february groceries part 1


Hey February, I'm still going strong with my NY resolutions.  The watching my spending in all areas of my life is going well.  No shopping, nada, zilch, zip.
I've organized my small record collection, kept track of my groceries like never in the history of this family, stayed true blue vegan (which is just life now and not any kind of accomplishment, but still) and stayed out of everyone's business that I have no business in and that means everyone...except me.  So basically I'm on a 31 day roll.



Total between the .99 store and Trader Joe's, $31.36.  That fork is laying there because it was windy here Saturday (incaseyouwerewondering.)






This week I'm planning on making a vegan lasagna and navy bean soup.  Also, I'll be using up the sauerkraut and rye bread in all ways possible.  The .99 Store had those dark chocolate bars but this time with mint which is Larry's favorite way to eat chocolate. They get an A+.  We've both fallen for that sparkling water from France.  I hope they keep stocking it. I also threw in a package of vegetable spring rolls.  They are completely vegan and I'll report back to any fellow .99 shoppers how they taste. Paired with some rice and a salad they'll be a lazy dinner.

I strolled through the farmers market on Saturday morning and couldn't bring myself to pay $4 for a head of lettuce.  We still have some fresh veggies that need eaten so maybe next week?  We'll see.  Right now my main focus is on saving money and I feel the veggies I'm getting at the .99 store are healthy and inexpensive.

I do get weak inside Trader Joe's.  They have so many beautiful foods to choose from.  I'm currently having an affair with the Ezekiel Sprouted Cinnamon bread.  I bought their Ginger Pear Tea which I didn't need but that didn't stop me. Please note that this will be 2 weeks in a row without any chips.


That's it.


136 comments

  1. A pint of blackberries costs us $3.99. So jealous of your 0.99 store.

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  2. Admirable restraint, I must say.
    Having not followed your blog religiously, you are doing this as an experiment, not completely because you need to?
    Food in northern Europe is much more expensive, we´d never be able to match your sum.
    I have, however passed over the food shopping to my husband, who buys only the essentials + he always forgets something ; ).

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    1. no, i'm doing this to pay my mortgage off as fast as i can.

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  3. i'm so impressed with what you are buying at the 99¢ store.
    we have dollar tree & something called honks 99¢, but neither carry produce or groceries other than canned food.
    you are on my mind as i'm wheeling my $100 cart of groceries to my car...

    do you know that your bread will keep {almost forever} in the freezer?
    there's no need to use it up quickly, just freeze it & thaw or toast it when you need it ♥

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    1. yes catie, i do know that! we usually eat it so fast though. :)

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  4. Your post on the .99 cent store had me going back there. I used to shop there all the time when we lived in Yucaipa...6 minute walking trip...but here in Redlands we are far (at least it seems, UofR area) from everything. Maybe I am just getting old and hate driving in all this traffic. LOL. I could not believe all the veggies they have now, it was hard to stop. I nearly cried when I saw the orange peppers for .59 cents. They are $2.50 at Staters. I do not care if it is not fall I am having my pumpkin soup with the orange peppers added. Spent $31 for the three of us, and that included those Granny Goose chips. They were Janet;-)
    Thanks for all the inspiration.
    blessings, jill

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    1. hi jill. isn't it amazing?! maybe one day we'll run into ea other there. i'm lucky in that my yoga studio is just around the corner from the store so it's not like making a special trip there.

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  5. Very inspiring Janet. Thank you! I am taking baby steps with this because it is a total change in mindset for me. I also have a teenage boy still at home. I am making more frequent trips to the store be ok. It is only 2 blocks away! In the past I have bought enough food for an impending "famine". I would be considered an "overbuyer" in a book that I read awhile back.

    Thanks for a peek inside your life.

    Debbie

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  6. If you allow yourself zero treats, long term maintenance of the food budget becomes much more difficult. An occasional dark chocolate bar or tea will make it sustainable.

    I was comparing my shopping totals to yours and then realized I needed to make sure my multiplier was realistic. I have a husband who is training for an olympic distance triathlon and two sons going through growth spurts. We may have twice the bodies in our house, but I suspect we have more than twice the calorie burn!

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  7. Janet,
    I must thank-you for inspiring me to be more mindful. Especially when I want to reach for a bag of chips. I hear your voice, calling out and laying the gilt-chip on me. ha ha. No - seriously. Cut way back and actually not even in the least bit hungry. I think it's all a marketing ploy to think we need a fully stocked fridge and pantry or else we might starve. I ate a pear last night and it was heavenly. I savored each and every bite.
    pve

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    1. I agree pve. Reading Janet's blog has really got me rethinking the bulk buying. The hubs and I did an pantry/freezer/deep freeze inventory last night....gosh we have more than we need....I guess a three month supply on some things. Crazy. I like to have some extras for emergency's but after 30+ years in California, I have been fortunate not to need any emergency supplies, and yes that could change tomorrow.
      blessings, jill

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    2. Jill, you're right, it could change tomorrow. My husband as I've prev. mentioned is a volunteer emergency responder and he says if you do nothing else, make sure you have enough batteries and water. It's the one time to invest in long-shelf-life water; just hope nothing falls on top of it and breaks open the plastic bottles/jugs (that happened to a chain store in a neighboring town in 1994). We lived for a time on the Gulf Coast and that awful twister that hit Florida in the early '90s just missed us. We were new to Texas and weren't paying too much attention...decided to shelter-in-place, went out and could NOT find water or batteries in any store. I'm sure people in the Northeast are conditioned to this raiding-of-shelves when they have the severe polar snow assaults. Anyway, I remember TV coverage of the people in Florida starting to get very testy over lack of water; fights were breaking out when a water truck would arrive. It can get ugly. I can't even bear to think of Katrina and that whole tragedy.

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    3. I live in Connecticut, so am just to the 'raiding of the shelves' - we had a snowstorm yesterday, are supposed to get one tomorrow, and they are predicting a blizzard for Sunday so I have learned to keep about a month's supply of nonperishables in the house. The town I live in has a very large retirement village, which of course makes for some great estate sales, but something that is happens too often is that some elderly folks (Depression era survivors, I assume) accumulated such a stockpile of supplies that they often end up on the sale table or thrown away (expired food items). It's such a waste, because we have many food banks with empty shelves!

