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Happy almost-Monday everyone! It was an unseasonably warm and pleasant weekend and we spent most of it hanging out with family. It really flew by! It was one of those weekends where I felt like I didn’t really do anything special, but maybe that’s how simple living is supposed to feel?
Anyhoo, here’s how we attempted to save (and spent) money this weekend. Add your own in the comments!
Apple muffin loaf
I’m so ticked, y’all. I bought a bag of organic apples at HEB and the damn things were grainy and obviously old. Not one to throw out gross-ish fruit, I decided to repurpose the apples.
I used this recipe to make an apple streudel muffin loaf. The recipe was just for muffins, but I was lazy. I didn’t feel like baking in cups because of extra cleaning. A muffin loaf is a lazy lady’s way of getting muffins with less fuss.
I forgot to make the streusel topping (oops!), but this was still a very nice treat. I cut it into slices and froze them for quick desserts to have on hand. I’m sure it would be amazing topped with homemade ice cream!
The main event of the weekend was a nice cookout with Mr. Picky Pincher’s side of the family. We started cooking Saturday morning and put together a smorgasbord of good Texas eats:
Smoked brisket: We managed to buy a 12-pound brisket with a fat cap for $20, which is a pretty good price.
I guess they’re a little cheaper since few people are smoking brisket in January. Their loss is our gain! Mr. Picky Pincher smoked the brisket in the smoker his dad built for him.
Slow-cooked pinto beans: Mr. Picky Pincher’s specialty! The secret is salt pork (recipe is in the Cookbook!).
“Cayenne” salad: Picky Nikki kindly brought potato salad to the shindig. But there was just one little problem. While mixing the potato salad, the lid fell off her jar of cayenne, coating the salad in fiery spice. She tried to dig out as much as she could, but damn! This was some spicy potato salad!
In a good way, though. We’ve now affectionately coined this stuff “Cayenne salad. ”
Guacamole and pico de gallo: Staples for any Texan function.
Jalapeno poppers: Mmmm. We bought a shizton of jalapenos for, like, $1. We processed them, filled them with cream cheese, wrapped ’em with bacon, and grilled them. They get delightfully crunchy and creamy and good grief are they good.
French dip: Mr. Picky Pincher had to run and buy avocados and tomatoes for our pico and guac. That meant we didn’t have snacks on hand before dinner for the fam. Oops! I rifled through the pantry and found my rainy day hosting go-to: a pack of French onion soup mix. I combined it with two cups of homemade yogurt, topped it with chopped home-grown green onions, and paired it with Ritz crackers. I served it in my great-grandma’s serving plate to look fancy.
Berry chocolate napoleons: I got the recipe for this in an old Food Network Magazine. I’ve never had a proper napoleon, but this looked easy and good. I snagged storebought puff pastry (I do want to learn how to make my own, but that’s for another day). I cut them into small two-bite strips.
Once they puffed up, I sliced them in half. I made a fluffy chocolate mousse and stirred in roughly chopped blackberries. I piped the filling in between the little sandwich pieces and bam!
Delicious dessert coming through.
The great thing is that we got plenty of leftovers from the cookout, which we’ll eat this week and then freeze.
We renovated the hell out of our kitchen last year. We saved the heavy duty sink for the eventual outdoor kitchen we wanted to build. We have a rudimentary kitchen outside now, which Mr. Picky Pincher uses mostly for beer-brewing and stir-fry in our wok.
The sink wasn’t functional before this weekend. Mr. Picky Pincher hooked it up to our water hose and installed a drainage system. Woohoo!
It’s not fancy, but hey, it works. It’ll be nice to rinse things outside instead of taking the mess inside.
Our grocery store, HEB, is offering four free curbside pickups as part of a promotion. I’ve never done curbside because I’m a control freak, but I’ve heard other people really like the service.
On a whim, I decided to try out the curbside ~experience~ since it was free anyway.
I’m going to write an entire post just on this, but the bottom line was that it wasn’t worth it to us. There were communication gaps and hey, we still had to physically go to the grocery store. If I had to pay a fee, I would at least want it to be for grocery delivery to my house.
I could see how curbside would be great for some people, but it’s not our thing. Glad I gave it a try!
Surprise – new water heater!
We received a nasty surprise on Sunday afternoon. We came home from a trip to Half Price Books (where Mr. Picky Pincher bought a used book on brewing beer), and noticed that our water heater was leaking.
Now, we knew that our water heater was a POS. Our water rarely gets close to being remotely classified as “hot.” Hell, the damn thing was eroded and just horrible.
We figured we’d either replace it when it breaks, or when we pay off our loans – whichever happens first.
It broke first!
We did consider hiring a plumber to fix the leak, but soon realized it wouldn’t work. A plumber’s fees would easily exceed the cost of an entirely new water heater, plus it meant waiting for a plumber’s availability.
We shelled out $750 total and got a new, state-of-the-art water heater.
I’m calling it “Big Boy.”
We’re very lucky that Mr. Picky Pincher’s dad happened to be with us when the leak started. We were able to replace the water heater with his guidance instead of being at the mercy of a plumber.
Hopefully this will mean hot water (finally!) and decreased bills with a more efficient appliance.
Sophie the shih tzu came over for the cookout. I, uh, imbibed far too much homemade wine and went to lie down. She decided to hang out with me. Little cutie! Meanwhile, Zap was hiding in the closet and hissing. I don’t think we’d ever be able to get another pet because he hates everything!
Zap attacked me earlier this week. He went into a neighbor’s yard to pick a fight with a possum and I had to literally drag him back home (the rule is that he must stay in our yard within eyeshot). He got some pretty good licks on me, so I put his Soft Paws on (Amazon link here). It’s a humane alternative to declawing cats. Next time I’m buying a hot pink set.
Anyhoo, he was sufficiently pissed off after getting a “manicure,” but he still came for snuggles later.
Zap loves sleeping in Mr. Picky Pincher’s bag. We could put it up, but why break the little guy’s heart?
This is hands-down my favorite photo of Zap. He decided to play in the compost bins again and looked back to give me a mischievous look. Riiiight before diving into a second compost bin. I swear.
We want to know: How did you save or spend money this weekend?
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