas, hobbies we'd like to try out, and vacation fantasies. This will make it easier to avoid boredom and remember little things we'd like to try.
* Went out for coffee, talking and writing a couple times. It's cold and nasty outside, so most of our favorite activities are out. We had a coupon for BOGOF 3 hour bowling, but when we called they said they were booked solid til after the holiday. Sigh. The coupon expires Dec 30, so we've got a few days I guess.
This bird house was painted
bright yellow with blue,
purple, orange and green
trim. In short, it was horrible.
* Trucker and I spent an hour painting some thrift store bird houses that we had bought. We've been meaning to do it for quite some time, but never got around to it. We had some leftover paint from the house, so we painted them to match the house. We're going to put them close to windows so we (and Ray-cat) can watch them.

* Unfortunately, I didn't get outside as often as I would have liked to. I went out for a couple of runs earlier in the week.
* We were able to turn off the furnace for 2 days. One day it rained but the other was dry so I opened every window in the house. Indoor air can get pretty toxic in winter, so I take advantage of any opportunity to freshen the air.
* We avoided going out this week.
* Paid extra on a couple of debts. Did not put anything else on credit.
* Put aside some of Trucker's tip money aside for savings.

Waste Reduction:
* I am decluttering and made a box of items to donate. While I guess this isn't waste reduction, per se, I am avoiding throwing away items that others could use, and it's my blog so I say it counts. :)

* Trucker brought home his bag of goodies from his job. This time he brought: 5 english muffins, 2 bagels, 2 muffins and a scone. I'll freeze or dry surplus (as weird as it sounds, drying bagel slices or muffin crumbles are great to use in bread pudding, french toast, and baking). I used a few of the english muffins to make breakfast sandwiches for us one morning.
* Trucker closed the cafe on Sunday night. All of the Sunday papers were going to be thrown away, so he brought home all of the coupons. We'll cut them down together. We use a few coupons for our grocery shopping, but I want to start combining sales and coupons to get near-free items to donate to the food bank. A lot of the items that I could get for pennies are items we don't eat, but others do and considering that 1 in 4 kids in my city don't know if they are going to eat every day, anything helps. I don't have a lot of extra money, but want to stretch what I do have to get as much food to donate as possible.
* My job had our Christmas party on Wednesday. They provided a fantastic meal of turkey, ham, cheesy potatoes, stuffing, salad, honey butter rolls, pumpkin pie and cookies. I brought my packed lunch home to use another day and didn't eat dinner at home since I'd eaten so well at work.
* For our holiday gift, we each received a $25 grocery gift certificate. I get my store-brand discount, and will combine sales and coupons to maximize my gift certificates.

* Nothing done this week. 

* We both worked on books that we are writing several days this week.

* Drank water kefir every day.
* Went running on warm days.
* I came down with a bit of a cold. Ugh. Taking lots of vitamin C, drinking lots of water and hot tea with honey and trying to keep my diet as high-quality as possible.

* At the company Christmas party, there was a prize wheel and I won a $10 itunes gift certificate. I don't use itunes, and couldn't think of someone to give it to. I was talking with one of my coworkers and she said she had been hoping for the itunes gift certificate, but she got a grocery gift card for $5. I offered to trade with her. While my gift card was $10 and hers was only $5, I think I got a better deal. I will get $5 worth of free food, compared to some free music that I probably wouldn't listen to (I'm skeptical about digital music and prefer my CDs). She thinks she got the better deal because her son loves itunes and she is going to use the gift card for part of his Christmas gift. Gene Logsdon describes the ideal barter situation as one in which both parties think the other is getting took. I like that.

What did you do this week?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Week...Beyond Money 12/8 - 12/14

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* Nothing big to mention with the indoor garden. There are aphids on the pepper plants (this didn't happen last year), so I need to find a non-toxic recipe for killing the little...ahem...buggers.
* Harvested 1/4 c of microgreens. Ooh buddy. I got a late start this year and am very impatient.
* While I was working in the garden, I found a radish under the leaves. It was split but tasted fine. I used it in our stir fry mix along with the greens. It's the little things. :)
* Harvested green onions regrowing from scraps.

* I made apple crisp with some apples from the orchard that were getting a little on the old side. I filled my vegetable bin with the best apples, and we will eat those over the early winter. I dehydrated most of them and only have a few left now. I used stale baked sweets from Trucker's job to make the crisp. Delicious and frugal!
* Made sausage gravy for dinner one night. I reserved half of the sausage to use in other recipes for the week. I served the gravy over bread-sliced bagels because I had those in excess and didn't have time to whip up a batch of biscuits. There was enough gravy leftover from dinner for breakfast the next morning.
* Made colcannon to use up some mustard greens from the frig, some leftover baked potatoes (We'd already dressed them up but got full so this included some sour cream, cheddar and butter), and a couple slices of bacon leftover from another meal. Added in some green onion from the windowsill.
* I bought three pepperoni rolls from my job. They are usually sold out by the time I do my shopping, so when I see them I scoop them up. They are $.49/$.44 after my discount. They are filling for the size and very flavorful.  I use these for Trucker's work lunches instead of a sandwich just to switch it up and supply something a little special. I sent him with one and froze the other two.

