Monday, December 31, 2018


I no longer make New Year's Resolutions.  I'm horrible at keeping them.

So I have been working on having a word for the year.  That seems to be simpler for me and I do better.

My 2019 word for the year:  Pause

Below are some, but definitely not all, of the places I want to remember to pause.

Pause to think.
Pause when angry.
Pause when stressed.
Pause before talking.
Pause to listen.
Pause to plan.
Pause when afraid.
Pause to reflect.
Pause to enjoy.
Pause to consider.
Pause to reconsider.
Pause to admire.
Pause to appreciate.
Pause to help.
Pause to praise.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Another Year of the Compact

As I have done for the last six years, I am voluntarily joining The Compact for 2019.

This loose association of like minded people promises to look to the used market for all their consumer needs. 

My only exceptions are gifts and lady's unmentionables.  Every person establishes their own exceptions.

 I even source my yarn for crocheting from thrift stores.

 The longer I have lived this way the easier I find it.  It's now second nature to me.

 I urge you to give it a try. 

It is both good for the environment and good for your budget.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I am off to visit daughters and grandchildren for the holidays.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful time this holiday season.

I may check in if I am not too busy coloring and doing puzzles.

If I don't, see you in 2019!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Cereal Muffins

This past summer, at a salvage grocery in Ohio, I found Quaker Multigrain Flakes on sale for 50 cents/box.  This recipe, an adaptation of a bran muffin one, soon followed.  Any type of flake cereal works.  My cereal contains dry fruit but if yours doesn't, feel free to add some.

2 1/2 cups cereal
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
1 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar ( if you want a sweet muffin, increase)
1 Tbs baking powder

Mix the first two ingredients and let sit for five minutes or so to soften the flakes.  Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and put into a greased muffin tin.  Bake at 350 until brown and test done, about 30 minutes.  Makes 12 regular muffins.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Buying and Eating: December 1-15

In December we have $381.61 to work with.  We are using the government's thrifty number of $12.31/ dday or $6.15 / person/day to cover groceries and meals out.  We also have accumulated a cushion of $928.50 ytd and $1411.58 over the last two years.

What We Ate:  leftover nachos; freezer leftover creamy couscous, green bean casserole, cottage cheese; noodles, turkey, peas, and mashed potatoes with fruit; beef and bean burritos, spicy corn and fresh fruit; liver and onions mashed potatoes; macaroni and cheese; pepperoni balls with marinara sauce; shrimp stir fry with rice; beef stew; turkey noodle soup, cheese and crackers, fresh fruit; shrimp stirfry;  beef stew;  roasted pork, rice casserole; ribs;  tuna chowder and egg salad sandwich;  fried rice and spinach salad, steam carrots and broccoli

What We Bought:

Aldi:  sugar (16 lbs for baking), flour, cider (2 for vinegar), lemon juice, French Onion dip, cottage cheese, salad greens, chips (5), pretzels (2), saltine cracker. $21.83

Salvage:  coffee(12), Mac and cheese (6), crackers (3), dill weed, garam marsala, mint dipped pretzels (4),  applesauce for Apple butter (2), pastry thins, breakfast bars, cranberries (2), crema (2)   $40.42

Price Rite:  cheese (3), fresh garlic (4), oil (gal), eggs (3), pumpkin cheerios  $ 14.00

Aldi:  baking soda. $0.35

Wal-Mart:  cocktail sauce, canned biscuits (2), pretzels. $9.33

Butcher:  processing fee for deer  $80

 Aldi:  cherries (2), blue cheese (3), pretzels, fresh spinach, sugar, stuffing mix (4)  $16.91

Whole Foods Co-op:  spices (8), green dot beans (2)  $10.38

Giant Eagle:  Snapple tea  FREE with coupon

Tops:  bananas (3 lb), brownie mix (3)   $3.52

Total for Groceries:  $176.74  The cost of processing the venison really drove the number up.

Eating Out:

Christmas lunch with girls. $9.00
Lunch with Angela. $9.98
Mike lunches while hunting .$15.44

Total for Eating Out:  $34.42

Grand Total:  $211.16

We have $170.45 of the monthly allotment for the next two weeks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Salvage Shopping

I know, my cupboards are full.  Then why did I go salvage shopping?  Coffee.  We were running low and that will never do.

While I was there, here is what I bought:

Coffee, 12 bags for a total of $23.88
Kraft macaroni and cheese, 6 boxes for $1.50  (My guilty secret love.  Don't judge.)
Crackers, 3 boxes for $2.08(Never too many crackers during the holidays.)
Dill Weed for $0.50(for a dip)
Chocolate covered peppermint pretzels, 4 bags for $1.00  (a treat, pure and simple)
Apple sauce for apple butter, 2 jars at 46 ounces each for $3.00(Mike's request)
Breakfast thins  $0.50 (for Mike to take hunting)
Pastry thins  $0.89(pure and simple treat)
Garam marsala $0.99(learning to cook Indian food)
Thai noodle bowls, 2 for $1.58 (quick and easy meal)
Croutons .$0.25(for Mike's salads)
Good Season Italian 4 pack for$1.99 (only one there and great to marinade)
Dried cranberries, 5for  $3.25(Christmas baking and gifts)
Crema, 2 for $0.98(good to replace cream in recipes)
1 dog food and 3 cat food for the shelter for $8.96

Grand Total:  52.02

Friday, December 7, 2018

Costco Bargains

I'm excited and anxiously awaiting a trip to Alaska in June with my daughters and grandchildren.  We will be taking a Disney cruise.  Nothing frugal there, but we ARE talking grandchildren.  :)

At the suggestion of our daughters, we went through Costco to get the best deal on our tickets.  That meant we had to first get a membership.

As part of the membership we received some coupons and cash back and recently we went to shop and take advantage of them.  Here is what we bought:

28 small packages of trail mix for the lake  using $8 coupon and costing $14.99 originally
8 lb pork loin using $8 coupon and costing $17.07 originally
12 Paper towels for free and costing $15.99 originally
200 Garbage bags using an $8 coupon and costing $14.99 originally
Tortilla chips for free and costing $4.59 originally
3 berry fruit mix using a $6 coupon and costing $8.99 originally
126 loads of Laundry detergent using a $8 coupon and costing $10.70 originally
Dish detergent for free and costing $7.99 originally

The original cost of these items was $95.40.
The coupons and a $20 cashback card saved us $89.56
All together we spent $5.82 out of pocket.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Frugal Things In November

1.  Coffee with friends at McDonald's using a McDonald's coffee card to earn a free coffee.

2.  Eating From the freezer and cupboards.

3.  Buying laundry detergent free of dyes and scents for a friend for 99 and 94 cents each after sales and coupons.

4.  Making homemade apple cider vinegar.

5.  Making grape jelly with homemade juice from gifted grapes.

6.  Making broth from the turkey bones and salvaging enough meat from the bones for four more meals.

7.  Cooking a pound of dry kidney beans, that cost me 50 cents at salvage, and ending up with $2.10 worth, if the cans of ready to use beans were also purchased on sale.

8.  Making my own pectin for jelly from apples I already had rather than making a special trip to the store.  Saved the cost of the pectin and the cost of the gasoline.

9.  Washing and reusing Ziploc bags.  I wash them with my kitchen towels.  Over 50 are being reused and kept out of a landfill for a little while longer.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Buying and Eating: November 16-30

We have $320.63 of the monthly budget remaining for the last two weeks of the month.  No worries.  I've got this.  :)

What We Ate:  macaroni and cheese; vegetable soup; chili and cheese quesadilla; curry, rice, lentil pancakes, broccoli;  spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and peas;  creamy couscous and chicken casserole, lima beans, peaches; Thanksgiving Feast of turkey breast, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, dressing, sweet potatoes, crescent rolls and pumpkin pie; turkey sandwich; pepperoni pizza; turkey and cranberry strata; salmon and kale quiche, green beans, fresh fruit salad;  chicken with pesto pasta, steamed broccoli, garlic bread; homemade turkey pot pie, homemade stewed tomatoes, fresh fruit salad; beef, bean, cheese and guacamole nachos;  shrimp scampi, potatoes au gratin, peas

What We Bought:

Aldi:  buttermilk (qt), crescent rolls (2), powered sugar, brown sugar (2), raisins, pretzels (2), butter (6), cream cheese (3), white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips (2), brie, romaine lettuce, cucumber. $33.74

Tops:  broccoli (1.5 lbs), eggs, brownie mix, clementines (3lbs) $ 6.61

Giant Eagle:  yams (2.5 lbs),  canned vegetables (8)  $3.04

Bread Store:  bagels (3), bread (3), rolls  $5.56

Costco:  tortilla chips, 3 berry frozen berries, pork loin $5.83 .(after coupons and cash back)

Total Groceries for Two Weeks:  $54.78

Eating Out:
Lunch out with Mike:  $14.62
Mike lunches hunting. $18.33
Lunch with Angela. $ 18.75

Total Eating Out for Two Weeks:  $51.70

Grand Total for Two Weeks:  $106.48

Remaining Monthly Allotment to Add to Cushion:  $214.15 which takes our cushion to $928.50 ytd and $ 1411.58 grand total.

For the month of November we spent a total of $155.24 which works out to $5.17/day or $2.59/person/day.

Groceries only work out to $91.32 or $3.04/day and $1.52/person/day.

As you can tell, we ate from our stockpile this month, in the main.  It's too big so we will continue to do so for awhile.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Savory Cracker Crumb Quiche Crust

I'm not a big fan of rolling out pie crust.  I do it, but I am always looking for ways to avoid it.

Also, I usually have several boxes of almost finished crackers in my cupboard.  Why finish one box when you can just open a new box.

Putting the two together, I developed the second cousin once removed to the graham cracker crust.

Gather together all your dribs and drabs of savory crackers that you have hidden in your cupboards.  Heck, even a few corn flakes at the bottom of the box work.

 Crush them very fine.  I used my food processor.

Measure out two cups of the resulting crumbs.  Add one stick of melted butter and mix well.

Press firmly into your pie pan.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes to set the crust.  Let cool slightly.

Pour in your favorite quiche filling and bake.


No rolling pin required.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Save Energy, Save Money, Save Mother Earth

A lot of money saving habits are good for the planet, too.  And, that's why we continue to do them long after they are strictly necessary.

