Saturday, January 3, 2015

Goodbye Excess, Hello Restraint

Although we're not one of those families that spend lots of money on superfluous items (because in all honesty, we don't have lots of money to do so), 2014 has caused the family pocketbook to flatten out significantly.  The most recent expense being us finally starting the remodeling of one section of the kitchen.  In October, one of the electric elements on the stove went out.  Paul tried to fix it, but it ended up we'd have to buy a $100+ dollar element....for a fifteen year old stove.

So I did what any other frugal person would do; I limped along without the large element.  First World problems, I know.  It wasn't much more than a minor inconvenience until I realized that we wouldn't be able to use the pressure canner.  Even with the large element functioning, the canner took forever to get up to heat/pressure, and now I didn't even have that.  So Paul did what any loving husband would do.  He told me to pick out a new stove.  I hemmed and hawed about it for a while longer.  I had a hard time justifying paying $500 on a new stove.  And then I eventually caved in and picked one out.  One that was twice as much as I originally complained about.  Yep.  You read that right; we spent a grand on a new stove.  But I managed to justify the additional expense because 1) it has a larger element (3,000 watts vs. the old 2,400 watts),  2) a fifth "warming" element, and my favorite by far, 3) it was a double oven.
I don't blame you if you're jealous.  I'll wake
up in the middle of the night just to gaze upon it.
Yep.  Not one, but TWO ovens in the same convenient (although significantly more costly) package.  I could bake six, SIX! sheet cakes in that baby if I wanted to.  Six pans of lasagna or six pies or six quiches or nine loaves of bread.  All.  At.  Once.  And I could now also cook two different dishes at different temperatures.  And the new range would be able to hold not one, but TWO pressure canners at the same time.  I just cut my pressure canning time in half!  Oh yeah, I also bought myself a second pressure canner two months ago.  I told you we were spending money like it was going out of style.

Now that I've finished gloating over my new stove, let's get back to the 2014 excessive spending spree.  The kitchen remodel not only included a new stove, but a new microwave for above the stove which replaces the one that died, oh, say four years ago.  We also bought an 8' long section of butcher block to replace the counter section by the stove as the laminate was peeling and the edges had long been torn off.  Then we needed some sort of back splash for behind the stove / fridge, so we bought that.  And I almost forgot about the little butcher block / cabinet / moveable island thingy I bought last month.  If I had to sum up the last two months of our finances it would be "Cha-Ching!"

Yes, they were things we've been meaning to buy but kept putting off.  Yes, there are things that we saved some money on like buying a slab of butcher block instead of a custom counter top and using non-conventional back splash material for the wall (pics to follow soon).  But it's hard to ignore the outflow of cash.

So we had a family meeting a few days ago, Rhiannon included, and we talked about how we all needed to find ways to avoid spending money and how we could make better use of the items we already had.  The trips to town would be slashed to save fuel costs.  The freezers and pantry would be utilized more and the grocery store would be visited less.  Eating out would have to be saved for a special occasion (not because I was lazy, was in town, and the "Hot Pizza" caused my vehicle to turn into the parking lot).  And if you think about it, these are things we should have been doing all along anyhow, but have strayed from the path of frugalness.

I'm not going to call this our New Year's Resolution, or make it into a challenge like the "No Spend Month" we tried to do on occasion.  It will just be our S.O.P. for a while, and that's just fine.

Besides, good things can come from squeezing everything you can out of something. Today's brunch was a prime (and yummy) example:
Ham, cheese & onion quiche utilizing a hunk of leftover ham.
After pressing out the crust for the quiche, there were two small balls of dough left.  I had Rhiannon roll them out, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, cut up an overripe apple and made little apple pies:

So instead of tossing the dough and apple to the chickens, we got a mini-dessert out of it!  Can't beat that with a stick :)

15 comments:

  1. Like it, we like to call it goals, not resolutions. Also I have a nice name for some of our meals, "Eat it or Starve". Kind of gets your attention, doesn't it? :=D

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  2. You guys can do this!!! We are doing the same thing right now also. And, I have to admit, eating at home really does taste better than that hot pizza. Helps on the waist line too. Come on! You've got this!!!!! If ya need anyone to help talk you down from going out to eat, give me a ring. But, don't be surprised if I do the same thing with you. LOL!

