Frugal things

That gorgeous friend up there isn’t necessarily related to my frugal activities lately, but darn isn’t she a beauty!!

So now, let’s see, what frugal things have I been up to lately?

  • Tonight for dinner I made a “chickn” sandwich using odds and ends I had in the fridge/freezer. I find myself often not really interested in eating, which is a bit of a problem. I definitely feel worse if I don’t eat anything. So I pulled out some “chickn” from the freezer and popped it in the oven. Toasted up a frozen hamburger bun (only one left now!) sliced up a fresh pickle and got out the last lil bit of vegan fry sauce. I sliced the “chickn” and put it on the bun with sauce and pickles and LET ME TELL YOU, yum. It was delicious, cheap (I already had the ingredients on hand), and frugal because it managed to save a couple of items that could potentially have gone to waste. win/win/win!
  • I stayed with my parents this weekend. In these Covid times, no one is traveling (at least I certainly am not). Going out of town to see friends isn’t an option. Heck, having dinner with friends isn’t an option. And that has quite frankly been really bumming me out lately. So when it was forecasted to be over 100 degrees all weekend (eww, that is WAY too hot for Oregon) my mom invited the dogs and I to come stay the weekend. Let me tell you, it was fantastic for my mental health. My mom and I made popsicles, ate too much cheese, sat in 3 inches of water in the inflatable pool, read lots, and just generally enjoyed out time together. I adore my mom and we are really close so this pandemic has been particularly stressful for me. I just want to hug her all the time. So we decided me staying the weekend was a safe risk to take for our own sanity. It also gave me some time away from my roommates, and gave them the weekend with the house to themselves. Win/Win!
  • I did not go grocery shopping last week. I did stop into New Seasons on Saturday to pick up some Burrata to go with my mom’s tomatoes but that was it. I ate food I already had in the house and didn’t make any little trips to pick anything up. It was great to skip a week of grocery buying!
  • I am slowly and intentionally trying to stock up on things that are important in my life while not taking up too much space. I am eyeing the sales and shopping accordingly. I just have a feeling that in a month or so, once everyone is “back” to school and fall weather hits that we are in for a walloping flu/covid season. Best start preparing now!
  • In preparation for moving eventually, I went through my books and culled probably 80 books! I filled up grocery bags with them and stuck them in my truck. This weekend I drove around and deposited them in little free libraries all over the city. The books brought me joy at one point but I didn’t need them anymore so I hope they will bring joy to someone else!
  • I shared/swapped food with a friend. I LOVE this part of the pandemic. It has brought out the sharing/trading community and I am here for it. My friend made scones and homemade pudding (drool) and in return I shared potatoes and stock. We both feel it was a winning trade so we are both happy!

What about you? What frugal things have you accomplished lately?

A few more frugal things. Because what else are we doing these days?

Anyone else starting to get quarantine fatigue? Same. I miss my people. I miss grocery shopping. I miss silly things like going for a margarita with friends. That being said, I am completely good with staying home for as long as it takes to keep my loved ones (and all the other idiots out there) safe.

So here are some frugal things I have been up to lately!

  • I’ve been making some slightly unconventional meals in order to use up the food in my fridge. Today for example, I needed to use 3 celery stalks and an avocado. So I whipped up a tuna salad with canned tuna, celery and smashed avocado. Actually this is one of my favorites so it’s really not weird to me!
  • I took Holden to have a couple of lumps checked. This in itself isn’t frugal (it cost close to $400). However, knowing that they are benign instead of cancerous tumors that are growing free reign all over him is really a peace of mind that I am willing to pay for.
  • While at the vet he also got his rabies vaccine required by the county. I did this on time so I will not have to pay any fees!
  • Libraries here in Portland are still closed for the foreseeable future. le sigh. I read A LOT. So this has been a huge bummer. Luckily my mom is also quite the avid reader so I have still managed to maintain a supply of new to me books to read. They might be different than what I would have automatically reached for, but I am really enjoying trying something new!
  • Almost every weekend my parents go to their local farmer’s market and buy a flat of strawberries. I then always end up with a pint or so. I love strawberries, but my tummy doesn’t like me to eat copious amounts of them. So I’ve made quick jam just about every week. It’s just berries, sugar and lemon juice. And we eat it on toast and it’s gone within the week or so. Saves on wasting the fruit and making sure it doesn’t go bad!
The ever elusive Holden. Rarely pictured because a) he rarely sits still b) he doesn’t always photograph well!