      Wendy

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    4. Oh, I was reading about what's about to apparently hit you; such severe weather; stay warm! I think you've got good balance going on the non-perishables. My hubby says 3-weeks worth is a must. I do remember when an aunt of mine passed...she was single, widowed for years, grew up so poor...and the relatives going thru her pantry/freezer after she died; bless her heart, she had stuff in the deep freezer that was so old it wasn't recognizable; and she was a wonderful cook, doing lots of home canning/preserving, so all that stuff was downright dangerous at that point of her passing because it was so, so old.

      Balance...in all things!

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    5. I was going to ask you what your hubs thought would be a good amount to keep, I see you answered that, thanks. If worse came to worst my hubs would go out and fish, but nice to know what amount to keep. I remember when Katrina hit our church putting out the call for food and such. The amount of stuff that arrived...and 90% of it was what folks already had at home. That always stuck with me, so if I get more than a month's worth of food I feel like a hoarder.
      On a funny note: I did an inventory of my mom's pantry awhile back. At one point she asked how it was going. I turned around and told her to stop shopping at Costco, and to especially stop buying creme of mushroom soup. She had 32 cans!!! She stated she just could not remember if she needed any while at the store. She stills shops there....my son says it is her hobby, LOL, but thankfully she is cutting back.
      Have a great day everyone.
      blessings, jill

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    6. Jill, you're leaving some great comments and making me chuckle. OMG, Costco is the worst for us; we used to live near one many years ago, so got a membership. We were just two people and always spent about $200. My husband grew up poor so he has a tendency when he DOES spend money (!) to go big/huge quantities. I tell him there aren't a bunch of kids in this family like it was for him when he was growing up. He bought this gigantic bottle of dried onions and I swear I had that bottle in the cupboard for ten years before I threw it out because we could never use it up, of course. The worst was one time when we shopped at night, which was usually the case after we met up at some ungodly hour from our respective jobs...too tired after an already-long day...and he forgot to unload into the car the entire bottom rack of the shopping cart. He thought of it pretty quickly but, that fast, somebody had already raided the cart in the parking lot; buggers. We sure blew the (non-) budget THAT month. The other thing is that you can load up too much at Costco or similar and...again, it's just like with emergency supplies...where the heck are you going to put it all if you don't have a McMansion? It drives me nuts. Something is definitely wrong if you are actually stumbling over it inside your house. I recently told my husband, "When we DO have the next earthquake, we'll lose some pounds if we wind up getting into the emergency stash because we're not going to keep storing all this food; we will eat under flashlight-light VERY sparingly; no banquets!"

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  8. love Badoit water and need to find it hear.....
    pve

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  9. You are doing so well! I enjoy making navy bean soup too. For extra flavor, I buy the bacon "end pieces" at Trader Joes, separate them in little packets to freeze and then pop one or two in my bean soups. Just that small amount of bacon adds so much flavor with very little fat. They cost $4.99/pkg. but last forever. I cook my black beans three pounds at a time and freeze in small packets. We use them a lot in meatless chili, veggie burritos, with eggs etc. I love your grocery series!

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  10. Dear Janet,
    God, I love your commenters - they always make me laugh. We all seriously need to meet up one day.

    Congratulations on the chip thing. I know my husband would collapse if we were ever without chips in the house.

    Trader Joe's is still my weekly mainstay for most of our groceries, but I am trying to find cheaper alternatives at Costco - we just joined. My 99cent store doesn't have the organic produce yours seems to have - gosh darn it - but I will keep checking. Also, I've had the same luck as you with our Burbank farmer's market: too expensive. One of the things I adore about the farmer's market though is when the dirt is still stuck on the produce with roots and all - love it, it feels more real to me.

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    1. Be very careful at Costco. My mom and I use to call it the 300 club, simply because we could not walk out of there without spending $300...not all was food. Do you have a Smart and Final near you? I just discovered that place, and love it for some things. Like frozen avocados. I thought that weird at first, but after defrosting they taste fresh. No more spoiled avocados for us.
      blessings, jill

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    2. Hi Jill, Thank you for the warning about Costco. So far, I only buy over the counter medicines,paper products, office supplies, and gas. It seems most of the food is processed and they have no organic produce except for carrots. I almost feel like I made a mistake in becoming a member. Smart and Final is a good alternative, my mother has shopped there for decades - and no membership fee!

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  11. Dear Janet, You continue to inspire me! I love this grocery series, I use it as a guide for planning our meals. I use coupons where I can but I find that most of them are for processed foods. Just focusing on whole foods and natural household items saves me a bundle. We don't have a .99 store with produce but I am averaging around $100. per month (including household items, packing lunches) for a family of 4. I think it's so important to live debt-free with our economy today, and your blog is such a positive influence on us all, so Thank You!!!

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  12. Love this, Janet---I've just discovered the produce deals at the 99 cent store --- who knew?

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    1. I was so taken by your blog name that I looked up Great Island (New Hampshire); sounds like a really interesting place to live! Moving to L.A. must be a huge switcheroo for you after being on an island of 900+ people; if you get island-homesick, you can always hop on over to Catalina Island, "26 miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a'waitin' for me (it was an old song, 'the island of romance'). Maybe you'll find fresh produce will be better and more plentiful here in the L.A. basin (and offshore), and not just at the dollar store!

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  13. Great series. Appeals to my nosey, curious side and inspires me to do better. Thank you Janet
    Sharron x

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  14. Hi Janet. I was wondering now that you aren't shopping, what do you do with your extra time? I feel like so many people, myself included, sometimes shop for entertainment or to keep ourselves busy. For me shopping out of boredom is a really bad habit I'm working to break.

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    1. i think you are right. i used to look at shopping as entertainment and that is dangerous for me at least. also, boredom is dangerous. i stay busy at work and when i'm home i'm usually in the garden trying to tame it. i walk and do yoga, meet with friends, ski, play tennis, cook, bake, blog. blah blah blah. same thing as everyone i suppose. :)

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    2. NOT same as everyone; I think you do a lot!

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    3. I agree with Vicki, you do seem to keep active. I need to take a cue from you and at the very least start taking walks again like I used to.

