Thursday, May 9, 2019

Frugal Friday (late and early): Money Saving Weekly Recap

The last two weeks we've been sick.  Again.  This time the son brought home the cold and was down with it all last week.  The husband, who has managed to skate through most of the colds and things this school year, came down with it next.  Remarkably he and the daughter were down for only a couple of days and then they rebounded from it.  Me, not so much.  I went down with it hard, started to get over it and then it came back, which I knew was not a good sign.  I was so horribly fatigued all weekend I was up to doing not much of anything and I crawled through the beginning part of this week.  When my chest started hurting and my cough started sounding really bad I decided enough was enough and it was just time to suck it up and spend the money to go to the doctor.  Luckily the husband was up to driving me to the doctor or I honestly don't know how I would have gotten there.  I was really, REALLY out of it.  I honestly think after an entire school year's worth of viruses and other stuff my body had just plain had enough.  I mean I haven't felt good since Valentine's Day...that's not a good thing.  After an exam and a chest x-ray to make sure I didn't have pneumonia (which the doctor was worried about) I'm now on antibiotics, a decongestant and lots of water and tea.  My first round of antibiotics was yesterday and I have to say that I'm feeling better than I have in months, which is definitely an improvement, and now I'm just trying to rest today even though my nature is screaming at me to get stuff done.  So, for a change, I finally have some energy to blog.  Yay!!!!

You know it's kind of sad to write that.  Yes, I've been so horribly tired and sick the last couple of months I have had to dig up energy to do anything at all and blogging was on that list.  It's nice being able to think clearly instead of through a fog.  I think I was a lot sicker than I thought.

Anyway, this week's post is early, but is late from last week, so I figured I'd just combine them together.  I'm working on other posts for monthly goals and shopping goals (yes I have long lists for both).  Unfortunately, the frugal accomplishments post for the last two weeks is going to be kind of short as I just wasn't up to doing much at all, so things just plain didn't get done.

But, let's get to the short list I have!

1.  The Monopoly game this year is now ended, but last week was double (or triple, who knows) game pieces week, so going shopping I ended up with just piles and piles of Monopoly game pieces.  I wrangled the husband the daughter into helping me go through them all to see if we won anything good (note:  We didn't), and then I spent a good couple of hours online redeeming tokens and spending them on the second chance game site.  I managed to score two 5.00 grocery giftcards the last couple of weeks doing that (since they opened that section back up) and those are now sitting in my purse waiting for the next time I need to go shopping.  I redeemed what I had left for a free box of tissues (seen up top there) and a free bottle of water.  In the piles of game pieces we got we also got a few freebie coupons.  I redeemed a free box of water crackers, a free loaf of french bread, a couple of free bottles of water, a free can of green beans (it was actually for a free can of vegetables, but I picked green beans), a couple of free bagels, another small thing of sour cream (which I'm hoping that stuff will stay good for a while if you don't open it as I have a bunch of it now) and a free Refreshe Ice drink.  I THINK I got them all written down, but I might have missed something there (note:  I was out of it).

Overall, shopping went alright.  It probably could have gone better if I'd been well, but I was able to buy meat that was already defrosted and ready to use when I realized I was getting sick, so we had meatloaf one night, spaghetti another night (which I then forgot about it and had to throw away as I was so sick, which still upsets me...I have wasting food) and lamb roast (which I threw in the crock pot).  With the lamb roast, since I have a bunch of canned corn to use up (I still have a bunch from when my in-laws moved that they gave me and I want to rotate them out for more current cans) and some russet potatoes that were going wrinkly (by the way the potato basket is working AWESOME!  I'm really happy with how the potatoes aren't going green and they aren't sprouting that much), I decided to make Quick Potato Corn Chowder.  I added some Bacos to add a bit more flavor and then threw in a bit of garlic powder and a few seasonings, but overall as a base recipe it was really good and the husband actually really liked it (score!).  We had free bread and oven roasted potatoes as our other two sides (in case the other family members didn't like the soup).  Overall it was a pretty simple meal and came out well.

2.  Speaking of the Monopoly game a friend of mine sent me a nice little care package and she included some more Monopoly freebie coupons, which is awesome :).  It was definitely an upper to a pretty miserable and sickness driven week.

3.  I FINALLY got a refund check from the hospital for my overpayment back in October!  The head of the billing department called me again, apologized profusely, and issued another check as the one they sent (supposedly) back in March hadn't cleared or anything, so they stopped payment on that check and sent me another one (I still have my doubts they sent the first one, honestly, but whatever) and it came in this week.  I immediately went and put it into the bank.  I'm so very glad to get that whole super huge mess out of my hair and resolved and BOY if I EVER have to use that place again I am NOT paying them a cent until insurance gets done, no matter how much they try to bully me.  I'm done with that for sure.

4.  I got some more Spring cleaning done (albeit not much) the last couple of weeks.  I got the stairs deep cleaned and shampooed them once.  I still want to go over them again, but hey progress is progress!

5.  I rearranged my kitchen drawers to accommodate losing the old knife drawer because the oven door sticks out more than my old oven.  What I have now works alright, although I do feel the pinch of having one drawer gone in the kitchen.  And I am wondering how long it will take before I stop smacking my poor oven trying to, once again, open the old knife drawer like a dummy.

6.  My son actually found some shows on Amazon Prime that I didn't know we could get for free.  He's been having fun watching old "Word World" episodes, which hey I'm not going to complain about as maybe he's moving forward on communicating :).  I have noticed him babbling more complex sounds of late.  I keep hoping he'll talk, but I also am just happy that he's finally got the whole concept of nodding his head yes and no and what it means.  It's made offering him choices on things a lot easier and stops him from getting frustrated so much.

7.  The new medications the psychologist put the son on are working well!  She upped his Risperidone to a higher dosage disintegrating tablet, which is made by the same outfit that his old pills he used to take well are made by!  He might gag a little on one once in a while, but he's taking the new pills SO MUCH better than the orange pills he was on.  I'm thrilled as it really does help his concentration and mood to be on the higher dose and it is a huge relief to me to not panic every time I have to give him medication on whether or not he'll keep be able to gag the medicine down or not.

8.  My husband traded out his skills for some free swim lessons for the kids.  The lady who owns the pool is closing it for the summer, so they only have the rest of this month for lessons, but it has been nice not stressing about how to pay for swimming lessons the last bit and I am grateful for how far the kids have come in their swimming skills while being in Ms. Tina's classes.  She's got Alvah swimming to the point that he's swimming well in the Special Olympics this year and is actually actively enjoying the water, as is Armina.  I never thought either one of them would get to the point they would enjoy swimming, so I really am grateful for how far they have come :).

And there you go folks.  That's about it that I can remember at this point.  How have you all been the last couple of weeks?  Okay I hope?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap for the Second 1/2 of April

Man, this month has gone by so crazy it's a miracle I'm getting any blogging done NOW. 

Good, bad or indifferent, here's a short list of things that has happened this month.

1.  We got the disaster loan finalized and now have the funds available to finally fix the house and yard up (yay!).  We had to run back to the FEMA center to do the closing documents one day and then last week I had to call Alvah in sick to therapy because we had a final walk through inspection by the Small Business Association (the ones who give out the disaster loans) to confirm damage to the property.  The guy who walked us through the damage was actually thinking we might need more money and was thinking of requesting more, but we told him we'd be okay with what we got.  If you go up over 25,000.00 in a disaster loan they require you to put a lien on your property to protect their end of the bargain, but since we borrowed less than 25,000.00 the loan process was a lot easier and had a lot less steps to go through before you could have funds released to you.

Which it turned out we needed to get the loan in as soon as possible because....

