February 25, 2012

An update on my "Buddy" post

I am still getting comments on our decision to put our dog, Buddy, to sleep.

"Barb" commented on my decision and her comment led me to a response that perhaps may give more insight into my decision.  When I wrote that post I was in the middle of my grief and honestly, I knew that it would create a lot of controversy.  That's okay. 

Many of you have been so kind, others have offered advice and then there are always those who will disagree with me, which is perfectly okay, but then go on to describe me as a Nazi dog killer.  Obviously I didn't reply to those individuals or even post their comments as they responded Anonymously.  At least, have the courage to respond with your name or to e-mail me.

This morning I decided to respond to the comments with more information and instead of doing another post, read my comment to Barb.

Thanks Barb and all of the other followers who responded, many with the gentle criticism which I appreciate.  Go here to see my response:  http://thepathtofrugality.blogspot.com/2012/02/making-mistake-and-moving-on.html.

February 22, 2012

Using My Frugal Skills

I have spent a lot of my "spare" time over the past week preparing for a couponing program that I gave at our women's group at church.  It always happens - I don't think it will take long to work on a project and it ends up taking longer because I put my heart and soul into it.  The one thing that I came up with for the presentation was a handout on "Babysteps to Couponing."  In this handout I talked about not taking everything on at once and starting small and working your way up to a level that you are comfortable with.

I always emphasize that when taking on a new skill never try to learn or do everything all at once.  Take those baby steps until you are comfortable with a new skill.  If you try to do everything related to couponing and stockpiling all at once, you will burn out and get discouraged.  Start small and work your way up.

I have a lot of coupons that need to be clipped and I plan on enlisting the help of the college students that live with us and hang out at our house.  They are more than willing to help me with anything I need. 

Sunday evening I was in the livingroom working on my coupon presentation.  I went into the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee and there were our live in college girls doing dishes, cleaning up the kitchen and tidying up.  They want to help me out with the housework and they pitch in without my having to ask. 

This living situation is working out.  It is because these girls are a perfect match to our family and they fit in so well.  I know we are lucky.  I enjoy their company so much and I feel I have two "adopted" daughters now.  I dread when they graduate and move on but I know we have made life long friendships.

I heard on the news this morning that the stock market is doing well, but gas prices are out of sight.  This makes living below our means a little more challenging.  But hey - I love a challenge as long as it is not too tough. 

I try to prepare healthy meals and everyone in our household appreciates that.  Preparing healthy meals that don't cost a lot is a definite challenge.  Last night I roasted 3 bone in chicken breasts that had been on sale for 99 cents a lb.  I served the chicken with Birdseye Steamers - Wild Rice and Broccoli.  I used two packages and I remember that I was able to get them on sale for 75 cents each.  Along with this I had half a loaf of French bread left in the fridge.  I sliced it and buttered it and toasted the slices in the oven.  I made a tossed salad from lettuce, red peppers, green peppers, cucumbers and carrots.  All of these items had been on sale at a good price. Then I served fresh pineapple.  One whole pineapple was on sale for only $2.49.  For dessert - there were cookies in the cookie jar.   

This was not only a healthy meal but an easy meal to prepare for the 5 of us.  There is leftover salad for supper tonight and leftover chicken in the fridge for sandwiches for lunches. 

I have not baked homemade bread in quite a while but have decided that I need to make time as the store bought bread is expensive and not near as nutritious.  So I have finally used up enough things from the freezer and have space for loaves of my homemade bread.

Now on to some little blogger "housekeeping"  My post on putting our dog Buddy to sleep had some interesting comments.  Generally I don't like to post anonymous comments but many times people leave their name and I will go ahead and post them. 

Today I posted quite a negative anonymous comment regarding Buddy.  It isn't even the worst comment I received.  I decide when to post comments as I review them all.  Since I started this blog in September 2009 I have probably only not posted 5 comments in that entire time.  Leave it to an article about our pet dog to bring out the ugly comments. 

If you're going to have a blog, you have to take ugly comments as they come as it is just part of having a blog.

February 14, 2012

Stocking up on Meat this Month

Last summer many areas of our country experienced droughts.  One of those areas was Texas.  Due to the cost of feeding cattle and the extremely hot weather that threatened their herds, farmers and ranchers sold off a great number of their cattle.  This was higher than usual.  This led to an influx of beef on the market.  Even though prices of beef had gone up last year there were times over the summer, due to the influx of beef on the market, and early fall that I was able to get great deals on hamburger, chuck roasts and other cuts of beef.  So I did what I always do, I packed my freezer with these great deals.

In the morning my alarm on my clock radio goes off right before the Ag/Farm Report.  I never set my alarm so that I could listen to this report.  My alarm is set for 6:10 and shortly thereafter the report comes on.  Over the years I have learned to listen to this report and interpret what it means to me, a consumer. 

This morning they talked about how many heads of cattle went to market yesterday as compared to last year.  The amount was significantly lower than last year. 

I have been paying attention to the Ag/Farm report and to the news reports.  Every now and then you will hear that farmers/ranchers don't have as many animals to go to market as they sold off a lot of their herds last year.  The result, we will be paying a lot more for beef this year.

I have already noticed this at the grocery store.  Now a good chuck roast is over $1.50 a lb. more than it was last year.  In some cases they have advertised ground beef (80% lean) on sale for $2.99 a lb.  Yikes!!!!! 

