Monday, May 15, 2017

Frugal Accomplishments

Wow, I cannot believe that we're halfway through May already!  We have only three weeks of school left, and then it'll be summer!

My boys were so wonderful to me this past weekend for Mother's Day.  We totally broke out of our routine on Saturday and had both breakfast and dinner out (dinner was courtesy of gift cards).  It was a fabulous day, complete with a little bit of garden work to keep me and little man happy (he did help, but mostly just enjoyed being outside).  It's a great day with your kiddos when there are little to no meltdowns or power struggles!

This week is all about using up what we have in the freezer and pantry, so we're skipping a trip to the grocery store (though I might need to pick up some yogurt).

Here's how this past week went, frugally speaking:

  • Kept up with our usual kitchen routines of making meals at home, including salmon pasta salad with peas and cucumber, grilled cheeses, salads, banana chocolate chunk muffins, egg and cheese sandwiches, and baked ham.  Snacks included fresh fruit, nuts, homemade croutons, and hard boiled eggs.
  • I was out of chocolate chips, so I chopped up part of a chocolate bar in the cabinet for the muffins.  Yum!  And a good use of what we had.
  • Gleaned spinach, arugula, mushrooms, kale, two gallons of milk, two pounds of strawberries, two containers of blackberries, and several containers of cut up fruit from the food pantry.  They have started gleaning from the farmer's markets at the food pantry, so they have loads of fresh produce.  The clients often don't take the greens, so they tend to go to waste.  We enjoy them a lot, so it's nice that we can use them.
  • Continued with composting, even bringing home our fruit and paper scraps from the church coffee bar on Sunday (I take my own coffee cup, so I just put the leftovers in that to bring home.)  Our compost is much more balanced since adding some spent hay with each kitchen scrap addition, which is great.
  • Hung much of our laundry, including some sheets and towels, on the line to dry when weather was conducive.  We continued with our regular cold water washing, except for towels, cloth diapers, and sheets.
  • Making a renewed effort to put water left in water glasses on plants, rather than down the drain.  This will really help with our container plants outside.
  • Used the dry mop for floor dusting rather than the broom vac, saving energy.  
  • Kept the windows cracked, and ran ceiling fans when necessary, to keep the house cool instead of running AC.  We will start needing to close front curtains soon during the day to keep the southern facing sun out (this is an advantage to us in the winter with our cold weather).
  • Planted asparagus crowns in the garden, hoping they will come up.  We also planted two bean plants that little man started at preschool and brought home.  It looks like at least one of them will make it, so it will be fun to watch with him.  
  • Split irises and hostas for other spots in the garden.  Purchased a few discounted bedding plants (marigolds, coleus, petunias) to fill planters, but also filled them with black eyed Susans and creeping Jenny ground cover from the garden.  Hoping they will fill in nicely in a few weeks and be a nice pop of color on our porch.
  • Hoping to find some cheap starts of basil for our garden so that we can make our annual supply of pesto for pasta, pizza, and sandwich spreads.
  • Benny talked to a local painter who has agreed to professionally spray some chairs with white paint for us for downstairs.  We purchased these from Craigslist for $10 a piece (a steal because they're so sturdy), but we know we'll get a better finish if they are professionally sprayed. The painter will do this in his spare time, so he's not going to charge us his regular fee. It will be nice to have these done and out of our garage space and into our craft room for regular use.
  • Did some free entertainment on Saturday with the boys at the library and the Children's Playhouse.  We also combined errands that day, meaning that we only had one car out, even with Benny at work and me being out with the boys.
  • Used gift cards for our Mother's Day celebration.  We ate out at Panera, which was a real treat for us.  The boys enjoyed it immensely, and we did a little window shopping at the mall (didn't even buy anything off the clearance rack!).  Benny also purchased my Mother's Day gift of a new cook book (The Food Lab) using gift card money from Barnes and Noble.  It is going to be a great book, written in much the same style as Cook's Illustrated, pairing science with cooking (two of my favorite things).  Little man made a cute card for me, and a fun hand print painting at school for Mother's Day.  
  • Finished up a year of professional mentoring, so I will be receiving a stipend for that in a few weeks.  We're planning for most of that to go toward paying off our home equity line, but a little of it will pay for a new pair of sandals for me for the summer.
  • Excited that our solar eclipse party was funded through Donor's Choose for school!  I have another project posted to fund new books for our classroom library, so check it out! Good Reads Make Great Readers!
What did you do to live and save green this past week?  I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

School Project: Solar Eclipse Party--Your Help Needed

Many of you know that I am a school teacher.  I rarely post here about that part of my life, but right now there's something very exciting going on that I'd like to share.

On August 21, the first day of school for next year, we have the chance to experience a solar eclipse with our students.  I am in the process of designing a school-wide event for students grades K-8 to teach them about the mechanics of an eclipse, types of light, the scale of our solar system, and how to view an eclipse safely.  We're incorporating science, math, literature, social studies, the arts, and many kinesthetic activities.

In order to make this project happen, there are some supplies that we need to purchase, especially to make safe solar viewing possible for our 300+ students.  Through the link below, you can make a donation to make our project possible.  Currently, we're about halfway to our goal!  Any gift you can give would be helpful, and for the next three days, your donation would be matched up to $50 if you include the promo code LIFTOFF.

So, I'd like to challenge my readers to consider donating over the next three days to have your donation doubled.  If you believe in my project like I do, would you consider sharing this with friends who might also support our project?

Thanks for considering!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Frugal Accomplishments

Spring has officially arrived!  We've had beautiful weather, mixed with showers.  It's been really nice for outside play, yard and garden work, and hanging clothes outside.  We've had cool enough evenings to enjoy the windows being open.

  • Cooked all meals at home including egg and cheese sandwiches, homemade granola (added pumpkin seeds and dried coconut), lentil sloppy joes, egg salad sandwiches, homemade pizza, and crock pot lasagna soup with salad.
  • Enjoyed a date night, thanks to Mom for keeping little man, with baby.  We used a gift card for a local restaurant, and then did dessert at home of brownies and ice cream.  
  • Salvaged several containers of berries, pears, apples, lemons, mushrooms, several loaves of bread, bagels, yogurt, and half and half from the food pantry.
  • Gleaned several snacks, milk cartons, and cheese sticks from the school cafeteria.
  • Kept up with all regular cold water laundry activities and hanging clothes to dry.
  • Kept up with composting activities, adding more hay to the compost.  This seems to be helping the fruit fly situation we had.
  • Planted free basil plants in the garden.  The parsley we planted has been eaten by rabbits (anyone know an easy way to keep them away?).
  • Spent a little time weeding the garden.  Need to split irises and hostas, so will relocate these to another garden area where they can multiply.  Might also split hellebores, as they're doing really well in the back garden.
  • Purchased new sandals for 50% off.  They are really good quality, so should last several years.
  • Carpooled to work two days.  Should be able to carpool most of next week, and the following weeks.
  • Enjoyed some time outside with little man on walks and playing "egg hunt" in the yard/garden.  He also helped some with weeding.
  • Enjoyed the cool air and having the windows open.  Will substantially save on the electric bill this month too.
  • Stayed away from the local kids consignment sale this time.  The boys can make do with what we already have for summer, so we didn't need anything.  
  • Met with our financial adviser to set up automatic savings for the boys, contribute more to retirement funds, and a little more to mortgage.
  • Accepted a curriculum writer position with DPI for the summer.  It will be a substantial amount of work, but the stipend will be worth it.
What did you do to live and save green this week?  I'd love to hear from you!