Home Grown

Sunday's Harvest

Sunday's Harvest

A few years ago I started trying to grow some of my own herbs and veggies. I started with Cilantro, basil, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and Jalepenos. I live in southern California in an area that is very hot in the summer, so my herbs died quicky. The bells and peppers however, did great!  Now I also have fruit trees, along with more tomato plants, bell peppers, blueberries, and strawberries. I absolutely love just being able to walk out and pick fresh lemon or veggies for things as I need them, instead of having to shop for them. Plus I like to share extras I don’t use.  Gardening is frugal and convenient. :)

I know not everyone has room for full grown gardens, but you’d be amazed what you can do in pots, I have several of my plants in pots and they do just great! If you don’t have a green thumb, tomatoes are super easy!   Here’s a picture of what was picked in the yard just the other day…

 

Bread Machine Cinnamon/Dinner rolls

Today I decided to give this recipe I saw on moneysavingmom.com a try. I love my bread machine and am always looking for new recipes to try so this one looked promising. I used the recipe Crystal posted here:

http://moneysavingmom.com/2010/01/bread-machine-cinnamon-roll.html/comment-page-1#comment-300985

Since I normally cook for two people, the recipe would yield way too many cinnamon rolls,  so I decided to divide the finished dough in half, and make half cinnamon rolls, and half dinner rolls. Happily, both turned out delicious!  My cinnamon rolls didn’t look as pretty as hers because my icing didn’t melt well (I skimped on the butter) but they tasted great. The dinner rolls were also excellent with butter.  Since we had plans for the rest of the weekend for dinner, I cooled and then  froze most of the rolls for later use.

I was delighted these turned out so great because to be honest I let the dough rise a little too long in the bread maker. I had company and didn’t take it out for about 20 minutes after the machine beeped, but they still came out great!  Too bad I was so busy scarfing that I forgot to take a picture!

 

2010 goals

Okay so I admit I have been seriously slacking on setting solid long and short term goals for myself. This past year I just sort of kept the goals in mind while trying to save money to achieve them, but since I’m a numbers kind of girl, I’ve decided I need to set real numeric goals for myself.  Here’s a first stab at some goals I’m hoping to accomplish this year:

Long term (one  year goal)

  • Pay off my car. As of this month I still owe just over 14,000.
  • Do not go into any consumer debt (I paid off my cc’s last year and I am determined to only use them when I need to and pay the balance in full each month)
  • Reduce clutter in my home
  • Lose 20 pounds (a year is plenty of time to do this, but I want to do it slow and steady to keep it off!)

Okay that’s it for long term goals so far, it might  not sound like much, but the first one is a whopper! Here are the short term (monthly goals) I am setting to accomplish the year long goals:

  • Reduce grocery bill from 500/month to 400/month
  • Spend less on eating out (limiting myself to 100/month) Sounds like a lot I know, but sadly I’ve been spending more on this.
  • Make homemade items when possible (gifts, cleaners, etc)
  • Walk at least a mile a day
  • reduce my misc. spending. (limiting to 200 a month, I have a home which always seems to need something!)

Well, to other frugals I know I am an amature, these amounts I’ve set would be a piece of cake to many frugals, but for me it’s a second step toward becoming more frugal.  In case you’re wondering, here are some goals I reached last year:

  • Reduced grocery budget from 600 to under 500
  • paid off all credit cards
  • brought lunch at least a day or two a week (I used to eat out for lunch daily)
  • Quit a stressful but high paying job for a lower paying job and made it work financially

Those were small goals I set when I first started my journey, but reaching them has really motivated me and convinced me that I can get out of debt and live more simply to live better!

 

Friends of the Library

libraryFor those that know me, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Friends of the library bookstores.   You just can’t beat buying books for anywhere from 5 cents to 3 bucks. I pick up anything from fiction to cooking for pennies on the dollar. Cooking magazines that are $4 at the checkstand are only .25 or less. The books they sell are either donated books/magazines/movies or old stock the library needs to clear out. All book donations get a first pass from the library to see if it would be better to keep the books for patrons to check out, or go to the friends store.

