Thursday, October 1, 2020

Thrifty Thursday-Not Afraid of Saving

     Well September sure was a speedy month! I feel like with labor day being so late, it was only a three week month. October brings us many chances to both spend and save-it's scary how much money can leek that we aren't even aware of. I'm on the hunt for  sale prices on Halloween Candy. If there is not traditional Trick or Treating, perhaps a few neighbors might want to gather outside and have grab bags for the kiddies. I've got time to think on that. 

    Speaking of scary, extra expenses last month was a $300  service call for the furnace/air unit. While the cleaning and  health check were free, we had issues last year with the furnace not starting on it's own when the house temp dropped. Well, it would have been over a $600 expense, but the actual part that needed replacing was under warranty. Free cleaning, but $300 labor, and a new part that should hold us a while. See what I mean about leaking? Since July, we have bought a new water heater, had a damaged pipe, and now a furnace repair, to the tune of over $3,300. DH also suspects his first paycheck in October will be a small one. Property taxes are paid this month, but we  created our own account once the hosue was paid for and we no longer had an escrow, so that's a known and planned expense. 

     Knowing at any time other contributions to the household money pit can occur, it makes sense for me to keep looking for ways to be thrifty with  how I spend my time, resources, and money, maintaining control even when other thing may be out of my control. I can't know when the unexpected will occur, but I know enough to know something will come up. I don't want to live in fear.

      Time 

  • It was nice to see our friends with the make shift gathering in their garage with the doors open, socially distanced and sitting on our own chairs. Stopping by and seeing my sisters for an hour afterwards, also outside, was nice as well. I had a good talk earlier in the day with one sister about my anxiety and stress about being in social circles inside. she completely understood and was supportive. 
  • Another horrible Vikings game, but the cool weather was perfect for a bike ride. I even biked to the store for bakery buns for the leftover pulled pork, and found two cans of pumpkin, apparently the latest item to be difficult to find. This will get me four batches of pumpkin bread-some for this weekend to bring to DD2, I'll freeze 1/2 the can for later in the month, and I'll save the other can for November. I'll pick up more if I see it in the tore this month as well. 

Resources
  • No more to be said about the spaghetti, but we had no waste!
  • We used up the pork loin from last week, and I found two other bottles with a few tablespoons of BBQ sauce, enough to really flavor the pork for sandwiches. I imagine these might have been a bit old, but so full of vinegar, they were just fine. 
  • I found enough  eight ounce jars, plus a four ounce jar and finally made the  jalapeno pepper jelly. I'm not completely happy with how it turned out-the pepper bits floated to the tops, but I gave a good shake before setting, to distribute more. I had a bunch left in the pot after filling the six jars, but mostly without peppers, but it actually filled one 16 ounce jar. I only tasted the jelly by licking the spoon, and even if it doesn't look the best, the taste is good. I'll use the jar without much peppers for things like spicy meatballs or a glaze. I have four more of the 16 ounce jars for fruit jam, pus I can empty a 4 ouncer in my fridge holding my sister-on-laws jelly into another container, which would give me five jars for the five lids I saved, enough for one batch of assorted fruit jam-all the bits in my freezer. 
  • Our friends gifted us a jar of crab apple and a jar of  peach/blueberry jelly so we will be set for fall and winter. I brought her wine. Fair trade.

    Money

    • I earned another $5.00 Target card through the Microsoft rewards. 
    • I had planned to contribute $30 towards our software developers parting gift-the man is a rock star, but his contract is up and he also has been trying to retire-at 55! Another  colleague wanted to chip in on the gift, so I only spent $25.
    • I reigned in spending on fall d├ęcor items, stopping at just five, when I really saw another five items I wanted! I might cut some leaves and pumpkins, old school, from construction paper I have already and do some more for my dining room doors. With it getting dark earlier and earlier, embracing fall with some color will help my mood. 
    • I saved money by baking a pan of cookie brownie bars from a mix I've had all summer instead of stopping for  snacks for my sisters.
         I'm excited to say I ended September spending $397 for all household, health and beauty, groceries, of food, and take out for the month, $3 below my target. Not included is DH's lunch out with a friend, drinks out twice with my daughter on our walks, and the wine, soda, and hard lemonades we picked up for meeting up with friends. All those entertainment items were under $90. Our apple orchard outing and farmers market spend were in the grocery budget. I have no challenge for October, other than to not shop stupid. We actually are solidly pantry stocked and have  quite a bit in the freezer still. So how about you? Any big wins? Did anyone else buy a few new fall items for their home? Are you worried about having a scary month?