Yesterday I went to the grocery store to pick up some bananas and I noticed a large handwritten sign on the front of the store that said "80% ground beef $1.99 lb."  Wow.  $1.99 is my target sale price for ground beef, but I didn't buy any beef yesterday.  Why?  I needed to spend some time going through my freezer and organizing it.  I wanted to see how much ground beef I still have on hand and how much more I can afford to buy. 

With this knowledge I am heading to the grocery store today to buy 20 lbs. of this sale ground beef. Today is the last day of the sale and today is also the day that the grocery sale flyers come out in the newspaper.  So I will be able to see if ground beef will be on sale beginning tomorrow (a new sale's week) at a price lower than $1.99.  I highly doubt it, but I will be able to make a final decision today about purchasing 20 lbs. of ground beef.

This is the type of strategy I use in shopping all the time.  Knowledge is power. 

February 10, 2012

Losing Weight - Update

Since the beginning of December I have lost 12 lbs.  I am down to 139 lbs. and my goal was 135 lbs.  I'm not sure I can get to 135 lbs. or that I even want to.  Right now I can fit into a lot of clothes that I couldn't fit into before and I am satisfied. 

How did I do it?  Weight Watchers, exercise and just being careful not to over eat.  I have also been eating a lot more fresh fruit.  When I'm hungry I reach for a banana or a clementine orange.  My new goal is maintaining and beefing up the exercise (beefing up is a poor choice of words). 

It was a hard journey.  The first week I gained 1 lb. and then I began to lose 1 lb. or 1 and 1/2 lbs. a week.  I have also lost quite a bit in inches. 

Losing weight is not my favorite thing to do so I will work just as hard to not gain it back.  The best decision I made was to start my weight loss journey before Christmas.  That decision kept me from overeating during the holidays. 

February 06, 2012

Chicken Mozzarella and Brownie Pudding

Here is what I am preparing for dinner tonight.  It is a simple recipe that everyone loves.

Chicken Mozzarella

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs
Vegetable Oil
1 jar spaghetti sauce
grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Dip chicken in egg, then into the  bread crumbs to coat thoroughly.  In a large skillet, brown the chicken on both sides in the vegetable oil.  Drain on paper towels.

Pour 1 cup sauce in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Place the chicken in the pan and top with the remaining sauce.  Sprinke with the cheeses.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Serves 8.

I will be serving the chicken over plain buttered pasta.  Side dishes will be steamed broccoli, garlic bread and a tossed salad. 

For dessert we are having brownie pudding.

Brownie Pudding

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together the first 5 ingredients;  add milk, vegetable oil and vanilla; mix til smooth.  Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch square pan.  Combine the remaining ingredients;  pour over batter.  Bake for about 40 minutes.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

February 04, 2012

Making a Mistake and Moving On

I had to put our dog, Buddy, to sleep this week.  It's been one very hard week.  Buddy was good with us, but had fear/aggression towards strangers. While we worked with him on obedience - sit, down, stay and come and we were making some strides, it was his fear towards strangers that gave us a big problem. 

Buddy nipped my mother-in-law on Christmas Day and then within an hour he had his head on her lap sleeping.  They came in the door and he got scared.  Then when we would walk him he got very nervous when he saw other people.  Again, we would put him in a sit and try to get him through it.  We knew it would take work.

Then on Wednesday 4 women were walking across the street from our house.  I was in the backyard and they were just walking and not talking very loud.   Buddy barked and then he jumped the fence and ran up to them, barking and nipping. He nipped one of them - no bite mark, no breaking of the skin.  Then he took off.  I talked with the women, apologizing and making sure they were okay.  Then I got in my car and I took off after him.  It took about 15 minutes to catch him.

When I got him home and put him back in our yard, he was running around trying to jump out again so we put him on his leash.  I walked in the house and told my husband that enough was enough and that we couldn't have a dog with this kind of behavior. 

Buddy had been dumped at our house and I believe he had been a "country" dog allowed to run and perhaps his previous owners didn't care that he didn't like strangers, but I did.  So I walked back outside and put Buddy on his leash and took him to the vet to be put down. 

I didn't take him to a shelter as I didn't want to pass his problem behavior onto another family.  What if I did and they beat him?  It just wasn't fair to him or any future owner.  I did in my heart what I knew was right, but that didn't mean that my husband and son agreed with me. 

My husband took that dog with him running and my son, well, he just loves dogs.  However, I was the one home with the dog all day and I couldn't constantly be worrying about what he may or may not do.  Sometimes it is hard being an adult and making such decisions, but for our sake and Buddy's sake it was the right one. 

It has been a few days and we have moved on and are getting used to not having Buddy around. 

Here are the lessons that I learned from this experience:  1.  I will only adopt a puppy from now on and we will probably stick with the labrador retriever or golden retriever breed.  I do better with those breeds.  2.  It was a financial lesson.  Putting him down cost $130 and from the day we got him and he had his shots, checkup and was microchipped, I bet we spent at least $400, not including food and treats.  That is a lot of money to spend when you only have a dog for 4 months, but I am at least learning from my mistake. 

The one thing I have focused on is that Buddy had a good time at our house for 4 months. He was regularly fed, walked, played with and loved.  On his last day he got to run around the neighborhood, go for a car ride and go to the Vet (which he loved).  While at the Vet our son walked him and talked with him so that he was not alone. 

I am not against rescuing an animal.  For us it didn't work out this time.  It may for another family.

Now, that the grieving process is over and I am moving on, I can concentrate on my home and family.  Life is Good.