2.  The oven stopped working right again and was just acting crazy and defying the laws of thermodynamics.  After a week of avoiding using the oven unless I absolutely had to we went in to our local appliance store (Allen and Peterson for those in the Valley and Anchorage area) and I found a really good deal on the oven I'd had my eye on for quite a while but always figured was out of my price range.  They were running a special on appliances as part of an Easter sale and the gal who helped us was nice enough to give me a quote on the stove to lock in the price for 30 days for us.  Found out that night that the loan had gone through, so we went back the next day and bought the oven and it got delivered this week (a shot of it after the husband had managed to struggle it up the stairs with me helping on the last leg of the journey and had gotten it into its new home is up top).  We finally got it all hooked up and ready to go yesterday.  I'm so insanely excited to start using it!  I am so happy that part of the loan they gave us was to cover personal property loss due to the quake, because the oven was definitely a tragedy of the earthquake and I feel really blessed that the old girl lasted, or limped along depending how you look at it, until we had the loan and could afford to replace her.

The new oven pops out more than the old one (since that's the style for ovens now) and so I ended up losing use of my knife drawer because you can't get it open now.  The husband has plans to redo the kitchen and is trying to figure out the best way to do it (the counters got gouged and beat up in the quake, the linoleum has holes and slashes in it, the drawers got bent by stuff falling into them...the kitchen survived, but definitely has some problems)  so we'll see how that goes in the following months.

3.  The husband hasn't had time to work on much of anything this month, which is upsetting since we finally got the money to try and get the chimney fixed ASAP.  He's been working on his days off for other people, so he gave up trying to get the chimney done by himself and called a general contractor he knows and likes to come and help get it done.  They are hoping to start next week (the husband is working overtime this week and the general contractor is trying to finish up another job), so fingers and toes crossed on this one as my electric bill is giving me hives every month.

4.  The son's eczema flared bad the last bit and he ended up with really messed up feet as a result.  He's been a walking pile of band aids the last week or so as I've really fought to keep his feet from getting infected and him having to go on oral antibiotics.  And, I PRAY it has worked.  He's still got a couple nasty fissures on a few toes, but old skin is starting to peel off and new healthy skin is starting to shine through.  He's been limping around and pretty miserable, the poor thing, so I'm so happy he's starting to feel better.

5.  Speaking of the son his sleeping medication just out and out stopped working last week, which was a whole lot of not fun for anyone involved.  Between that and the fact that the Risperidone generic switched from a white pill that Alvah had taken for the last couple of years and done fine with to a orange pill that he could barely get down (gagging, vomiting it back up on you...the whole nine yards) and he was a mess behavioral-wise.  I took him to him in to see his doctor and she started trouble shooting the problem and we PRAY we're on the right track.  We go in next month to see how he's doing, so pray with me that the new format of Risperidone (higher dose pill so we only have to get one pill versus two down him, which doubles my odds and upping his Clonodine dose as well) and things work out well and he's back to fighting fit by then.

6.  It's kind of Spring here (we keep getting snow in the mornings but it'll be melted by the afternoon, which is pretty typical for Alaska this time of year) and as a result the darned larder beetles are invading again.  I've been busy Spring cleaning and fighting them taking hold in the meantime, so it's been hectic and frustrating.  I think I'm making progress getting rid of them, though, before they can really spread like mad, so hopefully I'm not being overly optimistic and it's going okay this year before I end up in an out and out war with the suckers again.

7.  We've been fighting colds and other sickies as well as just seasonal allergies around here, so it's been a battle not feeling exhausted all the time.  I just feel plain worn out and I think a lot of that is because we haven't been WELL all school year...I think I'm feeling worn out because I am.  I'm really looking forward to summer break and us being able to get and stay well for a while.  Luckily we're in the final countdown as school ends toward the end of May, so yay for that.

8.  The blogging is late due to all of the above and the daughter horking my computer the last couple of weeks getting caught up on school work that she didn't bother to get done until midterm grades came home and we had a long, LONG talk about getting work done on time and how there is no excuse for getting bad grades like this a month and a half after being on the honor roll at school...none.  She's getting there on getting the school work caught up, which is good, but this weekend we have to get a book report done that is due early next week, so I figured I'd betting grab the computer while I still could to get blogging done and assure you all that I am, indeed, still alive :).

9.  I'm still fighting with the hospital to get my money refunded to me.  Supposedly they were supposed to get a check out to me March 18th and they told me to give it a few weeks.  I gave it a month, called the guy back and told him that I hadn't gotten it.  He told me he didn't know what happened to it, he'd get a hold of the check writing company and blah blah blah.  He told me he'd give me a call in a few days and if I didn't hear from him to call him back.  I didn't hear from him so I called him back Wednesday.  Still didn't hear back from him.  Called him back today and left a message asking the serious question of do I have to sue them to get my 99.00 back.  I also told them that all I wanted was my money back and it would be beyond ridiculous if I had to sue to get that type of money back.  So, we'll see if I hear back from him after this or if I have to go and find a lawyer.  Not only a pain, but kind of insane that it has had to get to this point.

And, yeah, now that I think you're mainly up to speed on things (I swear I'm forgetting a few things, but I think that's enough really), let's get to the money saving recap, shall we?

1.  Grocery shopping has gone pretty well the last little bit.  I have to say that the second chance Monopoly game has been a real benefit for the most part, although the last leg of it here has been really disappointing.  I had been saving up tokens (you win tokens by imputing codes online from the Monopoly game pieces and then you can redeem them for prizes) to get a 10.00 grocery gift card only to find that there is a maximum amount that the Safeway franchise would put into certain prize categories and the maximum (I think it was like two million dollars nationwide) had been reached, so I was out of luck there.  I finally decided to redeem the tokens I had for free products as that was really the only option left, but I assumed that you could redeem the codes for free grocery products more than once.  Nope.  You can get one of each food prize and that's it.  So, I took what I had from my tokens last week and just got every product that I thought was worthwhile off of the list and than I'll redeem the codes I have in my  newest Monopoly stack (a lady in front of me at the store gave me a big pile of them when she saw I was playing) and see if I can get the rest of the food and grocery items.  After that I'm probably going to just stop doing the second chance contest...not that there is much time left in the game anyway...I think it ends in a few weeks time. 

I also redeemed a few bonus fuel rewards for free products as well this last week, so I got a free dozen eggs for one fuel reward and two boxes of pasta with another fuel reward. 

The other box of pasta, the french bread, the sour cream and the aluminum foil were all from the second chance Monopoly game redemption.  The aspirin, the bagel and the hot dog buns were wins from the printed Monopoly instant win game prizes. 

Oh and I forgot these...
That was another second chance token redemption with the Monopoly game.  This week, after all of the freebies and coupons I had loaded onto my card I spent less than 50.00 on groceries.  I was happy with that.

Last week I also had some freebies to redeem, so here you go.  I redeemed a few bonus fuel rewards to get a free thing of ice cream and to get 3.00 off of produce (which I spent to get a cantaloupe for .99 after coupon) and also redeemed some printed Monopoly coupons (I had actually gotten a small stack of game pieces on the previous visit, so was shocked to find so many instant win tickets in them :) to get some freebies.  The big one was I had a coupon for a free thing of Frenches yellow mustard, but it was 20 oz.  I looked and looked through the mustard on the shelves and finally found the 20 oz bonus container and also found that the mustard was buy one get one free.  So, after coupon I got two containers of mustard for free (which was pretty awesome).  I also got a coupon for a free can of vegetables, so I got a free can of green beans and I also got a free 10 ct box of waffles, so that was a nice little bonus as well.

I also had a couple of coupons for other freebies, but I took a different picture of those since these items went upstairs while the others stayed downstairs (I was lazy what can I say).  I was online one day and found that they had a coupon I could load to my card for a free one pound bag of shredded Lucerne cheese.  I was thrilled to load that and redeem it for sure!  I also had some printed coupons for a free thing of macaroni salad, a free thing of sour cream and a free bottle of water, which were also welcome. 