Food Preservation:
* I dehydrated 6 loads of apple slices.
* I cooked down 15 lbs of apples into apple sauce. I'll dehydrate some of it to rehydrate later or to snack on as a leather. We'll also have apple sauce as a side dish sometimes in the coming week.

* We went out for a couple of coffee dates. These have been among our favorite dates for 8 years. Sometimes we go to a little hole in the wall coffee joint with perfect brew and great ambiance and talk and read. Sometimes we go to a place with free refills and sit for hours while working on our latest projects. There's always plenty of time to laugh and talk with each other either about dreams and politics or brainstorming ideas for something one of us is working on. It never costs over $5 and we enjoy it. Once, we went to his job where we were only charged $1.29 for two coffee refills. Pretty cheap date.

* Got outside for a few short excursions and worked a bit in the garden on one warmer day (It got up pert near 40!)

* Avoided stores as much as possible. Especially since we'd just hit some thrift stores while on our trip, we didn't need anything, so we didn't go near any stores.
* We were able to turn off the furnace for 6 hours one day.

Waste Reduction:
* I wasn't hungry enough to eat an entire scone for breakfast one morning. The muffin that Trucker brought home from work got smooshed in his backpack. There were lots of crumbs in the bottom of the sack of baked goods we got while on our trip last week. I crumbled it all up and used as the topping on a crisp. Saved a little money and reduced a lot of waste. This is a tip I'll use a lot in the future.
* Composted a lot of "stuff": kitchen scraps, dryer lint, junk mail, receipts, floor sweepings, etc

* Trucker brought home a big bag of treats from his job: 2 scones (these are seriously the best scones ever), several bagels, a muffin and two thick slices of pumpkin chocolate chip bread. The scones are breakfast some mornings, the bagels are good for breakfast sandwiches (And I'm going to get in the habit of cutting the leftovers into chunks to use in bread pudding, stuffing or crumbs), and the pumpkin bread and muffin will make good snacks.
* Worked 3rd shift for a few days to train on a new position. This will not be my regular position, but if I learn all of the positions in my department at least basically, I get a raise. I'm okay with sacrificing a few days here and there to earn more money every hour I work every shift from here on out.
* Twice during the week there were samples (one of chili, the other of pretzels and dip) in the break room. I took a sample each day and used that as my lunch to hold me over until I got home. Lunch break for me is around 3:30-4, so I'm hungry, but want to be able to eat with Trucker when I get home. I'll usually eat something small like an apple.
* We both drank free coffee from our jobs. One day I got a free (alcohol-free) ginger beer.

* More home-dehydrated food went into the pantry. There's still some of last year's produce left to eat through (it was my first year cooking with dehydrated foods, so the first half of the winter I barely used any). I'm putting all of this year's produce up in the storage room. All of last year's produce is in the kitchen. I'm not allowed to bring down any jars of this year's stores until all of last year's is used up. That means I don't get to eat any tomatoes or strawberries until I get through these last jars of cukes and mushrooms (I think some mock pickles are in order!)

* On our day off together, we went out for coffee and both wrote for a few hours. Sometimes getting out of the house helps to switch gears from facebook surfing/"research" to actual drafting.
* Trucker asked me for the materials list for a chicken tractor so he can price everything. We want to get it built by early spring so I can buy chicks right away.

* Went out for short walks around the neighborhood as I had the chance. It's not strenuous exercise, but better than sitting inside. Took a couple short runs around the neighborhood. Since it was so cold, I didn't want to be out long, so I did a variation of 30-20-10 training (30 seconds jogging, 20 seconds running, 10 seconds sprinting) to make every minute count.
* Drank water kefir daily. We definitely have fewer digestive complaints when we do. I made cream soda kefir this week and it's phenomenal. After a 12 hour second ferment it was perfectly carbonated without being too sour. It was just sweet enough to be an adequate "soda fix" but not so much sugar that it was overwhelming (we both prefer our drinks on the less sweet side).

* On a day I knew Trucker would have a rough day at work, I wanted to do a little something special for him. I decided to get him flowers. They were regularly $4.50, or $4.05 after my discount. There was a peel-away sticker for $2 off, so it only cost me $2.05 for the bouquet. He loved it. I put it in a mason jar in the front window that he walks by every time he goes to the kitchen for a coffee refill.
* Trucker ordered a jewelry organizer for me. He'd made me one a couple years ago that is hanging in the bedroom, but it was very full. The new one has pockets for items that can't be hung from the homemade organizer. This will free up a lot of space on my dresser top. I am not crazy into fashion, but I like to wear fun antique/vintage/costume jewelry, and have built up a pretty decent collection of bargain pieces.

What did you do this week?

Homemade Pop Tarts

I never cared much for those pathetic Pop Tarts that come in a blue box. The pastry didn't taste good, the fillings were off, and they left you hungry as soon as you finished them. I stopped eating them as a child and never bothered again—until one beautiful day: the day I made pop tarts from scratch. Oh, my.

They were wonderfully flaky. The pastry was rich with butter and of perfect texture. The filling was real and explosive. And wonder of all wonders, two of these little pastries filled me up for a glorious breakfast.

