I've been following this challenge for a few days and finally decided to join in.
I'm not sure how well I'll do but hey, any improvement is good, right? As the creator of it says, one needn't do every single day of the challenge if that doesn't work for some reason. I'm all for trying new frugal ideas and if some of them stick with me, that's great!
I think it's a really neat challenge. Interestingly enough, I basically started this challenge a few months back without even knowing about the challenge. I've been on a learning trip of sorts and some of the things I've been working on are in this challenge.
Day 1: Redefining Frugality - I started that several years ago and my views on frugality are still evolving.
Day 2: How To Develop The Frugal Living Habit - I started seriously working on this almost 19 months ago. It's a constant process for me.
Day 3: Downsizing Your Home - Well, I live alone in a one bedroom apartment. I have less than 550 square feet and for now that's as downsized as I can get. There are a few things I can do to help reduce clutter, which I hate, and I've been working on that issue. I have very little clutter but I still have too much 'stuff' and I'm getting rid of it, one thing at a time.
Day 4: Reducing Household Bills - I've blogged here about getting rid of the cable TV, downgrading the cable internet, downgrading my Netflix membership, canceling my subscription to a particular website, etc. etc. etc. My car is paid for and I have very little debt. I'm under contract for my phone and might pay the fine to get out of that but if I do it's going to have to wait a bit. I'm steadily working on #4 just like I'm working on 1 through 3!
I'm going to dive right in and see how the water is. Anyone game for joining me??
Viewing the 'One New Thing a Day' Category
I've been following this challenge for a few days and finally decided to join in.
Here is the first picture for the weekly picture taking challenge which I'll now refer to as Me and A Loved One. Gotta call it something so I might as well call it that.
I'm not photogenic at all but oh well!
Me and the man person I love so!
The man and his youngest son.
We got a picture of me and the boy but it's a horribly fuzzy picture so I won't put it up.
But there you have it, my first picture of me and a loved one.
I got this idea last night from the owner of a Yahoo Group I'm in and she got the idea from a blog she read. I really love this idea and thought I'd pass it on here.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to be in one picture a week with someone for whom you care. This can be kids, spouses, friends, co-workers, even pets if you like!
I definitely am not photogenic and get a little freaked out seeing a picture of myself but if I did this every week for the next 52 weeks at the end of 2010 I'd have a nice collection of photos of me with people I care about. Even as a self-conscious person that appeals to me... not so much for the photos of me but for the photos of the people in my life. I have few photos of my daughter who died and just two of me with her and a small handful of photos of my sister and again just two of me with her. This is partially because I'm often the one taking the picture and partially because I'm so self-conscious. But that needs to stop.
I don't have kids here and don't even have a pet but I can get pictures of me with the man person, co-workers, my mom and stepdad, friends, etc.
And that's what I'm going to do. I'll even post the pictures here. I think that's a fine way to get 2010 going.
Are you brave enough to join me?
Okay, not really but one never knows. It could happen! In light of that, I read and collect books on alternative methods of doing things and plain and simple living. Even if the sky doesn't fall, it can't hurt to have some skills that might be handy in case errr....mmm, well, in case the sky falls! I have some of the Foxfire books but have coveted #3 for awhile.
Some months ago I added it to my wish list at Paperback Swap and recently got email saying someone had it to offer so I snagged it. Today it arrived in the mail and I've been reading it. Interesting stuff.
I mean, come on, who doesn't need to know how to tan a hide, make a banjo, churn butter, build a smokehouse, and make a broom? Those skills might come in handy should the sky ever fall. Besides, the book was free and that's a good thing and I've lately wanted to read something other than email...
A couple of days ago I bought a bag of Contessa brand frozen Orange Chicken. We'd tried the Cashew Chicken and liked it and the Orange Chicken is just as tasty.
It comes with the rice, chicken, vegetables, and sauce, is very easy and quick to prepare (I cooked the rice in the microwave and the rest in the electric skillet) and while it isn't quite like what we get in restaurants it's very good and fed us both for five dollars and a little change. The bag says there are 2.5 servings but I consider it more like 2. Even though we love the variety and quantity of buffets, eating out would cost us at least twenty bucks plus gas so we saved quite a bit and still got our chinese food fix!
An added benefit is that we didn't overeat so it was better for the pocketbook and the waistline...and that's a very good thing indeed.
If I have any criticism it's that there wasn't enough broccoli in this dish. The picture on the bag shows this lovely product with several nice looking florets of the green stuff but what we got had two very tiny florets in it. There was enough sauce that I could have added a little broccoli without much change in flavor and quality. There wasn't a lot of chicken either and the package said, "Now with 20% more chicken!" but since we're cutting back on meats that didn't bother me. More broccoli would be great, though.
We don't eat a lot of convenience foods and some might wonder why I didn't just make Orange Chicken myself. Well, in the living situation we have right now we don't have a real kitchen. I have a small sink, a microwave, three slow cookers, a digital pressure cooker, and an electric skillet. I probably could have made the same dish with the electric skillet but I've made Orange Chicken from scratch before and honestly, it was a lot of work and cost about the same as this did. This is one of the few situations where paying for the convenience is worth it for me.