Overall, I was happy with grocery shopping the last few weeks if nothing else :).

2.  With the larder beetles coming back I became a bit obsessed with getting things like towels and blankets into protected areas where larder beetles couldn't go.  I decided to order the cabinet I had talked about earlier off of Amazon for the hallway, but they were sold out of it and didn't know if, or when, it might be back in stock,

I looked around Amazon and finally settled on this cabinet (associate link) as it would fit in the spot I had depthwise and it seemed like it looked nice online.  My mom even sent me a small Amazon gift card to help me pay for it.

I have to say that when I put it together I was impressed.  The cabinet is actual real wood, not particle board and even the back, while thin wood, is actually wood, not cardboard.  It looks nice and does what I needed it to.  I wish it was about twice as tall, but at the same time that would probably make it tippy since it's decently shallow, but I'm happy with it overall.  A shot of it while I was in the middle of stocking it with towels and bathroom supplies is seen above.

3.  I signed up for a free magazine subscription to "Real Simple" magazine and got my first issue in the mail this week.

4.  I watched a lot of different free things on the internet lately, usually late at night while the son isn't sleeping (see the whole his medication stopped working thing). 

5.  I found I needed a word processing program for my computer and didn't have the money to spend on Microsoft products (and really I didn't want to spend the money anyway).  I went and downloaded Open Office, which is some really nice freeware that does basically the same thing as Microsoft products, but for a lot less money :).

6.  As I said earlier I've done a lot of Spring cleaning of late.  I still have a bunch to go, but I'm slowly but surely getting there.  Doesn't cost much money, just time and is super rewarding when you get this or that done.  I rearranged the son's room this week to not only deep clean his room, but also to make it easier to battle larder beetles by freeing up the edges of his room.  It was a pretty nasty couple of days until he got used to the new layout, but he seems to have finally gotten over it and is actually enjoying the new layout to his room, so I'm calling it a win (I'll try to take a picture later when I'm more with it and thinking of such things).

7.  I mended a few holes in my bedroom comforters.  Unfortunately I still have more to go, but progress is at least being made :).

8.  Darned a few of my son's socks to make them last a little bit longer (he drags his feet along the floor when they itch and so he just wears holes in his socks SO fast).

9.  I signed my husband up for the Dollar Shave Club a while ago, but they raised their prices on pretty much everything this last month and I decided to look at other options as they weren't really cheap anymore and I found some cheaper solutions.  I ordered some for the husband to try and cancelled his subscription.  I figure if it doesn't work out I can always sign him up for it again or we can still buy products as we need them, just not at as good of a discount (whatever that means) if need be, so we'll give it a shot.

And there you go folks a quick look at what's been going on around here of late.  How are you all doing?  I know my blogging schedule has been horribly erratic for a bit here, but I'm hoping that I can get back onto an even keel and back to regular blogging here soon.  If nothing else I'm thinking I'll be able to do that once school is over for the summer since I won't be running around like mad every day and hopefully we'll be able to get some major repairs done on the house here soon as well, which would help alleviate not only stress but craziness in my general life.

So, let me know how you are all doing in your lives!  I hope everything has been going well for you all!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Money Saving Recap for the First Part of April

Honestly, I couldn't remember if it had been two or three weeks since I posted last, so I just punted on the subject line.

Thanks to those who e-mailed me to make sure I was okay.  I just didn't want to post up an update until I had something good to post about.  I had depressing things to post about and I just didn't want to come across as too depressing, so I waited until some good things came around as well to post about.

The biggest bad thing that happened the last couple of weeks was getting a phone call and finding out that a really good friend of ours had died tragically.  We know his parents and we really like them too, so its doubly sad for us knowing what they are going through as well.  You always feel so helpless in situations like this, wishing you could help and make things better and knowing that it's too late for that and nothing you can do, or say, is going to help.  And you have to deal with those feelings on top of your own sadness.  It's rough.

Got the electric bill in the mail and I drained our personal savings down to nothing paying it and I still owe nearly 300.00 by the end of the month to keep caught up on the bill.  That was, and is, depressing to say the least.

Then the daughter brought home another cold, this one really nasty, and I ended up nursing the daughter a good portion of last week, the son through the weekend and I'm still nursing my husband and myself through it.  I even took the daughter to the doctor to make sure she didn't have strep as her tonsils swelled up pretty bad on her.  Bright side is she didn't have strep, bad side is that now I have two medical bills I can look forward to getting between the husband's doctor's visit earlier last month and the daughter's doctor visit last week.  I blame the son for spreading this one as he wasn't happy unless he was sneezing or coughing directly into mine and my husband's eyeballs when he was really sick. 

So, yeah, "sick and depressing" pretty much covered our lives the last little bit.  BUT, there is some good to report now, which is a relief.

The Small Business Association called and we have an appointment on Friday to go in and sign the closing documents on the loan they are giving us.  Knowing that we'll have funds available to get fix things and get the house back up and running more normally is a huge upper for sure. 

I also, in between everything going on, managed to get things done around here, so let's get to that.

1.  I have been trying to make dessert a couple of times a week for a treat and I found a recipe on Pinterest for a strawberry jello concoction with basically chocolate jello layered on top of the strawberry jello, but they called it "strawberry chocolate mousse".  I though that the title sounded better than the recipe they made, so I made strawberry jello and then layered it in some glasses and made actual chocolate mousse and put it on top of the jello in the cups.  It was actually decently tasty and looked neat in the glasses and the daughter absolutely loved it, so I'm calling it a success (seen up top).

2.  When I was at the used store trying to find some new table cloths as ours are starting to die on us, I was looking around and found a bag with some home made place mats in it for 1.50 for the bag.  The place mats were well made and I really liked the look of them, but they were too small to really use as place mats.  I looked at them and realized that if I sewed them together they would make a really nice table runner as the place mats were thick enough that it would be like having a pot holder type of mat all the way down the center of the table.  So, I bought the place mats, went home, took some embroidery floss from my stash and got to work sewing the place mats together by hand.  The table runner came out awesome and it works really well, saving me from having to put pot holders under every hot thing that I put on the table :).

I also like that the design is nice and Spring-like as our weather this Spring has actually been...well...Spring-like!

3.  Shopping has gone okay the last bit.  I redeemed a bunch of bonus fuel rewards last month to get some food items for free and I redeemed those along with some Monopoly freebies I won (the Monopoly freebies seen above).

With the fuel rewards I redeemed some bonus fuel rewards to get some free butter and some free sparkling water.  I was also online one day and found they had a coupon for a free thing of Organic mustard, which I took advantage of.

The tortillas were on sale for 1.49 each one week and I had coupons my mom had sent me for 1.00/2, so I got them for .99 per package, which was a good find.  And the wet wipes I had a personalized price on them for cheap and then had a coupon loaded onto my card for them as well, so I ended up paying a whopping 1.49 for the package of wet wipes (which I needed them, so that was pretty awesome).

I also went online and imputed all of my "Second chance" codes for Monopoly and got enough to get a 15.00 grocery giftcard (which I picked up and used toward shopping) and then I redeemed enough for a fuel reward, which I used to get the sparkling water (which was nice).  I can still redeem points for a 10.00 grocery gift card before the contest ends, which I'm hoping to do, as that will help a bit with shopping and every little bit helps right now.

3.  I ended up cancelling my order for a comforter from Amazon as I sat and thought hard about it and decided that if I was going to put that type of money on my Amazon card, I'd better use it for something we really REALLY needed, so I ordered some laundry soap pods instead.  Not as nice or exciting as getting a new comforter, but I repaired a few more holes that had developed in our old ones and I figure it'll work out in the end.  At least our clothes will be clean this way.

