Thursday, January 7, 2016

What I Did With My Two Weeks Off

I tried to make the most of the time off of work but I spent a lot of it not doing anything which was a nice break.  I did a few things to try to save money but I am not sure that I was totally successful because we did have a few expenses with a big lunch out and too much shopping.  I realize after looking back at the long list that I did a few things and almost all of them involved food.  Here is my list:

I made tea everyday for myself to drink (and anyone else that might have been visiting).  Sadly, that cup dropped through my hands in a parking lot and cracked.  I was so upset with myself for not having a better grip on it or leaving it in the car but I guess that happens.  It is just so hard to find a nice reusable cup and that one has outlasted many others.

I made a double batch of Christmas cookies with lots of sprinkles including the homemade ones that my son made awhile ago because we were running low on the store bought ones.  We are very low of lots of sprinkles so I have been keeping my eye open for sales and I guess I have to get some soon because my son likes them in his oatmeal sometimes... I think that I still have Halloween ones so we will be using those for oatmeal.

I made a batch of chocolate chip muffins which we really enjoyed for lots of snacks.  I also took blueberry muffins and English muffins out of the freezer which we enjoyed around the busy holidays.  Always great to have a few extra baked goods in the freezer.  I usually have something but currently we have cleaned out everything to make room for new.

I took bags and bags of bread ends and cut them into cubes and toasted them.  I am totally ready for more breadcrumbs or stuffing for the rest of the coming year.  I ended up with four big gallon bags of toasted cubes and one bag of non-toasted cubes.  This took a few days and made quite a mess but I decided to use the cookie sheets instead of the pizza pan that I normally use so that I didn't destroy the new oven.

I made some dinner rolls for Christmas dinner and I made two batches so that I could leave the extra because my brother in law enjoyed the leftovers after Thanksgiving.  We didn't take any home this time so this picture is from a previous batch of yumminess.

I roasted the pumpkin that I have had sitting inside our front for ages so that I could make some yummy pumpkin bread.  I got a pumpkin free from work and used it to make pumpkin puree.  I might have cut myself when cutting it up but what can I say, I always cut myself!

I separated out the seeds so that I cold clean and bake those to enjoy.  Yummy and salty when I was done even though there weren't that many.

I worked to get my daily amount on Swagbucks so that I could earn a $25 gift card for my mother in law.  I got it and emailed it to her even if it was a little after Christmas.  At least it was before the new year by a few minutes.  

We took many trips to the library to get books for both my son and myself.  He also got to participate in the reading program there so that he could get neat little gifts for every five books he read (limit one per day).  He got Bingo cards, puzzle, some game with wood tiles that I don't know how to use and a stop watch.  He also got some summer stuff like a frisbee for the pool and a ball that swishes because both his didn't make it through last year.  We have until the end of February to continue this so I know that we will be keeping track of all of our reading because he is enjoying these prizes.  He is also enjoying the attention from the librarians because this is a new library to us so they don't know him yet.

I went to CVS and bought four bags of popcorn and two nut bars with coupons so they were all free.  It was only tax that I had to pay and my parents picked up the tab because I shared way more in coupon with them to get nuts that my dad wanted.

I made some cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning from scratch and things that I had in the house including some yummy cream cheese frosting.  I didn't take a picture so the best you can have it an old one but they looked a lot the same and then I smeared them with cream cheese frosting.  I think that we have discovered that we actually like them better leftover then fresh.

I cooked a roll of sausage that I bought on clearance and had in the freezer.  I wasn't sure what I was going to use it for but I figured that it would get used better if I cooked it.

I made some homemade spaghetti sauce and added the sausage so that I could use it for making dinner that night and then I used it for lasagna which took me way too long to make. After making everything, I had nearly a full jar so I threw it in the freezer to use for next time.

I made chicken stock with a carcass and leftover veggies from the freezer.  My sister in law also gave me the turkey carcass and I made more broth with that and more leftover veggies from the freezer.  We have a fully stocked freezer with lots of stock.  I used the stock from both to make soup three different times too!!