Day 9,325 (ok but really it’s week 12 of quarantine)

Does it feel like we’ve been at this forever? or that we have forever left to go? Ya, I’m right there with ya. But realistically, that’s not the case. I have been working from home (and not going to the store, or seeing friends, or hugging LITERALLY ANYONE for 12 weeks). Cabin fever hasn’t really set in, but I definitely miss my people. I miss Wayne, I miss going for drinks with friends, popping into my mom’s office at lunch time. But here we all are, and here we shall remain for some time longer!

So, what frugal things have I been up to lately? Funny you should ask!

  • I have not gone to the grocery store in a LONG time. And as someone who loves grocery shopping, this is admittedly pretty difficult for me. But my brother and my parents deliver care packages on occasion, and I food swap with friends/neighbors from a safe distance. So I haven’t set foot in a proper market in over a month. I have instead, been using what I have in my freezer, getting delivered in my weekly CSA (yay fresh produce!) and getting creative. And double plus bonus, it’s going just fine. I definitely end up with repeat meals (hello gnocchi or garlic bread pizza) but I am not complaining. I only freeze and make food that I know I know i’m going to enjoy and I’ve always been one to eat repeat meals day after day.
  • I have spent exactly $0 on gas this month. I think since the beginning of the pandemic (so say March 1 here in Portland) I have put maybe $30 of gas into my vehicle? Other than occasionally going to look at houses, because house hunting right now is a great idea, I’m not driving to work. I’m not driving on fun adventures. I’m really not driving much at all. So that is definitely saving $$$
  • Because I am working from home as opposed to being in the office at all, I am not paying for parking or snacks while at work. Because no matter how diligently I pack my lunch every day, I always end up “needing” a coffee or a bagel.
  • I have not cut my hair or had my brows waxed in MONTHS. And though I don’t get my hair cut that often, I easily spent $25 a month on my brows. So it never seems like a lot in the moment, but I’m realizing how it definitely all adds up!

The above (socially distanced photograph) was taken on Mother’s Day last weekend. My brothers planted tomatoes and lemon cucumbers for my mom per tradition, and we ate an early dinner of her favorite pizza on the porch. It was toasty warm (almost 90 degrees) and it was lovely. I couldn’t hug my mom but we were able to be together while still being safe. It was days like that that I am reminded of how good I really have it. I have such an incredible support system, a family that would move heaven and earth for me, wonderful friends, a safe roof over my head. I am really one lucky gal. And let’s try to remember that during these difficult times, we do have a lot to be thankful for.

How the corona virus is affecting my finances

mmmm…….bread

Like basically everyone on the internet, I decided to learn to make bread this weekend. A coworker offered to teach me over video chat, and it was such a cool experience!

I have literally never made bread before. And not that I need to be buying fresh bread every week, I LOVE bread. So I thought having this skill in my arsenal wouldn’t be a bad thing. We spent the better part of the day (6 hours) prepping, resting, rolling, folding, and finally baking the bread. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. Was it delicious? Oh you bet your butt.

Let’s see, what else? I have been in a grocery store twice in the past 8 weeks, and this has definitely lowered my grocery bill. I am working my way through everything on hand and finding new things to use up daily. I am not going for coffee or drinks with friends, but once a week I am ordering take out from a favorite local spot. So this line item of my budget is also considerably lower. I do get an Imperfect Foods box weekly (mostly produce) so this allows me to have fresh fruits and veggies, and requires that I actually plan accordingly to eat it all.

I will admit, that the first few weeks of home quarantine I definitely spent way more money than I needed to. I was worried about all my favorite local businesses, and my favorite animal rescues, and basically threw money at them all. I don’t regret it. I feel like I’ve contributed, and I ended up with some really cool swag. (I have enough sweatshirts for all of eternity, please don’t let me buy anymore. ever.) I bought a few gifts and pre-paid for a haircut with my friend. She needs the money now and will happily cut my hair when it’s safe to do so again.

On top of that, I’m not driving regularly, and not parking downtown. This is saving me heaps of money as it costs $18 a day downtown, and I typically put gas in my car about every 10 days. Now it’s more like every 40 days. And since I am working from home I don’t need to pay for any transportation or parking costs.

All in all, I think I am probably coming in about even, maybe saving a little money. I think the longer this continues, the more I will save, balancing out the money I spent initially. How about you? How are you handling your finances through this?

