Monday, October 26, 2009

Cooking From the Pantry

  • She is like the merchant's ships, she bringeth her food from afar
  • She rises while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

Last week I posted a recipe and linked to the Pantry Party at The Thrifty Countrywoman. This week she has a really good post about her challenge to herself to feed herself and her husband using the budget they had when they first married--$17.50 a week!

Now I didn't do anything nearly that dramatic, but as I already mentioned, we are working on tightening our budget and really holding ourselves accountable to stick to it, which I thought I was already doing, but discovered that I'd been nickel and diming (or more realistically, $5 & $10) myself right outside the boundaries I set each week. Last payday we made a concerted effort to set an amount and stick to it--we drew out what we wanted to spend for the next two weeks and put it in envelopes, which we labeled--gas, groceries, etc. As we spent, we put the receipts inside the envelope and kept a decreasing running total on the outside of how much we had left to spend.

Let me tell you, knowing that you have only $xx.xx amount left to spend on groceries will stop you in your tracks when you start cooking and decide you need to run to the store for "just one or two more items". As a result, I've been creative and much more serious about using what I have on hand in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. And to make it even more challenging, we've only been back in Georgia about three weeks, so my stockpile is not what it usually is.

And yet....we ate quite well, with just a little forethought and planning.

Day 1, I baked some chicken--boneless skinless thighs with a little lemon-pepper seasoning. We had this with some oven roasted asparagus, peas from my parents garden this summer (via the freezer) some leftover mashed potatoes that I had in the fridge.

Day 2, Tacos--1 lb of hamburger meat, seasoned with a packet of taco seasoning, taco shells, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers. I forgot to buy grated cheese last week, so we used sliced American cheese that I had on hand.

Day 3, Baked chicken again, along with the leftover asparagus and peas, and some au gratin potatoes (nothing exciting, I admit it, these were from a box that I got on sale for about $.40 (with a coupon, of course!)

Day 4, I cooked a package of pinto beans, adding the leftover taco meat. Because I'm from Louisiana and we eat everything over rice, I made some rice and a pan of cornbread.

Day 5, Leftover beans and rice and cornbread

Day 6, I made chili with 1 lb of hamburger, 3 small cans of tomato sauce, chili seasoning, and the rest of the pinto beans. We ate this also over rice, and the last of the cornbread.

Day 7, We had chili dogs, using the leftover chili from the day before

And for a treat this past week, I made the Crumb Cake recipe that I got from the pantry party last week! It was delicious, and from basic ingredients, so I can make it again anytime I need a little lagniappe to round out my menu.

This week's menu holds smothered round steak, baked chicken, and stove-top barbecue, breakfast for dinner and probably hot dogs again for the weekend--and I'm looking forward to seeing what I can come up for that little something extra!

This post is linked to:

Meal Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie

Penny Pinching Party at The Thrifty Home

Frugal Friday at Life as Mom

Until next time...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vintage Thingie Thursday--Sewing Machine Table

Twelve years ago when we bought the house my grandparents had lived in, we "inherited" several pieces of furniture that no one in the family needed or had room for, one of which is this vintage sewing machine table. I'm not sure how old it is, but they had a house fire in the late 1950's and this piece survived that.

As you can see, it suffered quite a bit of damage--the varnish and veneer are badly blistered on the top.

The inside, while still damaged, gives a hint of how smooth and shiny it once was.

If you click on this picture and enlarge it, you can clearly see the water stains in the soot. (All underneath a thick coating of dust--I should have least tried to clean it up a little before I took this picture!)

At one time you could still lift the sewing machine up and lock it into place. The metal parts are all still there, but the rubber and electrical components are melted. We took it loose from the fasteners once, trying to see if my hand-me-down sewing machine, circa 1960's, could be put in it's place, but the hardware didn't match up. I hope to correct that--someday!

One thing that I thought was unique about this particular machine set-up, is that it doesn't have a foot pedal--there's a metal thingie underneath it that you fold down, and you pressed it with your knee or thigh to make the sewing machine go. (It's underneath the machine, and without it being fastened I just couldn't figure how to lift it up and hold it and take a picture of that part by myself!)

These drawers (sorry too full of junk to photograph opened) are completely unscathed inside--one of them has little pegs built in along one side to organize thread.