For example, we have a gas stove.  Although the oven pilot light is always on, Mike has turned off the burner pilot lights.  It's estimated that each pilot light would burn about 8 therms of gas per month, at about $1.50 per therm, or $10.50 /month.  We have two burner pilot lights so we save 16 therms of gas and $21.00/month.  Per year that comes to 192 therms and $252.00.  I can do something with that.

I also hang all my clothes to dry.  I average 5 loads/ week or 260 loads/ year.  Each load averages 3.3 kwh.  The cost of a kwh is about 11 cents.  That means my 260 load would cost me $ 28.60 to dry.  The money really isn't worth it, but not to use the 856 kwh of fossil fuel generated electricity is, to me.

What choices/ changes can you make to save energy and help Mother Earth?

Friday, November 16, 2018

Buying and Eating: November 1-15

This month we have $369.39 for food which means   $12.31/day  and    $6.16/person/day.     Groceries and meals out are both covered by this amount.   Our Cushion ytd is $714.35.  Our Total cushion is $1197.43.

What We Ate:
Turkey sandwich and macaroni and cheese;  Mooshu, mixed vegetables, strawberries;  at Ellen's; leftover smorgasbord; dinner with Mike and Gail; more leftovers; lasagna, tomato cheese bread, green soy beans, tomato salad; grilled pork, butter beans, apple sauce, beets; chili spaghetti, guacamole with chips;  homemade pizza with chips; mushroom stroganoff with spaghetti squash, butternut squash, rye cheese bread, strawberries; pizza from freezer and chips;  bbq pulled pork sandwich, scalloped potatoes, cream corn; leftover stroganoff over noodles, applesauce, roasted artichoke hearts, baguette;  spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad

What We Bought:
Wal-Mart:  pretzels, Apple pastries .$1.47
Aldi:  Brown sugar (2), butter, olives (2), grapes. $17.50
Save a Lot:  carrots( 2lb), potatoes (10 lb), Apple's (3lbs), sweet potato (1)   $4.89
Tops:  frozen vegetables (11 lbs), sugar (4lbs)  $10.67
Country Fair:  Virginia ham (lb), eggs. $2.01

Grocery Total:  $36.54

Meals Out:
Taco Bell on way to Erie. $8.13
Sam's Club on way to Erie. $4.09

Total for Meals Out:  $12.22

Total for Food:  $48.76
We have been eating from our full freezer and cupboards, as you might have guessed.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Easy Pumpkin Pancakes

Tis the season.  Enjoy.

2 eggs.         1/2 cup pumpkin or pureed winter squash .        2 Tbs. Sugar .       
1/4 cup oil.         1 cup milk.         1 3/4 cup Bisquick.     
 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger

Mix well and cook as usual.  Top with maple syrup and enjoy a true taste of autumn.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Five Frugal Things in October, OK, More Than Five

1.  Free 8x10 photo. And 2 free 5x 7 photos from Walgreen's.

2.  Free winter coat from a friend.  My favorite color, too.

3.  Free grapes and tomatoes from friends that led to juice, pie filling, jelly and mincemeat.

4.  Salvage shopping.  Restock of the cupboard.

5.  Free food from Giant Eagle.

6.  $5 coupon at thrift store when I spent $30.

7. Homemade Sesame Oil for Asian recipes.

8.  Bought gift cards at Giant Eagle to earn cheaper gas.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Buying and Eating: October 16-31

Remaining monthly budget:  $207.73

What We Ate:
Mooshu, salad, strawberries; pork roast, salad, cottage cheese, sauerkraut
The end of low carb!
Chicken a la king over biscuits with salad;  Mexican pizza with guacamole;  leftover smorgasbord; ribs, augratin potatoes, green soy beans, cheese bread; creamy rice with spinach, mushrooms and chicken, fresh pears, croissants;  curried hot turkey salad, curried potatoes, lentil pancakes;  grilled pork chops, stuffing, fried green tomatoes, pears with bleu cheese;  grilled brats with onions and peppers, baked beans and potato chips; leftover smorgasbord;  tuna chowder, tomato bread, fruit crisp; pizza from the freezer; leftovers;  dry rub grilled ribs, baked beans, stovetop stuffing
What We Bought:
Aldi:  Spaetzle,  pears, sugar .$5.87

Aldi:  mushrooms (2)  $1.78

Price Rite:  tuna (6), pasta, spaghetti sauce, fresh cilantro for guacamole, cream cheese (3)  $ 9.47

Commissary at Dover:  baby back ribs (4 lbs @ $1/ lb), toaster pastries (RV treat), soy sauce (1/2 gal.), curry paste (4), dark cocoa, baking powder, brown sugar, cheese (2 lbs), 2 hard rolls, bleu cheese, everything bagels  $33.99

Commissary at Fort Meade:  honey buns (treat), dry milk, cornmeal, olives (2), pretzels (3), egg noodles, Apple fritters (treat), grape leaves, dry garbanzo beans. $37.51

Total Groceries:  $88.82

Eating Out:

Mike's Lunch .$1.61
Joyce's Birthday Lunch. $20.65
Breakfast with Dad:  $21.86
Lunch with Ginger. $10.00
Lunch with Meg:  $15.00

Total Meals Out:  $69.12

Grand Total for Two Weeks:  $157.74

Amount Added to Cushion:  $49.99

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bits and Pieces

We were lucky enough to get some good bargains this week.  Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned.  And, it's a tax free penny.

$8.69 Persil for free at CVS using a coupon with a sale.

Tide Free pods for $0.94 at CVS using a coupon and a sale.

Yarn, including  2 one pound skeins, 3 jumbo skeins, 6 regular skeins and 6 cotton skeins all for $20  at a thrift store in Delaware.  Lots of Linus Project blankets here.

Basket for corraling Max's meds for $2 at the thrift store.  A mess contained doesn't look as messy.

Camel colored sweater for $3 at the thrift store.  It's definitely sweater weather.

8x8 pan for the RV for $1, you guessed it, at the thrift store.

Throws for shelter animals @ $1 each from the thrift store.

Ribs $1/lb. At the Dover commissary. 

I love bargains.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Salvage Shopping

My friend and I went on another salvage shop.  It could very well be our last for the year as things get busy.  Although, I'm hoping for one more to stock up on more Christmas things.  Time will tell.

Here's what I bought:

2 crust Pie crust mix (3) @ $0.25 each. For Christmas baking.
Potato mixes (2)@ $0.79 each.  For the RV.
Canned fruit (3) @ $0.25 each
Manicotti noodles@ $0.79
Bisquick @ $0.50
Dry kidney beans (2 lbs)@ $0.50 / lb
Pineapple juice $1.99. To make faux crushed pineapple
Old English jarred cheese (4) @ $0.49. For appetizer at Christmas
Carnation condensed milk $0.10
Green beans  $0.49
Salsa (2)  @ $0.99
Marshmallow cream (8)  @ $0.79 for Christmas baking
Soy sauce. $0.79
Cracker Jacks (2 multipacks) @ $0.50 each a treat
Starbucks Regular coffee (5) @ $2.99 each
Flavored ground coffee (2) @ $1.99 each
Creamed corn $0.49
Enchilada sauce $0.59
Sauerkraut $0.49
Beets $0.49
Tomato sauce stew starter (2) @ $0.55 each
Rice vinegar  $0.99
Shelf stable soy milk (2) $0.75. For making yogurt
Chocolate chips (3)  @ $.99 each for Christmas baking
Baked beans (4) @ $0.49 each  For the lake
Gallon vegetable oil. $5.99
Apple juice. $1.50 for making vinegar
Craisins  $0.99
Kraft macaroni and cheese (2) @ $0.25 each
Spaghetti sauce (2) @ $0.99 each
Spices (3) @ $0.99 each
Tomato paste, 18 ounces $0.99 once open I will freeze remaining in ice cube tray
York peppermint patties (5)  For $1.00 treat
Eye drops  $0.99

TOTAL:  $66.41 for 72 items.

The prices are climbing a little but there still are some good deals.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Brand New Thrift Store Finds

We went thrift store shopping recently to out favorite store.  Everything is thoughtfully displayed and it is small enough to feel cosy.  I especially like the clothes.  All are of good quality.  You can quite often find brand new items with the original tags, as I did this time.

Brand New:
$59 Christopher and Banks jacket , after extra daily discount, for $10.49
$50 Talbot black dress pants for $6.99
These became my outfit for Mike's fraternity reunion party.

Two cookie sheets, still shrink wrapped, for $3.99 for the RV.

Not new, but a good price:

20 spice jars with labels   $5.99 for the RV.  The base is very heavy so they can sit out while we travel.  I have tested this out.  :).

Long red sweater, comfy for winter $3.50.  We keep our house cool so comfy sweaters are a must.

And a $5 off a ten dollar purchase coupon since we spent $30.  We used it for plastic storage containers for the RV to store flour, sugar, etc.  They were exactly $10 before the coupon.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Unexpected Bounty

Thanks to the generosity of friends, and a GREAT deal at Aldi, I have been busy processing goodies to enjoy.  Here is what I had and what I made.

Grapes from two friends, I can't even guess at how many, LOTS):

Grape juice. 17 1/2 quarts
Grape jelly .  Still to be made from some of the juice
Grape pie filling. 6 pies worth

Green tomatoes (a peck basket):

Fried green tomatoes (3 meals)
Tomatoes to ripen (25)
Green tomato mincemeat (adjusted to use what I had)  6 pints

39 cents a pound winter squash, 19 pounds for under $8:

Roasted and frozen for pie and quick breads as well as to eat as a side dish (24 cups)

I get such fulfillment when doing something like this.  I only do a little these days, since there is only the two of us, but it is still fun.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Buying and Eating: October 1-15

For October we have a budget of $381.61, using the government's suggested thrift amount of $12.31/day.  We also have a cushion of  $664.36 from this year and  $1147.44 in total.