More frugal things (because it has just been that kind of week)

  • Back in January I bought tickets to a concert for my closest friend and I for her birthday. It was scheduled for June 24th and I was crossing my fingers that by some miracle we would be able to attend. Of course, the show has been cancelled. While I am super bummed, there will always be another show. And this morning I saw that the cost of ticket was refunded to my account. So that money went straight into savings.
  • While I was online looking at my bank statement I noticed two charges of $70 from Instacart (the grocery delivery app). Yesterday I ordered groceries for delivery and they put a hold on your card of a certain dollar amount, and then refund you the difference based on what you actually spend. But twice? That didn’t make sense. So I reached out to customer service, and if it doesn’t disappear in 10 days I will contact them again for a refund. It always pays to check your statements people!
  • I have been eating a lot of snacky bits instead of full meals these days, and that works just fine for me. Half a bowl of steamed rice? Snack. Leftover broccoli? Snack. Strange, but it’ll do and it will prevent food waste!
  • I sent referral codes for Imperfect Produce boxes to three friends and they all signed up! I should have $30 credit for this so that’s very exciting!
  • Not exactly frugal, but I have been sending at least one card a day to a friend or loved one. I think it is so important to stay connected now more so than ever. And everyone loves getting mail that isn’t a bill. So I am happy to send random cards to the people I care about to brighten their day.
Wayne and I on Earth Day two years ago. He kept saying “Momo hair” as the wind blew my hair in my face. He would very carefully pull the hair aside, only for the wind to do it again. Sigh, hair Momo. One of my very favorite memories with him.

Covid 19 Frugal Five

1) I’ve been eating meals on repeat so as to not waste anything. I don’t mind eating the same meal day after day. It’s actually nice not having to think about it.

2) I’ve been using up what I have, since going to the store isn’t an option. Today for lunch I had purple potatoes, broccoli and egg. Random, but it worked! And I didn’t waste those random bits of food.

3) Because I am driving so infrequently, I filled up my tank of gas this week for the first time in 5 weeks. While I typically don’t drive a ton, rarely does a tank last a month.

4) I baked blueberry muffins. My mom’s muffin recipe is amazeballs. And buying a dozen muffins anywhere would certainly cost more than the ingredients I used to make them (including frozen berries I picked last summer)

5) I traded with a friend. I offered up two quarts of chicken stock, plus a quart of chicken soup and half a dozen carrot cake cupcakes. She shared home made gnocchi and scones. It was such a lovely way to show that we care for one another, while still remaining apart. And let me tell you, that human knows what they are doing in the kitchen and I will now need to learn to make gnocchi.

What about you? What have you been up to lately?

The big elephant

Let’s just talk about what’s on all of our minds: the coronavirus which is currently taking over the world. How do we react? How are you handling it?

I’m sure you are following the news like the rest of us. Being bombarded by the media at every moment of the day. And I don’t want to add to your concern, your stress.

So I just want to say to you, we will be ok. We need to be careful, look after the ones we love. Be responsible. Look after your friends and neighbors. Make good decisions. (You probably don’t need 6 cases of toilet paper, but I’m not judging you.)

I know everyone is in a state of mild panic. Schools are closed. Businesses are closed. But there are ways to stay connected and help out our communities without causing more concern. Drop off food to a neighbor who may be in need. Take surplus food to your local food bank. Wash your hands. Stay home if you aren’t feeling well. Buy a gift card to your favorite restaurant or boutique so that they could have the funds now, while you could stay away for the time being. We are in this together.

What concerns are on your radar? What are you thinking about this weekend?

Five Frugal Things

  1. Today I took my sweet pup to his follow up oncologist appointment. Though this may not seem frugal in and of itself, but by keeping up on his medication and his blood work I can plan for his medication without any unpleasant surprises. He gets his blood count checked regularly to be sure we are giving him the proper dosage of his medication, ultimately keeping our costs lower.
  2. Yesterday I bought a $5 rotisserie chicken from Costco. First I stripped all the meet off the bones, then I put the bones into the crock pot with some veggies I had hanging around in the freezer. (I keep a bag for any odds and ends like tops of carrots bits of celery and onion, etc.) The stock went into a huge pot and I made chicken soup with the meat. I added some potatoes I already had on hand, as well as some extra veggies. The whole thing cost only the cost of the chicken and made probably 10 to 12 servings of soup. I will freeze most of it for evenings when I’m not feeling like cooking or am under the weather (because no one wants to cook when they’re sick!)
  3. I borrowed a Harry Potter book from a friend/neighbor. I have been re-reading the books and loving every minute of it. My mom has the whole set, so I just swing by every weekend to grab the next one. This week however I was too quick and found myself finished with book 3 (Prisoner of Azkaban) without a copy of book 4 (Goblet of Fire). Desperate, I thought of all the possible ways I could get my hand on the book in the next 12 hours. Then I realized that a friend who lives less than a hundred yards away ALSO has all the books. A quick text and he said of course I could borrow his copy. No money spent, and got to have a quick visit with a friend. Win Win!
  4. Speaking of Costco, I bought only exactly what I needed yesterday while I was there: one rotisserie chicken and one 40 pound bag of dog food (this will last my two dogs about a month). Costco has really reasonably priced dog food and it’s gentle on my boys’ sensitive stomachs.
  5. Tomorrow will be my first day in the office in a week (bonus points: working from home means no temptation to eat out or grab coffee because I’m bored) and I have my lunch/snacks packed, iced coffee ready to go in the thermos tomorrow morning. I will be at work from 12-8pm so I have enough food to cover two meals and a few snacks in between. I will have no reason to purchase any food or drinks.

