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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Frugal living update

[December 02, 2007 08:38 PM EST (Updated: December 14, 2007 01:06 PM EST) originally posted at Gather.com[I'm pretty upset that I somehow deleted my first post--the introduction to my renewed, frugal, healthful, green lifestyle! Oh well!]]

(NOTE: some of these "good habits" are not new, but are being combined and/or intentionally kicked up a notch.) This is my 2nd update on my "new lease on life", for those who might be interested.

Fire wood: we've had variable weather here in Virginia, but some nights it has gotten quite cold and so we've been using up our free fire wood. We have a wood stove insert and the house was built with a vent/grille in the ceiling of the family room (where fp is)/floor of upstairs hallway. When the fire really got going it was just too darn hot to even watch television in the family room and the two bedrooms immediately above the family room got toasty to the point my son needed to turn on his ceiling fan! Yet the rest of the house was not getting quite as warm as I like it. So I purchased ($29.99) a special 1/4 moon shaped fan that mounts at the upper door frame and blows some of the warm air from the top of the room out of the room (from problemsolvers.com). This has worked so well that my husband tells me the house has maintained 74 degrees (almost too warm!) upstairs and down, every night we've burned a fire and used the fan. I'll let you know the reduction in our electric bill next time it comes!

Shopping/Cooking: Made a 6 week menu plan and used the menu for the next two weeks to prepare my shopping list. Looked through grocery store circular and my coupons and headed out this afternoon for shopping. I also made a thorough check of my extra freezer and the pantry while compiling my list. I saved a bunch, since I knew what I needed and only bought what was on my list! Initial total: $144. After coupons and "store specials": $111.00. That may sound high for some folks, but our average bill -- after coupons and specials is $150/week! I did buy two meat items in bulk since they were on sale and have split up the packages and placed them in the freezer. I didn't buy a lot of junk, and I didn't buy duplicates or extra items that will go to waste because I knew exactly what I had and what I needed.I'm looking forward to our Angel Food grocery week (Dec. 15). We have a distribution site near our home and we placed our order for December before Thanksgiving. What a terrific menu!

Organization: This area is progressing, but not as quickly or painlessly as the shopping, electricity saving and cooking! We did clear everything off our 6' x 5' bulletin board in the kitchen and actually created a family information center. I'm pretty pleased with the results. We have mail in, to be filed and bills to pay mounted clear baskets from the office supply store (purchased on sale, using 'reward bucks' from prior purchases). Then I put up a dry-erase board, new 2008 calendar with large squares to write in, a printed "frequently called numbers" list and the menu plan. So far, so good. My husband likes it and he made a point to tell me he had placed mail in the proper basket 2 days in a row! :~)

Weight/healthy eating: We won't go there this time! Remember it's the holidays . . . Although I did not buy any MSG-laden cookies or snacks today! I?ve been using my master cookie mixes and doing more desserts from scratch. My husband and son are huge chocolate chip cookie fans, so I make them on an on-going basis. I'm going to make party mix and ar sweet snack mix for them to much on too, and hope my husband won't come home with store-bought cookies full of trans fats and MSG! I am also snacking on low fat ice cream as I type, so that's at least a start. I did get lots of fruit and vegetables today so I plan to snack on sliced apples, celery sticks and baby carrots throughout the week. I know once I get in the habit, it will be fine. At this point, I'm just tying to counteract the overeating associated with the holidays and can get more deliberate after Christmas.

Well, that's all the news that's fit to report at this point. Thanks for sharing my diary with me!

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