Making pop tarts from scratch is easy, frugal, and allows you to experiment with lots of fun flavors. In my two-person household, we used to have a hard time using up an entire jar of jam or jelly in a reasonable timeframe. But now that I make pop tarts, we’re able to use up a jar before it goes bad. Homemade pop tarts are also incredibly frugal. I did a cost analysis of the flour, butter, egg, and fillings and found that the homemade variety is about 16 to 20 cents each, with two or three being a decent breakfast for me or my husband. This is cheaper than the store-bought ones that cost about 33 cents a pop where I live and aren't nearly as delicious or filling—or free of suspicious-sounding ingredients, for that matter.

Making pop tarts is ridiculously simple, although it does take some time. I like to set aside a couple of hours to make a massive batch, all at once. Raw pop tarts freeze brilliantly, so you can pull out a couple and toss them in the toaster oven for an easy breakfast or a sweet-tooth fix. Make a few different flavors at once and you'll satisfy any craving!
I use a pie dough recipe from King Arthur, but you can sub in the pie dough of your choice.

What you'll need:

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 Tbsp sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 sticks butter, cut into pats
* 1 large egg
* 2 Tbsp milk
* filling of your choice, such as jams or jellies, nut butters, spreads, etc. (See ideas below!)
* rolling pin (or wine bottle, in a pinch)
* butter knife or bench knife
* fork
* baking sheet
* brush
* pastry blender (or a stand mixer—just be careful not to overwork the dough)
* paring knife

To make your pie dough as flaky and tender as possible, you need all of your ingredients as cold as can be. Crack one egg into a bowl and put it back in the fridge. Cut the butter into pats and place them in the freezer until just before you begin. If you want your dough to be perfect, you can even pop the flour, sugar, and salt in the freezer. If the butter melts, it will absorb a lot of flour, making for a tough dough, so you want to do whatever you can to prevent that—including handling it as little as possible.

When you're ready to make your dough, mix together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter pats then, using your pastry cutter, mix in the butter until it’s in pea-sized pieces, not fully blended. These little bits of butter will make for a flaky crust. Once the butter is roughly pea-sized, add one egg and the milk. Mix just until it’s combined. Don't over-beat it. You can (and should!) store this prepared dough in the fridge until you're ready to make your tarts.

Clear a workspace and liberally sprinkle it with flour. Pull the pie dough out of the refrigerator and place it on the flour. Sprinkle the dough lightly with flour and very lightly coat your rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking. Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick.

Using a butter knife or a bench knife, cut the dough into rectangles about 3 by 4 inches, or whatever size your heart desires. You can even use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes or you can make tiny two-bite pop tarts. If you make super small pop tarts, roll the dough a little thinner to keep the filling-to-pastry ratio in balance.

Beat the second egg to use as an egg wash. Place about a tablespoon of filling on one half of each pop tart. You can use jam or jelly, nut butters, or one of the suggestions listed below. Spread evenly but make sure you leave a good centimeter of space around each edge and the other half bare. Brush the egg wash around the edge; this will act like glue to keep the filling inside.

Fold the bare half over the filled half and gently press the edges to seal the pieces together. Using the fork tines, press about 1 centimeter in all the way around the edges. This seals the dough closed and looks beautiful.

Steam will need to escape, so you’ll need to cut some holes in the pastry top. Either prick the top side of the dough several times with a fork or use the paring knife to cut out shapes or initials. If you have mad scoring skills, you can cut notes, initials, or simple drawings into the pop tarts for fun.

Now it's time to chill the pop tarts. You can either chill them for half an hour in the refrigerator or freeze them to bake another time. If freezing, do so on a flat surface then transfer them to a freezer bag once they’re completely frozen.

When it's time to bake them, brush the top of the pastry liberally with egg wash, if desired. (I enjoy them either way. They’re shinier with the egg wash but look more rugged without it.) If you'd like, you can sprinkle the tops with decorative sugar—the bigger grain, the better—which the egg wash will hold in place. If you plan to ice the pop tarts, don't add sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until the tarts are golden brown and solid on the bottom. Perfect doneness occurs just after you smell something so incredible, you’ll be prepared to burn your tongue off just to get those tarts in your mouth RIGHT NOW.

Allow the tarts to cool for 10 to 15 minutes—if you’re able to wait that long. If you want to ice them, you can use any icing you'd like. My favorite simply requires mixing together 1 cup powdered sugar with 1 to 2 Tbsp milk. You can make this thick (less milk) to spread over the still-warm tarts, allowing it to run off the sides, or you can make it thinner (more milk) and drizzle it across the top with a fork.

If you bake a large batch of tarts at once and plan to reheat them in the toaster later, don't ice them. Wait until they come out of the toaster. Unlike the store-bought pastries, this homemade icing won’t stick to the pastries when they’re standing straight up in the toaster. And really, when you think about it, what's in the store-bought stuff that makes it impervious to toasting? Shiver.

Unless otherwise specified, use 1 Tbsp filling per pop tart.