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  3. Wow! Nice oven! But since I don't cook ("oh the horror" most of you must be saying) and about 90% of my meals come in conveniently little pre-packaged microwave trays, you could say that I honestly wouldn't even know what to do with all those extra burners and oven slots. Yep, it is hard to image that I am Carolyn's younger and lazier sister! If I waited 4 years to get a new microwave, I would have been dead 2 weeks after IT had died. It's funny though...because my New Years resolution was to try and do a No Spend Month. It is very needed in our household. I really need to learn that I do NOT have to stop in the local thrift store "just for a peek" every time I pass one; because we know that when I walk out of there, I will have a bag in my had and a lither wallet. Wish me luck! Lets make this a 2015 of savings and using what we DO have :)

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    1. sorry about the typo...meant to say "I will have a bag in my HAND and a LIGHTER wallet"

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    1. I have a Maytag Gemini glass top stove and the instruction manual says it is OK to can, but only use Presto because of the way the bottom is shaped. No pot or canner should be bigger than half inch over the burner.....gets too hot for the glass top.

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  5. First of all: TWO OVENS?! I am so PEA green (pun intended) with envy! I have dreamed about having two ovens. I don't care how big my oven is come a dinner like Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter I can never fit all I want in one. And having the convenience of being able to cook/bake at two different temperatures? Oh, be still my heart. Seriously, I am so happy for you. Jealous, but happy.

    Do you know the kitchen is the most expensive room in the house to do a remodel on? Yeah, you probably do. Now.

    I've had a taste for my "leftover vegetable quiche" for a couple of weeks now. Seeing yours just pushed me over the edge and it is on the menu for tomorrow.

    I love your little leftover crust apple pie. My mom always took the leftover scraps from making a pie crust, rolled them out into a (sorta) circle, spread it with jam and dots of butter. Rolled it up, formed it into a horseshoe shape and baked it along with the pie in the oven. Then we sliced it up in chunks and, presto! Jelly Roll!

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  6. Nice, and I had one just like it. Are you sure you can can on a glass top? I've always read you can't or the glass will crack :(

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    1. My owners manual says Yes you can.

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  7. You would not believe it but I have an electric coil stove sitting in my kitchen RIGHT NOW that SM is trying to replace the black cox the coil snaps into. And yes it's the big one and yes it's been that way for a year. SM went and finally got a part for it last week and tried to fix it yesterday and guess what? Wrong part.

    If he can't fix it, I'll be shopping for a new stove. Cooking on small burners for now...

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    1. Oooo... I SWEAR that's a typo!!!!

      I meant black BOX!!!! (Why can't we edit these things?)

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  8. Congratulations on the new stove! May it serve you well and last forever.

    We all need to do what you are doing and that is live more frugally. I bet you will also eat better too as a result.

    Keep us posted on how that life style is going. I think the big secret is stay out of stores!!

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  9. I bought a used ceramic top electric stove to keep in our attached garage. I have done all my canning on it for the last two summers and so far no problems. It's a GE. I have never used two canners on it before, but I have one of those Maslin pans that holds enough to fill seven jars, so that is usually on the largest back burner heating the next batch while I'm using the canner on the largest front burner. I've wanted a separate canning area for years, one that isn't air-conditioned, so as to not run up my electric bill with trying to cool down an overheated kitchen, and I have to say that I also have a lot less trouble with siphoning, as well.

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  10. We replaced our stove this fall also (same problems). I wanted a double oven, but I wanted the electric elements vs. glass top, so I had to give up the idea of a double oven. I was told canning on the glass tops are difficult too, so I'll be watching to see how it goes for you.

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  11. Carolyn,

    Congratulations on your new stove with two ovens, microwave, and counter top. It's always nice to remodel the kitchen when you can. Having a kitchen with working appliances makes Mama happy.

    Making it s.o.p. to eat in and make your meals will save you all kinds of money. We try to eat at home, and make meals from scratch as often as possible. There are times though when you need a break from being at home all the time. Set a special day on your calendar to go out as a family to have a meal together.

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