4.  I decided one thing I could do that wouldn't take a lot of money was to start Spring cleaning the last bit.  One thing I decided that needed to be done was getting the china cabinet finished, so I cleaned the bottom out, reorganized it and managed to put a bunch of sheets and pillow cases down underneath and then I put the extra towels in a Rubbermaid tote for the time being and placed it in the hallway.  And then I pulled out my pretty things that hadn't been broken or destroyed in the earthquake, polished the silver and the pewter items and made the china cabinet pretty.  I have to say I get a thrill whenever I walk by it right now.  It's nice having something look organized and pretty after everything that has happened.  I was surprised and thrilled to find that my tea and coffee sets had actually survived the quake on top of my kitchen cabinets (how, I have NO idea, but I was still thrilled none the less), so I cleaned those well and put them away in the china cabinet as well.  With everything more accessible this way I'm looking forward to using the dishes more instead of them just sitting stored out of sight and out of mind.  The shots above and below are actually while the cabinet was in progress as the top shelf looks more "complete" now.  I did keep some things in the cabinet that just plain need to be in there, like the wet wipes and the prescriptions for the kids, but for the most part I thought it turned out looking really nice.

I polished the silver ware in the silver ware chest for the first time in forever and determined that we were actually going to start using it for special occasions and things.  My husband's grandfather gave us the silver ware years ago as a late wedding gift.  He and his wife had run a small antique shop and the silver ware he gave us was odds and ends of not complete sets that he had gotten throughout the years and he had put into the chest.  He was all apologetic for not giving us a proper set, but we've always been thrilled with what we were given as it was nice that someone thought of us and wanted to help us start up a "proper household" when we got married.  It was fun for me when I was polishing and cleaning everything as it made me research something I'd never researched before.  What different kinds of silver ware were used for.  For the first time I learned that there was such a thing as a tomato spoon and that we'd been using the wrong spoon for soup all of these years *laugh*.  I'm a huge domestic arts nerd, so I've been having a tremendous amount of fun reading up on all of the different place settings for formal and casual dining, what all of the different type of silver ware and serving pieces are used for, heck what kinds of different glasses you should use for different things and all kinds of fun stuff.  I've been thoroughly enjoying myself educating myself on all of it.

I cleaned up a bunch of stuff that was sitting on top of the cabinets in the kitchen and had gotten coated in grease and grime (since the kitchen doesn't have a proper hood to vent things, it's just a forgone conclusion that things on the cabinets are going to get coated, no matter how hard you try) and have been systematically working through the house cleaning out of the normal things and making them look nice again.  I polished the silver plated bowl/basket I had in the den when I noticed that it was getting tarnished and grimy looking and it's looking much better.  I started pulling books off of shelves and dusting them and trying to put them back into the book cases so that they don't look like they were just shoved back onto the shelves (which they were after the earthquake) and make it so people can find things again.  Tackling one small thing at a time has been working really well, honestly and it's giving me a sense of control over my surroundings again, which is a good feeling as I've felt like I've been living in this state of unreal flux and stress since the quake.  Part of the settling is due to the aftershocks getting slowly but surely less, the assistance money getting figured out so we can move forward and then the cleaning and organizing.  It's nice not to feel like I'm on the verge of a panic attack at any moment anymore, although I definitely have stress due to the electric bill and things, but I know we'll get through it one way or the other and that helps.

5.  Despite being sick I've somehow managed to put dinner on the table most days, which was definitely an accomplishment considering how cruddy we've all felt and it saved us money by saving us from eating out.

6.  I realized that Easter was quick approaching and I don't really have money in the budget to do much of anything for Easter candy and things.  Luckily, I had some things that a friend had gifted to me that I put aside for Easter presents and then I dug out the clearance Easter candy I had bought last year after the holiday and a couple of packages of Andes Mints that I had put away in a secret box in the pantry from previous holidays (the kids love the mints, but they seem to only be on sale for the Christmas holiday through Easter and then they disappear for the rest of the year, so I try to grab a couple of them and put them up for later on).  Complete the look with whatever basket I can find that survived the quake and voila!  Easter stuff is done for the year.

7.  I have been stalking our phone bill since we ended up upgrading to Smart TV's and things and I realized that with all of the things I'd ended up getting in digital format for the son we were eating up our bandwidth for the month EVERY month and eating into roll over gigs we had from ages ago.  When the gigs this month were getting low in the roll over category, I decided to upgrade us to unlimited bandwidth.  The cheapest unlimited plan was 10.00 more per month than our bill now, but I noticed that it was also slower than our current plan was.  I decided to take the chance anyway as most of our digital media things we buy I always buy in SD anyway (because I'm cheap like that) and see what happened as to upgrade to unlimited on our current plan would be nearly 60.00 more per month and there was NO WAY I was going to be able to afford that.  So far it's been working fine and when I called the phone company to see what kind of pro-rate I would have to pay for the upgrade, because I waited until the last day of the month when our bill was normally due with the credit we got for cancelling our old plan and then the pro-rate for the new plan kicked in we would only be paying an extra .33 for the coming month over what our normal bill would be.  I was very happy with that result for sure.

8.  With the warmer weather and the light coming back I was finally able to stop warming up my truck every morning before dropping the kids off at school (since it's and older truck it doesn't like to run cold in cold weather), which is saving me gas.

9.  With the warmer weather we've been having and the coming of more sunlight the upstairs in the house gets decently warm in the afternoons and evenings, so I have found myself being able to turn off a bunch of the electric heaters until late at night.  I'm praying this makes a difference in the electric bill this coming month as I need a break on it, I really REALLY do.

10.  I found a soup tureen at the used store for 1.50 "as is".  I looked it over and over again looking for cracks as the "as is" thing really worried me, but the body of the soup tureen was perfectly fine.  I took it up to the counter and it turned out that the "as is" was because the handle on the lid had popped it's threading component so the lid handle wasn't safe to use in it's current state.  I bought it as it even came with a ladle (honestly it's not my dream soup tureen, but it had a nice small profile on it and the ladle itself that it came with was worth more than the 1.50 as most nice tureens I've found at the used stores are always sans ladle) and when I got home I took my tack hammer and some cardboard (to use as a buffer between the wooden handle and the hammer) and with some precise and careful hammering I got the threading component nice and tight back into the handle of the soup tureen, screwed the entire handle back on and voila!  I now have a nice soup tureen to use for fancy dinners around here (or honestly just to serve soup from so that the ladle doesn't fall into the mixing bowl as I'm trying to serve soup for dinner *laugh*) and for 1.50 and a little work I sure am not going to complain.  I even managed to pay for it with pocket change, so that was also an upper.

11.  I started serious work on a more longer term menu plan, which is nice as it's giving me an opportunity to find sales to match up with things I want to make and/or give me time to find the things I might need in the freezer or pantry and it also gives me things to look forward to making in weeks to come.

And there you are folks.  Some of the happenings and goings ons around here.  Here's hoping things start to look up here soon in a big way.  I could use the break from worry and depressing news for sure.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Super Savings Sunday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I thought about putting up a Frugal Friday post last week, but finally decided against it for two reasons.  One:  I just didn't have that much to report, honestly, as with the kids home during Spring Break all I ended up doing was running around trying to keep the damage contained, especially on the son's end of the spectrum (cornstarch disaster in the kitchen, Parmesan cheese disaster the same night...times that times all of Spring Break and you'll see why I was just chasing after him all week long) and then this last week I made up for it by running around like an absolute mad woman trying to get some of the masses of things caught up or done that needed it.

As a side tangent, enjoy the pictures of Prince.  I've found that he has become quite good at a new sport.  I'm sure a lot of you saw "planking" when it was a fad, well, Prince has started "Pillowing".  Up top shows one of his usual sleeping positions, where he finds a nice cloth object, rearranges it so it's a nice pillow and he falls asleep.  

