Tightening Our Belts (again)

Home ownership comes with a whole new set of responsibilities, and that can be a difficult adjustment for serial renters like us.  Let’s review: Since we moved in together, over 18 years ago, Shane and I have rented 2 apartments and a townhouse in Arizona, and 3 apartments and 3 houses in California.  Oh, and Shane rented an apartment in California when he moved out here shortly after we were married.  That’s 10 rental homes.  We have learned the ins and outs of renting.  We know how to negotiate with landlords.  We know how to read a lease and determine what is our responsibility, and what is theirs.  Home ownership is different.  It’s our responsibility. It just is.  Even if it is covered by our home warranty, or homeowner’s insurance, it’s our responsibility.  We have to make the calls, we have to make the decisions, and we have to pay whatever bills come our way.

Well, okay.  We knew that.  We also knew that we were going to have to repipe the original part of the house within the next couple of years.  I mean, the house was built in 1954, and it has not been repiped.  We knew it was coming.  Perhaps, we should have seen the replacement of the line out to the street last April coming, too, as well as the broken sewage line under the house and replacement of the mainline in to the house last week.

The mainline pipes replaced looked like this:


I think replacing them was the right decision.  Unfortunately, we hear that the rest of the pipes in the original part of our house look much the same.  Yikes.  We’re going to have to do something about that soon, I guess.  I’ll spare you a pic of the sewage pipes.  Trust me, it was not good.  

Yeah, those repairs kind of surprised us.  We thought we were just calling the plumber in the week before last to unstop a toilet.  Turns out, the real problem was a broken sewage line, and that’s not really something you can put off having fixed.  So, we didn’t.  Then, the guy saw the mainline in to our house and, since he was also doing the other work, offered to replace that for about half off what he would usually charge for that job.  Luckily, Shane has had a few recent side gigs, so we actually had money this time to pay the bill in full, instead of carding it and paying it off later, like we did in April.  We will still be able to make our house payment,  and pay all of the bills on time.  

Nevertheless, it would behoove us to play it very close to our chests for the next month or so.  To that end, I am trying to save as much money as possible around the house.  I have been baking bread, and recently made batches of muffins and granola bars (and pumpkin pie ~ yum!) for lunchboxes.  I keep thinking I need to run to the store, then looking around and realizing we have plenty of food here.  So, I am trying to shop very minimally, just to fill in the gaps.  This week, I have spent a grand total of $59 so far, and I don’t anticipate spending much more.  We have everything we need to make roast chicken (vegetarian, I happen to have one in the freezer, believe it or not), greens, corn and biscuits one night, stir fry and rice another, and pasta another night.  That will leave us with plenty of leftovers, and there are some other easy options of hand (beans, rice, pastas, soups, potatoes, eggs, etc), as always.  If I get a wild hair, I might even make quiche one night.  That’s a crowd pleaser, and I can make two at once, and put one away in the freezer.  

Of course, working with what we have on hand sometimes leaves us needing to think outside the (lunch) box.  Today, two girls took cheese sandwiches, pumpkin pie, a drink (almond milk for one, juice for the other) and a snack (I forgot what), and the third took soy turkey, popcorn, pie and almond milk for lunch.  Popcorn is part of a healthy lunch, right?  Especially with pumpkin pie on the side.  Well, she’ll eat it, which is more than we can say for a lot of foods.  On the up side, the pie is relatively low in sugar, and made from fresh pumpkin.  That totally counts as a vegetable…ish…maybe.  Come on, I need it to count.    There are banana cupcakes or pumpkin muffins for after school snack, as well as eggs, nuts, fruit and yogurt, and we’ll have a healthy dinner, so that’s good.  

Anyway, when I was at the store yesterday, I saw some multi-grain pancake mix on sale for $1.99, and I almost bought it.  Then, I read the ingredients, and that jogged my memory ~ I had all of those ingredients at home, as well as a recipe for making my own pancake mix.  I know it’s not a lot of money, but why spend $1.99 if you don’t have to?  

So, last night, I finally made my own pancake mix.  It took a few minutes to throw together.  I remember that my mom used to make hers, too, when I was a little girl.  I wanted a multi-grain mix, because that’s what we usually use, so I had searched the internet and come up with a recipe I thought sounded like a winner.  The only thing was, it called for oil to be mixed in the dry ingredients before storing, and I thought that sounded like it would just cause the mix to spoil sooner.  The recipe states that it can be kept at room temperature for 2 weeks, or the the fridge much longer.  To be honest, there’s not enough room in my fridge for a jar of pancake mix.  So, I decided to leave out the oil, do the math, and add it when we mix up our pancakes.  

This is the recipe I used:


Ours looks like this:




My jar is HUGE!  If we go through this quickly, I will double the recipe next time.  

I added a label, so I will remember how to mix it up.  (Please note:  I took the picture before I realized that I had written “1 1/2 c. oil.”  It should be “1 1/2 TBS oil.”  Please DO NOT put 1 1/2 cups of oil in each batch of pancakes you make .  Tablespoons.  I have since fixed the label, but didn’t catch it before I took the picture.)  

We took our mix for a spin this morning.  I added some applesauce to the batter, as I usually do, and they were eaten with butter and/or homemade raspberry jam.  Thumbs up from everyone, so I guess the recipe’s a keeper.  Give it a try.  It might save you a few bucks, and it will definitely keep a few boxes out of the landfill, not to mention saving the fuel needed to produce and package those boxes of pancake mix and transport them to your local store.  Oh, and you get to eat wholesome, homemade, piping hot pancakes.  Not a bad deal, if you ask me.  


One thought on “Tightening Our Belts (again)

  1. I meant to say that I have spent $59 on groceries this week. Honestly, I feel like I have way more than I need. Because I went to Costco, we have a gallon and a half of milk and, like, 50 tortillas. Pretty sure we aren’t going to use those all up this week. On the other hand, Kaia has discovered that she loves fresh, hot tortillas spread with butter and rolled up, and she has learned how to cook them, so we just might go through those quicker than I think. 🙂

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