What We Ate: taco salad, pseudo nachos, grilled chicken breast, zucchini pancakes, Caesar salad; leftovers;

We are in Oxford for Mike's fraternity reunion.  Low carb is on hold.  I have a toasted roll to eat.  :)
Kielbasa, corn, potatoes; leftovers;  Mike's fraternity dinner;  Mexican pizza

Low carb is back on.
Sloppy Joe, zucchini pancakes; baked chicken wrap using a low carb wrap; homemade low carb sausage and pepperoni pizza; beef stroganoff over spaghetti squash, Greek salad, fried green tomatoes, low carb pound cake; shrimp scampi, zucchini pancakes, frozen green beans; chicken cordon bleu soup and pimento cheese wraps; ham steak, sauteed cabbage, fried green tomatoes, salad

What We Bought:

Wal-Mart:  strawberries, cream   $4.14

Aldi:  Pam. $1.55

Giant Eagle:  iced tea. Free

Aldi:  various cheeses. (15 lbs), pasta. (2 lbs), cream, peppers, grape tomatoes, carb bars (3 boxes),  winter squash (19 lbs)   $ 76.49

Giant Eagle:  Hood cottage cheese .  Free with coupon

Aldi:  cucumber, strawberries, carb bars . $7.57

Salvage:  I have not listed items to make Christmas gifts or non food items as well as lake items.  These come from other budget categories.
potato mixes (2), canned fruit (3), manicotti noodles, Bisquick, dried kidney beans (2), pineapple juice, Old English jarred cheese (4), green beans, salsa (2), soy sauce, cracker Jacks (2), coffee (7), cream corn, enchilada sauce, sauerkraut, beets, tomato stew starter (2), rice vinegar, soy milk (2), gallon oil, apple juice, craisins, macaroni and cheese (2), spaghetti sauce (2), spices (3), 18 ounce tomato paste, peppermint patties (5)  $53.25

Sam's Club:  low carb tortillas (20 count) $ 4.98

Tops:  strawberries, spaghetti sauce, rye bread, eggs, butter, Cheez-Its.  $12.00

Total for Groceries:  $149.88

Eating Out:

Toasted rolls in Oxford. $10.00
Mike at Wild Wings in Oxford. $  14.00

Total for Eating Out:  $24.00

Total for First Half of the Month: $173.88

Remaining for Second Half of the Month:  $207.73

Friday, October 12, 2018

Moister Beef Burgers

Adding grated vegetables to your burger mix makes moister and more flavorful burgers.  The added benefit is it also stretches the ground beef and lowers the fat content of the burgers.  Give them a try.

1 pound ground beef
1 grated medium potato
1 large grated carrot
1 small finely chopped onion
Salt and pepper

Combine the above and mix well.  Shape into patties.  Cook as usual.

Trust me, you never notice the carrot or potato once the burgers are cooked.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Say Stop and Save Money

Finding bargains on things you need is obviously frugal.
But you can take it farther when you simply stopping buying certain things you normally buy.

Here are some things that are no longer on my shopping list:

Paper napkins, cups and plates:  we now only use ones we can wash and reuse.

Dishwasher pods:  I use a liquid from Family Dollar that I find as good as Cascade.  I stocked up recently when I was sent a coupon for $5 of a $25 purchase.

Dishwasher spot liquid:  I find I don't need it.  I also didn't like the thought of having those chemicals on the dishes I ate from.

Air freshener:  I hate the chemicals.  Instead I use a simmering potpourri when necessary.  I save all my citrus peels and use some for this.

Shower body wash:  Bar soap is cheaper and no plastic.  I buy it at the Dollar Tree.

Hair conditioner:  My hair is short and I don't really need it.

Hair dye:  I used it for years but started to worry about the chemicals.  I'm now proudly gray.

Dryer sheets:  I hang my laundry

Fabric softener:  When I use anything, I use white vinegar.

Here are some things I use very rarely so I don't have to buy them often:

Commercial cleaning items:  My holdout is Murphy's Oil Soap.  The rest are homemade.

Bottled water:  We use a Brita.

Baggies:  I buy one box of each size a year.  Unless they have contained meat, I wash them and reuse over and over.  You can turn them inside out and wash them with your towels, then hang them to dry.

Paper towels:  I use cleaning rags mainly.  But if something is really icky I will use a towel and toss it.  I use a roll about every six weeks.

Finger nail polish:  I use it to touch up my pedicure so it lasts longer.  I buy it at Dollar Tree.  I don't do my nails because the polish never lasts.

Makeup and perfume:  Only when I am dressing up.  Not at home.

My dryer:  As I said, I mainly hang my laundry.  But I do use it when there is a time crunch such as traveling.  My dryer is 39 years old, by the way.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Spending at The Three Quarters of The Year Mark

Time to run the numbers and see how well we are doing so far, 75% through the year.

In the last nine months we have spent $1691.27  on groceries and $501.54 on eating out.

That means we have averaged $186.81 / month on groceries and $55.82 / month on eating out.  For a grand total average of $243.65 / month to feed us.

The government thrift plan says we should be spending $12.31 / day for a family of two or $6.16 / day / person.

In the 273 days so far this year, our groceries and Eating Out have averaged $8.03 for a family of two and $4.02 per person/ day.  We are well under the government's number.

Our freezer and cupboards are jammed.  We need to start eating out of our stockpile more.  I also need to start thinking how I will approach next year's budget.  I am obviously still buying too much when things are on sale.  I would also like to add more vegetarian meals to our diet so we need more vegetables in the freezer and less meat.

I'm also dreaming about what fun thing we can do with our cushion.  Something we otherwise would hesitate to do.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Frugal Things in September: The Everyday Edition

1.  While visiting family, we shopped at some area thrift stores and found some yarn to help me keep making my Linus Project blankets.  It has gone up in price but I still save about 60% from store prices.

2.  I stocked up at the salvage store this month.  I saved about 70% over grocery stores.

3.  I found some flavored syrup for coffee at the Dollar Tree.  Now I am making my yummy flavored coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks or doing without.  $5 a drink can add up.

4.  I needed to touch up some chips in my pedicure.  I went to Dollar Tree and found an appropriate color for only $1.

5.  I needed some birthday cards and was pleased to see a selection of Hallmark cards at Dollar Tree.  $1 is much more my speed than the $3.89 marked on the card.

Little things.  But little things add up.  :)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Buying and Eating: =September 16-30

We began the second half of the month with $133.18 left in the budget.

What We Ate:  ham, zucchini pancakes, Waldorf salad, baked potatoes;  pizza and popcorn;  Chinese orange chicken and chicken lo mien; leftovers; hamburgers, French fries, Caesar salad;
The low carb diet has restarted.
Cheeseburger soup, cheese quesadilla, cucumber and onion salad, blueberries;  meatballs, spaghetti squash with Alfredo sauce, sauteed spinach, cucumber and onion salad;  rotisserie chicken, zucchini, cucumber and onion salad;  meatzza, garlic low carb muffins;  chicken cordon bleu soup, Swiss cheese tortilla, strawberries;  soybean and ham soup with homemade low carb bread; leftover smorgasbord; chicken salad sandwich, cottage cheese and sunflower seeds, strawberries; sausage, onions and peppers on the grill, Caesar salad with homemade dressing and croutons, strawberries

What We Bought:

Walgreen's:  instant coffee for my iced coffee habit (6)  $17.94

Giant Eagle:  cottage cheese. Free with coupon

Price Rite:  vegetable oil, pork roast (7.5 lbs), cheese (5), deli turkey (lb)  $18.70

Aldi:  spaghetti squash (2), butternut squash (2), acorn squash (2), shredded cheese (4),   low carb bars (2), cream   $28.02

Sam's Club: sandwich croissants (12), muffins (9),  chocolate chunk cookies (18) for free, 16 inch pepperoni pizza for free, rotisserie chicken for free, pepperoni (4 lbs), baguettes (2), ground beef  (6lb)  $17.20

Tops:  beef broth (32 oz.),  Folgers (10.3 oz), Rinaldi marinara sauce, lettuce, strawberries (2 lb),     $8.17

Total for Groceries:  $90.03

Eating Out:
Breakfast .$5.85
Oriental Meal .$19.50

Total for Eating Out:  $25.35

Grand Total:  $115.38

Amount left over from budget,  $17.80.

The new cushion amounts are now $664.36 ytd and  $1147.55 in total.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Renewal Freebies and More Good Deals

We recently renewed our Sam's Club membership.  That made us eligible for some deals.  While not all of them appealed to us, there were a few we liked and that made financial sense.

Free Items:

1 rotisserie chicken $4.98 saved
16 inch pepperoni pizza  $6.99 saved
18 chocolate chunk cookies.  $5.98 saved

I love free food!

Money Off Deals:

Bathroom Tissue.   $1.50 saved.   45 rolls  40 cents/roll
Facial Tissue.  $3.00 saved.     12 packages 180count.     $0.75/box
Paper Towels.  $1.50 saved .   15 rolls   $1.12/ premium roll
Garbage Bags   $2.00 saved.     200 flex bags at 7 cents /bag
50 count box of assorted chips (for the lake)   $2.50 saved.    20 cents/bag
French Baguettes.  $1.50 saved.     $1.24/ extra long baguette
Sandwich Croissants.  $2.50 saved.  37 cents/sandwich croissants
Pepperoni. $2.00 saved.     $1.90/pound
6 lbs. ground beef  $6.00 saved.  $1.98/ pound

Savings:  $40.45

Always try to take advantage of these kind of special discounts if they work for you.  They are like found money.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Charitable Donations on a Budget

We like to help those in need.  But what if your budget is tight?
You can still help out.

Sending money is not the only way to donate.
Use your shopping skills.

Donate things that, for whatever reason, are no longer useful to you.

Donate things you have the skills to create.

Below are some donations I made recently.  The monetary cost was nominal.

Humane Society:  old knit throws from around the house, crocheted mini throws for cats and dogs, canned cat food our cats can no longer eat, dog food free with a coupon, dry cat food our cats can no longer eat, generic laundry detergent bought for under a dollar

Linus Project:  nine baby afghans made with thrift store yarn

Food Bank:  food and household items bought free or cheap with coupons, basic food items bought when on rock bottom sale (flour, pasta, rice, beans, peanut butter, canned soup, canned vegetables, cereal, cornmeal)

No matter our budget, we can still have the satisfaction of helping others.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Inexpensive and Good

Baked Meatloaf Potatoes:

Four large baking potatoes                                        2 Tbs oil
1/2 pound ground beef .                                             3 Tbs flour
1/4 cup chopped onion                                               1 1/4 cup milk
2 chopped garlic cloves.                                            Salt and pepper
Salt and pepper.                                                         Paprika for color

With a knife, hollow out the potatoes to make "boats".  Combine the raw p potato, beef, onion, garlic , salt and pepper.  Spoon into the potatoes, mounding the tops.  Bake at 400 for about an hour or until done.
Make a gravy by mixing the oil and flour over medium heat until bubbly.  Add the milk and stir until thick and smooth.  Serve over the potatoes.