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    4. Hi Janet - I have followed your blog for a long time and I am loving this series. I have tried to comment twice (since you began the series) from my son's iPad, but it keeps getting eaten up :(. Hopefully this one from my laptop will stick. You have really inspired me to cut back on my grocery spending. I had NO idea the 99 cent store had produce. I have started going once a week and have bought things on my list, such as a planner for my kids school, deodorant (Arm and Hammer makes a great one), sparkling water, coconut milk and water and produce. I even found fancy lettuce I had paid $4 for at Ralph's! The same packaging and everything! Why not economize? This is my new motto. I also cleaned out my pantry and made it look, oh, so pretty. Anyway, thank you for doing this series. In regards to how you stay busy - are you still working as an esthetician? I don't seem to recall any recent writings regarding your job. Or do you try to keep this topic off of your blog? Just curious. Have a wonderful day. xo

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  15. I don't know about all your other readers, but this is really helping me keep on track ... so much easier to keep on budget when others are in the same boat and doing it too. Also love that fork! What pattern or brand is that?

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  16. You're GREAT! I love this post, your blog, your goals and your humor : ) Like everyone else, I agree - so very inspiring. Keep doing what your doing - I'm learning so much and can't thank you enough.
    p.s. the video link you shared was AMAZING

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  17. I've had TJ's ginger pear tea. It's wonderful!

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  18. Janet,

    Not sure if I mentioned my daughter is working at Trader Joe's now...she has been there about 4 months & they already have her in the early stages of training to be an assistant manager! :) Too bad Mom doesn't get a store discount....only if they live at home w/ parents.

    I am pretty good about just buying what I need at Trader Joe's, usually I am in and out in under 15 min. If I started to wander I would end up buying too much. Sometimes if it weren't for my daughter telling me about a particular product, I would be clueless!

    Loving your posts these days!

    Linda
    xo

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    1. no i didn't know that. it has always looked like a fun place to work. good for her!

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  19. Hi Janet!
    you are saving money like no other :-)

    In Austria the government has to cut its expenses, too. But they are inventive, since there are too ways how to end up with more money at the end of the month. You can either spend less or earn more income. Or do both. Which the government does - by raising the taxes.
    I remember you mentioning that you work part time. Your focus is on the "how to spend less"- side.

    If I were in the situation were I had to pay back a mortgage, the first thing I would to is try to earn more money. Looking at your lifestyle (As far as I can tell from what you are posting) I wonder, what hinders you. It just does not add up.
    Your kids are out of the house. Are there parents you need to take care of, so you are too busy to work full time? (what ever fulltime means ...)
    I believe you have many talents, you could run a vegan catering business in the evenings f.e..
    I would love to hear from you why you chose the "spending less" option instead of "earning more" + "spending less".
    Since you have been revealing very personal details in the past, I dare to ask ...

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    1. paula i don't work full time as an esthetician b/c after years of catering and being an esthetician my back and hands start to hurt. i do think we are doing well earning a good salary and now just reining in the spending.

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    2. I actually quit working after 25 years of nonstop employment because I was trying hard to have a baby late in life; long story not to get into here. For a host of reasons, some medical, I didn't go back to work...and it's a darn good thing because I wound up taking care of both of my elderly parents as I've spoken about ad nauseum here in other posts. It isn't easy living on one income and I do know I missed out on some good earning years but, if you are careful (I mostly wasn't; trying to correct that now), there are savings. We no longer have the cost of fuel to get my car back and forth to the job, I haven't bought nylons/hosiery in so long I can't remember (in other words, don't have to have the 'work' wardrobe; sometimes I'd had to wear suits), no lunches out, not having to buy all those gifts for co-workers at the various holidays (sounds cold...but it did ratchet up) and, well to sum up before this gets nine paragraphs long, you sometimes have to do what you have to do to protect your mental and physical health, if you can. In terms of your financial health, you can get very creative on how to save money (as we see all over blogland) and frugality doesn't have to be sad/sacrificial. Again, leaving the workplace is NOT an easy decision. I'd read a book from the 1800s where, in an antiquated way, it said something to the effect of (farmer husband and wife), "He worked to provide, she worked to save." One of my best childhood friends is the man at home, not the wife (she's a nurse; has tough hours; they had kids...). My cousin's husband is the same...he stayed home to raise the boys so she can teach (university level). It's not gender-specific. But I do think there's merit to this...if one is working away from the home, the one AT HOME has their important role, too. Not one is more important than the other. (Very) personal choices...

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    3. Vicki,

      I quit my (very stressful) full time job in 2002 at age 45 when my daughter started high school and have never regretted it...ditto to everything you just said. The last few years I have been SO thankful that I am not working. All this stuff with the in-laws would have driven me mad if I was holding down a job!



      Linda

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    4. I think that this is an interesting conversation. No matter how much you earn, you have to be careful to spend below your means. There is such a lifestyle creep that happens when one's salary goes up!

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    5. Janet, now I see the effort you take in the garden with different eyes - how strenuous it must be.
      My hands already hurt after vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and washing some dishes.

      I remember a time when I was together with a man with a high income. My sister said that I would get used to the new lifestyle (spending more than before) and that I would be in trouble when the relationship ends. Seems I am lucky, I had no problems downsizing the expenses.

      The partner at your side plays an important role: does he/she trigger spending, does he/she need dining out as a reward? Does he/she feel the need to reward him/herself by consuming?

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    6. it is a great convo. living below your means when you really don't have to is harder than it seems. i mean, when we were flat broke it was in a sense easier. the temptations never entered the picture bc they were out of the question. staying focused will take much more discipline. at least that's what i'm experiencing. all the adds for spring this and that are arriving daily.

      paula - i consider myself incredibly lucky/blessed to have a husband who feels the same way as i do re money situations. we fight about a lot just like any other couple but rarely about how to spend money.

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    7. I've been a stay-at-home mom for 13 yrs, but I went back to school about 6 yrs. ago to finally get a degree. I confess, now I feel a bit stagnated since I've finished school (I'm 48 now) and have free time while my daughter is in school all day. I feel like I can make a difference somehow by helping someone going through a tough time instead of me just sitting at home all day. I've been contemplating volunteering at our local temporary aid center/food pantry and have picked up an application and talked to the director there. We'll see….