* Apple butter. For a nice complement, you can sprinkle cinnamon sugar after egg washing/before baking or sprinkle cinnamon over the icing.
* S'mores: 1 Tbsp marshmallow cream, a pinch of crushed graham crackers, and several chocolate chips. For a campfire touch, sprinkle a bit of smoked sugar over the egg wash before baking.
* PBJ: 2 tsp peanut butter plus 1 tsp grape jelly
* Nutella...yes, oh yes!
* Cinnamon sugar (King Arthur calls for a mix of 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 to 1 ½ tsp cinnamon, and 4 tsp all-purpose flour.)
* Peanut butter cups—or Buckeyes, if you're from my home state of Ohio: 2 Tbsp peanut butter mixed with 1 tsp powdered sugar and several chocolate chips
* Lemon curd
* Apple: 1 Tbsp diced apple and 1 tsp brown sugar

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Use It Up: Stale Baked Goods

Many things are tossed into the garbage can when they still have lots of good life left in them. Use It Up is a section on how to use this "trash" to make new useful items for your home or to re-purpose items to avoid a purchase.

Trucker gets a lot of free day-old baked goods from his job and sometimes they get stale before we get a chance to eat them. They would have been thrown away otherwise, but I did want to use them if at all possible.

Our aim is to completely eliminate all food waste. This is for both environmental and economic values. Americans throw away about half of the food they buy, and that's not including the food wasted at the farm and grocery levels. While I can't change some aspects of food waste, I can work really hard to reduce the amount my family wastes. So many resources-land, fresh water, fertilizers (both artificial and natural), and time-go into producing food and it is immoral to throw it in the garbage, where it produces gases that poison our air. Then there's the financial side of it. I have to spend time and money to get to work, then work long hours, and then drive home every day. I get my paycheck and pay taxes on it. Then I pay taxes at the store. Why would I want to let any food go to waste when I had to work so hard to get it? If I can reduce that expense, I can save more money and then not have to work as much in the future. The case of a crunched muffin is a small thing, but it is a part of a larger lifestyle modification that allows me to live in accordance to my goals, dreams and values.

A lot of people get squeamish about using "less than fresh" items in cooking at home, but our grandparents did this as a matter of course. Throwing away food that was still edible just wasn't an option when food was hard to come by. Not only this, but I have worked in bakeries for the better part of a decade, and let me tell you, bakeries know how to use it up! Every bakery I've worked at had recipes for using up items that didn't sell to make a new, fresh item. It helped profits, reduced waste and some of the items were customer favorites. If it's good enough for a professional bakery, it's certainly good enough for your home kitchen. If your family is squeamish about the idea, don't tell them.

The other day I had a scone for breakfast, but wasn't hungry enough to eat the entire thing. The other half was hard by the time I got back to it. One of the muffins that Trucker brought home from his job got smooshed in his backpack. Rather than throw them away, I crumbled them and let them air dry. This morning I wanted to make an apple crisp, and decided to use these sweets crumbles in place of the flour or oats in the topping. As you can see in the photos, I used a variety of crumbs: cranberry scone, a crunched chocolate chip cookie, the crumbs from the bottom of the bag from the bakery we visited on our trip, and a morning glory muffin (carrot, pumpkin, coconut, oats, and raisins).

 I simply melted a stick of butter, and added in the crumbles. Since the baked goods were already sweetened, I didn't add any more sugar (although I always drizzle a bit of maple syrup over the apples before topping). I baked as usual. It turned out perfectly!

There are many other ways to use up baked sweets that get stale before you eat them, or get broken, or simply the crumbs at the bottom of the bag. This will not only reduce your waste, but can save you money on the ingredients you are replacing (In the case of my crisp, I avoided using 2 cups of oats, 1/2 cup of flour, and a cup of sugar!)

Use crumbs of baked goods for a crunchy topping for muffins, pies and sweet breads.

Make bread crumb cookies with either regular bread crumbs, or crumbled sweets. I first heard of this idea in the Tightwad Gazette books. Sounds weird, but tastes fine and is a very frugal dessert.

Use stale or broken cookies in place of graham crackers to make crusts for cheesecakes and pudding pies.

Bread pudding is a great way to use up not just stale bread, but also muffins, bagels, croissants, waffles, cookies, doughnuts or cake.

One of the bakeries I've worked at makes crisps from stale pies. When they are still perfectly edible, but the pie crust is less flaky and wonderful, we would smoosh the entire pie, pack into a baking dish, top with struesel and bake until the top was golden. People loved them and never realized that they were just a way to reduce our shrink.

Cake pops are a perfect way to use up cake that is dry or stale. It's an easy and kid-friendly recipe. I've taken it to potlucks and it has disappeared in minutes.

Slice bagels thin, like bread. Then use them to make french toast dippers-a fun breakfast for kids. Plus the smaller size will allow you to fit more pieces into the skillet at a time. Cinnamon raisin bagels are particularly amazing for this.

Use baked goods either as an ice cream topping or to make homemade blizzards. Use brownies, cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, 7-layer bars, buckeye bars, etc. Crumble if using as a topping, or chuck the whole thing in the blender when making shakes.

If you make your own ice cream, you can mix some items into the custard right before freezing for treats such as "brownie ice cream" or "red velvet cake ice cream".

Make a trifle with leftover cake or muffins.

Use as the stuffing in stuffed apples. This is a good use for muffins or scones or anything cinnamony or caramelly.

Once at a bakery I worked at, we put chunks of leftover cheesecake into brownie batter. It was good in a strange way and had its fans.

Use berry based muffins to make a sweet crouton for topping fruit salads.