In my grandmother's day, she used this as a sort of end table next to her favorite chair, and the drawers held whatever quilt pieces she was currently working on, along with her crossword and word search puzzle books. The top was usually covered by a pretty towel, which always had needles stuck in the end that hung over beside her, and a table lamp that she used when she was "piecing scraps" or reading her Bible or doing her puzzle books.

It's currently in my kitchen at home, decorated and used during the holidays as the "goodie" table; the rest of year as a "landing pad" to drop mail and whatever other odds and ends we bring into the house. The drawers hold everything from old buttons to an extra pair of scissors to miscellaneous office supplies (at one time I used it as my bill-paying station).

As I mentioned earlier, this is one of my "someday" projects--I have a feeling it could get quite complicated with the blistered veneer on top, and the hardware to change out, but it's a solid piece and heavy as a rock, and I'm hopeful that one of these days I'll be able to open it up and use it as a sewing table again.

When I can get new batteries for my camera, I'll share pictures of my sewing machine--circa 1960's and still working, it belonged to my mother-in-law, who passed it on to me when she got a fancy new machine back in the 80's.

Meanwhile, I'm linking this post to:

Vintage Thingie Thursday
at Coloradolady

Until next time...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Walgreens $5 Challenge

  • She is like merchant's ships, she bringeth her food (and other things!) from afar
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household
$6.44 OOP
Not much shopping for me this week. We're working on a new-and-improved budget at my house, and it's tight, I tell you. t.i.g.h.t. So I'm trying to be especially diligent about not wasting resources (money, coupons, Register Rewards, etc) on things that we don't need or can't use. It has to be high on my list of priorities before I'll pry my goodies out of my hot little hand and trade them for actual goods. However, realization that we were on our last roll of toilet paper pushed that little item right to the top of the heap. The Northern 12 pack Double Rolls are on sale this week for $6.99. I had a bit of a plan that went slightly awry, but it all works out in the end. This is what I got at Walgreens this week:

Transaction 1:
1 Vaseline Sheer Infusion lotion, $6.99, less $1.50 MQ(manufacturer's coupon), or $5.49; this generates a RR (Register Reward) of $7, making this a small money-maker
1 bag sugar free Halls Refresh, $1, this generates a $1 RR, making this free-after-RR

I used a $2 RR that I had left from last week, paid $4.97 cash, and received $7 + $1 in RR

Transaction 2:
1 12pk Northern toilet tissue double rolls, $6.99
1 bag sugar free Halls Refresh, same as above

Used the $7 RR from transaction 1, paid $1.47 cash, and received $1 RR for the Halls. My original plan for this was to use a $1 MQ for the Northern, but it beeped because my total after using the $7 RR was only $.99. If I had picked up one more filler item, I could have used it, but there really wasn't much that I wanted this week, so I kept the coupon to use another time.

My total OOP for both transactions is $6.44, and I have $2 in RR to start off next week again. My cash register tapes show a total savings between the two of $16.18, or a 72% savings.

How have you done on your wheeling and dealing this week? Leave a comment and let us know!

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Doors of Welcome Mini Series-October Installment

Welcome to the first installment of the Doors of Welcome mini-series, hosted by Karen at Some Days are Diamonds!

(click on any of the picutres to see them closer; then click on the 'back' button on your browser to return)

October finds me 625 miles from my rural home, living in a furnished apartment in a small city while my husband completes a work project here. Some of the decorations are mine that I brought from home, one item is 'borrowed' from the apartment, and one item is new.

This is the wreath that I brought from home--I just love the simple lines. I've had it for several years, and because I know I bought it in our small hometown, it had to have come from either Dollar General, Family Dollar, or Wal-mart.

This pretty little trunk-looking box is "borrowed" from the apartment decor--it usually sits, closed, on top of the entertainment armoire. I opened it up and filled it with assorted garlands and fall picks, most of which I already had; one of these was leftover from the wreath I made at home last month, all of them are from Dollar Tree and Dollar General.

And last but not least, the one new item I bought, the rug came from Dollar General and was $5.00.

As you can see, I don't have much space. We have one neighbor literally right next door, a quiet elderly gentleman...

...and we are inset quite a bit from the breezeway opening. There are two other apartments directly across from these, but we are on an upper level, so luckily we don't get a lot of "thru traffic"!