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    8. Oh, Janet, you are so, so right; your partner HAS to be on the same page when it comes to money or else it's the biggest source of conflict...and, wow, do I speak from experience because I was the spender and he was not; we're together 25 years, otherwise I think our marriage would have fallen apart. What a spot-on observation that it takes discipline not to spend when you have it...as Abby mentioned as well...oh, whoa, is that ringing my bells. I got a favorite mail order catalog yesterday in the mail (I still love the paper catalogs to peruse, mug in hand, wrapped in an afghan in a comfy chair...has been my bliss, and my downfall...); I could have bought 20 things. Lots of nice items and not really so exorbitantly priced, either. I went thru the drill...do I need it? If I bought that, how much does it set me back in the budget? Where on earth would I even put it? Are you a warehouse, a museum, a store...or is this a home? It was momentarily deflating, but I ultimately pitched it in the recycling bin. We learn, some of us more slowly than others. I absolutely SO get the flat broke part; don't want to ever go down that path again. Remembering it, and how scary it was, cures me now, most every time I confront the "buy"-addiction.

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    9. I so hear you Vicki. My hubs and I were paying over $800 a month in child support for his daughter....a very long and sad story. After we finished paying that in June 2012, I went to the bank regarding our truck loan. I had them take out 2 payments a month $768 for over a year. That baby was paid off in Oct 2013, 14 months early. Doing all the above was easy, but now trying to save that same amount has been tough. I am usually the tightwad, but Etsy has become my downfall. I just purchased two beautiful, vintage Ralph Lauren bed sheets....goodbye blow money for the MONTH!! I still can not believe I did that. I really think I need to have the bank automatically put the money in savings....just need to find a way to stay out of the savings account. I am thinking about going back to work. I seriously have too much time on my hands, too much to spend now it seems too. It was hard for us for a few years, but we survived so I think my mentality is now we deserve it.

      You Janet, have been an inspiration along with so many of your commenters. I am thinking I will stop blogging, just so I can hang out here and read all these great comments. For now I am off to give my patio garden some TLC.
      blessings, jill

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    10. Oh Vicki, this is brilliant: "Are you a warehouse, a museum, a store...or is this a home" I'm going to try to remember that question!

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    11. My husband and I have become very frugal since I stopped working...I'm still more of the spender between us but I have really reined it in the last year or so. (having a wedding to pay for will do that) I need to get rid of stuff I have accumulated over the years and am going to start selling some of it on Ebay very soon. I even have a few items of my in-laws to sell. (talk about a museum or store, that is their house!)

      I told myself this year the only way I will allow myself to buy clothes is to use any rewards I get from my credit cards...and I DO pay my bills in full every month. It's the only way to make those rewards work for you!

      My husband has a 96 Toyota truck that cosmetically may not look so great but it's still going strong. We could afford a new one, but he won't get rid of it until it dies. (he says it's money in the bank baby!) And my 2003 Camry only has 58,000 miles on it so I won't be getting a new car for awhile either. :) I take really good care of it, it looks way better than most of the ones I see like it around town.

      Linda

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    12. @LRSFORAMANDA: my husbands car is a 2001 and mine is a 2006. Both still have less than 60,000 miles on them so we will be driving them until they completely fall apart too! It is money in the bank - your husband is right!

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    13. Oh dears...I have you beat. My plain, boring, American-made, domestic compact-car has almost 300,000 miles on it and we bought it new in 1996. I also have a vintage muscle car (Ford) I bought when I was a teenager and this summer I will have had it 40 years (that's 38 years with NO car payment!!). For as much as I've liked to spend money (wildly) in the past, it was never on cars. I have had two people in my life, dearly loved but not understood by me, one of whom had a Jag yet no home...not even an apartment, just a room...and the other a Mercedes, with every credit card maxed. We are a varied lot, some of us humans, aren't we...

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    14. Anonymous and Vicki: Well I guess I'm not alone then! But Vicki at least your truck is probably a classic, my husbands is just a boring Tacoma. :)

      My daughter's fiancé was telling me recently there is a couple in their apartment bldg. that have two luxury cars...a Range Rover and a 7 series BMW. About $150k in autos but renting an apt. Go figure.

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    15. Luxury cars are such a waste of money, even if they were paid in full at time of purchase and pre-owned. The insurance, maintenance, and depreciation value is not worth it. I used to have one (a new Mercedes) that we bought outright. I don't know what possessed us (husband and I)…well, actually I do: keeping up with the Joneses syndrome - and the "we deserve it" mentality. I am so relieved to be off of that treadmill and rid of that car. I actually became embarrassed of that car because of what it represented. Thank goodness we came to our senses right before the economy crashed (around 2007-2008) and got our finances in order, although we still have a mortgage - but not for long. We have done a full 180 from our former spendthrift ways, but that doesn't mean I've given up on elegance and beauty in our lifestyle, quite the opposite - there is more of it now, it just doesn't involve having to spend money ;)

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    16. It makes Mr Paula lauch, when he just thinks about it how little our old car is worth by now. Hahaha. What a joke! Thumbs up for getting the most out of any car!

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    17. Anonymous: It's nice to hear that from someone that knows firsthand. I always say someday I will get my Lexus but who knows. They really are a waste of money. Especially the depreciation.

      I have a good friend who can't live without a BMW. Leased one for years and then finally got a pre-owned one. It still cost her in the low $30k range and her 90 year old mom had to take out the loan because she and her husband had just filed for bankruptcy a few months earlier. What's wrong with this picture?

      You are right, elegance and beauty doesn't have to cost a lot of money. I learned that from my Mom. :)

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    18. boy do i need to join this convo. i think a post needs to be done on the worst financial mistakes of my life...cars!

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    19. Oh Janet that might be opening up a can of worms! lol But maybe it would make me feel better to hear about other individual's regrets too. I made some stupid financial mistakes when I was younger, but it didn't involve cars. Where were Suze Orman or Mr. Money Mustache when I needed them! :(

      Linda

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    20. I am not sure if any of you have ever heard of the Tightwad Gazette. The author said something that has stuck with me for years. It helped get me off my high horse during my single mom days...I lived frugal because i had to, not choice. Anyway, she stated, and I am paraphrasing here: if you want to live in a shack so you can take many vacations, ski trips etc. that is fine. If you want to live in a paid for 1890's home with attached garage in Maine and drive old vehicles, that is fine too. As long as you have the basics: shelter, clothing, food and insurance, how you spend the rest in up to you and your life style. Took me years to fully understand that not everyone wants or needs to live my lifestyle. It bugs a family member of my husbands that neither of us HAVE to work in today's economy. There are spots in our budget that leak, but we pay for the basics first and foremost. I would spend any extra on a Range Rover in a heartbeat if my sane side decided to take a vacation., but I am dangerous enough in our F150...at least my son thinks so. But then he is a e30 dude. Just saying-)

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  20. Janet, you are a woman to love. (a quote from one of my favorite movies, but her name was Erica). Anywho, I am inspired by your humor, words, energy, and ideas. I know you were not always headed in the direction you are now, but you are moving along with such strength and beauty. Thanks for sharing your journey.
    Kerri

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    1. i love that movie and it's one of my favorite lines. that and also...it's just soap. so funny.