Now this is the opposite end of the spectrum, where he finds any object that is elevated off the floor that he can fit his head on and uses it as a pillow.  I find it hysterical myself, but I'm easily amused ;).

Right, so let's get to the craziness that has been going on around here...

1.  Now that my oven is fixed, I have a bunch of things I had been ready to bake that ended up in a holding pattern until I could finally bake again, so during Spring Break I made a HUGE batch of blueberry muffins using the fresh blueberries I'd bought earlier and thrown into the freezer.  

I used this recipe from Taste of Home and I have to say that when they say the batter will be thick?  They are NOT kidding!  It was like scraping bread dough into the muffins cups almost.  I had to have my husband help me fold the blueberries into the dough it was so thick.  I was scared that the muffins would be too dense and not cook right, but while they did take the maximum amount of time the recipe called for, the muffins came out really tasty!  I definitely bookmarked the recipe for use later on.  I even found that my blueberry hating daughter liked the muffins, which shocked and thrilled me.

I froze half of the muffins for later use and my husband has been taking them, two at a time, into work with his lunch, so I'm probably going to have to keep my eyes open for more sales on blueberries :).

In other news, I'm completely in love with my USA pans that I bought.  I love having truly non-stick pans :).

2.  I got a knock at my door a few weeks ago and opened it to find another FEMA inspector.  I was kind of worried that we'd done something wrong until he explained that he was just doing quality control on the first inspector we'd had and it was quite normal.  I remembered the first inspector saying something to the same effect, so I, once again, walked the new inspector through all of the damage to the house.  Surprisingly, this new inspector took a lot more photos and was willing to go to different areas than the first.  I noticed he took a lot more in depth photos of the furnace and how it tied into the chimney and even had me walk him out onto our back deck and shoot the damage to the chimney up close.  

I got a call last Sunday from FEMA and found out that we actually qualified for more money and it was being processed.  My husband and I were thrilled and were hoping for even another hundred bucks as every penny helps right now.  I went online the next day to find that FEMA had given us another 900.00!  Between this money and the money FEMA gave us before my husband is going to demo the chimney himself and then see if a contractor friend of his that gave us a good quote on the work on the house will come in and help him put in the new chimney and build a fake wood facade around it.  

When we signed up for FEMA originally we were also required by the State of Alaska to sign up with the Small Business Association for a low cost loan for necessary repairs to the property.  What is nice about the SBA is that being linked to FEMA they also have access to the FEMA reports on the property and the inspection that the state did on the property as well and one morning a SBA loan officer walked me through all of the damages to the property including personal property loss and things.  The day after FEMA called and told me we were eligible for more funds, the SBA called and the loan officer I talked to told me that we were approved for a twenty something thousand dollar loan at 2% interest for a 30 year term period of repayment.  So, our payment every month on the money we are going to get is 88.00.  I think the weight of the world fell off my husband's and my shoulders at that point.  Yes, this will result in another payment we have to make every month and money is tight as is, BUT it will be a fixed interest rate loan and more importantly will give us access to enough funds to fix the house right.  We can get the gutters replaced, rebuild our retaining wall in the driveway, tear down the outbuildings (and figure out what to do about shed space afterwards), get a new door for the garage, get a new oven and things if needed (the oven still acts funny from time to time, but I'm giving it a while and seeing where the cards fall on that) and we'll have funds to do it.  You would not believe how much of a relief that is.

3.  A friend of mine gave me some old twin bedding and things.  It is definitely a blessing considering bedding is always at a premium around here and the other things were a blessing as well :).

4.  I have been working on my organization around here now that Spring is coming.  I think I have every cookbook I own out on my living room coffee table and went through and bookmarked all the recipes (breakfast, lunch and dinner) that I would like to try and then I'm hoping to design a nice looking blank menu that I can fill in with one daily menu at a time.  This way I can put up the menu on the fridge for what we'll be eating that day (thus no surprises for the family) and I'll have a instruction sheet (basically) on what to make.  By putting the menus on separate sheets of paper I can then put them into a binder if I find that we liked something or other for future use.  Will it work?  Who knows.  Many a system has failed for me over the years.  But, it is certainly worth a shot.

5.  I finally have come to the conclusion, after MANY years of looking at used furniture, that the only way I'm going to have to figure out linen cabinet space on my own.  I thought about it a lot and have come to the conclusion that I really do need cabinets with doors (the larder beetle infestation last year really hammered that note home) and I am going to have to buy in as anything at the used stores that will work for my purposes is as expensive (or in some cases more expensive) than just buying new and knowing it'll fit into the hole I need it to fit into.

After searching on Amazon a LOT over the last bit (none of the stores had anything that would suit my purposes, unfortunately), I found this cabinet (no associate link or anything, I'm just sharing), that I am hoping to save up to buy.  I don't know when I'll be able to get one with how the budget is and all of the repairs we have to do, but I think it'll look nice, give me some storage space AND most importantly, give me my china cabinet back to use for the purpose for which it was intended.  Speaking of that, I think what I'm going to do for now is to just put towels and bedding in Rubbermaid totes and put them stacked up in the hallway and go back to using my china cabinet for dishes and things.  Mainly because as a linen cabinet it just doesn't work so well (I'm constantly having to shove my arm around things and into tight spaces to get into the middle section where there isn't a door to get out sheets and things and with the glass shelves I worry about dislodging them and causing a huge collapse/mess).  

I would put it on my Amazon Prime card, but Amazon decided that my auto-renewal on my Amazon Prime should go onto my card and so I have more on the card than I was planning on (honestly I spaced that it was renewing this month with everything else that has been going on), so I am going to have my hands full the next few months paying that off.

6.  I did purchase one thing on Amazon this month.  A new comforter.  They had one on the daily deals and it was down to 24.95.  Since the ones I've found at the used stores immediately start to fall apart as soon as I get them and wash them (and I'll pay at least 1/2 of the price of the new one I just bought to get them in the first place), I am in desperate need of some queen sized comforters that aren't just dying on me.  So, I did put that on my Amazon card this month.  It is white, which is not ideal with how quickly Alvah can stain something, but I am hoping to have time in the next few months to make some duvet covers for it and thus save it from his wrath.  

7.  My vacuum cleaner was making a high pitched whistling sound, which was NOT a good sign.  I went online and troubleshot the problem and found that it was probably the fan needing to be replaced.  I immediately ordered a new fan assembly (yay for Kirby parts being available through Amazon as our local Kirby store shut down and I'd have to drive into Anchorage and pay out the nose to get the part I needed) from Amazon for 11.00 and some change and got it in last week.  My timing, it turns out, could not have been better as I made the mistake of sucking up a pretzel, heard a horrible noise come from the vacuum and immediately smelt something burning.  Since I had just cleaned everything I could reach, I knew it was the fan, so I pulled out my parts yesterday, pulled up a tutorial on YouTube (which I am so happy so many self help tutorials are available to help walk you through these things anymore :) and got to work.  Two hours later with some new injuries to my hands from jamming things under finger nails that I couldn't see and things (and thanking God my husband had sealing compound in the garage for me to use to help reseal the fan assembly to the vacuum cleaner) and the vacuum cleaner is running as good as new.  I'm proud of myself, I'll admit it, as mechanically inclined and me are usually not in the same sentence.

8.  Speaking of things breaking our living room TV just out and out died last week.  Thank GOD it was after Spring Break as not having a TV with the son home for the week would have been awful.  My husband is thinking the power supply on the TV went and is going to see what he can do to repair it, but in the meantime he dug out an old TV we had that doesn't work great, but it DOES work, and set it up in the living room.  It'll hopefully live until the husband can fix the other one (it's iffy the way it has been acting as it keeps crashing and things), but at least it's a temporary solution until we can figure out what we need to do next.