Add crumbled scones to granola mixes.

While not a baked good, I have another apple crisp tip. Save the crumbs at the bottom of cereal bags and use this as the topping. Bran flakes, cheerios or other bland cereals are perfect and the more colorful ones are okay, as long as you don't get overwhelmed by the psychedelic colors.

I've already written posts on using stale bread and making breadcrumbs if you'd like more tips for using up baked goods.

Did I miss anything? Do you have a favorite way to use up baked goods that are broken or stale? Share in the comment!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This Week...Beyond Money 12/1 - 12/7

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* Loads of microgreens growing in all the windows. I got my first harvest. I thinned out the containers on the front window and got about 1/4 cup of arugula, cress and mustard. I used them on our sandwiches for dinner one night.
* Green onions grown from trash are growing well. I'll be harvesting soon.
* I have some milkweed seed harvested from the front garden and I've been randomly planting it around different parts of the property. I saw my first Monarch this past year and I'm really excited to see more.

* Ate leftovers a lot.
* I boiled some chicken that I bought on clearance ($.89/lb for leg quarters) since I didn't have time to do anything with it, but it needed to be used up. The next day we pulled meat off the bones to use in a stir fry (using leftover rice from another meal), another time put it on salads and the day after that I pulled the rest of the meat off to make BBQ sandwiches. I saved the cooking water to use in cooking and saved the bones for a batch of stock when I gather up more scraps.

Food Preservation:
* Put up two dehydrators worth of apples.

This dress only cost $3! I can't wait til it's
warm enough to wear it!
* We had a fancy date. We used the gift certificate that we won at the benefit dinner/auction for $15. It was a much nicer restaurant than we'd usually go to, but was affordable since we'd gotten the gift card so cheap. I signed up for the email list beforehand, so I got a coupon for a free appetizer (We never order appetizers, so it was a nice treat)
* We took a two-day trip to visit family out of state. We planned ahead and saved money for the trip over the month beforehand so we didn't have to put it on credit. I made the hotel reservation at a mid-range hotel just outside the major city we were visiting. This lowered the cost for the hotel significantly over a similar quality in the city. Also, gives a free night's stay after 10 nights. I'm only two nights in, but is still worthwhile. We packed food from home for snacking and brought a thermos of coffee and didn't have to buy coffee at all the first day. We visited family the first day and had dinner with them instead of going out. That night we took a swim at the hotel and worked out in the gym for our entertainment. The next day we explored the city and visited thrift stores. We like to thrift and this city's thrift stores have a different selection than the ones near us. I get most of my clothes when we visit family. I get nice clothes and by selecting items that are half-off tags, I save a bundle. I got a beautiful dress for $3 and a few shirts for less than $1 each. Trucker desperately needed new jeans, but we never find his size at thrift stores here. We ended up buying 5 pairs for $4-5 each, so got $5 pairs for much less than the cost of one new pair. At the end of the trip, we still had $150 leftover from the cash we'd saved for the trip. This money went into a savings account for a home repair.
This fun shirt was $.75.
* Since we've both been working more, Ray cat is super lonely when we get home. So we've been trying to make more of an effort to play with her when we get home. She's loving it. She loves free toys much more than store-bought ones. Her long-time favorite is little balls of paper that we play fetch with. Today we discovered the joy of flipping a rubber band that she chases (don't worry, we don't leave it on the floor and we watch to make sure she doesn't swallow it).
This photo is from earlier in the season, but
isn't she pretty!

* I've enjoyed watching the birds in the back garden (When Trucker rearranged the living room last year, he made sure to put my desk facing out the back window so I could look out into the garden regularly). There's only one Cardinal couple this year so far, but they are beautiful. Ray cat likes watching them too, but I suspect her intentions are less admirable.

* We are still squirrelling away some of Trucker's tip money and depositing it into savings. It's really easy for us to mindlessly spend if we have it. By putting some of it aside the day he earns it, we learn to live on whatever cash we have (Our budget has our bills, gasoline and groceries coming out of our paychecks and our generally living comes from tip money), and it is amazing how quickly it builds up.
* Filled up the tank using fuel perks from the grocery store. Saved $.20/gallon, or ~$2.50.

Waste Reduction:
* Unfortunately, the latest batch of vinegar got moldy and gross. I'm disappointed, but it didn't cost me anything. I'll pour it into the compost or something.
* Saved chicken bones to use in stock-making.

* packed lunches every day. One day I got a free sample of house-made chili from the break room, so I didn't eat most of the lunch from home and used it the next day.
* We both get free coffee from work.
* Trucker brought home a big bag of free treat from his job.

* Wrote on a few of my lunch breaks at work.

* Worked out at the gym while at the hotel, and went walking a few times throughout the week. Also swam laps in the pool.
* We have been trying to help remind each other to take our multivitamin and vitamin D supplement. We try to eat a varied, healthy diet, but in winter it's harder to get enough fresh produce, so the multivitamin helps fill in the gaps. We both struggle with seasonal depression, but have an easier time of it when we supplement vitamin D. We also tried to get out and walk whenever it was nice enough to get some natural vitamin D and fresh air.