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  21. Janet, you are a woman to love. (a quote from one of my favorite movies, but her name was Erica). Anywho, I am inspired by your humor, words, energy, and ideas. I know you were not always headed in the direction you are now, but you are moving along with such strength and beauty. Thanks for sharing your journey.
    Kerri

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  22. Our food bills are always going up. I know that you don't eat meat or poultry which we still do and I paid nearly $13 for a teeny tiny chicken yesterday....$4 is a lot for lettuce. We pay $7.99'for a plastic tub of assorted lettuce. It is the larger tub but still that is quite a substantial sum.

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  23. Hi Janet -

    When you talk about keeping in your own business - I would love a whole blog post on this? (Can you add this to my long laundry list of topics? LOL)

    Have you read "Loving What is" by Katie Byron? She talks a lot about minding your own business or even Esther Hicks/Abraham. I have lots of in-laws in my same town and I struggle with keeping in my own business. They always are in mine. And so it makes me get in their business and then I manipulate the situation so I don't have to be with them all the time. A viscous circle. I wish I didn't care if I was with them or not!

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    1. i don't feel qualified discussing this subject as it is new to me...that is staying out of everyone's business. :)
      i have not read those books.

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  24. Good for you Janet! I thought of you yesterday as I wore my 'new to me' coat and jeans with a coach handbag. All items purchased at secondhand and vintage stores. The jeans were $15 (Chip 'n Pepper) fit perfect. Sigh. If I could cut back grocery spending I would be doing even better. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. I went in Goodwill on Saturday and I was so disappointed; look and look, and never find anything good like that of which you've spoken. The day before, went into the dollar store; same thing. Did buy some dried beans. All I can say, is I wish I lived in Redlands, Janet! However, following thru on my plan to hit the dollar stores (with produce) in neighboring town this coming week as well as farmers market; loved the comment made here by one of the readers about getting veggies with roots and dirt attached...but everybody I know is complaining about the prices at the farmers market...my friend who lives near there goes ahead and pays the higher prices and instead just cuts down the grocery bill in other ways; not vegan, and she also goes out of her way to get grass-finished beef (this is a person very frugal in all other ways with a minimalist house!).

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    2. Hi Vicki, I should mention that many times I go to these second hand places and never find anything. All of the items I mentioned were from 3 separate places at different times. Just get lucky once in a while :)

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  25. I think you might fall over if I told you the truth about how much I've been spending on groceries lately. the sad part is, Chad is not home and the boys are very rarely here. I do no planning and no budgeting...sometimes I stop in for just one thing and end up with every other craving in my cart. It's pure laziness and foolishness. I think I have shopping syndrome because I'm depressed that our moving plans aren't quite working out like we had hoped. But I feel very determined now.....keep posting on this please so I can feel accountable and reread your posts in case I need an intervention! :)

    so, were the reubens a big hit?

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    Replies
    1. Okay, this is my last comment because I'm always commenting too much, but I totally hear you; we shop sometimes to fill up the voids in our life...also out of boredom. I am a victim of it, but recovering. Janet's blog is so instructional.

      I was thinking the same thing yesterday during Super Bowl, Janet! How did the reubens go over???

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    2. Don't you stop commenting Vicki, I enjoy your comments.

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  26. I'm amazed every time I read a post about the .99 store! I don't have a .99 store near me but I can buy frozen bags of veggies for .99 at our local grocery store! your posts has inspired me to search for the value items instead of just picking up the normal items. always a pleasure reading your blog! ruby w

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  27. Oh Janet, My daughter and I went to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles yesterday and I was so out of control with buying food at the market there. I went bento-mania and bought about 6 different ones, plus other groceries (totaling up to about $70)… This is in addition to my usual weekly $100 (approx.) grocery shopping. I really need to rein in my food spending like you.

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  28. Woot! Good for you. Just your picture would keep me on track if I were you - Id be so proud! I also noted the "staying out of other's biz" comment and had to laugh with your comment about this subjecting "being new" to you! Bout spit out my coffee! I wanna hear more about this as well, like the other commenter. My fave use of the almost stale rye (which I love), is to cube it or cut it in nice "stix" and put it on a cookie sheet in a slow oven with a little garlic powder or onion powder and toast it a bit, then use it to dip into a nice dill dip loaded with chopped veggies like broc, cauli, shredded carrots or whatever you have left, even olives! Yum! Not sure if any of that is vegan, but its a fun dinner when you don't want to cook and only want a snack with a book or at the table with your DH (talking about how much $$$ you are saving).

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    1. oh yes! great idea. i always use bread that is staling or ready to for croutons.

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  29. Janet, I'm not sure if Im being rejected and why. I have posted several times, nothing negative and none of them have shown up. I would love to contribute to your comments but apparently there is a problem. Any suggestion? I couldn't find anywhere else to email you. Im not sure if this will show up. Curious
    Hilary

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    1. i apologize hilary. i'm still having lots of problems too. i'm hoping blogger will get it fixed soon b/c it is driving me so crazy.

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    2. Yes, I've been experiencing the same thing hilary - even when I comment on other blogs. After putting in a lot of thought and then typing up a comment and hit "Publish" the whole comment will just disappear into cyberspace somewhere! It's a pain.

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    3. Thank you. I was getting paranoid I had offended someone.

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  30. I'm shocked by how low your prices are. We don't have any .99 cent stores but I think even your TJ's is a lot cheaper than here. I'd like to compare the same items you bought.

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    1. I am shocked too. In Australia we pay hand over fist for groceries. It's hard to comprehend how cheap the prices are , like something out of 1972.

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    2. I'm also shocked. We pay a lot more here too (Switzerland). I know that a great deal of food is produced in California, so obviously that has an impact, but I do wonder about what else allows those prices to be so low - wages, etc. Not that the more expensive stores there are necessarily treating anyone any better... Here, a lot of the price is due to high import taxes and high wages - it's hard to stomach the prices but it does pay off in quality of life for more of the population.