9.  I got my laundry room deep cleaned this week.  Since the earthquake things have been so insanely hectic that I hadn't had a chance to really go over the room and disinfect the floor and things so I did that this week.  I want to get the entryway part of the pantry completely cleaned out and mop the floors and deep clean everything to get whatever jelly and things didn't get cleaned up on the initial cleaning job so that bugs aren't going to be a problem now that break up seems to be coming fast, so hopefully I can get to that this week.

10.  Grocery shopping was over budget this week.  It couldn't be avoided, really.  I needed flour as I was nearly out, I had some really good sale prices on meat (and found a bunch of meat 30% off on top of the discounts I had) and I had to replenish the son's food stores as he BLEW through food and things last week.  So, I'm hoping to cut the grocery budget this week (it's pay week so we'll see how that goes as it's usually my "stock up" weeks when we get paid) and recoup the budget a bit.

11.  We found out that Payless Shoes is going out of business everywhere.  Since this was the one store where I could go locally and get decent priced shoes for the kids, we ran up there this week (Alvah's winter boots were also way too small for him, which thank Goodness his teacher caught that as I spaced it with how insane winter was this year), used the shoe sized measuring tool to measure out the kid's feet to see what they would be in adult sizes (especially Alvah as he's really tall for his age) for reference later and we got the son some winter boots, some new gym shoes (which his old ones were also too small for him now) and got the daughter sneakers in the next size up and some dark dress shoes.  We spent more than I would have liked, but we got good value for our money for sure and at least I'm a BIT better prepared for the store closing down now.  I'm still going to miss being able to get the kids shoes for under 50.00 a pop, though.

12.  I had a lot of clothes die on me of late.  T-shirts and pajamas, sweatshirts, you name it, just started to disintegrate on me to epic degrees.  Now mind you most of those things I have been wearing since high school or college, so I really couldn't complain about them finally giving up the ghost, but it was still depressing.  I found that my favorite used store had a certain tag of clothes 50% off this week, so I went in and got a bunch of shirts and a couple of nightgowns and a new robe for myself.  Spent more, once again, than I would have liked, but I comforted myself that I walked out with two bags of clothes for the same price that two shirts would have cost me new at another store.

And there you have it folks.  The last couple of weeks in a nutshell around here.  How about you?  How did you do?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Shopping Goals: March, 2019

Frugal Friday is postponed till Monday as I don't have too much to report at this point so am hoping to get more done today and tomorrow to pad out the like four item list I have at the moment.  

Okay, so the month is over 1/2 over and I'm just getting to posting the shopping goals, but better late than never.

It honestly took me a while to figure out the shopping goals for this month, mainly due to money and trying to make money stretch, but at the same time making sure I could stock up on things we would definitely use or needed.  It's kind of a "don't bite off your nose to spite your face" type of situation as it does mean less money in the bank to stock up on things, but if you don't take advantage of sales on things you know you'll use or need you will end up out more money in the long run.  So, it was a matter of sitting there with a calculator, a lot of thinking and working on the budget a lot this month to figure out how to get a few things while trying to save every penny I could to put toward earthquake repairs we need to make.

I did want to post up a quick update to how the food storage situation is going.  I have managed to weasel money out of the shopping budget the last bit to get at least one number ten can of food storage each month.  In January I got the can of chicken gravy and the can of basically redi-whip for the 25.00 per month I allotted myself.  Last month I didn't spend the full 25.00, but did manage to get a #10 can of pilot bread (basically hard tack, a really dense cracker type of bread that Alaskans generally love for it's long shelf life...the canned pilot bread is more cracker like from the reviews I read, but it was still worth it in my mind to get it for a kind of bread to add to storage that the bugs and mice couldn't get into).  I then took 50.00 out of our tax return (really the ONLY money I used for household stuff...the rest went toward bills) and got some cans of food storage that were going cheap on Amazon.  I got a #10 can of beef Stroganoff (made with freeze dried beef no less), a #10 can of Mountain House Chicken and Rice and a #10 can of honey powder.  I was hoping to get another can or two of food storage this month, but the money just isn't in the budget, but I'm not too upset as I got three cans of extra food storage last month.  Basically, I'm getting a stock pile up.  Slowly, very slowly, but surely.

For those curious, here are the links to the food storage I got the last little bit (the chicken and rice isn't as cheap as I got it, as I got it for 12.99, but it's still decently cheap).  The following contains affiliate links by the way.  This means if you order through the following links I'll get a small commission from Amazon for shooting the sale their way.  Just full disclosure here even if you don't order the item you click on with the following links, say you look at it and go "meh" and move on and order other things through Amazon, so long as you order while in the window the associate link opens I'll get a small commission on other items you order (hope that makes sense), so if you don't want to support the site, but still want to shop on Amazon, be sure to close out the window from the associate links, open a brand new window and start your shopping over again.  It costs you no extra money for ordering through these links and if you do order through the links, I really do appreciate your support.  Thanks!
Right, so let's get down to the things I want and or need to buy this month.  Here's hoping I can get it all done :).

General Stores:
  • Cooking Oil (I have a few more jugs left, but I like to have extra in the house as I do go through it when I bake pretty fast)
  • Fruit (fruit is finally coming into season and we are all loving it when I can get it decently cheap, so I'm hoping to continue to find money to buy extra produce when I go shopping...we need the added nutrition)
  • Corned Beef (I actually got two of these this week as they were on sale for 2.99 lb with an in-ad coupon at Carrs and then I had a coupon loaded to make them even cheaper.  I'm hoping to get a couple more before the sales go off for the year as I do like having them in the freezer for later points in the year)
  • Cabbage (got that this week to go with the corned beef)
  • Red Potatoes (got those this week too as cabbage and potatoes were on sale for .78 lb)
  • Shampoo
  • All Purpose Flour (I am hoping to get a bulk bag at Three Bears later on, but for now I'll probably just get about 10 lbs of flour at the regular store to see me through) (the following contains affiliate links):
  • Blank Accounting Ledger (I got one of these in this month for general household use, but want to order a few more to keep track of the different disaster relief things we have going on so I'll basically have different accounts for each item we need to get done).
  • phone filters  We had a phone filter fail in the phone downstairs and then we want to put in a phone line into the den to hook up another corded phone, so I ordered a two pack of phone filters when I went to replace the one.
  • Kirby Fan Assembly My vacuum started making a high pitched whistling sound a while back.  I replaced the gasket thinking that might be it, but it's still there.  I troubleshooted it on the internet and people suggested checking the fan assembly and my fan is giving "worn" a good name.  Our local Kirby store in the Valley shut down (I least their storefront is gone and their phone number is disconnected, so I'm going with shut down at this point), so instead of going into Anchorage and paying goodness knows how much for the parts, we ordered them online instead. 

Appliance Repair Store:
  • Temperature gauge for oven.  We already got this done and I am happy to say I now have an oven that works!  A 50.00 part was a lot cheaper than a new oven for sure.  Hopefully that's the end of the oven issues for a while :).
And there you go folks.  My shopping goals for this month.  How about you?  Need to get anything this month?

Monday, March 11, 2019

Money Saving Monday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Okay, so I didn't make Frugal Friday again.  In this case, though, I definitely had a couple of good reasons.  One was kids being home sick, again, my daughter with an allergic reaction to something that made her eye swell up on her and just this virus that won't let go making the poor son (not to mention my husband and myself) miserable.  Next up was FEMA stuff.  My husband and I managed to, thank goodness, make it to the FEMA location closest to us on Thursday when the kids were in school (like the only day last week where both of the kids were well enough to go to school) and we spent all morning pretty much applying for FEMA assistance and getting a low interest loan through the Small Business Association into the works (they work hand in hand with FEMA to make very low interest loans available to people in a disaster so you can fix things and such without having to deal with credit card interest rates and things).  Thursday afternoon (I kid you not) I was out picking up the kids from school and my husband got a phone call from the FEMA inspector saying he would be here on Saturday to inspect the house.