* While I was looking for jeans for Trucker, I found jeans in my dad's size. He is a 29x29, so it's next to impossible for Mum to find his jeans, even new. She often has to have them special ordered and pays $40+ for a pair. Since they cost so much, he refuses to get rid of them until they are ragged. Some were definitely not his style, but I ended up buying 6 pairs for $4-5 apiece. This saves them a ton of money. I'll continue to look for pants in his size when we go to the city so they don't have to resort to ordering new pants.
* Steve bought a book for $1 for my family on inventive ways to save money on weddings. Two of my sisters are engaged and my parents are paying for both. Hopefully they'll get some decent tips that can save them money.
* One of my favorite ways to help people I care about, especially if I don't have much extra money, is to keep an eye out for bargains that family and friends can use. I buy the item for 75% less than the price they usually pay, they pay me back the purchase price and save the rest. It costs me nothing but effort but provides a big savings for them.

What did you do this week?

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Use It Up: Fried Rice

Many things are tossed into the garbage can when they still have lots of good life left in them. Use It Up is a section on how to use this "trash" to make new useful items for your home or to re-purpose items to avoid a purchase.

Fried rice is one of my favorite meals. It's simple, it's satisfying, it's delicious. To top it all off, it's also ridiculously cheap and a great way to use up leftovers and therefore reduce your waste. It's also an easy meal to make when I'm busy or tired. From start to finish, it's about 10 minutes.

When I make fried rice, I never go with a recipe. I know basically how to make it, but I leave room for experimentation, using up something that I have in surplus or using up leftovers or items that are getting a little too close to turning.

The basics: cooked rice, egg, fat of some sort.

Heat the fat over medium heat until sizzling, add the egg and scramble lightly. Once the egg just starts to solidify, add the rice. Cook thoroughly until heated through. Season with soy sauce if you'd like. That's it.

Now, of course, this is boring. So to jazz it up, look through your refrigerator and pantry and get creative.

Use different fats. Don't just stick to vegetable oil or butter. Use bacon fat. Or chicken fat. Or tallow. Or fat leftover from cooking this morning's sausage. Animal fats add a load of flavor without the cost of added meat. In fact, if you save the fat from cooking (draining the grease after cooking bacon, sausage or ground beef) or from making stock (just pop the fat cap off the top of cooled stock, scrape off the bit of stock clinging to it and store in the frig for weeks), it is free.

Before you add the egg to the skillet, saute garlic or onions til lightly golden, then add egg.

Use rice leftover from another meal. The older the rice (to an extent, of course) the better it works for frying. I never make rice just to fry it, but I will make extra when I do make rice so I can make fried rice later that week. This is especially good if the rice is cooked in stock (and then, oh my!). We've found that stir fry served over rice cooked in stock doesn't need meat and is very filling.

Add leftover vegetables of any kind-carrots, peas, corn, celery, broccoli, green beans, peppers, radishes. Dice any large pieces. This is a great way to use up random leftovers or bits of vegetables that are getting a little old in the crisper. If you make fried rice frequently, save little bits of vegetables as you cook throughout the week so you can add lots of yummy veggies.

Add leftover bits of meat-pork, beef, chicken, turkey, shrimp. This is a great way to use up little random bits of meat that aren't enough for a meal by themselves. If you are wanting to eat less meat for health or financial reasons, this is a perfect meal. Dice the meat small and you'll get regular bits of meat and good flavor, but what would otherwise be a single serving of meat will turn into 4 servings.

Serve with green onions, especially if you are growing them yourself. You can also use greens from garlic in the garden, garlic or onion scapes or even just the sprouts from onions that start growing in the pantry.

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This Week...Beyond Money 11/24 - 11/30

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* The small containers of greens are doing great! They germinated at a higher rate than I expected. They actually lifted the soil out of the containers! The basil is still a bit sparse, but I have more seeds if I need to plant more. All of the others are wild and have completely filled out the containers so I'll need to thin them out.
* I bought some green onions from the store for $.50/bunch and as I use them I've been putting the white parts in water in a sunny windowsill. They are regrowing nicely. I'll only get a few batches before they get a little wimpy, but still, it's free and saves a buck or so. I keep them in a little jar that I use to water the other containers in that room, leaving just a little bit of water in the bottom for the roots. In this way, it takes me no extra time to rinse and rewater the green onions since I have to water the lettuce anyway.

* I found a pound of beef marked down to $3.25. While not the best price I've ever seen, I've been wanting to make beef stew for a few weeks, and this is a fair price. This bit of meat will stretch into several meals, along with loads of veggies from the frig and pantry (dehydrated).
* My employee discount saves us a fair amount of money on our groceries, if I shop smart. Store brand toilet paper is $1 on sale, or $.90 after my discount compared to the usual price of $1.25 I used to pay at my old grocery store. Milk is the same price after my discount as the regular price elsewhere, but buying it at work saves me gas money. I buy milk, eggs, and any incidentals at work, and once a month take a big trip to a grocery store with lower prices and stock up on the items that aren't as cheap at my job. I get the best of both worlds.
* After Thanksgiving, my mum sent me home with tons of leftovers: ham, turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, brownies, rolls, salad, raw veggies. We left most of the bread we brought with my parents and grandfather. We have been eating on leftovers since then. Turkey fried rice with some of the leftover vegetables. Turkey tacos (with some of the leftover salad and some of the tomatoes I harvested green from the garden that have now ripened). Black-eyed pea soup with the leftover ham and leftover vegetables, in homemade pork stock (so the only cost was a can of black-eyed peas I got at the salvage grocer for $.30). The turkey and rolls made sandwiches for Trucker's lunches.