My local library has an excellent friends store that is open as long as the library is, but most friend’s stores have limited hours. Check your library’s web site or give them a call to see if your library has one of these stores, not only will it save you money, but all profits go to supporting the library as well!

 

Budgeting Goals

Last month I decided to start trying the envelope method of budgeting (it’s as  simple as it sounds, put your budgeted amount of cash in an envelope for a particular category and only spend out of that for the month) and didn’t quite make it work. But I am not giving up, I shall conquer this budget thing once and for all!

My goal is to finally stick to a budget every month so that I can more predictably save money and pay off debt.   Here goes another try for August! :D

 

Home Sweet Home

Today I helped my very oldest friend clean a little in her new home. She has waited so patiently and I am so excited for her and her family to get such a wonderful home that they could afford in a great area! Visiting her and helping just a little bit in their great home adventure reminded me of when I first got my home.   It was a stressful experience, but OH SO wonderful to have a house of my own.  I have been so very happy working on things in our home, making it ours, etc. However, over the last few years we’ve also accumulated too much clutter and our house is in need of a good deep cleaning and decluttering!

Seeing all the potential in my friend’s new home, and knowing the joy it will bring her and her family gave me a little boost, or motivation if you will, to get my own house back in shape. :)

 

Nice Chunk of Change…

Chunk of Change

Chunk of Change

I recently took in my “piggy bank” of change, I had originally planned to wait until it was full, but it was getting heavy already and I’m trying hard to pay down my debt asap, so I took it in to my bank.

Lucky for me my bank has a free coin machine (like coinstar but free for customers) and guess how much I got? A little over $300. The bank teller remarked, “that’s a nice chunk of change!”

Oh yes, it was! It went straight to my credit card too, I’m happy to get it down any little bit so this was awesome. :)

 

CVS Money Making Trip

Yesterday I got the 2 Colgate toothpastes using these coupons: http://www.colgate.com/app/ColgateTotal/US/EN/SpecialOffers.cvsp

So I paid 3.98, got 5.98 ecb’s back.

Then today I went in and grabbed 2 of the Nutrogina Transparent Facial soap for 2.99 each. I used my 5.98 ecb’s from colgate and paid 0 out of pocket and got 10 ecb’s back!  Wooo hoo!

 

Leave expiring coupons for others at the store

share expiring coupons

share expiring coupons

Last weekend I was at my local ralphs (kroger in other areas) and was picking up some kraft mayo. As I looked for the new olive oil type I wanted, I noticed a few scattered (clearly cut from a newspaper) coupons near the jars. The coupon expiration date was that very day, and there were about 4 of them. Some nice person decided to leave them there in case anyone buying mayo that day could use them. What a nice gesture among frugals! I happened to have a coupon myself but it expires in April and I buy a lot of mayo for lunches, so I decided to use the expiring coupon and save my other for later. I will be sure to pass the favor on and leave any near-expiration date coupons I’m not planning on using near the items on future visits. It would make me happy to know someone could use a coupon I’m about to throw away! :D

 

Use the cvs scanner for coupons!

CVS coupon/price scanner

Every time I go to cvs, the first thing I do is scan my cvs card at the scanner for coupons. I have gotten a few really good ones. A few nights ago I got one for $4 off any Futuro (sp?) brace. In the clearance section I spotted some for 3.75, and it just so happens my husband could totally use one, so I snatched it for more than free! I got the brace and something else w/ a coupon, and it took the full $4 off even though the item was only 3.75.

There were also other items in the clearance section, such as aveeno lotion for 2.12, which you can use the $2 printable on, making it 12 cents.

I also got a $1 off any excedrin the other day from the machine which i used on this weeks ecb deal (buy one @ 2.49 get 2.49 ecb’s) so I paid 1.49+ tax and got 2.49 ecb’s.

YAY for the magic cvs coupon machine!