Friday rolls around and the SBA gave me a call first thing and walked through the damage over the phone with me so they could get the application progressed for the loan and then I spent the rest of Friday working to get the house in order for the inspector to come on Saturday so he'd have clear view of things that he needed to look at.  Saturday morning we got the FEMA inspection done and my husband went to the doctor as his asthma has been flared terribly by this cold virus and he was having some major problems breathing (he ended up with a new inhaler, prednisone and a cough suppressant out of the deal) .  Yesterday we spent trouble shooting the oven to try and see what was wrong with it (my husband narrowed it down to it's either the temperature sensor, which we're going to replace first, or something major, so we'll see how that goes) and this morning I got online to find we'd been approved by FEMA already for about 3000.00.  Not as much as we were hoping for as that's going to make replacing the chimney tight to fit into that budget (hopefully it will somehow be possible at any rate), but at the same time we're grateful we got anything at this point.  Something is certainly better than nothing and every penny we receive is one less penny we have to spend out of pocket to get back on our feet.  So, at this point, at least all inspectors have seen the chimney that will need to see it and we can finally start moving forward to replace and/or fix things and get the house back up and running normally again.

So, yeah that brings you up to date on general life stuff that has been going on since my last post, so let's get to getting caught up on the frugal front for the last two weeks or so.

1.  The son got to go on his yearly ski trip again this year.  The ski trip is through Challenge Alaska that is run by volunteers to help the kids ski and things.  Alvah was coming down with my nasty cold virus that day (we didn't really know it at the time) so he was grumpy on and off, but the husband said he had some fun at least.

When they brought up the upcoming ski trip the son's teacher asked parents to maybe donate some food for the trip as the teachers who were in on the ski trip thought it would be nice to feed the volunteers at the ski lodge.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do on that one as we didn't really have a lot of ready made food in the house and I was still feeling pretty cruddy and didn't want to bake something special.  But an opportunity presented itself to make my life easier.

I was visiting the Carrs/Safeway Just4U site randomly one day to see what new coupons might be available and found one for a free thing of sesame rice crackers.  I had to pick up prescriptions for the son the Friday before the trip (while running a bunch of other errands), so while I was waiting I ran and picked up the free crackers and sent those with the husband and son on the trip.

Earlier that same Friday my husband and I did some errand running.  I stopped off at the Franz outlet to see if I could get some cheap hamburger or hot dog buns for the son to eat and I found a huge bag of hamburger buns for 1.66, so I picked those up.  Those lasted the son quite a while, so I was happy with that purchase for sure.

I got a bunch of freebies the last couple of weeks for things that I needed or could use and I was ever so grateful for it.

First up I was super happy to find that Carrs had a bunch of different gas reward bonus coupons last week for grocery shopping.  They had a 2x gas rewards coupon you could load onto your card and then they offered me 4 gas rewards if I spent more than 100.00 in a shopping trip (which was inevitable when I do two weeks of shopping at one time) and then I had 2x gas rewards for a bunch of different purchases from a bunch of different departments.

By stacking the coupons carefully I was able to use some rewards for two free boxes of pasta, redeemed one reward for a free thing of ice cream and I STILL had 10 gas rewards by the end of it to get 1.00 off per gallon of gas.   I was a happy camper for sure.  While checking out a lady offered me a printed off coupon from the register for a free thing of orange juice as she wasn't going to use it and I got that as well.

My friend Facebooked me and told me she was sending me some coupons and I was thrilled with what she sent me.  She sent me a coupon for three free things of wet cat food and a coupon for a free bag of dry cat food and she gave me a coupon for a free 24 pack of bottled water.  I needed ALL of that, so I was very, very grateful to get those.

I ended up back at the store later to get more milk, so while there I redeemed the print coupons I had from the Monopoly game for free products.  I got two free bagels, a free box of water crackers, a free Refreshe Ice beverage and a free block of cream cheese (cream cheese not shown as I forgot to include it in the photo).  I have found that this Monopoly game the printed free coupons are just not very abundant, but I'm grateful for what I've gotten between the online code redemption and the printed free coupons.  I went and redeemed all of the codes I had today (which was a huge pile of codes to input) and am just saving all of the points I get to see if I can get up enough for some grocery gift cards before the sweepstakes ends.

Also last week I ended up picking up meat as Carrs gave me some awesome personalized prices on it.  I got some bottom round beef roasts for 3.88 lb (I know I'll have to cook those to death to make them tender, but still totally worth it at that price), hamburger for 2.87 lb (which the two huge value packs I bought aren't shown as I didn't have room on the counter at the time to include them) and pork loin chops for 1.47 lb.  The pork chops were an especially cheap find as I found a value pack on reduced for 50% off on top of that price so I got a huge package of pork chops for little over 2.00.

I also picked up a bunch of fresh produce cheap as well.  I had a cheap personalized price on bananas, so I got some of those (seen in the pick above there), had a cheap personalized price on grapes and blueberries (which I got some of each) and I went shopping on 5.00 Friday so I was able to get a cantaloupe for 2.50 as they were on sale for 2 for 5.00 as part of the sale.  It was a good week for grocery shopping for sure :).

Right and I think that pretty much gets us up to date on the grocery shopping front, so let's move onto other things.

2.  When I was cleaning for the FEMA inspector, I looked at the couch in the den and realized that the slip covers I'd made for the couch cushions were breaking down and looking pretty awful.  I didn't really expect the slip covers to last, honestly, as the material I had used was pretty thin stuff, but I tried to think of a quick fix to make the couch look better.  I then had a thought and went and grabbed a twin sized fitted sheet I had in my fabric stores (I had liked the sheet color as a potential fabric to use in a quilt) and just tucked in the couch cushions like you would a twin sized mattress.  It worked really well, actually, and made the couch look ten times better than it did.

I started thinking about it and I might look at the used stores for different colors of fitted sheet to change out on the couch for new decor options and things.  Since I can get a fitted sheet for like 2.00 it's a pretty inexpensive way to do things.  I don't know how well this would work on a piece of furniture that you might use a lot as I'd think the sheet might shift around too much, but for a couch we don't really use very much I think it'll work just fine.

3.  Our cat scratching posts were looking terrible as the cats had managed to unravel the jute rope that was wound around the pillars from scratching it so much.  I looked at the scratching posts and realized that they had just hot glued the rope to the posts and then looking at the way the rope was wound and where it had broken, I didn't even bother to reglue the rope.  Instead I took the rope, wound it both ways around the posts and then tied it tightly into place instead.  It worked really well and the posts look SO much better for the 20 minutes or so of effort :).

4.  I emptied the material out of my sewing cabinet and stored it in a few Rubbermaid totes I had around the house and in a few other areas.  I then took one of the shelves that had come with the cabinet and put it back in and then reorganized everything and put office supplies in the cabinet.  I am hoping to drill a hole in the cabinet so I can fit a power strip in it and then I can put the tablets in there to recharge at night and maybe even store my laptop in there.  I'd love for things to be nice and tidy and put up at night, but we'll see how it goes.  Overall, I was happy with how the reorganizing went there.