This is also great with sausage meat.
You get a great meal with only a little meat and the flavor of the meat soaks into the potatoes, too.
I have used bacon grease instead of the oil and it is wonderful.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Buying and Eating: September 1-15

Our September grocery and meals out budget is $369.30 for the two of us or $12.31 per day for two and $6.155 per person per day.  We do have a YTD cushion of $646.76 and a grand total cushion of $1129.75 we can go into if we need to do so.

We are still low carb dieting and our expenses reflect it as far as fruit, veg, eggs, dairy and specialty ingredients are concerned.  We have been lucky to have a well stocked freezer to use for most of the meat this diet relies on.

What We Ate:  bacon wrapped grilled pork chops, spinach salad, creamy cauliflower with cheese;  creamy kale and sausage soup, tossed salad, homemade low carb bread;  spinach savoury cheesecake, roasted zucchini and Brussels sprouts; steak and shrimp for anniversary with salad and fruit; eggplant and meatballs with sauce; grilled salmon, shrimp cocktail, fresh fruit; leftover smorgasbord;  cheeseburger soup with cheese and vegetable quesadilla; meatloaf, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, low carb cinnamon muffins, strawberries; leftovers

What We Bought:

Aldi:  strawberries, blueberries, eggs (3),  cottage cheese, olives (2), whipping cream (2), carb bars (5 boxes)  $31.32

Erie County Farms: cucumbers (3), zucchini (3), cabbage, eggs (8), Smith's bacon (10lbs), onions (10 lbs), pepperoni (lb), cold cuts (lb)   $50.42

New Salvage Store ( for our future stockpile):  crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce (3), diced tomatoes (3), Rotel tomatoes (2), grey poupon, no sugar ketchup, spaghetti (4 lbs), low carb tortillas (2), pork rinds (2), evaporated milk (6), cream of chicken soup (4), tomato soup, clam broth, bean sprouts (2), baby corn, water chestnuts, ripe olives, artichoke hearts, green beans (2), pad Thai Mix, caramel swirl bean coffee (5 lbs), Columbian Supreme coffee beans (5 lbs), ground coffee (2.5 lbs), canned peaches (2), canned pears (2), canned pineapple, soy flour (1 lb), TVP (10 ounces), vital wheat gluten (6.5 ounces), semi sweet baking chocolate bar, hot sauce, croutons, toaster pastries (3 boxes), carb bars (4 boxes)   $77.11

Aldi:  shredded cheese (2 lbs), blackberries, sour cream  $7.54

Commissary at Fort Mead:  shredded cheese (3 lbs), popcorn (1 lb), cinnamon rolls ( a treat), poptarts (another treat), dried lima beans (2 lbs), Mac and cheese, cornstarch, vinegar with mother, brownie mix, Italian bread, apples.  $31.29.      We are taking a break from the low carb diet while we visit the girls.

Total :  $197.68

Eating Out:

Dinner with Ellen  $ 18.85
Dinner at Meg's  $19.59

Total: $ 38.44

Grand Total for Two Weeks:  $236.12

Remaining for September:  $133.18

The budget is taking a pounding but that's what cushions are for.  :)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Shop At A New Salvage Store

We tried out a new salvage grocery we had heard about.  I like my regular one better and I think their prices are generally lower.  But I did find some deals and some things I don't see very often.  The large bags of coffee worked out to $2.99/pound.  And, I see a yummy stir fry in our future.  :)

Here is what we bought:

Large can of crushed tomatoes
Tomato sauce  (3)
Diced tomatoes (3)
Rotel tomatoes (2)
Grey Poupon mustard (16 oz.)
No sugar ketchup
Spaghetti .(4 lbs)
8 count low carb tortillas (2)
Pork rinds, for Mike. (2)
Evaporated milk (6), an early Christmas stock up
Cream of chicken soup (4), we are entering casserole season
Tomato soup, the perfect comfort meal with grilled cheese
Clam broth (4 cups), for making chowder and clam sauce for pasta
Bean sprouts (2)
Baby corn
Water chestnuts
Ripe olives
Artichoke hearts
French style green beans (2)
Pad Thai Mix
Carmel swirl coffee beans (5 lbs.)
Columbian Supreme coffee beans (5 lbs.)
Ground coffee (2.5 lbs.)
Canned peaches (2)
Canned pears (2)
Canned pineapple (2)
Soy flour (lb)
Texturized Vegetable Protein (10 oz), great for chili
Vital Wheat Gluten (6.5 oz), for bread making
Semi Sweet Cooking Chocolate Bar
Hot sauce
Croutons, for Mike when I don't make them fresh
Kellogg's Toaster Pastries (3 boxes), a post diet treat
Atkins Carb Bars (4 boxes)
80 Glad Garbage Bags
5 Reynolds oven bags
Six rolls of TP for the RV
50 tide pods for the RV

Total Spent:  $93.31:  $77.11 for food items and $ 16.20 for non-food items.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Five Frugal Things From August

1.  Gathering up the fragments at the end of the week at the lake:  butter, lettuce, blueberries, bread, eggs, cheese, corn, ribs, lasagna, potatoes, summer squash, grapes, plums,  pasta salad and frozen treats such as popsicles, etc. that we shared with the camper next to us that had children who will enjoy.  All of this would have been thrown away if we hadn't taken it.  Nobody else was interested, We tried.

2.  We needed some kitchen items for the RV.  Instead of paying to buy them new, we found them in a thrift store.  We got a glass 9x13 pan, a large sauce pan with lid, two cake pans, a muffin tin, a colander and a large tempered glass cutting board for $9.00.

3.  I wanted to read the new biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder but I didn't want to spend the money ($22) to buy a copy.  So I got on the list at the library and my turn came rather quickly.  I'm now enjoying a free read.

4.  Mike found a set of brand new king size sheets at Goodwill for $ 5.99.  They will be great for the RV.

5.  I did some time consuming comparison shopping between our local Co-Op, Amazon, and Vitacost checking the cost of some low carb ingredients I needed to buy.  Vitacost came out on top and saved us about $10.00.  It pays to compare.

Extra:   Taking advantage of a back to school special, I got a half price haircut.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Buying and Eating : August 16-31

Remaining allocation for the month:  $236.42.  Cushion remaining:  $ 620 YTD and $ 1103.59 in total.

My jeans have been talking to me.  It was time to do the low carb diet again, hence the Vitacost order for low carb ingredients and some extra shopping trips.  Expensive, but the diet works for both of us.  :)

What We Ate:  leftover kabobs, baked beans, salad; Sloppy Joe, garlic potato rounds, roasted eggplant, yogurt with raspberries;  Indian curry and lentil pancakes with grapes;  leftovers to clear out fridge for starting low carb diet tomorrow;
The low carb diet is starting:
kielbasa, roasted broccoli, Parmesan cheese crisps;. sage rubbed grilled pork chops, mashed cauliflower, kale wedges, deviled eggs; beef roast with mushrooms, celery and onions braised in beer and cream with crumbled bleu cheese, leftover sides; eggplant based meatzza;  BBQ ribs with a dry rub, fresh strawberries, broccoli salad with cheese, bacon and nuts; Philly cheese steak wrap, fried cabbage, creamed spinach; ham steak, leftover sides; hamburgers on the grill, broccoli salad, strawberries, coleslaw;  meat and cheese burritos, Mexican cauliflower steak, deviled eggs, salad; corned beef and cheese wraps, cottage cheese with sunflower seeds, baked artichoke hearts with Parmesan cheese;  Asian marinated flank steak and leftover sides

What We Bought:

Vitacost:  coconut milk, unsweetened coconut, no calorie sweetener, psyllium husks, almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, xanthan gum,  Chia seeds   $ 75.27 (we saved an additional $ by going through E-Bates)

Aldi:  sour cream, cream cheese, strawberries, whipping cream, cantaloupe, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, bleu cheese, feta cheese, onions. $ 18.37

Tops:  lettuce, eggs, butter, applewood smoked bacon  $ 8.35

Aldi:  Apple juice (2) for making vinegar, almond milk, cauliflower, broccoli, cottage cheese, artichokes hearts (2), olives (3), cucumber, sweet peppers, grape tomatoes, fresh spinach, zucchini, cream cheese, almonds and cashews mix (2)  $37.40

Giant Eagle:  goldfish crackers. $0.99

Save a Lot:  English beef steaks (1.7 lbs), coleslaw mix (2), onions (3lb), Brussels sprouts.$ 10.35

Meat Market:  breakfast sausage (2 lbs)  $3.96

Trader Joe's:  Olive oil, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, whole almonds, peanuts, coffee (2), eggs, flax tortilla chips. $34.31

Total Groceries:  $188.50

Eating Out:

Lunch with Ginger   $8.78
Lunch with Joyce. $12.98

Total Eating Out:  $ 21.76

Two Weeks Grand Total:  210.76

Amount to add to the cushion:  $26.16
Adjusted YTD cushion:  $646.76. And total cushion:  $1129.75

Monday, August 27, 2018

Cheesy Kale Wedges

Kale is a super nutritious vegetable.  It's also low carb.  Problem.  My husband is not a fan.  So I have to hide it.

Here is one way I get him to eat it without any complaints.

Shredded cheese, any kind you have and like.  I have used Parmesan, Swiss, mozzarella and cheddar.

Kale, fresh or frozen, cut into very little pieces with my kitchen shears.

Put a layer of cheese into the bottom of a no stick pan.
Sprinkle with kale.
Top with another layer of cheese.

Cook slowly until all the cheese is melted and the bottom is golden brown.
Clip and cook the other side until golden.
Cut into wedges and serve.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ranch Oyster Crackers

The cycle of life has come fully around and once again there are little munchkins at family get togethers.  Snacks are great.  BUT, double dipping is to be avoided.