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    3. I just left a house where I had more than a dozen fruit trees on a half-acre of land; I also live in the middle of an agriculture belt in Southern California (there are few of them left, unless you go Central/Northern). I could go out and pick an avocado or an orange in my own backyard; we still have groves of them all around us in the vicinity. Yet, I go to the grocery store, and the avocados are from Mexico and the oranges are from Florida; other fruits from South America. It makes no sense to me, even when retailers say it's consumer demand for year-'round produce. Here, they rotate the lemon crop so that lemons ARE producing all year long. Our local flower growers have heavy competition from the foreign markets. It's hard to be a farmer, which is why I so applaud the farmers markets (even though they CAN be expensive); supporting the little guy out there but also getting food that doesn't have to travel so far. We have early-California pioneers in my town, whose families came here in the 19th century and farmed the fertile valleys/canyons. The descendents are mostly all selling out, which makes me want to throw up, although I understand it...because farming is hard, hard work with often not the returns expected, and the developers come in with big money. However, I also know descendents who have big regrets that they sold out. You can't get it back once it's gone...remember that old Joni Mitchell song about "you don't know what you've got til it's gone; pave Paradise and put up a parking lot." I loved that excellent movie with George Clooney called, in fact, The Descendents, about a Hawaiian family faced with the dilemma of selling or retaining their ancestral land. It takes conscience and commitment to literally dig in and grow food for the planet if you're a lone wolf out there and not one of the big companies who farm big but not mindfully and protectively for us. IMHO.

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    4. I think I spelled descendents wrong; it's descendANTS.

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    5. Interesting thoughts, Vicki. All of that is part of why I chose to vote with my food dollars, although finding the balance between that and saving money is tricky. But I don't want to save money off the backs of others, to the extent that I can. If I were without any means, that would be another story, but as we discussed above, many of us are trying to save, not just scrape by. So I'm trying to waste less food, and plan better, but still shop at the grocery store that has an excellent record for how it treats its employees, for working to preserve farming communities, etc.

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    6. p.s. I'm not saying that the 99c store has a poor record, I actually know nothing about them as I'm not local!

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    7. yes, I'm really looking forward to Janet's future post about the dollar stores...it's a whole new education for me...

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  31. I am so happy that you are continuing your posts on cooking. I am not vegan but love to try your recipes…can't seem to master the bread recipe to look like yours..lol. I have enjoyed your blog for quite a while Janet even though I do not post any comments. Thank you so much for being so real:-)

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  32. Congrats on all your efforts, Janet; as always, an inspiration to your readers. I hope we didn't make you feel guilty about the chips.

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  33. your 99c berries are $7.50 here.

    It's almost enough to make me want to immigrate. Almost.

    Good for you being so disciplined. I can tell it's making you really happy x

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  34. Not everyone is a conscious as I am of the toxicity of some non-organic produce. You can google lists of the worst offenders and lists of "clean" non-organic foods at foodnews.org. Please, wash ALL produce very well, with a splash of white (cheap) vinegar in the pan/sink of water. And know that some produce marked organic isn't, really, but let's at least try our best to consume wholesome food - for ourselves and especially our children.

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    1. I think a lot of us are concerned about non-organic produce. And even though I buy mostly organic foods, I do realize that even when something is labeled organic there is runoff (from irrigation) from other neighboring producers as well as what is floating around in the air from the pesticide spraying. Unless produce is in a "contained" environment essentially ALL of our produce has harmful chemicals running through the system of each plant.
      Washing our fruits and veggies helps on the surface but you can't "clean" the inside.

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    2. It is hard to know what to do but the nutrition people or whomever say that you shouldn't avoid produce due to the pesticide fears; that it's worse not to eat fruits and veggies. I dated and nearly married an entomologist (bug doctor) who would supervise the spraying of fields and orchards. I wasn't paying too much about all of it back then...I feel like I've talked about this before; probaby have...but if I helped with his laundry, he would have me double or triple-rinse it (clothes he'd worn in the fields) and he would caution to take great care with the washing/rinsing of vegetables or fruits from any source other than a 'clean' home garden. It's never left my mind, that part of it, and I'm so careful to strip, say, a head of romaine and individually wash every single lettuce leaf...but I always wonder how much good I'm doing and what I could be ingesting. I go hot & cold over the joy/trouble of home gardening...it can be a lot of work...but it seems to be the only way to be really safe. I hate to think growers and farmers are always the bad guys. People want the 'pretty' produce in the stores and not stuff that's chewed on...and things in a backyard garden can definitely get chewed on. It's a tough subject. We do the best we can at home, I guess. I don't know how a vinegar rinse, for instance, can wash away pesticides but I know people who advocate it when they're washing up their veggies in the kitchen sink. We probably can't be completely safe on so many things or have 100% assurances but, crap, it's just our health and our lives. Head-banging subject.

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    3. Hi Vicki, Sorry my comment above sounded so fatalistic - I was worried about that, since I'm usually more positive. We do the best we can at home just like you and everyone else. I would never avoid eating plant based foods (fruits, veg, grains, etc..), I can't even imagine doing that, that would be unnatural to me. Nor would I blame growers or farmers, they've got it tough enough already. It's funny, like you I've tried a home garden but for me I just can't get very enthusiastic about it (subtext: I'm too lazy to do the work!).

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    4. Oh, I'm pretty lazy; it's my husband and his farmer genes. He loves to grow the veggies but sadly he eats few. He over-produces so I do get kind of panicky about what to do with all of it sometimes; we wear out the neighbors. If he does that again, I'm taking it to the food bank. I mean, a person can begin to have nightmares of zucchini overtaking the world.

      I do wish I'd inherited some of my mom's talents for preserving/canning; now THAT's a lot of work...

      You're not being fatalistic. I do live in the land of agriculture and feel lucky about that but the downside is that the water supply can be at risk from pesticide runoff FROM all that ag land although I know they test municipal water all the time. Hubby studies the water reports and feels we're okay. Hope so. But I can't stand the taste of our city water; yuck, it's awful.

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  35. What do you do with the artichoke?

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    1. I'd love to know how you steam it! A whole artichoke always intimidates me somehow...