    Wednesday, September 30, 2020

    My Wednesday Pantry-When Your Husband Cooks Two Pounds of Spaghetti Edition

     


         Guess what I hunted for since last Thursday? If you guess recipes that use cooked spaghetti, you are winner. If you did not previously read my Fridays post in which I shared that DH cooked a two pound box of spaghetti for the two of us, I'll fill you in that I had to large, each holding slightly more than cups of pasta, containers leftover. Now I like pasta as much, maybe even more, than the next  Giada, but I didn't want to eat it daily for a week. Belinda at Frugal Workshop mentioned in a comment that it could be frozen so, I decided I would make two meals, one to freeze for later, and one we would eat on the weekend. Well, there was even more than that so it actually became three, plus DH ate leftovers on Saturday.

         The first is just my Tuna Hotdsh, of which I've made and shared the recipe for countless times, but I had two cooked chicken tenderloins that needed to be eaten so I used chicken instead of tuna and cream of chicken instead of  mushroom. I just used spaghetti noodles and called it Tetrazzini. I pepped it up with a bit more mayo and milk, much more onion, and some olives. Sauce is just 1 can cream of something soup, 2/3 can of milk, lots of pepper and garlic powder, 1/2 Cup mayonnaise, and 1 cup cheddar cheese. Mix with 8-10 ounces cooked pasta and 1-2 cans tuna (or equivalent chicken like I did this time) depending on your preference. Add a vegetable if you want-sometimes we include peas or mixed vegetables, like the remaining bits I had for this  tetrazzini. Top with bread crumbs and bake for 35-45 minutes at 350. Another twist this time, was I put it in the crock pot on warm before I went to the office Monday, then on high for an hour when I got home. I also skipped bread crumbs. Well, I guess this was a whole different recipe with all the changes, but essentially the same pattern of pasta, protein, cheese, veg, sauce...

    It was a nice hearty plate of pasta hotdish.

         Jen G commented that baked spaghetti would  take care of the leftovers, and I agreed, but wanted a twist.   The one for the freezer was found on the trusty Betty Crocker site. Here's the link to Pizza Baked Spaghetti. I was disappointed that I didn't have as much mozzarella as I would have liked, but I added a bit of cheddar and colby and didn't put any cheese on the top for the freezer. I figured we won't eat until next month and I'll buy more mozzarella cheese by the time we bake it. I think this is going to come with us next week to the lake for an easy throw in the oven meal. I'll give you the verdict once it's devoured. 

    I forgot to take a picture before I wrapped and froze,
     but here is the BC Spaghetti Pizza Hotdish.


         On Sunday, I had planned on making brunch, but then DH was hungry for cinnamon rolls right away before church. I knew  even with the  dish in the freezer, and the plans for the tetrazzini, I still had more noodles to use. Lunch then was the odd bits from the fridge stirred together and baked including the last chunk of a zucchini, the remainder of a can of tomatoes, 1/2 and onion, the dozen or so pepperoni slices, three small chunks of assorted cheeses, and topped with a few slices of colby cheese. 

         If you are ever in a position of having too much pasta, I guess there should never be fear. Spread out over a few recipes and freezing portions for later, or even the whole dish for later, will help the boredom factor. It felt good not to waste, but it will be a while before I cook any more spaghetti noodles! 

    Tuesday, September 29, 2020

    Positively Tuesday-Workplace Safe

          


         First, thanks for all the kind words yesterday. I've had to learn, still am learning, to be outgoing and try not to be self defacing with any compliment or nicety. It helps a girls soul to know that vulnerable parts of us can be accepted and we can be lifted up in friendship. I'll try to do more so and will take the camera angle recommendations to heart. I honestly thought you took pictures form higher to make them look better. I hear my SIL chirp in every group photo to whoever is taking the picture, "Go high." as she said it shows our better angles. Now I know better. 

         My trip to the office was quite uneventful. I  filled out the paperwork quickly for my flu shot, and within five minutes, was leaving one door of the building to go through the  mail rom where the official health checks need to be captured. I was good since I had that at the flu shot station, purple wrist band to prove it. It was nice sharing a few words with one of our HR staff. He's a teddy bear of a man, so helpful and nice to everyone'd him sharing with the nurse doing the check-ins that he loved his job so much because he was probably the only one that got to know everyone in the  agency. As someone though that uses a shortened version of their name, he always calls me by my full name, and. I'm just used to it now from hm. 