So I reached back in time to a snack enjoyed when the current group of parents were at the same stage.  Give them a try.  A warning, they can be addictive.

Ranch Oyster Crackers:

1 bag oyster crackers
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 c warm, not hot vegetable oil

Mix the seasonings into the warm oil.
Pour over the crackers.
Mix well.
Bake at 250 for about a half hour, stirring at least twice.
Cool and serve.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Syracuse University's Vanilla Wafer Cake

When I was in graduate school at Syracuse, one of my jobs was at the on campus restaurant frequented by faculty.

A favorite meal ended with this scrumptious coconuty cake.
It's just as popular and just as delicious today.

1 box crushed vanilla wafers  (I use my food processor)
2 cups sugar
7 oz shredded coconut ( I use unsweetened)
1/2 lb melted butter
8 eggs
1 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Mix all ingredients well.
Put into a 9x13 greased pan.
Bake at 350 until brown and a cake tester comes out clean.  Start checking at 45 minutes.

Cool and cut into small servings.  As you can guess, these are very rich as well as very good.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Buying and Eating: August 1-15

We are working with a smaller allotment this month due to our week with Mike's family on Conesus Lake.  I reduced the budget by seven days.

Our allotment for August is $ 295.44.

What We Ate:  Gazpacho and sandwiches;  ham and pea Alfredo, fresh fruit with yogurt, three bean salad; breakfast for dinner; meals at the lake; vegetable soup from the freezer, salad, and Chinese pancakes from the freezer; hot dogs on the grill, cheesy potatoes, fruit salad, corn off the cob with salsa; lasagna, peas, cheesy bread, fruit salad; ribs, baked potatoes, fruit salad, three bean salad

What We Bought:

Tops:  watermelon, Motts cranberry-Apple juice (60oz), Dole mandarin oranges (4), Kraft shredded cheese (4) $16.12

Aldi:  avocados (2), cream cheese, grapes. $ 4.59

Tops:  eggs, potatoes (5 lb.)  $ 2.78

Total Groceries:  $23.49

Eating Out:

Lunch with Dad:  $ 25.46
Lunch with Angela:  $ 10.07

Total Eating Out:  $35.53

Grand Total:  $59.02

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Date Bars: A Blast From My Past

Growing up, Betty Crocker made a date bar mix.  I liked them but my husband loved them.

Betty Crocker no longer sells the mix.  :(

But, there is a recipe on line from them that will help you duplicate the bars at home.


1 pound of chopped dates
1/4 cup of sugar ( I usually leave this out as I find the dates are sweet enough on their own)
1 1/2 cups water

Cook over low heat, stirring, until the mixture is thick.  This takes about 10 minutes.  I do mine in the microwave to make sure that it doesn't stick.

Crust and topping:

1cup brown sugar.  I've used white and it work, too
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup soft butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients well.

Press half the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan.

Spread the filling over the base.

Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top.
Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.

Cut into bars while still warm.  Makes about 36.
Will freeze if you don't want to eat them all at once.  Yeah, that will happen.  :)

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Missing CSA

As you have probably noticed, we do not have a CSA membership this year.  Last year's half membership was so large that we still have some fruits and vegetables in the freezer and have just managed to use up others.

We still have blueberries, strawberries, strawberry jam and raspberries.  Corn, pesto, eggplant, green beans, yellow beans, peppers, pumpkin, spinach and kale are also still in the freezer.

Since we can't buy a quarter share, we decided to skip a year and fully clear the freezer of last year's produce.

We paid about $12 / week last year to purchase food that we are still enjoying this year.  I consider that a pretty good deal for produce that is next to organic.

Next year we will definitely be purchasing a CSA partial share again.  Support your local farmers.  Eat healthy produce.  Keep your budget in line.  What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Real Spanish Gazpacho

Over 40 years ago, when first married, Mike and I lived for three years in the Andalusia region of Spain.  There, a local taught me to make gazpacho.  This soup is like eating a cold salad in a bowl.  Make it often and enjoy.

There are no set amounts.  Just remember it is the tomato that should shine through.

Tomatoes, vine ripened are best but if you want to make it in the winter canned diced are much better and have more flavor than winter tomatoes in the grocery store.  I use one can or 2-3 large vine ripened.

Cucumber, about a half

Onion, about a half

Garlic, about 3 cloves

Bell pepper, any color will do, about a half

A slice of bread soaked in water

Olive oil, a generous glug

Vinegar, about 1/3 cup to start then adjust to taste

Lemon juice, about a Tbs

1/4 tsp salt, may not need if using canned tomatoes

Water if too thick

Blend all ingredients but do not puree.  There should still be discernable vegetable flecks.

Adjust to taste.

Chill very well before serving.  This is key.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Five Ways I Saved Money in July

1.  Using a coupon we received in the mail, we saved $15 on an order of Max's special diet food from  And, because it was our first autoship order, we got another 40%off.  All told, we saved about $42.  And I can cancel the autoship at any time.

2.  Oxiclean laundry detergent, normally $7.49, was on sale for $2.99.  I downloaded a $2.00 coupon.  My final cost was $0.99, or about 4 cents per load.  That's what my homemade laundry detergent costs.  I Saved $6.50  or 87%.

3.  I put the carcass of a roasted chicken to slowly cook overnight in my crockpot.  The next morning I separated the bones from the rich broth.  I also stripped the bones of all remaining meat.  I will use the broth to make a soup.  The meat will become southern BBQ for sandwiches.  Two free meals from what is normally thrown away.

4.  I made two quarts of homemade yogurt for $ 2.00 .  That's $ 0.25 /cup.  Much cheaper than at the store.  I have done this twice this month.

5.  I made homemade bagels.  The recipe made fifteen large bagels.  Because I buy my ingredients when they are on sale, the cost to me was less than.  $ 0.75.  That works out to $ 0.06/bagel.  I can't even buy them at the bread store for that.

Extra:  When I recently made a necessary online purchase I went through E-Bates and received an additional 10% back.  By doing this when I can, I have received a total of $166.60 back for very little effort.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Buying and Eating: July 16-31

We have $ 288.82  of our monthly allocation remaining for the second half of the month.     We also have a cushion of  $489.05 YTD.  Our total available cushion is $872.64

What we bought:
Bread Store:  pumpernickel, cinnamon swirl, cinnamon raisin English muffins. $2.78

Aldi:  cherries (1.7 lb), mandarins (3 lbs)  $5.32

Tops:  Italian bread, cheese (8 oz), ballpark cheddar franks, hamburger buns, lettuce, Cheeze Its, blueberries. $9.76

Price Rite:  pasta (4), chips (3), nectarines (2), Greek yogurt for starter, green olives  $11.87

Aldi:  pretzels. $1.49

Giant Eagle:  iced tea (56oz.)  $0.99 .for the lake

Tops:  eggs, cheese. $2.98

Price Rite:  Knorr's noodle side dishes (3), cake mix (2), whole chicken, bananas, mushrooms (3), shredded cheese (4), green olives. $ 17.89

Total spent on groceries:  $ 52.21

What We Ate:
Chicken vegetable soup and leftover Stromboli;  southern style chicken BBQ sandwiches, roasted smashed potatoes, sauteed spinach with garlic; spinach potato frittata, bacon and toast; charcoal grilled garlic chicken, three bean salad, bleu cheese grits, garlic bread;  Welsh rarebit, watermelon, 3 bean salad, black eyed pea salad; Mike was sailing so I had macaroni and cheese; chicken sandwiches with chips or pretzels and fresh fruit; beef curry and lentils pancakes; homemade chicken pot pie and salad; taco pizza; leftovers; BLT pasta salad and cheese quesadilla;  chicken fried rice, Chinese onion pancakes, fruit salad, green salad; sausage and pepperoni pizza with mushrooms and peppers;  leftovers

Eating Out:
Mike's Lunch. $2.62
Lunch Batavia.  $3.24

Total spent eating out:  $ 5.86

Grand total for the second half of the month:  $58.07
Grand Total for the Month:  $139.05. A stupendous month for the budget.

Amount to add to the cushion:  $ 230.95
Our cushion now stands at $ 620 YTD and $ 1103.59 overall

Sunday, July 29, 2018

How to Make Scones

The scone is the English cousin to a baking powder biscuit.

You can make sweet ones for breakfast or savory ones to serve with dinner.

The only limit is your imagination.

The basic sweet scone is:

2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 cup sugar, with extra to sprinkle on top
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives
milk, start with half cup.  You can also use yogurt if you like or sour milk.

Extras:  cinnamon, nutmeg, cinnamon chips, chocolate chips, raisins, craisins or whatever your heart desires.

For a savory scone:

 substitute a tsp. of salt for the sugar and add your favorite herbs and spices such as garlic, onion, rosemary or tarragon, or whatever you like.  Cheese is always a good addition.

When mixing either type, add just enough wet ingredient to make a dough that holds together.  Try to not over handle the dough and make it tough.

Form into a round about an inch and a half thick.  Score the top for 8-12 wedges.

Bake at 400 until golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Serve while warm and enjoy.  Butter is good with them but not necessary.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Very Easy Frozen Yogurt

I recently made some frozen yogurt for the first time in years.  I had forgotten how easy it is, and only three ingredients.

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
1/3 cup brown sugar, or more to taste, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
4 cups vanilla yogurt, I used homemade non-fat

Mix the sugar and fruit and heat until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is syrupy.  I used the microwave.  Chill until COLD.

Process according to the directions that came with your ice cream maker.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, combine well and  freeze until firm in a container, stirring frequently.

We made red raspberry and it was delicious.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Old Fashioned Raisin Pie

My grandmother used to make this pie in the winter when fresh fruit was scarce.  I don't know why, but I felt the urge to make one recently.  It was just as delicious as I remembered.

Have or buy the pastry for a two crust pie.

Put two cups raisins into two cups water.  Bring to a boil and cook about five minutes until the raisins are plump.

 Mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 2 T flour.  Stir these dry ingredients into the raisin mixture.

Cook this mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.  Cook, stirring, one minute longer.

Add one quarter cup lemon juice and stir well.

Pour on top of bottom crust. 

Add top crust and cut air vents.

Bake thirty to forty minutes at 425 or until crust is browned and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the pastry. 

Can be served warm or cold.