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    2. Janet, if you wouldn't mind sharing recipes mentioned in this post, like the vegan lasagna and soup, I'd find it so helpful...unless you've posted them before in which case just tell me and I'll search. Thanks.

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    3. yes, of course i'll be posting those recipes!

      yuko, just cut the stem off the bottom and trim the sharp tips with a scissor and place in a pot with about 3" of water and put a tipped lid on top. bring to a small boil and cook for about 40 minutes. keep an eye on it to make sure the water doesn't completely boil away.

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    4. I was wondering the same thing about the artichoke. I love artichokes but they seemed like too much trouble for one person so i resisted purchasing . thanks Janet for the instructions on how to prepare.
      Darby

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    5. Thank you so much for the cooking instructions, Janet! I just added a whole artichoke to our tonight's grocery list. We're trying to get some groceries before the snow storm hit us here in upstate NY. Brrrr...

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  36. I wish there was a .99 store that sold produce here!
    But I have to say that you are rubbing off on me. Tonight coming home from work I resisted the temptation to go to a drive-through and instead came home and fixed things from odds and ends in the fridge.
    Thanks! I need all the help I can get.

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    1. cynthia i'm rubbing off on me too! i have had the same thoughts, it'd be so easy to just pull in and grab a couple bean burritos or whathaveyou and i think omg, i cannot let the blog down!

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    2. Oh no, you mentioned bean burritos...I love those. Think meal plan Jill!! Lunch on Thursday...homemade Chiptole burritos. I can wait, I can wait. LOL.

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  37. Janet, you amaze me. I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow at our Pick and Save, because Tuesday is discount day for seniors. And sometimes they have different meats (not vegan) marked down, so that helps, with the bill. But, I seem to go overboard on so many things. I love how you plan ahead, and your recipes really sound "good" But I have to say,you must have will power PLUS.. to give up chips. That is just awesome!!!! I start and can't eat just one...and I get nervous if none are in the house to snack on. Maybe, some day...I'll give them up...ha! that's probably a long long ways away..

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    1. haha, not willpower. try putting all the groceries you bought for a week and taking a photo of them and then showing that photo to the world. it's a little intimidating. but thank you.:)

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    2. Part of the success of your series, I feel, is the gorgeous photo you take of the week's haul. I'll shake my head, "That's a lot of beautiful, colorful, healthy food." It's so inspiring to eat well like that rather than looking at a bunch of bags from McDonald's.

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    3. Their oatmeal is not bad and served all day. I use to pick that up alot until one day while the hubs left to get us some, I made homemade oatmeal. It was all done by the time he got home....the oatmeal, plus I had chopped up the apples, had dried cranberries and pecans on hand. So now I have no excuse. Kinda like all those times I hate the thought of cleaning the bathroom, until the day I timed myself. I can clean both, top to bottom in less than 30 minutes. No excuse there either. Life is harder when you remove all your excuses...at least that is my story. LOL

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  38. Janet
    Congratulations, admire your care and strength in maintaining your frugalista shopping habits. Have to admit I couldn't do it, nor do we have any shops like your .99 place. Just have a couple of queries/suggestions:
    1. Why buy bottled mineral water? Particularly if it's imported? For environmental reasons I rarely buy it myself now because of all the embodied energy (specially all the way in Oz) and resulting greenhouse gas emissions. Generally just drink tap water, sometimes with a slice of lemon or lime (mostly from own potted trees). Even in restaurants, with a good glass of Oz wine of course. It also saves a lot of money over time. However, if this is your special treat, and you certainly don't have many food treats, then just ignore!
    2. You have a lovely garden. Do you have room to grow some veggies as well? It's high summer here now and everyday I pick our own tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, rocket, peppers, courgettes and of course herbs like chives, basil, parsley etc. Because I don't use any chemicals, I know they're all very healthy and chemical/pesticide free. As I have back and other problems, I grow them in built up beds so it's much easier to care for them. It's such a good feeling to step outside and pick your dinner from the garden. Best wishes, Pammie xx

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    1. pammie i have no qualms buying anything at the .99 store b/c you have to understand that they get most of their items from stores that have cancelled their orders. so this is overstock that other stores do not want, and would otherwise be wasted. the product is here for a limited time. not all their products are like that, they have some contracts that keep their shelves stocked with regular items. but this is why the prices are so low. most people think it is b/c they are from china or spoiled or damaged or even that they don't pay their workers properly but that is not the case. i will do a post on this soon.

      one of my new year resolutions is to start a proper veggie gaden so that is on my list!

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    2. The tap water here in Redlands is horrid, so we filter it twice, and we thought San Diego's water was bad. The chlorine smell is overwhelming sometimes. We are considering buying bottled water.

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    3. I have a blogger 'friend' from down your way, Janet, and she just bought an apple tree to grow. She grows an amazing amount of veggies, all year long, in a small space and has many posts about it on her blog. Elaine at Sunny Simple Life. I just love her. Apples are a good idea; I have a neighbor who gets a good yield on her apples every year, and we never really get very cold weather which is what they supposedly like better; I actually had an apple tree at the beach in another house I lived in and it grew just fine with big yields until my husband over-trimmed and shocked it. There are so many pesticides on conventional-market apples, it's great to have organic in your own garden/orchard patch. Start with tomatoes; tomatoes are easy. Don't go too heavy on squash or you'll have so much you won't know what to do with it. My husband has tried to grow a lot of lettuces but they get buggy/chewed-on and seem to be bitter up here north of you; we grew spinach better. We had really good luck with rainbow chard last year (awesome) and Daikon radishes, which are quite earthy and took some getting used to! I am leaning more and more toward raised beds, as a reader mentioned here; easier on the back, and contained. My friend at the beach near here also grows blackberries very successfully in raised beds; her lemons in pots! (They get more fog than sun sometimes.) We're not set up well for a garden this spring having just moved but, if we can, I'd like to grow kale and I think you just can't beat the taste of a homegarden-grown green bean. My grandma grew green beans in a tiny square of dirt off a service porch. Just stake them as they grow up, up, up. I haven't had good luck with bell peppers here but blogger Elaine grows big ones. My unsolicited advice is to start small because if you go too big on the garden, it's a lot of work and time and water, as much as you might love it...but I know of few contentments that can rival going out to the garden in summer and picking tomatoes warmed from the sun. It always make me think of women all thru the ages who have done the same thing. I might gather them in my tee-shirt just like they gathered them in an apron but I feel a union of spirits there in the garden.

