Monday, December 31, 2012

Challenge # 5 For The New Year

This will be the last challenge for the upcoming year. This one is more of a personal one than a financial one.

Both Harvey and I would like to get healthier, after all having good health is just plain frugal in the long run.

Every year I say I am going to lose 20 lbs, and end up just maintaining my weight.

This year Harvey wants to lose weight as well so we are going to do this together!

I am thinking portion control and more exercise is the way to go.

Looking forward to a new me come June!!

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Challenge #4 For The New Year

My fourth challenge for the upcoming year is to continue combining trips in order to save gas and cash. My reasoning is this, if I combine my trips together I will spend less time in the stores, thereby saving!

On a forum I belong to we have a No Spend Challenge every month. Now there is always something that needs to be bought, or bills to pay, but by combining trips to the grocery, paying bills on line, and going straight to and from my subbing gigs I have cut down on spending, plus the use of the vehicle and the fuel to run said vehicle!! I chose to do categories for this challenge. I have three I use: Allowable Spend --- that is groceries, bills and things that have to be paid no matter what
No Spend --- these are days when I spend nothing whatsoever
Spend --- these are days when I spend money that I shouldn't have, or that is not budgeted for

This past month I have done very well, even with our trip. I am hopeful that I will make the number of No Spend Days I chose. I am going to try and increase these days each month next year.

Take today for instance. I needed fuel for the next two weeks, and we were at Mass anyway, so I had Harvey drop by the bank to pick up the cash for our household after Mass. From there we went to the grocery store and I picked up what I needed, and then to the gas station for fuel. We then arrived back home and as I put the groceries away, Harvey made us a brunch of bacon and eggs. We were only gone for an hour longer than if we would have come straight home from Mass. We also saved warming the car up again, and a trip back to the bank and the other stops were on the way home as well.

Tomorrow will be spent at home getting a few things accomplished and watching the New Year arrive. It will also be a No Spend Day to finish out the old year.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas at Kurts'

For the first time ever I did not host the family Christmas. Instead we loaded up the car and went to spend the holiday at our oldest son's place. This was the first time that Kris our youngest got to see his brother's house.

We had a wonderful time and once again Christmas was shared by all of us being together.

We were met with a roaring fire in the fireplace. Just perfect to take the chill off. Kurt was kind enough to light the fire every night we were there.

He even went out and bought a tree and decorations which he had set up in the corner of  the man cave.

For someone who did not enjoy reading when he was younger (not like his mom in that respect), he sure changed as he got older. Now I can honestly say he is more like me than he would like to be. Just look at all these books.

Floor to ceiling bookcases surround much of the room. The shelves also contain little trinkets he has picked up on his travels. The bookcases were one of the first things he did in his basement.

Here is a picture of the proud house owner.

Like me he Kurt does not enjoy having his picture taken.

Harvey relaxing after the long 9 hour drive to get to our destination.

This is our youngest son Kris. He always enjoys getting his picture taken and was very happy to be somewhere different.

Notice the phone in his hand. He just needed to check an email he got from work.

The last visitor to Kurt's place was Kris' cat, Ray. After the long trip and hiding behind the tree for a few hours........

he just had to go exploring.

The one thing you might not know about Raymond is that he is an extremely large cat. He weighs in at 26 lbs. None of us can understand this as he really does not eat a great amount. In fact Kurt watched and said he only eats about as much as my cat Shania does. Hmmm, wonder if he is sneaking food at home.

We are home now, things are put away and I have caught up on laundry. I have started a new knitting project (after finishing a couple of projects I had set aside). All is right with the world.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Here we are at Kurt's place enjoying our after dinner rest.

Just a few pictures of our visit.

I am playing with my new tablet, so please forgive any errors I
I can't see

A picture of our oldest son Kurt.

Enjoying the fireplace.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Challenge # 3 for the New Year

My third challenge for the upcoming New Year is to use what we have to the best advantage, to recycle more, and find new and inventive ways of using up what we do have.

In previous posts I have talked about my stash of fabric and yarn. Now I do know that any serious crafter has quite the stash, but I am noticing that some of the items are getting....well a little outdated looking. Here is where my inventiveness will come in to play.

Money was spent on these items and they are NOT going to waste!!!

Now I do know that I am going to want new yarn or fabric, so I am going to haunt the Salvation Army to see if there is anything I can take apart, or rip back and use for crafting. Who knows perhaps I will start refashioning some of my clothing!!

Another part of this challenge is to finish all of those UFP's that are haunting my dreams lately. I have made a pledge to myself that until at least two projects I set aside are done I will not start anything new. Thinking that this will give me incentive to get more done.

Hopefully this will save money and my sanity over the next few months of tightening the budget.

Everybody have a wonderful evening. (Hopefully will have pictures in a few days once we get home of our Christmas here in Drumheller).