Especially good served with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Easy Homemade Yogurt

No formal machine is needed to make yogurt at home.  I use a small cooler for incubating the milk, two mason jars, an instant read thermometer , a container of yogurt with ACTIVE yogurt cultures (I use plain or vanilla with the later giving a less acids taste to the batch), milk and a large bowl.

Scald the things you are using with boiling water to kill any stray bacteria.

Get the milk ready.  You might want to make a quart to start with.  I make it two quarts at a time.

You can use fresh milk, dried milk, soy milk.  Anything you have.  If I use dried milk or soy I add some extra dried milk to the mix, about a half a cup for two quarts, to give it more thickness when done because I like the consistency of Greek yogurt.

Heat the milk up to 180 degrees.  I do mine in the microwave at 50%
power because you don't want it to boil over.  I don't like scrubbing scalded milk of the bottom of saucepan.

Cool the milk to 110 degrees.  This is IMPORTANT.  If you kill the active yogurt cultures it will not work.

Add the yogurt with ACTIVE cultures to the mason jar(s) and stir.  SLOWLY add the 110 degree milk, stirring constantly.  Put the lid(s) loosely on the jar(s).

Put the jars into a small picnic cooler.  Fill the chest with warm water up to the neck of the jar.  Place the cooler in a turned off oven to help retain the warmth.
Let incubate, without disturbing it, overnight or about 12 hours.

Refrigerate for up to 2 1/2 weeks.

Use as yogurt (add jam for fruit yogurt and to impart sweetness), sour cream, to replace buttermilk, in salad dressings.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Buying and Eating: July 1-15

We started the month with an allocation of $369.00 and a cushion of $489.05 ytd and $872.64 in total.

What We Ate:  Jambalaya, fried green beans, cornbread muffins; homemade sausage, peppers and onion pizza; brats and pasta salad; scalloped potatoes and ham, cheese bread, three bean salad;  leftover smorgasbord;  deli sandwiches and pretzels;  chef salads and Italian cheese bread with raisin pie;  pasta with Serrano ham, edemame and creamy cheese sauce, watermelon, cheese bread and pie;  quinoa salad with egg salad wraps; grilled ham steak with pear jelly glaze, cauliflower with three cheese sauce, quinoa salad, watermelon; meat, bean and rice stack enchiladas with corn and watermelon;  ham and smoked turkey Stromboli with popcorn; pasta, salad and garlic bread

What We Bought:

Save A Lot:  spare ribs, hot dogs, olives, bbq sauce, peaches $ 14.41

Aldi:  onions, pretzels, colored peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, spring mix. $ 10.24

Save a Lot:  butter, cinnamon, baking powder.  (In the RV and forgot.) $ 5.18

Save a Lot:  T-bone steaks (3), peaches (3), plums (3), nectarines (3), orange mint thins. $ 16.03

Save a Lot:  Smith's bacon (12 pounds), olives. $30.04

Giant Eagle:   sea salt, yogurt ( starter to make a batch), McDonald's coffee frappe. $3.93

Total Groceries:  $49.83

Eating Out:
 Taco Bell on way to New York. $ 8.35
 Lunch in New York.  $ 12.85
Lunch going to New York. $10.15

Total Eating Out:  $31.35

Total for First Half of the Month:  $ 81.18

Remaining for the Second Half of the Month:  $288.82

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Slow Cooker Tea Cake

I wanted something special for breakfast.  But I wanted easy.  And since it's summer, I didn't want to heat up the kitchen more than necessary.  So in the afternoon I made a tea cake, literally.  It contains tea.

Mix together the following:

1 cup sugar, we found it to be over sweet so will cut the sugar next time
1 cup tea, I used orange spice but any tea would work
1 cup dried fruit such as raisins, I used dried cranberries.  Next time I'll try prunes
1 cup flour, I used whole wheat and upped the liquid some to compensate, I used orange juice but you could just use more tea to keep costs down
1 tsp baking powder

Cook for 1 1/2 hours in a container that fits into your slow cooker.  Cooking times will vary  with the type of slow cooker so add time as you need to.  Cook on high.  Put a tea towel under the lid to absorb condensation.

This is a very simple British  recipe updated to bake in the slow cooker.
I baked a treat without heating up the kitchen.  WIN!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Two More Inexpensive Vegetarian Meals

Bean and Rice Burritos:

Either cook up some beans from dry (cheaper) or drain and rinse canned beans, either pinto, kidney or black beans will work.

Mash the beans and season as you like.  I add cumin, garlic and onion powder, and chili powder.  If cooking from dry, add some salt.

Cook some white or brown rice. Feel free to cook more than you need and freeze the extra for quick future meals.

Season the rice with your favourite salsa.

Place beans and rice on a flour tortilla.

Add sour cream or Greek yogurt, chopped tomato and onion, lettuce, cheese or whatever you like.  Some more salsa is also good.

 Roll and enjoy.

Meatless Taco Soup:

Cooked or canned beans:  pinto, kidney, black or a combination.

Whole kernel corn.  Canned works well and is often cheaper.

Rotel tomatoes.

Tomato juice.

Chopped onion.

Spices such as garlic, cumin, chili powder.

Heat through slowly to blend flavors.

Crumbled corn tortilla chips on top when serving for garnish.

Some cheese is also good.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Five Ways I Saved Money in June

1.  We used points to pay for our Hotel rooms in both Amsterdam (x2) and Dresden.  As a very conservative estimate, that saved us over $300.

2.  Parking the car at a Park and Fly in Toronto that was running a special:  pay for a week, park for a month.  That saved us about $375.

3.  Shopping at local grocery stores in Dresden, Prague, Budapest and Amsterdam for most of our meals rather than paying restaurant prices.

4.  Drinking the free coffee on the boat rather than paying €4 for a cola.

5.  Downloading only the free books on Amazon.

An Extra:  We saved $48 in speciality food for our cat Max because we were willing to take food three days beyond its best by date.  It pays to use the same vet for 30 years.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Buying and Eating: End of June and Half Way Through the Year

I allotted $61.55for the last five days of the month  plus we have a cushion of $455.78 YTD and $839.37 in total.

What We Ate:
Grilled steak, rice, corn, strawberry shortcake (all from freezer);  black bean casserole, Mac and cheese with salsa,  lima beans and strawberry shortcake;  pasta with meat sauce (using meatloaf from freezer), garlic cheese bread, three bean salad, fruit salad and cookies;  Italian beef stir-fry and cranberry apple muffins;  homemade pizza with three cheeses,sausage, onion and peppers

Eating Out:
Aunt Millie's on trip home from Toronto  $14.22
Lunch with Bill and Ginger. $14.06
Total:  28.28

We were able to eat from the freezer and the cupboard so our only cost were two meals out for a total of $28.28.  That leaves $ 33.27 to add to the cushion.  So, our YTD  cushion is now $489.05 and our total cushion is now $ 872.64.

We are 181 days into the year and in total for groceries and meals out we have spent $ 1739.06.  That averages out to $9.66/day and $ 4.83/person/day.

So far this year we have spent $ 207.41 eating out or $1.15/day.
For groceries we have spent $ 8.51/ day or $ 4.25 /person/day.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Easy cranberry muffins

I can often get great deals on cereal at the salvage groceries.  Last month I got two boxes of Quaker Multigrain Flakes with cranberries and apple for $1.

I decided to use some to make some muffins.

I followed a muffin recipe from my very old Betty Crocker cookbook (40+years old), substituting the Wheaties called for with my Quaker flakes.

They were yummy for breakfast and would also go well with a light dinner or for a snack.

1 egg
1/2 cup milk  (I substituted orange juice)
1/4 cup oil
2 cups Quaker Multigrain Flakes with cranberries and Apple
handful of dried cranberries for fun (optional)
Mix above well and let sit for ten minutes or so

1 cup flour
1/2 cup of sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
Mix well

Put into a greased muffin tin and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes
Makes 12 muffins

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June: An Unusual Month for Buying and Eating.

We have been on vacation this month visiting our daughter in Berlin and taking a two week river cruise on the Danube and Rhine rivers.  Food was either provided or fell under the vacation budget.

Now that we are back,  I have allocated $12.31/day for 5 days or $61.55 to get us to the end of the month of June.

This will be needed to restock our bare refrigerator.

July we will be back to normal.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Literally Modern Cologne

Cologne was a bit of a letdown.

The city has a long Roman history.

It was a major city during the Middle Ages.

In 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of Prussia.

After WWI, it was part of the Weimer Republic and suffered inflation and hyperinflation.

During WWII, the city was heavily bombed, destroying 96% of its buildings.

The decisions made when rebuilding the city focused on creating a modern city of the 1950-1960's.

Modern architecture abounds.

Rectangular cement buildings are everywhere.

Except for the Cathedral, it's as if the city has no history.

A little sad.

Friday, June 22, 2018


Tomy Temerson,  a musician with his own Wikipedia page and one of the best concert level players in the world, was brought on board to perform a concert for us on the oldest folk music instrument of the German speaking countries of Austria, Switzerland and Germany:  the zither.

The zither is very difficult to play.  You must play the melody and the accompaniment at the same time.  Just like with the harp, piano, organ and guitar.

Playing the zither is like playing three guitars at once:  melody, bass and rhythm.
The musician must play three different rhythms at once with only two hands.

There are 42 strings in total:  5 melody and 37 accompaniment, on a concert zither.

To play it well, the player must develop a full set of thick calluses on both hands.  The calluses allow the player to get between the strings to pluck them or hold the melody strings down when playing the instrument.  Without calluses this is quite painful.

To tune the instrument by ear takes 45 minutes.
And since the zither is very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, it must be tuned every time it is played.

Listening to a zither concert is like listening to three classical guitarists play perfectly together.  However, only one very skilled musician is playing all the guitars.  Bravo!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Rhine River Valley

Today we took a beautiful and relaxing morning cruise through the Rhine River Valley.

Wine grapes have  been grown along the Rhine since Roman times.  The vineyards are beautifully terraced along the steep sides.  Today, most of the grapes grown here are Riesling grapes.

Some of the vines are young, 3-20 years old.  Some are medium age, 20-50 years old.  Some, 50 plus years, are considered old,  Using a mixture of these grapes gives the wine a complexity and balance.

