After what has felt like an extremely long, extremely cold winter, things seem to finally be warming up a little and feeling like spring might just be around the corner after all. For those of you in the Midwest or the Northeast where it regularly snows and stays cold this late in the year, this may not feel like something particular special, but for the Pacific Northwest, it has not been normal.
Of course, we STILL have a bit of snow that has stubbornly not melted hanging out in our yard (though it’s mostly gone now) and the dirt is still frozen solid, but the season is definitely changing. So much so that we may get close to a seventy degree day on Monday. I’m trying not to put too much stock in the weather report just yet, but I’m more than ready.
Visiting Hawaii at the start of February certainly helped with this winter, but that warm sunshine feels like a distant memory six weeks later when we’ve had snow in our neighborhood for every one of those six weeks. Our neighbors across the street do have some flowers in bloom now though, and our daffodils should be close behind. Spring, I’m ready and (not so patiently) waiting.
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Friday’s Frugal Five
1. I had a rare No Spend weekend day on Sunday thanks in no part to me. This time, it was me who very much wanted to go out to eat and spend money after getting home from church, either for lunch or for dinner, but they both wanted to stick around the house for the day so I got outvoted.
While I tend to be the bigger stickler for not going out and spending money, sometimes the impetus does come from them, and later on I was only too happy to see another zero spend day on the calendar instead of what could have ended up being an extra fifty to hundred dollars spent unnecessarily. I’m just as susceptible to inflating our discretionary food budget back to old levels, and weekend meals at home are so important to keeping that dollar amount in check.
2. Speaking of our overall food budget, we’ve been working on eating down the food in our pantry and freezer yet again. We still have some of the beef left from our local cow purchase back in July, and it’s time to finish it up.
We also have other food that’s been in there for a while, and it’s always good to clear the freezer out and start again fresh come spring and summer when we start being able to eat out of the garden again. This goes for our older canned and preserved foods as well, so we’re trying to stick to what we have first before buying even more at the grocery store.
We are still grocery shopping to a degree – we’ve never attempted a full pantry challenge month – but a long term balance seems like a good idea. Perhaps come summer when we have plenty of fresh produce ripening in the garden we could do a full month.
This past week I was able to make homemade tomato soup with grilled cheese (leftover bread that my parents gave to us since they weren’t going to eat it), plus we fried up some ground beef to add in so my husband could feel like he was having a heartier meal. A pantry meal but in no way deprivation – it was delicious. We ate it twice.
3. I picked up a few holds at the library (most excited about Rachel Held Evans’ newest book Inspired) as I continue to work on my goal to read thirty books this year. I’ve read five so far and am part way through three others, so this seems like I am on track so far.
I’m finding having one fiction reread on my Kindle app for on the go (confession: currently Breaking Dawn) and then one nonfiction hard copy book to read at home in the evenings is a good balance, though I got so excited about Inspired I put down my current read for the time being because I got hooked in the few pages I read on the walk back from the library.
I also paid my outstanding fees of $9.40 to the library this past week. Considering how many books I’ve checked out over the past couple years for both myself and the kiddo (my husband still prefers buying e-books), we’ve gotten well more value than that cost. Now if only I could always get the books back in time and not a day or two late. I end up renewing as many as I can last minute, but there are always a few that have a line of other people waiting to read and those end up with that 10¢ fee per book per day.
4. A friend of mine celebrated her birthday at a line dancing bar that we used to go to regularly pre kid and we took advantage of the late start (8pm) to squeeze in a date night for the two of use beforehand. Since my mother watches the kiddo for us (thanks again mom – you’re the best!), we don’t have to pay a babysitter, which automatically makes date night so much cheaper than it would be otherwise. I don’t know how people go on regular date nights without family support, because it would easily cost us an extra $60-$100 just for the babysitter.
As it was, we did take a Lyft (affiliate link – jeez I’m apparently full of them today – but always only what I would actually recommend to a close friend in real life) to and from their house so that we could fully enjoy ourselves and each have a couple of drinks, plus we didn’t have to think about or pay for parking (driving was twenty minutes and transit would have taken an hour and a half there and non existent on the way back due to the late hour).
I did order the Lyft both ways through Ebates, so we earned an extra 25¢ each way. Obviously this isn’t a wealth building amount, but all the little bits do add up to a decent sized check each quarter (usually $30-$60) that would otherwise not exist for the exact same purchases.
If you’ve never used Ebates before, I would definitely recommend it. When you go online to make a purchase, you just go through the Ebates portal, and if the purchase is on their list of rebate sites, then you get somewhere usually in the 2-5% cash back. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s worth it for things I would be buying anyway.
Of course, just like with anything else, I would not recommend Ebates if you know you’re likely to more spend money just to earn the “reward.” It’s only a tool to save money if it’s only used for your regular purchases. If Ebates is new to you, use this link to get $10 toward your first rebate check (referral link for me as well). It’s not going to make you big money, but every little bit adds up – as long as it actually goes to savings.
5. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s still too cold to start any planting outdoors since the ground is mostly frozen, but I spent some time this week doing some much overdue garden clean up. In case it seems like I can “do it all,” let me assure you that I leave plenty of things undone that aren’t always obvious in this online space.
Just this week I finally cleaned up the dead plants out of the raised beds, to include flowers, tomatoes, peppers, and giant asparagus plants. I *should* have taken a picture of the “before,” but I didn’t think about it in time. Let me assure you, though, it was very much needed. I may do a lot – and I don’t sit down very often (even to write most of these blog posts), but something always has to get pushed to the side to get the rest done.
Friday seems to now be a regular ten minute elliptical day. While I would love for this to be a longer workout, it’s ten minutes each week that I wasn’t making happen for the longest time. Saturday and Sunday we took advantage of the sunshine and relative (high forties) warmth and spent quite a bit of time walking around outside, both in downtown Edmonds along the water and through the wooded trails behind our house.
Monday was the line dancing night as well as a walk around the area after dinner and before dancing, which was a nice change from my typical exercise. I had forgotten how much I love those line dancing nights and I want to find a way to make it happen at least a few times a year.
Again Tuesday I didn’t have time for a workout because I had to take the kiddo to his four year old appointment for his annual checkup and vaccinations right after my work day ended. We ended up going to ice cream after that to balance out “the worst day ever” getting shots, so Tuesday was definitely a backwards day as far as my health and exercise went, but the kiddo got his vaccines, so I’ll count it as an overall win for the day.
Wednesday I ran outside in the sunshine in a t-shirt and yoga capris for the first time since running in Hawaii, and it felt glorious. I’ve run outside plenty in the rain and the cold, but it just isn’t the same as running in good weather.
Thursday the kiddo was kicking around his soccer ball and I decided to take advantage of a few minutes outside and jogged around the yard for ten minutes. Near the end, he decided to join me and we jogged down to the bottom of the hill and back together. As the weather gets better, I expect to squeeze in more of those kinds of workouts on random week nights.
What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods? Is spring headed your direction, or are you unlucky enough to be in the path of the bomb cyclone this week?
PS – I was a guest on the House of FI podcast this past week – check it out here 🙂