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of my "door of welcome"; for links to more beautiful decorations, click on the "Doors of Welcome" picture above and see the list of links on her left sidebar!

Until next time...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Three or More--Animals I've Seen in My Travels

I was born and raised in Louisiana, and except for a very brief stint in Kansas in the early days of our marriage, I lived there all of my adult life. Three years ago I was able to finally able to start travelling some with my husband as he moves around with his job. I've seen some beautiful places I wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to see, but even better than the places are the the glimpses of wildlife that I'd only ever seen in pictures or on television.

Like buffalo...

...and wild horses running along the highway...

...or a black bear, who stopped and just looked at us while we snapped away.

I'll never forget the first moose I saw...

...or the caribou at the reindeer farm at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Swans on the lake, starting to migrate south in the fall...

...or a snowbunny that already turned from brown to white, right before the snow started falling in earnest.

Buffalo in the snow beside the highway...

...foraging under the snow...

Migrating elk...
...cute little prairie dogs that I wanted to pet...
...more elk...
an antelope...
...a herd of antelope...

deer in Colorado...

and last but not least---camels, in northwest Texas. Yes, Texas.

I'm linking this post to Three-or-More Tuesday at The Gypsy's corner. Go on over the click some links and see what everyone else is sharing.

Until next time...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Note to Subscribers

From the very beginning of my blog, I've had Google Ad Sense ads on my site. From time to time I have other select ads, as well. I've never gone overboard trying to promote the products--on occasion I mention something if it's something I really use and can recommend, but I am not pushy with it. I'm not a big name blogger, I don't have a tremendous amount of traffic, but I'll be honest, I would love to have enough of a following to eventually get some actual income from ad revenue, however small. (I do need to feed my drugstore deal habit, after all!)

Those of you have been subscribers to A Virtuous Woman from the very beginning, whether via email or feed, have realized by now that I changed my feed options some time ago from a "partial" feed to a "full" feed. That means instead of seeing only the headline of a blog post, and having to click to see the actual post, the full text, including pictures, of the blog post comes to you on the feed. As a result, my "click-through" rate has dropped significantly. I think you're still reading (!) just not clicking through to the actual site to do so. And as a result of the click-throughs dropping, the number of "page impressions" and clicks on the ads have dropped, too.

And so, in an attempt to get the page impressions and ad clicks to increase enough so that I could actually get a few pennies in the far, far distant future, I am adding Google Ad Sense ads to my feeds.

At this point, this is just an experiment. If you, the subscribers, don't like it, please send me an email, or leave me a comment. You can find my email on my profile page, or click through, just this once (!) and leave a comment on this post. (See at the bottom, where it says "Thoughtful responses--Your $.02 worth"? Click there and you can leave a comment.

Until next time...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Frugal Friday--58% Savings at Publix

  • She is like the merchant's ships, she bringeth her food from afar
  • She looket well to the ways of her household

Today's shopping trip is the perfect example of why Publix is my grocery store of choice most of the time when I'm in Georgia. They automatically double coupons up to $.50; they put out their own coupons on occasion that can be stacked with manufacturer's coupons; and you don't have to buy two items to get the benefit of their weekly B1G1 items. This is what I found today:

3 boxes of Kelloggs Frosted Mini-Wheats, on sale $1.99 each (there are coupons on the internet for these, but I've already printed my limit and used mine previously, so no coupons to make this a sweeter deal)
1 Publix brand milk, free with in-ad coupon when you buy 3 Kellogg's cereals
1 Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal, free with coupon from a Vocalpoint mailer
1 Kashi Go-lean Crunch, $3.79, less $3 MQ from a Vocalpoint mailer, or $.79
1 Townhouse Bistro crackers, B1G1, or $2.00 each
1 Hunts ketchup, B1G1, or $.88 each
1 Yoplait Fiber One yougurt, B1G1, or $1.25 each, less $1 MQ, or $.25
1 Pillsbury crescent rolls, 3/$5, or $1.67, less $1 MQ, or $.67
2 Pillsbury pizza dough, 3/$5, or $1.67 each, less 1 $.40 MQ and 1 $.35 MQ, doubled, or $.92 each
3 bags Publix brand grated cheese, $1 each
1 box Lipton family sized teabags, B1G1 or $1.20 each
1 2lb Publix brand sugar, $1.39
1 Country Crock spread, $1.99, less $.30 MQ doubled, or $1.39
1 Starbucks ice cream, free with coupon I won from the Starbucks facebook page
1 Blue Bell ice cream, $1.79
1 bunch of Asparagus, $2.49

Total after coupons: $24.51; per the register receipt, savings was $33.99, which included advertised (sale)savings plus coupons, or 58% savings.