My mom brought two sad looking zucchini with her which I used to make oven fried zucchini to go with pasta one night for dinner.  I also saved a bag of very sad green beans and stir fried them to go with another meal.  She also left us two wonderful heads of romaine which we had for salads on two different nights with yummy homemade salad dressing.

I made some yummy scones with blueberries and lemon and a little strawberry when my parents were here with the remaining berry yogurt that I had.  They really enjoyed them.  Then I had Pumpkin yogurt to use up  so I decided that needed to add a little more cinnamon to the mix.  My mom also bought me the yummy caramel bites so I put in half the bag with made them amazing!!!  Instead of sugar on the top, I used cinnamon and sugar so they were super tasty and a great treat.

I made a lasagna to eat and one to freeze with the homemade sauce and the noodles that I had leftover in the cupboard.  I probably could have used more noodles but I never know when I start how much it is going to make.  I made one in an 8 x 8 baker to freeze and we put these these in the oven to have for a super yummy lunch.  I was planning on saving them for dinner but they smelled too yummy and my husband asked if they could be lunch.  Loved them!!  Made with freezer garlic bread.

I made seasoned oyster crackers with the free Chex Mix flavoring that I got at Walmart on Black Friday.  I ran out of all my other seasonings so it seemed like a good idea.  I also had a sheet pan already greasy from the pumpkin seeds so I used that so bonus was that I got a little extra salt and only had to clean once.

I made a loaf of bread in the bread machine.  I needed to have it for sandwiches and everything for back to school but I also have to use the rest of the milk again because we didn't finish the gallon that my mom bought while she was here and we are near the end of it.  I hate wasting so I am going to have to come up with more things to make with it.

We tried out the popcorn machine that my mother bought us for Christmas.  I made two batches to fill the container with popcorn and we made a third batch to enjoy while watching the DVD Home.  I still don't think that it is as good at the stove top kind but I am hoping that I can work on it and get it better next time.

I made some chocolate chip cookies too!  I thought that it would be a nice treat since we were out of most of the treats from the beginning of the vacation.  Super happy to have a nice treat to tide us back to real life if they last that long.  Sadly I only had enough for a single batch because of my lack of brown sugar.

Our best frugal save was the three bookcases that my husband saved from the garbage.  We set two up with DVDs because we have too many.  The other was for all our board games because we moved 8 or 9 boxes of games!!  UGH!!  The new bookcases were free and my husband installed them over break. I unpacked a ton of boxes with all the DVDs and my husband took two loads to the recycling center to get rid of them all.

I took our other bookcase to use for all of my son's video game parts.  I decided to use the cubes that my mom bought us at Aldi to organize all of the different systems because my husband pulled out the old ones before the holiday to entertain my son with some of the older games.  I think that there are probably a few others that we would have fun hooking up but I am trying to not have too many hooked up at once.  I guess we will see but this helped for more boxes to get recycled and emptied.  We still have to move things around a bit but the cubes are a little big to fit on the shelves so it might take a little shelf moving.

Lastly and not least, my husband took the shelves in the linen closets and repainted them.  We thought we were going to be able to replace them with shelves at Home Depot but they were a few inches to short so we end up saving money and using the paint that we already have to prime and paint them.  I unpacked the stuff for the one linen closet and then had to find the boxes for the other linen closet.  This also helped to get more things organized and got rid of more boxes.  Super excited that I am actually going to know where things are soon!!

As always, I was hoping to get a few more things done to save money but there is never enough time.  I did get my thank you notes written which was on my to do list.  Lucky thing was that I had plenty as soon as I could uncover the box in the storage room.  Hoping that we are going to be more settled after these few weeks including getting my son's bed frame set up and his new ceiling fan installed which were too big milestones.  Lots more things on the list to do but I think that this break gave us lots of progress on the house!!

How productive were you over your holiday??