Food Preservation:
* Put up 3 dehydrators worth of apple slices.
* The water kefir is doing wonderfully. It's reproducing like mad.

* Went to the family Thanksgiving dinner. We were a little late since I had to work, but we got to see everyone.
* My mum gave me the sweetest gift. My grandma died last year. All of the daughters and granddaughters split up some of her jewelry and clothes. I was the last to go through things before they went to the thrift store. In one of the bags, I found her mink-trimmed wool coat. It had a hole in the  back, so no one else had wanted it. Mum had it cut and rehemmed higher, so instead of being ankle length, it comes to mid thigh. It fits me perfectly and is in a style I love (huge buttons!). I've seen photos of her wearing this coat 50 years ago, and she looked so elegant. I'll think of her every time I wear it. It was perfect timing also, because I have been looking for a nice winter coat to wear when we go to the symphony and other nice dates.

* Went for a couple short walks with Trucker.
* Went for a late night 3 mile walk out of the neighborhood into the surrounding country-like areas.

* Went to our favorite thrift store for their monthly half off day. I bought two crocks for fermenting/pickling at...get this...$2 and $1.50. They are a pretty blue that goes well in my kitchen (I try to limit the colors to grey and blue). I also found some pretty cloth napkins for $.15-.20 apiece (marked down 50-75%). I bought 8. Two have a really pretty flower embroidered on them. These are much nicer and cheaper than anything I could find at a dollar store. I also found a pair of boy's winter boots that fit me perfectly. They were in like new condition. Regular price $18, half off, so $9. The most similar pair on their website is going for $69. I needed a new pair for this year and have been shopping casually for a few months.
* When we moved in to this house, a friend gave us some beautiful tall and short drinking glasses. When the first one broke I was frustrated. However, a couple weeks later I found one at a thrift store for $.50. Now, every time I am at a thrift store, I quickly browse the glasses. I've found both tall and short ones, and I never pay more than $.60.
* I used my fuel perks for my grocery store card to fill up my gas tank. I saved $.60/gallon, or $7 to fill up the tank. Not too shabby.
* Used a coupon from the back of grocery receipt to get an oil change and 21 point inspection for $17. Regular price around here is $30.

Waste Reduction:
* More apple core vinegar in the makings.
* Planned to use up all leftovers. No food waste!
* Still composting everything I can. With a streak of warmer weather, the compost is continuing to cook down. Hoping to have another batch ready to dump on the beds in spring.

* I worked a tiny bit of overtime one day. This money will go towards visiting sick family out of town. I want to have enough saved for gas and spending while we go, with only the hotel coming out of the general fund.
* We packed lunches every day, usually bringing leftovers.
* Got info on signing up for my 401k. There's a generous match, so I'm contributing enough to get the full match. Especially since it is pretax, it won't be a huge cut to my paycheck, but will earn a huge return on investment. When there's a dollar for dollar match, your money instantly doubles, so you are shielded from a lot of risk. The market would have to do really, really poorly before you'd lose the money you put in.
* Since I worked on the holiday, the boss gave me a voucher for $7 off my next purchase. I'll combine this with sales and coupons to get a decent amount of free food. :)

* Put several more jars of dehydrated food into the stores.
* Learning seed saving. Have only saved a few types of seeds, but it is definitely a skill I wanted to learn. Next year I'll do more.

* Worked on my book every day during lunch break.

What did you do this week?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner the Frugal Way

With the holiday coming up, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite ways to save on Thanksgiving dinner. It's easy to overspend on the feast, but with a bit of planning, it can be cheaper. Sorry it's a little late, but hopefully you can still use some of the tips.

* Even if you aren't responsible for buying the turkey for the family gathering or if you are a very small family, buying a big turkey may be worthwhile. There is a lot of meat for a good price during the Thanksgiving sales. I always stock up on groceries a week or two before Thanksgiving (staples or sale items that we need) at a store that has a promotion that gives $10 or $20 off of the cost of a turkey if you spend a certain amount. I commonly get 20 lb turkeys for around $7. I toss it into the freezer until February or so when I'm no longer sick of turkey and roast it on a cold day. After we have roast turkey one day and leftovers the next, I package the meat up into chunks or shreds (to use every last bit of the meat)  and freeze in meal-sized portions. I make s big batch of stock from the carcass. We get dozens of meals from that one turkey, making it a fantastic deal, even for a household of two (Here's a post on how I make the most of chicken; use turkey the same way).

* Make your own gravy instead of buying those packets. It's easy and pretty close to free when you use pan drippings, flour and water. If you'd like, you can use stock instead of the water for even more flavor.

* Start saving bread ends or stale bread for stuffing; you can start up to a month before the holiday. Cut into small pieces and allow to thoroughly air dry. As long as it gets really dry (if it's humid, use a dehydrator, then store in air-tight packaging), it won't mold. Make your own stuffing for cost savings, better flavor and fewer questionable ingredients. When bakeries sell bread cubes or crumbs, all they do is save the bread leftover at the end of the day, cube it and dry it in a low oven. Then they bag it up and save it for up to a month or longer before the holiday. It keeps well. Doing it yourself not only saves on the purchase price of the bread cubes, but also reduces your waste since it is the perfect way to use up bread that gets stale before you can use it.