Originally, some of the fortifications along the river were originally built to protect the vineyard owned by the church.

Also, half timbered houses, small villages, and castles high above the river abound.

All but one of the medieval castles along the Rhine were destroyed by the French in 1689 to weaken the German defenses.  A lot later many were rebuilt by the state or privately and are now private residences, hotels or hostels.

At one place you will see the Statue of Germania, like our Statue of  Liberty and from same time period, standing majestic, high in the vineyards.

In the 1950's Germany gave a mountain along the Rhine to the Netherlands so that they could use the rock to reinforce their dams.  Although Germany expected them to later return the mountain, the Netherlands has never given it back. So you still have a piece of the Netherlands on the banks of the Rhine.

Some tunnels along the Rhine were used by the Nazis to hide art and other valuables.  They were made to look like ancient fortifications by the Nazis because the allies had orders not to bomb the ancient castles and fortifications.

In one town there is a connected pub and church.  You must enter and exit the church through the pub.  I don't know which came first, the church or the pub.  Unique.  Have a pint or two on Saturday then proceed to church on Sunday to confess your sins.  One stop shopping.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Rothenberg is a city that defines what picturesque is.

 Its largely preserved Medieval Old Town, with nary a modern building in sight, is still fully contained inside the original walls of the city.  Ancient cobblestone abounds.

 After the Thirty Years War in the 1600's, the city of Rothenberg could be said to have fallen into a light sleep.  The city was deemed unimportant.  Development stood still.  Luckily for us, this allowed the city to be faithful preserved in all its ancient beauty.

In the early 1930's Rothenberg became a Nazi stronghold, garnering 83% of the vote.  By 1938 all of Rothenberg's News had been expelled and its synagogue destroyed.

In March of 1945 the city underwent Allied bombardment, destroying some of the eastern part of the city.  Luckily, the most important part of the city's architectural heritage was preserved.

 After the war, the destroyed buildings were faithfully reconstructed.  Some of the reconstruction was financed by donations from Americans who felt guilty about destroying part of such an historic site.

An April 1945 artillery attack was avoided due to the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany's knowledge, from his mother who had visited the city before the war, of the great historical and cultural significance of the city.

Considered a prototype of a German Medieval City, the area is a magnet for tourists who like to walk its quaint narrow streets and gaze upon its many half -timbered buildings.  To sit and sip a local wine, eat a Bavarian pretzel and relax is a must.

Monday, June 18, 2018


Nuremberg was the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire.  The Imperial Diet, a negotiating body, and the Imperial Courts met in Nuremberg's castle.  The city was one of the most important cities of the Empire.

For the Nazi Third Reich, Nuremberg again took on political importance.

Because of its past importance to the Holy Roman Empire, and with a desire to a align itself with the glory of that empire, the Nazis decided to hold their 1927, 1929, 1933-1938 enormous propaganda rallies in Nuremberg.

These huge propaganda events, catering to emotions and not intellect, were held to espouse the ideas that were the underpinnings of the Nazi party, including Aryan superiority.

In 1935, the infamous Nuremberg Laws laws were passed here.  It was with these laws that, it became illegal for Jews to marry non Jews, and the German citizenship of all Jews and non- Aryans was revoked, a necessary precursor to the Holocaust which was to follow.

The famous Nuremberg War Crimes trials were held here and not in Berlin because

      1.  Due to the numerous Nazi rallies and the passing of legislation to strip Jews of their citizenship here, it was felt to be symbolic that the Nazis should also be held accountable for their war crimes in Nuremberg.

      2.  The courthouse was one of the few in Germany that had a large enough courtroom, was relatively intact, and has an adjoining jail to hold the accused.

 Military and political leaders, including Herman Goring and Rudolph Hess, were held accountable for their involvement with the Holocaust and other Nazi war crimes.

Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, and others, who would also have been tried, had already committed suicide before they could be brought to justice.  Others had fled to Argentina.

Twenty four individuals were tried at the initial tribunal.  Twelve were sentenced to death.  Three were sentenced to life in prison.  Two were acquitted of the charges against them.  Others were given lesser sentences.

Tribunals, prosecuting lesser individuals and holding these individuals culpable for crimes instead of the all encompassing state, were later held.

The Nuremberg tribunals are important, also, because they are the basis of today's International Criminal Court.

 The Nuremberg trials brought to the forefront very sobering examples of man's terrible inhumanity to man that should never be forgotten.

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Regensburg's largely preserved old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2006.

Although it was first settled in 5000 B.C., like countless other cities it can trace its "modern" roots to a Roman fortress.

Romanesque and Gothic architecture from the Middle Ages  created the old part of the city.  The old stone bridge constructed during the 1100's is a symbol of the city's wealth during this time in history.

House towers were constructed by the affluent families of the time.  The Golden Tower remains today as a fine example of the architecture of the time.

In 1273 the construction of the Regensburg Cathedral was begun.  Today it is a landmark and architectural gem.

In April of 1809, French troops led by Napoleon, retook the city of Regensburg.  During this battle, Napoleon suffered his first and only injury in all his campaigns.

During WWII several Nazi work camps were established around Regensburg.  Here prisoners of war did forced labor and lived in squalid conditions.  Over 700 died.

An aircraft facility was also located west of the city.  It was bombed by the Allies and destroyed in August of 1943.

Regensburg was slow to recover from the war.  This had a silver lining:  The old buildings of the town were not torn down in the name of redevelopment.  By the 1960's, when recovery did begin, preservation of these buildings was, thankfully, considered paramount.

Visit today and step back in time to Medieval Europe.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Salzburg and the Sound of Music

Salzburg is a city of churches and beautiful town squares.

From the 1300's until the early 1800's it was an autonomous city ruled by Bishop-Princes who controlled both the religious and secular parts of life.  They also built beautiful residences and countless churches.

However, in the early 1800's, as a result of a command by Napoleon, the autonomous city became part of Bavaria.

Mozart was born and lived here until his early death at the age of 35.

The popular Mozartkugel, a ball of chocolate with a marzipan center, was first made in Salzburg.  Even today they are still handmade here, although mass produced in other European cities.  You can't come to Salzburg without trying one.

Another sweet you must try is a unique version of meringue, served in the form of three mountain peaks.  We lunched in St. Peter's Restaurant and tried them after some wonderful schnitzel.  They were divine.

The Alps have their beginning in Salzburg.  On one of the hills, a large medieval defensive fortresses from the 11th century, one of the largest in Europe, stands guard over the city.

To walk the city is a fine way to discover its fine examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern architecture.

However, what most tourists, of which there are many, identify with the city is the 1965 movie The Sound of Music.

Set in Salzburg during the run up to WWII, it uses some of the existing sites in and around the city as background for the movie:  the cemetery of St. Peter's, the beautiful gardens across the Danube from the city, the historic Benedictine Abbey and the Salzburg Music Festival, to name a few.

However,it must be remembered that the movie, though based on fact, is not always accurate.

For example, Maria and Captain von Trapp were married in the late 1920's and not the late 1930's.  And, they did not walk over the Alps to Switzerland, hundreds of miles away.  The took the train to Italy and from there proceeded to the U.S.

A beloved movie almost world wide, the movie remains widely unknown, except by tour guides, in German speaking countries.  Made only twenty years after the end of the war, memories were fresh and the depiction of Nazis unappreciated.

It remains unknown to this day.  Ironic.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Wachau Valley, Durnstein and Melk Abbey

Today we sailed through the "Golden Wachau" Valley.  Terraced grape vines along its 25 mile stretch attest to the famous wine growing industry of the valley.  The picturesque villages hug the hills with ancient fortifications soaring above them.

One such village is that of Durnstein.  It became famous in 1192 when it's castle held the English king Richard I, the Lionhearted, who was captured on his way home from the Crusades and held for ransom.  The ransom was paid after a few months and Richard was released.

Today it is a popular tourist city.

It is rumored that Diana, Princess of Wales, would stay in the town's luxurious hotel and enjoy the fabulous scenery as she tried to avoid the paparazzi.

Further down the Danube is Melk Abbey, perched high above the town of Melk on the rocky hillside.

Leopold II gave the Benedictine monks one of his castles in 1089 to be used for a monastery.  One hundred years later a monastic school began.

With time, the monastary's library of manuscripts gained renown, as did the Abbey' production of hand inscribed copies of manuscripts.

Today's Abbey was constructed in the early 1700's in Baroque style.  The decoration lavish and awe inspiring.

Its library contains a large collection of Medieval manuscripts, including musical manuscripts.

Its school is still functioning, having a student body of almost 900 young men and women.

It is a piece of still living history.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Vienna is a large capital city of what is now a small country.  One third of Austria's population lives in the Vienna metropolitan area.

But Vienna has a long and glorious history of being the capital of great empires, thus its size.

From 800-1806, it acted as a capital for the Holy Roman Empire and, in 1440 it became the center of the Hapsburg's dynasty.  In 1867 it continued as the capital of the newly created Austria- Hungarian Empire.  It would remain so until the collapse of the Empire in 1918.  In 1919 today's smaller Austria was born.

1938 saw the absorption of Austria by Nazi Germany.    Berlin became its capital.   65,000 Jews would be sent to their death during the course of the war.

It would not be an autonomous nation again until 1955 when the Soviet hold on the city ended.  Modern Austria is governed by the Social Democratic Party and has declared itself a neutral country.

With a strong economy, a geographic location that makes it a gateway to former Eastern Bloc countries, and ranked as one of Europe's most livable cities, Vienna is a tourist magnet.

The city is home to many international organizations and a member of the European Union.

During the centuries it developed deep  musical, cultural, educational, architectural and economic roots still visible today.  History is around literally every corner of the city.

In 1913, this melting pot of a city was home to Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Sigmund Freud,  Joseph Tito, and Adolph Hitler, men who would define the twentieth century.

The late 1800's saw the dismantling of the historic wall around the city and its replacement with a beautiful boulevard around the heart of the city.  Lined with governmental buildings and large homes, yet also full of relaxing and reviving green spaces, this area is a must to explore.

With repair, restoration and reconstruction of the damage of WWII complete, the palaces, churches, city squares, and cultural buildings of Vienna once again exert a pull on tourists, as they should.