         Our building is a very long building with two sections of main floor, merged together through a breezeway, and the East side of the building has a basement floor that tapers to ground level in the back of the building. The mail room entrance is on the west side, southern entrance, and the breezeway is  more middle. I had to walk through a pretty much dark building to almost the farthest corner of the East side to where my office was. The lights were on in part on that side, but I did see Rosa, who had gotten her shot right before me, one of the cleaning staff, so perhaps she was starting her afternoon rounds. One other colleague stopped by, using the tie for both a computer  diagnosis and flu shot. We visited for a bit, she standing outside my office and both of us with masks. I had shut my door and worked mask free since we are allowed to do that in our own space. 

         Other mitigations are one way directional tape in the hallways, done  by hand so the lines weren't quite straight. What a back breaking task that must have been in this huge building. Paper cups were taped over all drinking fountains, and near every shared piece of equipment, printers, microwaves, etc. were bottles of hand sanitizers. Bathroom doors were propped open, with touchless paper towel dispensers.. And of course, signs were everywhere to remind folks to mask up. If we start going back at 1/3 to 1/2 capacity, I feel pretty good about the safety measures. 

         It was a bit sad though. I was going to post a picture of the empty atrium but since it's my work place, I thought I better not. Usually a bustling place for causal small meetings, coffee and meal chats and staff activities, now chairs are gone around the tables, and the black couches and chairs usually grouped into a little pod area, surrounding a table are now. spread the six feet apart. The table chairs might have been stacked as the carpets were shampooed and perhaps they will be replaced. 

         I had left on  Friday, March 20, and we were just starting to have fewer people in the office and was expecting to be back in the following Tuesday-Wednesday. My desk was a mess with papers, and post it note reminders. I tidied that up before I left yesterday, but I needed to vacate the  buildig before 5:00 so I didn't have time to do a better job. I did learn that we are going to need cameras for our  monitors or be stuck using our lap tops, even in the office, for virtual meetings, or at least I'm going to need to figure out a better way to use my big screen and the laptop camera at the same time. The commute how was incredibly calm, taking only 45 minutes from office to driveway during the height of rush hour, a 10-15 minute time savings. I doubt that will always be the case as more people return to the office. 

         That's my report of my trial afternoon back in the office. If people keep themselves home when sick or symptomatic, follow the  safety protocols, and we stagger in office work days, I think my office will be a safe place for work. 

    Monday, September 28, 2020

    Monday Spruce Up-Trial Run for Getting Back to a New Office Environment

          This is a brave post for me-actual pictures of me included. I'm not the most fashionable of sorts, and I'm sure my face could radiate beauty if I  followed a regiment for skin care and make up that takes a good portion of an hour to perform. But hey, what folks see is what they get. I like to be moderately put together though at work and when I go out of the house. Let me tell you though my standards which were not that high to begin with have really fallen in this work from home-stay at home as much as possible- world I am living in. Since I actually will be in the office, the first time in six months, I'm a little anxious. People will see my hair, my clothes, my eyes and when I do a  meeting in my office when others are remote, my whole face. Outside of my office, though I'll have the mask on, so do not want to leave a residue of make up behind. Today's going to be my trial run for when office life resumes sometime after the first of the year partially, but with masks a required wardrobe staple. I'll bring two back-up masks today.

         I have a little bit of summer color, so I don't really need make up to give me a glow, but I could use some evening out of my skin tone. Other than that, I'm wearing a little eye make-up, just to help my eyes "smile", and just a bit of blush. What's the sense of putting a huge face on to just have to scrub the heck out of the masks later? 

         Wardrobe wise, I'd love to dress up in a suit meeting way just to feel a little work normal, but that would be silly. The timing of this trip is so I can get my flue shot in the open clinic on site, so need my arm accessible. I also am not sure what the office temps will be, and I tend to get warm. I think I will wear one of the new sleeveless blouses with a cardigan since it's quite cool today. 

         And there I am, the finished package. If you don't look too close, you might not see the roots that definitely have gone gray since I've waited too long to color. The length of my hair is getting a bit  ridiculous for me as well, but between last week when I decided to schedule time in the office and now, I didn't have time or inclination to take care of either. I'll have an easy drive in the office, since it will be midday, but the end of the day will be rush hour. It has been some time since I've tackled  the traffic, so I'm both nervous and exhilarated. 

    My readers know camera work is not my best blog element, and trying to take photos of myself, even worse. Here's an attempt. Pup wanted to be in the picture too. Ignore my awkward pose. There you have it, my Monday spruce up, ready for the office. 

    Obviously no anti-glare frames.

    I don't know why my legs look so short.