5.  Speaking of which by putting the office supplies in the cabinet I was able to make the space around my desk look a LOT less cluttered and nasty.  I took the printer and put it on the bottom shelf of the shelves I had by the desk and then put some unbleached muslin on top of the shelf as kind of a tablecloth.  I probably should have tried for a bit better look to the cover, but I was happy with it as I'm hoping it'll act as a dust cover for the printer, which will help me to keep the printer clean and in good shape.  The bottom shelf allows enough space that I'll be able to run it on the bottom shelf as well, which will be nice having it out of sight when not in use.  \

While neatening and cleaning the last couple of weeks (I'm getting started on massive amounts of Spring cleaning) I went through my desk and got rid of a TON of old bills and things that, as anyone knows, can just start to pile up on you, and organized things a lot better.  Like I have artwork the kids did going back to preschool and I wanted to keep it, but wasn't really keen on keeping it all in my desk (as there is a lot of it), so I ended up storing a bunch of it in the plastic drawers you see in the sewing cabinet.  That way it's protected AND I get some of my desk drawers back.  Win, win.

6.  I cleaned out the bottom shelves of my china cabinet and got rid of everything that broke in the quake.  I then started cleaning and decluttering the top cabinet.  It's still a work in progress, but I'm happy with it so far.

7.  I redeemed rewards on my Amazon store card to get some money off of my bill (which I then paid off the remainder of the balance afterwards).

8.  I watched a free webinar on eczema that I'd been trying to find time to watch for a while.

I'm sure there is more, but I lost my list I'd been keeping track of things on, so I'm going to call it good there.  Despite being sick still I've definitely been busy around here and it feels good to get stuff done.  I hope you all are getting things accomplished as well :).

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Monthly Goals: March, 2019

First, the usual Frugal recap post is just going to get delayed until Friday so I can just try and get back onto an even keel and get back to a more normal blogging schedule.  I hope.

The last couple of weeks have been a mix with a lot of bad mixed into it.  The good was getting the tax return in and it was in the bank for nearly a day.  We got a couple of bills paid off that we'd accumulated in the earthquake (paid off the husband's credit card and the Sears card) and I was hoping to either cash out the husband's teeth with the other part, or at least make a good payment onto the amount and the back up plan was to keep the money in savings in case we needed it for car repairs or something. 

And then the bad stuff hit.

My dad would say it comes in threes, but it seems the last bit we break that record. 

First, I called our electric company to try and figure out a new budget billing amount because running the electric heat had thrown our normal electric budget into a tizzy.  They did the calculations on their end and recommended that I turn off budget billing for a year and redo it after getting the chimney fixed as our budget billing amount per month right NOW is over 600.00 a month if they recalculated it.  If I turn off budget billing my bill is averaging at least 600.00 a month as well.  They had no ideas on how to do payments to make the billing more reasonable, so I ended up using a good chunk of our tax return to pay off the now deferred amount on the account which at least buys me time till the end of the this month to try and figure out what to do.  It's a miracle I have a stomach lining left.

I was hoping that maybe the disaster assistance would come through and we could quickly get a new chimney put in, but I found out this week that FEMA finally got their collective tails in gear and came up here at the beginning of last month and are now in the Valley having people sign up for FEMA assistance for the earthquake.  By FEMA coming up here it screws everything up on my end because FEMA trumps state assistance, so I have to now go and apply with FEMA, wait for FEMA assistance to come through (which can take a LONG time from what I understand) and anything they don't cover the state will pick up as a kind of disaster safety net.  So, basically we're going to have to go down and do everything again to apply with FEMA and start the disaster assistance process all over again. 

Basically, I can't wait for FEMA to come through, or whatever assistance there will be, to get the chimney fixed or I'll go bankrupt trying to pay the electric bill and keep the trains running on time.  I have enough in savings to last us hopefully till Spring (IF we get an early Spring and it's a mild weathered one *fingers crossed*), but still...something needs to happen here.  So, we're going to have to try and get the chimney replaced quickly and as cheaply as we can.  The husband and the entire family caught my awful cold virus and so my husband has been down nearly a week and a half feeling awful with this thing, the son was home sick from school all last week and was home again sick today and now the daughter is coming down with it, and so far, as a result, nothing has gotten done toward that goal.    Somehow I have to get to the FEMA sign up place with the husband before filing ends on April 1st, not to mention I need him to help me figure out how to get a new chimney put in, so I KIND of need us all to remain in healthy and fit condition for a little while.  So I'm praying that we'll all recover miraculously here very soon. 

All the while I'm also in a battle with our local hospital over my urgent care visit back in October as after insurance paid them they owe me 100.00 back and I've been on the phone constantly since January trying to get SOMEONE to issue me the check I'm owed.  They screwed up booking the insurance payment into the system when it came in back at the beginning of January and posted me as paying in full in January (when I paid the full amount back in October) and they just have my 100.00 credit just sitting in the account with no note on getting the money back to me.  The last gal I actually talked to before today actually treated me like I was trying to rip the hospital off and acted like I wasn't entitled to anything back at all, which I ended up talking in very angry tones by the end of the conversation.  Since then I have talked to voice mails and no one calls me back, so today I called and asked to talk to the head supervisor.  I ended up talking to the supervisor of billing for the entire hospital, which doesn't actually handle the urgent care billing (I know, it's screwy), but she e-mailed the two supervisors in charge of the urgent care billing, told them what was going on with me and requested they issue me a refund or an inquiry could be filed.  I was very thankful she'd done that for me as I'm just so frustrated and just want the money I'm owed.  We could certainly use the money.

I've had other side stuff going on around here with getting paperwork filled out for different things and stuff as well, which I'll go into more on other posts I'm sure, but's been busy. 

And then last night my oven stopped working even close to right.  All I did was change the temp on the oven to a higher degree to finish off some steaks in the oven and the oven just stopped calling for heat.  So, I have steaks that are nearly raw in the middle (I should have tried to finish them off on the stove top, but was so upset at the oven my mind quit working I was so upset) in the fridge where they'll be turned into thin sliced beef and cooked in some au jus on the stove top so we can have French dip sandwiches tonight.  Today, after giving the oven plenty of time to (hopefully) reset, I set the oven to preheat to 350 degrees and put an oven thermometer in to monitor how well it did.  And the oven quit at about 225 degrees...on preheat.  Not a good sign.  The husband is going to look up the manual on the oven and try to figure out what could be wrong with it, but goodness knows how much this is going to cost to repair or even replace.  At least I got the dishwasher paid off *deep sigh*.  One step forward and a marathon run backwards, it seems, is the story of my life.  Ugh.  Sorry.  That sounds way too self pitying.  How about "Trials through adversity seems to be the story of my life."  It sounds a bit better I suppose, so let's go with that.

Anyway, that's been my life the last two weeks on the "argh" end of things and it also helped to explain a lot of my goals for this month (not a subtle transition, but I have a headache today, so please bear with me here), so let's get to all of that, shall we?

Goals for March, 2019

1.  Sign up for FEMA disaster assistance. 
2.  Call husband's general contractor friends and get quotes on what replacing the chimney would cost (never hurts to get numbers from a bunch of people). 
3.  Fix cat scratching posts (they are looking bad and coming unwound, so I'm going to see what I can do to repair them). 
4.  Clean den. 
5.  Gut sewing cabinet and weed out what can be put into storage for the time being.  Put shelves into top of sewing cabinet and redo entirely to hold office materials (we desperately need a place to put everything that can be closed up). 
6.  Clean out the bottom cabinets on the china cabinet.  Get rid of broken items and broken glass from earthquake (one of the last things I need to really deep clean).  Put in new metal shelf brackets for glass shelves in china cabinet so they are more secure and reorganize the china cabinet so it looks nicer. 
7.  Fix or replace oven. 
8.  Hopefully get chimney replaced and if not have a good plan to get it done ASAP, if not sooner. 
9.  Start getting some Spring cleaning done. 
10.  Get well and stay well!!!! 
11.  Get refund check issued from hospital one way or the other.

And there you go folks.  My goals for this month.  There's a lot to do, not a lot of energy to get it done with and limited time to get it done in.

How about you?  Got anything you have to get done this month?