Music ,theatre, opera, museums, cafes, cuisine:  Vienna has it all.  A must see city.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia as well as its largest city.  It is the cultural and educational center for the country.

Slovakia is blessed to border on both Austria and Hungary. This geographic placement making exporting easy,  and the country's business friendly policies and skilled workforce have helped to make Bratislava a car manufacturing and tech center.

The Romans introduced grape growing and wine making to the region and this industry continues to today.  However, since all the wine is consumed internally, none is available for export.  (These people can party.)

From 1536-1830 eleven kings and queens of Hungary were crowned in Bratislava at St. Martin's Cathedral in the city center.

After 1830, Bratislava began lose importance to Vienna and Budapest who then became the centers of social and cultural life.

At the end of WWI, with the breakup of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, what is now Slovakia became a part of the newly created Czechoslovakia.

The country came under Nazi domination during WWII and 15000 Jews were transported to concentration camps and ultimately died.

The Communist party seized Czechoslovakia in 1948 and it was part of the communist bloc until the the fall of Communism as the result of the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

In 1993 Bratislava  became the capital of the newly formed Slovak Republic when Czechoslovakia divided itself into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, sometimes referred to as the Velvet Divorce.

Today the economy is very strong with car manufacturing, technology and service jobs being the strongest three sectors.  Tourism is also a rapidly expanding sector.

This young but proud country and its beautiful capital city are poised to grow even more in the years ahead.  Well worth a visit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Buda and Pest

Until 1873 there was no Budapest.  There was the city of Buda and Obuda on one side of the Danube and the city of Pest on the other.  When they joined together Budapest was born. The capital and largest city in Hungary, it is also one of the largest cities in the European Union.

The city started out as a Celtic settlement, then became a Roman capital.  The first Hungarians arrived in the 9th century.  Later, beginning in 1541, it was ruled by the Ottomans for 140 years.  The Hapsburgs drove the Ottomans out in 1718 and established  the Kingdom of Hungary.  Still later, from 1867, it became the co-capital of the Austrian-Hungarian empire.  When the empire dissolved at the end of World War I, an independent Republic of Hungary came into being.  After World War II, The People's Republic of Hungary was part of the Soviet block until the fall of communism in 1991.

Although partially destroyed by Allied bombing raids in 1944, and the destruction of every bridge over the Danube by the Germans, Budapest has recreated itself as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

The architecture of the city reflects its long and varied history.  You can see everything from Roman ruins through modern skyscrapers, although the majority of building are kept low to preserve the historic nature of the city.  The multitude of architectural styles coexist well and give the city its unique sense of self.

There are many things to see but one thing you must make time to see is the Jewish temple, the mass graves of Holocaust victims located there, and the evocative Holocaust memorial.  This was what touched me the most of all the places we visited.

Hungarian cuisine is another reflection of the country's varied cultural history.
Influenced by European and Asiatic foods, the resulting dishes are very flavorful and unique with the use of paprika and sour cream holding pride of place.

Plan more than one day to explore and appreciate this wonderful city.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Five Ways I Saved Money in May

1.  Visiting a salvage grocery, or two.  At the first I spent $ 93.63 for 105 items.  At the second I bought 115 items for $ 102.07.  My cupboards are stocked.

2.  Making homemade bread for about $0.20 versus buying it at Aldi or the bread store.  I can also make English muffins, tortillas, pitas, nann and bagels.  I just need to motivate myself to get back in the habit.  This bread is a small step forward.  (  But I still was bad and went to the bread store and spent $  5.56 on  7 items.    I could have made them for under $2.  My excuse is the RV is small for baking bagels, English Muffins and such.  That's my story and I am sticking to it. )

3.  I got lucky again and found another stash of yarn.  It was $1.25 per skein but still a great bargain.  I have had a hard time recently finding any but it seems my drought is over for awhile.  Now I just need to find a place to put it all.  :)

4.  Washing out zip lock bags.  I do this regularly for any bags that didn't contain meat.    I can reuse a bag several times before it ends up in the garbage.  By doing this I only need to buy one box each of sandwich, quart and gallon bags per year.  Every little bit counts.  And, it helps Mother Earth.

5.  Gather up the fragments vegetarian chili.  I put in a partial jar of homemade salsa that had been in the fridge awhile, the seasoned broth from cooking some pinto beans for refried beans, a half a can of enchilada sauce that has been lurking in the freezer, a small amount of the refried beans mentioned above, one can of beans and one can of Rotel tomatoes.  I let it all cook down.  I made enough for chili, chili spaghetti and chili burritos.   About 50 cents per meal.

An Extra:  Being lucky enough to go to the Middlefield Cheese Co-Op and buy about 12 pounds of cheese at about $2.39/pound on average.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Compact

With the world focused on the environment and what can be done to help Mother Earth, I thought now would be a great time to talk about The Compact.

An informal loose association of people world wide, The Compact is an agreement to try to source items needed from the used market:  thrift stores, charity shops, garage sales, etc.  Normal consumer outlets for consumer goods are your last resort.

 By doing this, you can help stop perfectly good items from ending up in a landfill.  The Compact hopes to be at least part of the answer to rampant consumerism.

You can set up your own rules for any exceptions you want to have.  Mine are that I am free to purchase undergarments and gifts new.  There are no Compact police.  No one will be monitoring your compliance but you.

I joined The Compact five years ago.  The woman who inspired me to join has been living this Earth friendly way for over fifteen years.  I encourage you to give it a try at the level that feels comfortable to you.  The environment will thank you.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Exploring Prague

Built along the banks of the Vltava river, Prague is used to being a capital city.  It was home to the kings of Bohemia; the center of government for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV; the capital of Czechoslovakia; and now the capital of government of the Czech Republic.

Known as the city of spires, its beautiful and varied buildings, painted a delightful array of colors, reflect the varied architectural styles of its over one thousand year history.  And, the buildings are of a very human scale, being generally four to six stories tall, making it a very comfortable city.  Its cobblestone streets and stone mosaic sidewalks harken back to another age.

Full of ancient churches, great museums, historic bridges, a university that is the oldest in Central Europe, as well as a beautiful palace, it's no wonder tourist flock to visit the city, making it the fifth most popular destination in Europe.

Geared towards its tourists, there is always someone who speaks English;  restaurants abound; and things in general are affordable, unless you desbyire to shop for Dior, Cartier and such.  They are also available for those with deep pockets.

Prague should definitely be on your bucket list of places to visit.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Visiting Dresden

Dresden has a history that dates to the 1500's.  The beautiful city reflects the many centuries in its varied architecture.  And yet, most of the buildings are less than a century old.  Some are less than a decade, although they appear much older.

In 1945, near the end of WWII, the city was virtually destroyed by Allied bombing raids in February of that year.

Faced with rebuilding, the decision was made to restore the city to the way it looked in 1940.  Starting in the 1950's and still continuing today, the city is restoring itself to reflect its past beauty.

At noon everyday is a walking tour that highlights the progress to date.  Museums, churches, palaces and homes are highlighted for the participants to observe and reflect upon.

Like the Phoenix arising from the ashes, Dresden is meticulously recreating its past grandeur.

It's a wonderful place to also reflect upon the historic and beautiful structures and artistic endeavors forever lost to us due to man's inhumanity to man over the centuries.

May we eventually learn from our past mistakes.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Eating in Amsterdam and on the Train to Berlin

Jet Lag equals no energy to go to a restaurant.

Local Grocery equals a good option.

We needed a dinner and lunch for on the train the next day.

We bought these items for our gourmet picnics:

4 hard rolls
Gouda cheese with caraway seeds
Pretzels:  cheese stuffed and peanut stuffed
Sliced apples with grapes and pineapple
A large bottle of soda

Enough for both meals.  €18.22
€9.11 /meal

A sandwich alone would have cost us at least €4.99.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Buying and Eating: May 16-31

We started the month with $381.30.  A total of $212.59 was spent during the first half of the month.  That leaves 168.71 for the remainder of the month.  We have a cushion of $849.06 ($465.47 ytd) that we can go into if needed.

What We Ate:  grilled salmon Caesar salad, fresh strawberries, asparagus;  grilled ham from the freezer, leftover sides, bread pudding; shrimp Caesar salad with toasted English muffins;  cheesy ham and potatoes from the freezer, mixed vegetables, fruit and rice salad from the freezer, banana muffins; turkey divan from the freezer, sweet and sour red cabbage, garlic and onion smashed potatoes, leftover fruit salad;  grilled Polish sausage, roasted cauliflower, rye cheesy bread;  Meatloaf, baked potato, corn;  leftovers; easy small pita and English muffin sausage pizzas with popcorn; Cincinnati Four Way Chili and bagels; homemade cream of asparagus soup and sandwiches; steak, creamy spinach rice, applesauce; smoked and BBQ ribs, coleslaw, curry potatoes, strawberry shortcake; leftovers then vacation

What We Bought:

Aldi:  strawberries (2), asparagus.   $4.27

Middlefield Cheese Co-Op:  12 pounds of cheese.  $28.63

Middlefield Salvage:  tomato juice, 46 oz., Pam (4), gal. White vinegar, sugar cone ice cream bowls, sauerkraut, 3 bean salad, corn, beignet mix, jerky, barley, Mac and cheese (6), Pecan Sandies, crispy dried onions, pie crust mix (6), cream of chicken soup (3), Pepperidge Farm sourdough bread, cereal (4), crackers (8), salad dressings (4), oatmeal, beef bouillon, digestive cookies (2), coffee (6), low carb tortillas (4), breakfast bars (6), gal.  corn oil, broth (2), shelf stable soy milk (2), candy bars (5), chocolate mint baking morsels (2), tuna (3), natural peanut butter (2), canned white beans (4), lasagna noodles, diced tomatoes .    $67.44

CVS:  Maxwell House instant coffee (9)  $21.91

Price Rite:  canned beans (3), kielbasa (3), cheese (4)   $13.13

Total for Groceries:  $135.38

Eating Out:

Breakfast with Dad at the Geneva Lodge:  $21.22

Lunch with Pat:  $21.80

Total for Eating Out:  $43.02

GRAND TOTAL:  $178.40

We went into this year's cushion by $9.69 this month.  The first time this year that we have gone over the monthly allocation.  Not bad.

Our YTD cushion now stands at $ 455.78 and our total cushion is $839.37.