God bless.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just In Case

Just in case I can not get on while visiting Kurt, I want to wish you all

May you all have the very best of times with those you hold dear.

God bless.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Year Challenge # 2

I have come to the realization over the past year that I do not use coupons.... Well, I do use them once in a blue moon, but not as often as I could.

I used the excuse that coupons were not as readily available in Canada as they are in other countries and when I did use a coupon it was grudgingly.

This year I am really going to buckle down, search for and use coupons regularly. If I want to get my grocery costs under control this is one way of helping with that. After all I spend time doing surveys, so searching for coupons should not take up much more time.

To start off the New Year I have figured out two ways to help with grocery costs. One is of course using coupons, the other is using our credit card to get money back at the end of the year. I am hoping that by doing this we can have enough cash back to buy Decembers groceries. Cutting a month out of the budget would make a great difference in our bottom line. We also do most of our shopping at our Co-op and because we are members get money back every year on our purchases.

I will let you all know at the end of next year how this went.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Challenges For the New Year #1

It is getting very close to the start of a brand new year with all the joys and challenges it will bring to our lives.

Thought that my next few posts would be about how I am going to meet those challenges head on and still find joy and beauty in the little things.

Harvey starts his pension in January and as I have said it is a good thing that we don't have to live on just that!!! I so wonder how his parents managed and managed well to live on the pittance that the government gives. I have the utmost respect for those that do so now.

We sold our camper this summer and fully intended to buy a new one, however after discussing this both of us decided that perhaps just renting a cabin for a week every summer would be better for our pocketbook. I will miss camping but as long as we manage to get away from the hustle and bustle for awhile each summer I will be content.

My first challenge for the next year will involve getting used to Harvey being home ALL THE TIME. You would think that after the last 8 months this would not be a problem. Not true!!!! I find myself dreaming of time alone, just to do as I want. It seems as if I start something and then have to go and help Harvey with something else. All that I had planned to do goes out the window.....

I also need to retrain Harvey that when he is bored going shopping is not a good alternative. Seems as if this is happening more and more lately. However the last couple of days he has just taken the truck and gone for a drive, and one day he even went out for a walk. Perhaps the retraining will not be as difficult as I think.

I also need to make time for myself and my needs. Be that just sitting curled up in the recliner reading or working on one of the projects I had planned to do or even completing one of the many projects I started and put aside due to something else calling my attention away.

This is the first challenge that I need to work on next year.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Recipe

Tonight for the first time ever I made a Shepherd's Pie for supper. I know, I know, it is probably a staple in most of my readers arsenal of cooking, but I had never made one before. I think it is a keeper.

Another way of using up leftovers and thus getting another meal at very little cost. Got to love almost free meals. This used up leftover roast beef, a half of an onion, leftover gravy, leftover peas and carrots, as well as leftover mashed potatoes. Cleaned out the fridge nicely.

We also have enough leftover for the Leftover Smorg on Friday!!!!

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Trying To Save

Well here it is getting closer and closer to the end of the year and in the Phillips' household we are holding our own.

It has been a hectic 8 months since Harvey retired and our budget is pretty much done for the year. Seems as if even in retirement there are unforseen expenses. Not that we are in trouble or going to be much over our budget but next year is going to see some tweeking of catagories and costs.

That being said, I am very happy that we have been able to cut back on a few items and hopefully we will be able to cut back a bit more in the next year.

Things I am looking at getting some savings on are groceries, clothing, fuel costs, heating costs and of course electrical costs. Harvey wants to get an energy efficient furnace installed and considering our unit right now is more than likely at least 45 years old that is an excellent idea. An energy efficient furnace could save us quite a bit on heating costs over the next winter, well worth the cost of installing it.

With both of us not working (me only working perhaps 5 days a month) fuel for our vehicles should drop a bit as well. I am getting very good at combining trips and hey, on line banking is great for paying bills without even leaving the house. I am beginning to like it....shh, don't let Harvey know.

Harvey laughs at me as I run around the house shutting off the lights in rooms not in use and making sure our electric heat is off as well if no one is using the room. Now if I could just get him to do the same thing.

Grocery wise we are on a use it up to the last little bit road. So far I have had no complaints and the garbage bin is showing that we are throwing less and less out. Our meals are filling and varied and that is what counts in the long run. Costs are rising though and I am beginning to think that going meatless (or eating some type of fish) twice a week instead of just once could be a big money saver in the long run. I have found some coupon sites and have started to use them, now if I could only find some more freebie sites I would be in seventh heaven.

Harvey is finding little no cost jobs to do around the house and I am busily using up my fabric and yarn stash. The men in my life are getting lots of little handmade gifts this year. I have enough to keep me busy for a very long time. If I need anything at all it is more time in a day to get everything I want done or to try anything new.