For those to whom it might matter, Contessa's Orange Chicken is touted on their website as "Green Cuisine". The site says this about Green Cuisine:
"In 2007, Contessa opened the first environmentally responsible, LEED-certified frozen-food manufacturing plant in the world. Located in Los Angeles, our new plant uses advanced design and technology to significantly reduce Contessa's environmental impact. The facility, its processes and the products manufactured there are known as "Green Cuisine."
That wasn't a factor in my picking this particular item at the store but its nice to know.
So there you have it, a review of sorts of Contessa Orange Chicken. It's a winner in taste and price and will more than likely be a regular in our freezer.
This entry definitely has something to do with personal finance. Admittedly its a stretch but I was driven to write about it.
My other half and I read an article this evening about ordinary folks donning costumes and bettering their corner of the world by commiting 'superhuman acts'. Some refer to themselves as "Reals" and others as "Superheroes". Yes, you read that right. In the United States alone there are 150 to 200 superheroes, according to Ward Rubrecht's CityPages article, Real Life Superheroes.
These heroes don't appear to have x-ray vision or the ability to leap tall buildings with a single bound but they do appear to have a love of comic books, compassion for their fellow man (or superhero), and a desire to help others. They also seem to have a real flair for fashion as evidenced by hero-gear.net.
Michael Brinatte, who pro wrestles using the name Jack T. Ripper, owns and operates the site. He spends a good deal of his time making costumes for superheroes and has built a nice business of it. I imagine it's also helped him hone his sewing skills!
So, if you have cash burning a hole in your pocket and know of a need in your community or if you just get bored with those jeans and a tee, you might want to check out Ward's article and Michael's website.
**Disclaimer** I don't know any superheroes nor do I receive monetary compensation in any way from the entities mentioned. I do, however, receive some chuckles and a few warm fuzzies from the concept!
This entry serves two purposes, one to just talk about my first day and the other to let those who responded to my "Wish Me Luck" entry know how it went.
First, it's a Starbucks in a store, not a free standing Starbucks. So, we don't get tips and our benefits are basically store benefits. But those seem to be good so I'm not complaining.
And wow, I don't know that I'll make it to Barista as I still haven't figured out how to mark the cups! lol It's all just very confusing for me but I'll get it with time and experience.
It would help if I was a big coffee consumer but I'm not. Wait...I'm obsessed with coffee. I love the stuff! I drink Colombian daily and enjoy espresso now and then and even own a Moka pot (which I haven't used yet) and a French Press (which I've used many times). But I'm not big on coffee based drinks so much as I am just good, strong coffee. In fact, I just recently learned the joys of a Java Chip Frappucino, thanks to a Barista at the Starbucks where I now work. So the terminology is confusing but isn't that part of why one is trained? Yes, indeedy! I anticipate that bit of confusion clearing up pretty quickly. If it doesn't, I'm in real trouble!
I've already phoned my oldest son, the coffee shop freak and former Barista, and picked his brain. "Help! I don't know the difference between a Latte and a Cappuccino!" He was a lot of help and I'm sure I'll call him many times for information.
Fortunately, today was a slow day so I learned a lot about cleaning the store and basic sanitation and safety procedures. I also read over some training materials during quiet times.
I can see already a problem I have - engaging the customers in conversation. Starbucks wants more than "How are you today?" and "Are you enjoying this weather?" I felt really stuck a few times and it was awkward because I knew I needed to do more but wasn't sure just what to do. The customers knew it, too. The boss told many of the customers it was my first day of training and they were very nice about it which made me feel better. For those of you that frequent Starbucks, what do they say to you to get a dialogue going?
Broken Arrow, since I interviewed for the store first, the questions weren't Starbucks interview questions so that won't answer your question, huh? lol Sorry!
Paulette, I need to work on smiling more and I know it. I'll have to remember that!
Ralph, now you've gone and done it! I'd have a horrible time marking a cup for that! If such a thing even exists.
The boss said I did very well and one of the execs said to not let myself get overwhelmed, that there's a lot to learn there (he wasn't kidding!) and I won't learn it in just a few days. He stressed to just relax, learn, and have fun.
So, all in all I think it went well. I'm off tomorrow and am going to practice marking cups. I hope to go in Tuesday morning at least having that down pat!
I've been craving sweet and hot chicken wings for several days and since I don't have any wings and I'm experimenting with just how long I can eat on $50 (this is day 19, by the way) I don't want to buy any. I figured I could improvise and create something halfway palatable but I have to admit this recipe, if you can call it that, is a very tasty alternative that satisfied the craving.
I cut some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips, cooked them in a little butter with some Louisiana Hot Sauce and put them in a baking dish with Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce. I stirred them to ensure they were well coated and baked them for about 15 minutes at 300, then turned the oven off and let them sit for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
They turned out very well! Slightly hot and slightly sweet, just how I like them. And because I'm a frugal foodie (would that make me a froodie? or a frooglie?) I froze the butter and tiny bits of chicken in it and will use that savory concoction the next time I make chicken soup or casserole.
I had my Chicken a la Wings with steamed brussels sprouts and green beans and it was a fine and frugal dinner. There's enough left for lunch tomorrow and dinner another night this week.
I decided to use Mbkonef's idea of trying one new frugal or money saving thing a day. Not sure what I'll try tomorrow but I'll come up with something good. Hmmmm, things to ponder.