There are still some pershibles and staples I need to replenish after being gone for so long, but I'm trying hard to do that without going over my regular weekly budget or dipping into any extra money. Payday is still almost a week away, so it's a personal challenge for me to see how long I can go without doing a major shopping trip--it's my "Mission Possible"!

For links to more frugal shopping see the Mission Possible Mr Linky below.

Until next time...

Herbal Essences Gorgeous Giveaway - Free* Herbal Essences Product

Herbal Essences is giving away 75,000 coupons for free, full sized Herbal essences products--it's limited to the first 18,500 each day, starting at 11:30PM Eastern Time . I was able to sign up this morning for last night's date--try the link below and sign up, before they're all gone! They're gone for today, but try again first thing in the morning for the next batch!
Until next time...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Pitiful Baking Day

  • She rises while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness

All around the blogosphere and on twitter, to paraphrase a song, "There's been a whole lotta bakin' goin' on!" The idea is to do as much baking and cooking as you can in one day, so you only have to pull everything out and dirty up your kitchen once, but you have lots of things made in advance to feed your family later.

There were women making all kinds of good and healthy things to freeze and feed their families, from homemade breads and cookies and muffins, to pots of soup and casseroles of all shapes and sizes. Some of them have baked and brewed and cooked and stewed for two solid days.

I wanted to participate, I really did! But we just got back to Georgia on Monday night after being at home in Louisiana for two months, and my supplies are, to say the least, depleted. I left a few staples here, and my husband made a quick trip to the store that first night for cereal, milk, and things for his work lunches, but I have yet to replenish our perishables. And lest you think we are starving this week, we brought back frozen beef and vegetables from home. Farm raised beef, and home grown vegetables from my parent's garden, frozen at the peak of flavor. Ummm.

But nothing much I could bake with. No butter. No eggs. Very little sugar.

Ant then, at the very last minute, way in the back of the pantry, I spied it.

One little lone packet of Martha White chocolate chip muffin mix that had these magic words on the package--"Just Add Milk".

And so here is my contribution to Baking Day


  • 1 pkg Martha White chocolate chip muffin mix
  • 1/2 c milk

Mix together. Put in muffin pan. Bake. (for specific instructions, see the package)

And Voila' !

And thus ends my very first participation in baking day.

I am linking this to Cupcake Tuesday at Hoosier Homemade. Sorry, all of you serious bakers, I couldn't resist!

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Walgreens $5 Challenge and Mission Possible

  • She is like the merchant's ships, she bringeth her food (and other things!) from afar
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

$1.59 OOP, earned $2 RR

My next stop for my Mission Possible shopping was Walgreens. I was shopping from a position of strength here, because although I had made quick trip last weekend and spent some of my Register Rewards (RR) from earlier in the week, I still had $10 in RR left, plus my coupon binder and the weekly ad circular. This is what I bought:

1 Purell hand sanitizer, $2.99, this generates a $2 RR, making it net of $.99

1 Reynolds wrap foil, $.89 with in-ad coupon

1 Listerine Advanced Citrus, 1 L size, $5.79, less in-ad coupon of $2 off

1 Reach floss, $1.79, less $1.50 MQ (manufacturer's coupon) when you buy one Listerine and one reach floss or toothbrush, or $.29

3 boxes of cookies, Fig Newtons and Chips Ahoy, on sale $3/3

Total: I used $10 in RR left from last week, paid $1.59 OOP, and got $2 in RR for next week. In my "Mission Possible" math, that makes this a trip that earned me $.41!

For more "deals and steals", see the Mission Possible Mr Linky, below, the Walgreens $5 Challenge at Keeping the Kingdom First, and Steals and Deals Wanna See Mine?

Until next time...