Life on the prairies continues to be a challenge, especially the winters, but I am sure that meeting each challenge with joy and willingness as well as the help of the Lord we will get along just fine. In fact I am looking forward to it.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Winter's Beauty

This morning, as other mornings so far this winter, I woke up expecting grey skies and cold. Instead I woke up to a showing of God's infinite beauty.

Our neighbors evergreen covered in a garland of silver and white.

Our cherry trees, sparkling like diamonds in the sun.

Everywhere I looked God had painted trees and bushes with a glorious covering of white against the eggshell blue sky. Simply beautiful.

It is for days like today that I just love living here on the prairies.

I also managed to finish making the last of the Christmas gifts.

Here they are, three dishcloths or washcloths for each of our sons.

I used up yarn from my stash, and to make these gifts even less cost, the yarn used was from my stash of leftover yarns from other projects.

Everybody have a wonderful evening. God bless.


Here are my menus for the week (or at least until we leave for our Christmas visit).


Roast Pork, roasted carrots (using the last of them up tonight), and potato patties (using up the leftover mashed potatoes).


Spaghetti and meat sauce. Served of course with garlic bread.


I am pulling out the package of leftover roast beef and making a pot pie. Filling it with potatoes, frozen carrots, peas, and onions.


Baked spaghetti, using the leftovers from Monday (always make too much spaghetti and meat sauce) and the remaining garlic bread will be heated up.


Hot dogs with all the fixings, and the remaining celery cut into sticks with some dip.


Leftover smorg. Everything that I have in the fridge will be cleared out!!!! If I have to boil a couple of eggs that is just fine.

I will be back a bit later with some pictures of our wonderful frosty day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Heart Sore

Today I was going to blog more about how to save money and time around the house, but after hearing the news this morning and for the rest of the day I just do not have the heart to do so.

My heart is breaking for all those parents who lost a beloved child in the tragedy today. I have been through this and know how hard it is.

I do hope that the people of the small (to them, but rather large to me) town rally around those who are grieving and give them the support that they need. Not just for the time being but for a great time to come. While you seem to put on a good face and carry on the pain of losing a little one is always, always with you.

May God watch over those that are suffering today and ever keep them in his loving hands.

God bless.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Slowly But Surely

Slowly but surely I am getting the Christmas gifts finished. This week I am working on mittens for the men in my life.

These mitts were made from leftover bits and bobs from previous afghan projects. I just hate to get rid of those small balls that seem to be left after a project.

I am thinking that the three sets of mitts have just cost me some time and a few cents to make. I have another pair on my needles and I should be finished them by tomorrow. I will be moving on to using up some white cotton that I have left from another project a few years ago.

What will I be working on you ask?

The white cotton will become 4 washcloths. Two for each of our sons. Lovely!!! Once again made for pennies on the dollar.

My Christmas savings are making my frugal soul very happy.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Finally Decorating Outside

We aren't much for decorating outside our home for Christmas, but this year due to Harvey's retirement and lots of spare time on his hands, he decided to do something outside the box.

He spent the last couple of weeks in his basement work room working on this project.  Now all we need is the sleigh filled with gifts sitting in the front yard. However he says that is a project for when we have our first grandchild. How much you want to bet that next Christmas he will be working on that project.

I hope that tomorrow I will have two pairs, perhaps even three pairs of mittens to show all of you. They are flying off my needles, much quicker than any sweater.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekly Menu Plans

It is that time of week again. Here are my menus for the upcoming week.


Roast beef with roasted potatoes and carrots. I hope there is enough drippings to make gravy.


A Hamburger helper type meal. Nice and quick and all in one pot (hopefully).


Salmon patties, the leftover mashed potatoes from Saturday, and corn niblets (think I will mix in some green pepper for colour and texture).


Leftover Hamburger helper meal with baking powder biscuits.


Leftover Ham made into I had hoped Scalloped potatoes and Ham, but I am out of our potatoes so will just warm the slices up and serve with rice, and green beans....Or perhaps stuffed into green peppers and baked with lots of cheese.


Perogies, sour cream.....


Chicken Cordon Bleu, potatoes (I will have gone shopping for produce and dairy at this time), and sliced frozen carrots.

I am trying very hard to keep shopping to a minimum this month and if I do buy, just buy enough to see us through until we come back from Kurt's place. It is also saving us a bit of cash that we can use for the trip.

I fell outside on some ice today when I went for a walk. I am too old to be falling on my tushie and causing myself pain. I guess until the ice and snow leaves the prairies I will be using the treadmill. Darn, I hate walking inside. However better a boring walk than injuring myself and ending up in the hospital or laid up on the couch. I don't think Harvey would do well without me.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Getting Tight

It is getting closer and closer to Christmas. Where does the time go? I should have started preparing weeks before I did.