* Make you own pies, even if you have to buy the pie dough. The cost savings of making it yourself versus buying it is phenomenal. At the bakeries I've worked at, pies sell for $12-20, so it is worthwhile.

* Load up on veggie sides. Vegetables are cheap, and if one is going to overindulge, it's better to overindulge on corn, green beans and carrots than turkey and pie.

* As you prep vegetable dishes for main meal, save the peels and trimmings from sweet potatoes, pumpkin rinds, green bean ends and strings, onion skins, carrot peels, celery leaves, garlic skins, winter squash rinds or corn cobs. Put them in a large freezer bag and toss into the freezer. After dinner, package up the turkey carcass in a couple of freezer bags. Later on you can use all this goodness to make a massive batch of turkey stock that will be perfect for warming, healing and practically free winter soups.

* It may be too late for this year, but in future years you can always plan a potluck. My mother's family does this with the host family supplying the turkey and drinks and everyone else bringing sides, desserts and breads. It's not expensive for anyone, and lower income families can bring cheaper dishes. When we were on a very tight budget, I was able to bring bread that I got for free from my jobs. Everyone enjoyed the bread that was fancier than we'd usually had, and no one knew that I hadn't spent a penny. There's always enough leftover for anyone who wants to bring home something to eat later.

* Excess is not necessary. I don't know where "thankful" turned into "stuffed-full". Especially if you're trying to watch your weight/eat healthfully, avoid going to extremes. It's not a failure if you don't have to undo your pants buttons. Plan a nice, special meal with plenty for everyone to eat, but there is no need for everyone to have 4 desserts.

What are your favorite ways to save money on Thanksgiving?

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Monday, November 24, 2014

This Week...Beyond Money 11/17 - 11/23

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* Trucker brought home a 5 gallon bucket of coffee grounds. The snow was completely covering the ground, so I just dumped it over the bed. Not ideal, but I suppose just getting it onto the bed is better than nothing, even if it's not evenly worked in. There's time for that in spring.
* Lots of true leaves on the greens in the salad container. They grow really slow at first, especially since this container is in a North-facing window. Once they get to baby green size, though, I'll be able to snip individual leaves as needed.

* I planted 4 small containers to greens to put in a south-facing window. I didn't get to it as soon as I did last year, but better late than never. I planted one container to Sweet Genovese Basil, another to arugula, another to cress and the last to mustard. By planting a variety of types, I can get an instant salad mix as I harvest the larger leaves individually from all the pots.

* I found a great bargain on bulk sausage. It was on sale for $2.50/1 lb package (Marked down from $4). At this price I would have stocked up on a few pounds. I had coupons for $1/2 packages. I bought 8 packages at $2/lb. This is by far the cheapest I ever find ground meat around here. Usually the best I find is $3. Each pound will be used for making (at least) two different meals, with leftovers for another two meals, so the cost per meal is $.50/person. We will also use tiny bits of leftovers for pizza toppings or to put into omelets where just a little bit adds enough. We made sausage gravy the first night over bacon cheddar scallion scones from Trucker's job (free since they were day old)

Food Preservation:
* Dehydrated 6 dehydrators worth of apples, peel on.

* Trucker found a free concert for us to go to in the next neighborhood over. It was a tribute band to one of my favorite bands (that I will never, ever get to see in person). The band was good, we had a lot of fun, and the drinks cost us $6 total.

* Does admiring the snow from inside sipping hot cocoa count?

* We paid off two of our loans. This frees up $175/month to put towards other debts/savings. We are knocking off a few small loans then putting that money towards other debts to knock them down.We are hoping within a year and a half to be free of all debt except for the mortgage. We pay extra onto the principle of the mortgage every single month.
* Paid extra onto the car loan. It's a very low interest loan, and we are focusing more on paying down other debts, but I wanted to throw a little something extra towards it.
* We have been squirreling away a large portion of Trucker's tip money into savings.
* I used a coupon when buying cat food to buy 5 get 5 free. It's a brand the cat likes and the cost was less for the nicer brand than for store brand. Eventually, I want to get her onto a whole-foods diet, but first need to get us onto a completely whole-foods diet! (Since we are on a limited budget, we are taking baby steps and learning to do things ourselves. This spring we are going to get into meat raising, and at that time, we will start weaning her onto the parts that we don't eat)

Waste Reduction:
* Used the apple cores leftover from dehydrating apples to make another batch of vinegar.

* Trucker brought home some free day-old goods: 2 english muffins, 3 scones, several bagels, and a piece of coffee cake. We slice the bagels to use in place of bread with dinner and the scones and english muffins make a good breakfast. We'll split the coffee cake for dessert one night. Sometimes we give away bagels to family members if we see them.

* Put 8 jars of dehydrated apples into storage.

* I worked on my book a little very day.

* Went for a run on a bitterly cold day. It was 19 degrees. I bundled up and went for a run anyway. I cut it a bit short, but was still proud of myself for doing it.

What did you do this week?

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