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    4. Janet
      Tks for explaining about how the .99 store operates, selling things that would otherwise be wasted. Will be interested to read more about it in future posts. Sounds like a great idea.
      Years ago our then cleaner, a wonderful little Polish lady who'd been deserted by her husband and left with three children, started up a soup kitchen, all on her own at first, for the homeless - all from things that would otherwise have been wasted.
      She has a huge heart! She used to go around our local shops asking the baker for bread/rolls that he'd normally throw out at the end of the day (every day he sells only things fresh baked that day), the greengrocer for veggies that were no longer in prime condition and the butcher for bones and meat trimmings that he couldn't use himself or sell. She used to make huge vats of soup and take them in her car boot to areas where homeless people stay in Canberra and dish it up with some bread. She did it for years, ultimately others got involved in helping her with collecting food items, helping her prepare and distribute. Her old car was on its last legs so they bought a second hand van which was better suited to all the vats of soup. She continued doing it for years even into her 80s. Once when I was at the end of a work trip, staying overnight in Hong Kong, I switched on the hotel television and Stassia's face flashed on the screen. Couldn't believe it. Somehow they'd picked up her story on the international news service, she'd just been awarded Canberran of the Year! And all from things that would have been wasted - and because of her big heart and love for people who were struggling with life. Pammie

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  39. This post really inspires me, Janet. You are a living proof that living well doesn't always correlate with how much you spend. I was just thinking today that being financially tight in the past five years have been a blessing in disguise, because that has taught me to live simply and frugally. I also cooked your split pea soup for tonight's dinner and it was really good! (I didn't have liquid smoke, so I used cumin instead.) Steve who usually complains when I cook something vegan had two bowlfuls and had no complaints! Looking forward to trying more of your recipes. ox

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  40. So hoping you will share the navy bean soup recipe! :-)

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  41. I just tallied your shopping receipt and looked up equivalent in aussie supermarkets. Total $127.50. I'd love to shop at your prices. Today I bought two avocados, two apples, four bananas, some broccoli and a quarter of a watermelon for $30. I had to double check the bill was sure must've been some kind of mistake. Alas, no. Okay rant over.

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  42. Navy Bean Soup! Lasagne! Do you do mail order!!!!!!!!!!!

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  43. Hi Janet! You've inspired me so much on my spending habits. I wish we had a $.99 store here. I've been really good with my spending this year and after years of being a knick-knack person I can't even look at them much less buy them. My husband doesn't know what's up with me!lol I just said Sunday I wished I had been more focused on spending as we would be very well off!!lol One thing that is really helping me not to waste is chopping veggies and making my own salad bar in the fridge. Every week I'm no longer throwing out unused veggies because everything is all ready to place in a bowl or recipe. My wardrobe is down to only the few things I regularly wear and my basement is slowly filling the Goodwill with "stuff"! So even though you are West Coast and I'm East you've helped more than you will know! thanks - jeannette

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  44. Would love to know how you are going to cook the artichoke, Janet. Have grown them for the first time this summer and it now looks like there's one ready for plucking.

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  45. Dear Janet, I just clicked on your MrMoneyMustache link (since I read his blog all the time too) and couldn't stop laughing at his latest post. He is so spot on. You've got a lot of MrMoneyMustache in you (oh that does not sound right) as far as getting the finances down straight. I'm trying my hardest to get there too! I learn so much from your posts, please keep them coming.

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    1. whoa excellent article. i read those kinds of BS articles on yahoo news all the time. and they are not limited to finances. it's so lame. but yeah, he is spot on.

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  46. I forgot to thank you for posting the link to "My Friend Maia" video a few days ago. I had seen it when you posted it months ago, had recently been thinking about it and wishing I could find it again. I really want to learn her exercises, so was thrilled when a google search turned up this youtube video where she teaches a 10 minute or less morning routine. Maia's Isometric Exercises: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDekfNV6_Jg Dont know if you'd seen it or not, but wanted to share.

    Have you considered writing The Gardener's Cottage Cookbook? Seriously. Maybe an e-book? Until you do, I am sorting through your blog and printing my own. I've made the artisian bread twice now...wow. So simple, and my family snarfs it down. Need to start another loaf tonight. I'm having trouble with it burning on the bottom a little...but, I am using a cast iron dutch oven, and since I live in a 5th wheel, my tiny propane oven is, well, tiny....maybe that is the problem, bottom is too close to the flame. Will keep experimenting. I love your recipes, they inspire me. Should say, I love the whole blog, YOU inspire me! Keep it coming. Blessings!

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    1. thanks for those links. i haven't googled her in awhile so thanks! she deserves an entire post don't you think?

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    2. An entire post on Maia would be super! :)

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    3. I second the motion, or 3rd or 4th it. I spent that long time one night googling Maia and I wound up typing out a bunch of things about her because she is so darn fascinating and inspiring. She's got that certain something.

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  47. Janet I just wanted to let you know we're in the throws of anther snowstorm and you are welcome to stop by!

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  48. As for growing your own veggies, check out www.gardenbetty.com - she garden's in Los Angeles.

    Artichokes are delish!!!

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  49. Just have to say, after checking in with you this am with a lull in my job, that you sure have lots of people who enjoy your posts with lots of opinions/great ideas and who are having a rousing convo/tons of comments from lovely people from all over the world. Great compliment to the bored blogger who was considering not blogging anymore, thinking we were bored with her. Pppssshhhawwww! NICE! Do you feel the love? ;)

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    1. thank you lor. i had no idea people would be this interested in this stuff. but yes...i'm feeling it. :)

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  50. Janet,
    $4.08 was spent at the dollar zone - yesterday.
    I said to my self, Janet should know about this.....
    I am creating a care package of love to send to my parents for Valentine's day.
    pve

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  51. Ahh, if we all knew then what we know now - none of us would have mortgages! We've paid off our mortgage, but it could have been done much earlier had I had a clue. Older and wiser now, it is not nearly so easy to get me to spend as prolifically as I once did. Keep up the good work, you'll get there sooner than later! :)

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  52. First off I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question that I'd like to
    ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and
    clear your thoughts prior to writing. I've had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas
    out. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to
    15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure out how
    to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Many thanks!


    Have a look at my site balvi

    ReplyDelete

kindness is never out of style.

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