Today I spent at home baking these lovely Sugar Cookies.

I also finished sewing Harvey's pj bottoms this morning.

They look kind of wild but really aren't. I am sure he will like them as they are a lovely soft knit. The hardest part was guessing the length of the elastic to put through the casing.

Now I am busy knitting mitts. The sweaters will have to wait until lots of other projects are finished. My project board is getting pretty darn full and I need to get a few UFP's out of the way. I just keep finding new projects to add.......

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

An Apology

In trying to get rid of Spam comments this morning, I hit the wrong button and got rid of all my followers lovely comments.

That will teach me to try to do something before I am totally awake in the morning.

I will try to have another post later today.

God Bless.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Frugal Friday

These flowers have been gracing my dining room table for the last week. Harvey won them for me at the company Christmas party. So not only did we get a wonderful free meal and entertainment, but some Christmas decor as well. I am loving my flowers and the extra decorations will be used next year for some other purpose.

Today I had to go grocery shopping and kept the total spent to under $60.00. That is wonderful considering how much grocery prices have risen over the last year. Other than that I had no other spending today.

Watching our money and using up all items is a full time job in this house. Today I pulled out all the chicken and turkey carcasses that I had frozen and made stock.

I got two large pots going on my stove and once the stock was ready boiled it down so it was nice and rich. From the stock I made a large pot of Turkey, Rice, Vegetable Soup and served some of it with crusty home made bread for supper. The rest was put into jars and frozen for more meals later on. I actually have enough for three more suppers and a jar full to give to Kris the next time he comes home for a visit.

I also spent the day when I was not stirring or tasting (you need to taste when you cook, right?) sewing Harvey's pj pants. Almost done, just need to put up the hems and thread the elastic through the waistband.

Next I pulled out balls of yarn left from other knitting projects through the years. I am busy knitting mitts for my fellows.

All in all a very productive, frugal and use it all up day.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Better Late Than Never

I had promised to show what I bought on my shopping trip to Regina over a week ago and never got around to it.

Well here are my goodies.

A friend of mine is expecting another grandchild and I plan on making a baby quilt for a gift. As I didn't have any pinks in my stash, I needed to pick up a couple of pieces of material.

Here they are.

I thought the green plaid with the bit of pink was perfect. The other colours are a light green striped fabric (a bit of white in there), the bright pink, the blue with pink flowers, and the green, white, and brown. They should all go together quite nicely.

Then as I won't get Harvey's sweater made in time for Christmas I picked up this material to make him some pj pants.

The material in behind is quilt batting for a quilt (or two) I plan on making this winter.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Smells of Christmas

Around this house the smells of Christmas are usually of the baking or candy making variety.  I think this is because growing up my Mom spent weeks making all sorts of cookies, breads, and slices. The smells when we would arrive home from school were out of this world. Guess I am trying to recreate that memory.

So I have spent the last few days trying to get caught up in these areas. Even though we are traveling to visit with Kurt for Christmas I still want to bring food with me.

First I made my usual shortbread.

Then I moved on to Peanut Brittle. I made the mistake of leaving it where Harvey could graze on it and I think I will need to make another batch.

I made caramels, and Bavarian Mints. The caramels are the first picture and the Bavarian Mints are the second.

I next made Surprise Brittle, the surprise being that the base is made of soda crackers.

Butter tarts were next on the list.

Then came Truffles, Chocolate Snowballs and After Dinner Mints. For some reason I think I forgot to take a photo of the Chocolate Snowballs.

Here are the Truffles.

And here are the mints.

I am not finished yet. I would still like to make some Sugar Cookies and Swedish Rosettes and a couple of other items that I remember Mom making all the time. Hope to get those done this week and weekend along with Almond Bark.

So now you know what I have been busy trying to do between subbing at school and running to the church for meetings.

Everybody have a wonderful evening.

God bless.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Menus Dec. 2 to Dec. 8

Well everyone here is what we will be eating over the next week. This time I am just going to list the main course. I find my side dishes change according to what I have available in my fridge, pantry and freezer.

Leftover stew and I will make dumplings to go on top.

Leftover pork roast made into a casserole or perhaps a sweet and sour dish.

Chicken Breasts cooked in the slow cooker (got some subbing to do today and I can get Harvey to start this for me or even start it myself).

Smoked sausage (subbing again today so this is very quick and I have a meeting that night).

Leftovers. I am pretty sure there will be lots to clean out of the fridge tonight.

I plan on making soup stock today (cleaning out those carcasses) so some kind of soup and perhaps grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.

Steak baked in mushroom sauce (have a package of steak that has been in the freezer for awhile and need to get it used).

So those are my main dishes for the upcoming week.

Right now I am busy baking and making candy for the Christmas holidays. Hope to post pictures soon of everything I have made.

Everybody have a wonderful day.

God bless.