  1. Oh my goodness, you were busy? The only thing we did was go skiing for a week! Happy Holidays!!

    1. That sounds like way more fun. Did you do it around here or go away?? We were going to go away but I knew that no matter how much time we had at home, we would still have lots of things to do. I am super glad that we got stuff unpacked. Of course, I needed another two weeks to recover from that but oh well!

  2. Love the free shelves and the Aldi cubes look nice and fit so well on your smaller shelf! I bet it feels really nice to have stuff out of boxes.

    You cooked up a storm! Your rolls look delicious and so does your homemade bread. Did you know you can make brown sugar out of white sugar and molasses? That is, if you have molasses in your pantry.

    Aside from cooking for our Christmas Eve buffet, I can't think of a single productive thing that I did over the break. I ate and watched a lot of TV/surfed the internet. I haven't even worked on my 2016 goals yet and it's already the 7th. Yikes! I'm not starting the year on the right foot.

    1. I haven't been able to find a good price on molasses in ages. I actually wrote up the shopping list for Aldi and other stores and it said brown sugar or molasses :) I got it on sale before with a coupon and used it all in gingerbread scones and bread but never even got any to make brown sugar. Going to just buy it full price one of these days because I know it has to be cheaper then all this brown sugar but it keeps me from making some of the other recipes with the molasses. You did do all the stuff for the taxes!! I am sure that you did more when you start to think about it... I know my list started growing when I started to put together this post.

    2. You're right, I did some work on the taxes. That never feels like it counts, though, because I'm still sitting on the couch, working on the laptop, and not doing something that you can actually SEE like decluttering the house, etc. LOL.

      I did find molasses at Aldi at Christmas time but the sign did say it was seasonal. I hadn't seen it before. I paid $0.99 for it.

    3. UGH!!!! I wish I saw that price. I guess I should go see if there is any left. I hate that some of their stuff is seasonal like baking powder or corn starch or something. Those things aren't seasonal silly people any more then brown sugar or something else. I guess it is just because I use them all year round. Maybe they are for normal families :) I just have to seasonal stock up but actually my mom and husband went to the store for me a few times through the holidays. My husband even hit Aldi yesterday to get a few things because I didn't have enough time. I need some molasses so I better see if there is any left.

    4. Did you see the comment I left you a few days back on another post, about the Harris Teeter Super Double event going on next week (I think?)? Maybe you can find it there at a good price?

    5. I did see it and I started preparing off that note!! I didn't know it was coming because I only ever hear from other blogs which I have been too busy to follow. I started printing coupons like crazy. I have already been three times. I am hoping to go again today but my son woke up with a fever so plans are changing. I have to look for a coupon but otherwise it is $4...too expensive for me :)

  3. Great use of the bread ends. I will sometimes just cut them up in cubes and stick them back into the freezer in quart freezer bags (which equals 5 cups of cubed bread. Then they are pre-measured for bread pudding. Or I will toast a bag with butter and seasonings to make croutons or bread stuffing for chicken or turkey.
    Just to let you know, I also have not set any goals yet. I must get busy on that.

    1. So funny you would say that because my husband refused to try bread pudding and we went to a yummy restaurant over the holiday and my mom ordered it and he loved it!!!! He grumbled about how they shouldn't put the name pudding in it because it doesn't taste like pudding and he hates pudding. If you have a good recipe..... I totally need it. I don't use croutons that much in salad but I might like it better with homemade bread so I did keep one bag untoasted so that I can do with butter and seasoning if I want. I was just so proud to get down to a manageable size of bags because they were taking over the freezer. Love making homemade stuffing and now that I have discovered, I don't want to stop. I have everything on hand to whip it up and I normally make a double batch so that I can freeze the second to have later. Goals are good but I am sure that you have some in your head. My son had to set a resolution for his homework and I told him that we don't normally do that because we don't make a lot of big changes but we like to make sure that we work towards goals. His goal is that he wants to remember all his stuff when he leaves school!! So cute and I wish I took a picture of the picture he drew with it to post.


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