Frugality isn’t necessarily huge things. It’s little things, day after day, that help us achieve other goals in life. What frugal things have you been up to lately?

Charleston, completely unrelated, but ridiculously adorable

How I am choosing to spend Cyber Monday

How was your Thanksgiving everyone? Mine was lovely: quiet, with family, chill. I didn’t have to travel out of town, I didn’t have to cook a whole big meal, so I would say it was a huge success. My mom did cook most of the meal, and I was responsible for the mashed potatoes (that I think I can handle.) It was tasty and fun and nothing major happened. Just the way I like it.

please enjoy this picture of the adorable Charleston, which has absolutely nothing to do with frugality

Skip ahead to black Friday and SHOCKER, I stayed in and addressed holiday cards. I am sure there were deals in abundance out in the world, but I chose to stay in. Even if something is 60% off, that’s still money I don’t need to be spending right now. Just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

I, like many people, am working on paying off some pretty hefty bills at the moment (I was in a car accident recently, and my dog had major surgery) so I have lots of bills and not exactly a lot of additional money coming in. So while it would be easy to spend money on things that I don’t need just because they are on sale, I decided to stay home. And the same goes for today, Cyber Monday. I opted to simply go to work. I took the train. I picked up books at the library. I drank the coffee provided at work. I packed my lunch. Nothing terribly exciting. And yet, all things getting me ever so slightly closer to my goal.

I will admit that I spent a decent chunk of change this weekend on a 70th birthday gift for my mother, but it was purely coincidence that it happened the weekend after Thanksgiving. I had been searching for MONTHS for the perfect gift, and it impossible to find the right thing. My brothers and I decided to go in on the gift together, so that we could get her something nicer, that she would really appreciate and wear on a regular basis. So after visiting basically every local jewelry shop in Portland (support small businesses people!) I finally found the right necklace. It suits her personality, her style, and it’s timeless. I think she will love it. And because we split the cost three ways, none of us were really hurting with this purchase.

What about you? Are you going to shop today or stay home?

a follow up

Recently I wrote about how being chronically ill adds a line to my budget and creates cost where there otherwise wouldn’t be. I think I am going to try to view this in another light.

This morning I drove to work. This means tonight I will have to pay $18 to have parked for the day. I do not love this expense, but I am choosing to see it as unavoidable. I don’t park downtown everyday as that would definitely blow my budget. But I am going to make an allowance for an average of a day a week.

Here’s the thing, Crohn’s really doesn’t care if I need to be at work at a given time. I am going to feel crummy/get an upset tummy whenever it damn well decides to. So being able to drive and park myself is a comfort that I need to account for. Not always, but some days it’s just necessary.

Today was one of those days. I had drive the past two days to work because of doctor’s appointments and not feeling well due to a delayed reaction to my iron infusion. So I bit the bullet and just drove to work. Could I have survived the train ride? Probably. But did I want to risk an incident on public transportation when I really wasn’t feeling well? Definitely not. So I drove. And I paid to park. And I’ll do it again tonight.

It’s annoying but necessary. It is definitely NOT frugal. However, as someone with a chronic illness, there is really no way around it. I will continue to do my best and take the train to work as many days as possible. Some weeks I manage to take it every single day. Some weeks it’s just not going to happen, and this was one of those weeks.

So instead of beating myself up over it, I decided to account for it in my budget. That way, I know it’s coming, and I know I will have the money for it.

These little changes can go a long way towards a budget and goals. If I take into account that I may need to spend $18 a week or so on parking, I will be mindful of that extra spending and account for it elsewhere. It’s not perfect, but it’s what will work for me. Living with this illness is a constant struggle and learning curve. I am working on figuring out what is best for me, and this is just another piece of the puzzle.

These flowers have nothing to do with this post, but we could all use more flowers.