CVS $5 Challenge--Mission Possible CVS

  • She is like merchant's ships, she bringeth her food (and other things!) from afar
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household
$.16 OOP

My first stop today was at my favorite CVS--we don't have CVS in our hometown, so I was eager to scan my card at the "magic" coupon machine and get started--I knew I should have a least a small ECB reward waiting for my summer shopping, which I wanted to use today. Unfortunately, it was out of commission, so I had no ECBs to start, just my coupon binder and the weekly ad circular. This is what I found:

1 Colgate Advanced Whitening toothpaste, on sale $2.99, less $1 MQ (manufacturer's coupon); this generates a $2 ECB, making this free after ECBs.

1 Dial soap multi-pack, on sale $1.88, this generates a $1 ECB, making this net of $.88, or $.27 a bar

Total: I paid $4.16 cash, and received $4 in ECBs ($1 was for my summer spending--I knew it wasn't much--I go to CVS to save, not to spend!), making this trip $.16 net OOP (out-of-pocket). (Even if you don't have any extra ECBs coming, this would still be net $1.16 OOP)

Not bad for my first CVS trip in over two months!

For more frugal shopping "deals and steals", see the Mission Possible Mr Linky, below, the CVS $5 Challenge at Keeping the Kingdom First, and Steals and Deals Wanna See Mine?

Until next time...

Mission Possible--Tough But Still Possible

  • She is like the merchant's ships, she bringeth her food (and other things!) from afar
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

For those of you who may be new to Mission Possible, this is a phrase I use to describe my couponing/deal-seeking/frugal shopping trips, answering the question, "Is it possible to shop wisely and save money in this economy?" The answer is still a resounding "Yes!", even though the great deals may be fewer and farther in between, they're still out there.

This week and in the coming weeks my Mission Possible shopping is doubly important. When we went home to Louisiana in August to stay for two months, I took all of my toiletry stockpile with me--it's definitely harder to find bargains in our smalltown there, and the bargains are much fewer. Now that we're back in Georgia, my shopping venues are better, but I'm building from scratch, and to top it off, our budget is much tighter right now.

So our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to take the resources we have available to us--coupons, rebates, Extra Care Bucks (ECB), Register Rewards (RR) and weekly ad circulars--to get the things our families need and can use, all while keeping our total out-of-pocket (OOP) as low as possible. We fulfill our tasks at drugstores, grocery stores, dollar stores, and wherever we can find those bargains and frugal finds that benefit our families!

I'm doing things a little bit different with Mission Possible this week. As you make your frugal "steals and deals" this week, please link to your shopping post, or leave a comment about your shopping, as always, but I am also going to be adding some links myself to posts that I find around the "blogsosphere" that I think you may be interested in seeing.

Until next time...

Mission Possible Participants
1. CVS trip, $.16 OOP
2. Walgreens, $1.59 OOP
3. Katie @ Frugal Femina {Free Kashi/Snuggle}
4. Steals and Deals (Walgreens ($41.96 for $2.17 OOP)
5. My Publix trip--$24.51 with 58% savings
6. Albertson's-$128.11 for $22.82
7. Shopping Superstars at The Thrifty Mama

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Two Thrifty Fall Wreaths

  • She worketh willingly with her hands...

I was so pleased at the way my thrifty wreath (click for step-by-step directions) came out...

...I hounded my mother into letting me help her make one for her door, too.
We bought the ribbon, garland, and leaves at Dollar Tree for $1 each.
The hardest thing was finding a wreath--since Walmart quit carrying fabric and notions and has such a small crafts department now, small town shoppers don't have many options. We ended up going to Nicholls Department Store in Leesville--I love that store--they have everything from hunting supplies to kitchen gadgets, and has some of the most beautiful home decor "doings and makings". We chose a slightly larger one since her door is larger and much farther back from the road than mine, it was $6.XX (I can't remember the cents).
Even paying "retail" for the wreath, we came out at less than $10! She wrapped the ribbon first, then we wired the garland to the front with little twist tie thingies. The leaves are the ones with wire stems, just like I used, so those we were able to just push into the wreath and bend the stems around a bit to hold them.
And we finished just in time, too, since the lows got all the way down into the 60's last night! It was at least 10 o'clock this morning before my air conditioner clicked on, and the high today is only in the 80's.. Perfect Southern fall weather!
What fall craftiness have you been up to so far? For more links and ideas, click over to It's Fall, Ya'll! hosted by Rhoda at Southern Hospitality, the Monthly Craft Challenge at Blue Eyed Blessings, and the Fall Virtual Tour of Homes at the Tip Junkie.
Until next time...


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