Thursday, May 25, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

So, Monthly Goals...yeah this is definitely a month where the term "goal" comes home to roost.  The son's new medicine is working okay, I think, although he's getting so little sleep that he's definitely having mood problems and I'm getting about 2 hours of sleep a night, so no sleep make Erika no think too good.  I'm honestly not sure if the lack of sleep is from the new medicine or the increasing sunlight as it's not like having problems sleeping isn't normal for him or anything and with his eczema flared and bugging him and the increased humidity (we've had a solid week of rainy weather with highs in the upper 40's...I'm planting lettuce seedlings today come Hell or high water though as I've already lost a couple just due to them being in pots too long).  So, finding energy to get ANYTHING done on my goals list has been...well hard to come by.  I've gotten things done, but kind of in a scatterbrained fashion.

Bright side, broody hens...that situation is improving.  We're down to one hen who has been REALLY determined to be broody, but today she actually popped her head out of the nesting boxes to get treats on her own, so I'm hoping all three hens will be back to normal soon.  Right now I'm only getting one egg about every other day, so I'm hoping laying will improve her soon.  Bright side at least I'm getting SOME eggs again, so it's been helping with cooking and baking this week.

Right, so the menu plan for this week.  I'm really trying hard to make meals that are creative with what we have in the pantry and freezer as my husband has to take leftovers for work lunches.  Saddest part is as I'm packing his lunch at like 11:00 at night (first opportunity I get to do it as that is when my son finally goes back to his room and will stay there for a while) I REALLY have to resist the urge to pack a PB&J for him and call it good (he loves peanut butter, so my son's allergy really makes him miserable sometimes).

But, yeah, onto this week's menu!  Bright side I've already got one decently "gourmet" and yet "cheap" meal to share with you all here, hopefully today :).  It turned out so good my husband actually was looking forward to having the left overs for lunch today *laugh*.

There's going to be some hold overs on the menu plan from the last couple of weeks.  I had the menu for last week all planned out, but my husband was really craving red meat this last week, so I ended up pulling out a container of hamburger and making tacos one night and then hamburgers the next on home made bread.  I'm using up what is left over the hamburger from the package (somewhere between a quarter and a half a pound of burger) and some sliced up leftover beef roast to make beef stroganoff tonight for dinner.

Menu Plan for Week of 5/25/17
Wednesday:  Fish Almondine, rice, salad

Thursday:  Beef Stroganoff (use leftover beef roast, leftover hamburger and yogurt to make)

Friday:  Leftover tacos (pad out meat with beans)

Saturday:  Home made Pizza

Sunday:  Fish and Chips

Monday:  Chicken Kiev, rice pilaf (home made), fruit coctail

Tuesday:  Pork Croquettes (use leftover bits and pieces of pork from freezer), apple sauce, rice

Breakfasts:  Oatmeal, English Muffins with plain yogurt and orange marmalade topping (don't knock it till you try it, believe me!  Graham Kerr turned me onto that combo and it is yummy!), toast

Desserts:  Grapes with custard (use leftover grapes in fridge!), home made ice cream, oatmeal raisin cookies

Snacks:  Cheese sticks, grapes, apples, yogurt with jam or granola topping, popcorn

To make:  Granola, custard, ice cream

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

This post is definitely late, mainly because I've been super busy around here. 

Money is stretching so tight we're starting to feel like we're choking on worry as we're trying to figure out how to dig ourselves out of the hole we ended up having to start out in with the way the new pay schedule has shaped up like.  It's definitely stressful, but I'm determined to have faith and know that God will give me ideas on how to make it all work.  It's going to take some creativity and probably a few calls to banks to explain about what is going on and seeing if we can just work something out so that we don't fall behind on anything.  Sucks, but life works out that way sometimes.

I've been hitting Swagbucks hard trying to get up Amazon gift cards because I FINALLY found a brand of food storage on Amazon that I can get decently cheap that seems to be good with my son's allergies.  I'm not like going insane about wanting to get up a year of emergency food at this point (seriously can't afford that and really if we end up moving what is the point?), but being able to get big cans of things like hot breakfast cereal and things for this winter?  Would be INVALUABLE to help the budget stretch this year (they even have chocolate powdered milk that people say is really good...can't tell I'm overly enthusiastic about this stuff can you?).  So, I'm hoping that I can get up some gift cards to help with that.  So far Swagbucks has hated me this week (a lot of that is just plain not having time to deal with it I know), but I shall keep trying :).  At least it's free to work the Swagbucks angle :).  My mother-in-law also found a consultant type of outfit that sells food storage that is safe for my son's peanut allergy too, so I'm hoping to try some of those products sometime soon (I started thinking about it and freeze dried fruits and veggies might be my best bet in getting my son to try  new things as they aren't as chewy as dehydrated and got the crunchy thing going on).  Downside to the outfit my mother-in-law found was that they are good quality products, but are also expensive.  So, I might be getting a few TINY sample packets and calling it good with them for a while.

Another thing that drove me nuts this week was the chickens.  All three hens decided they wanted to be mamas this week, or they "went broody" as the term goes, which unfortunately when hens go broody they stop laying eggs.  People online told me to put them in a wire cage to get air under them to cool off their under body and that would help to break them of their broody ways, but I don't HAVE anything like that and the price on something like that made me flinch.  So, I've been going down to the coup every two hours all week long and unceremoniously throwing hens out of the one nesting box they were determined to share.  So far one hen seems to have snapped out of it and is running around the coop again and one of them randomly laid a medium sized egg, but so far the last two days I have one hen up and moving, one hen that will go off the nest without me pushing her out of the coop and into the run anymore and then another that is just plain EVIL about wanting to move.  Luckily I'm meaner than she is and more determined, so she's getting up and walking around whether she likes it or not.  So, hopefully I'll start to see eggs again sometime soon.

So, let's get to the week of saving money shall we?

1.  I had a pretty good week on the grocery shopping front.

2.  We're down to not wanting to spend money, at all, the next couple of weeks (charges that we had forgotten about that should have been cleared months ago suddenly cleared this week and gave us heart palpitations), so I'm trying to make milk stretch as far as humanly possible.  I pulled out some powdered milk to make for baking, but then thought about cookies to make for the husband for lunches and thought I had a recipe for oatmeal cookies that called for shortening vs. butter (thus cheaper to make) and didn't call for milk at all.  And I found it!  So, oatmeal raisin cookie bars just came out of the oven :).

3.  A friend of mine called me earlier in the week and asked if I could possibly come to her place on Thursday as she's moving and could use some help.  Since it was during the school day I said sure and stopped by to help her pack up last minute things (kitchen dishes and the like) and we had a good visit.  Her husband just finished up his degree, so they are moving back to a remote part of Alaska.  I'm going to miss her.

I helped for a few hours and then told her I had to get going to get my own stuff done, and she insisted on paying me.  She shoved 10.00 into my protesting hand, hugged me, and pushed me unceremoniously out the door.  Hard to argue with a woman like that, especially since she could bench press me if she wanted to *laugh*.

I took the 10.00 and stopped off at Fred Meyer to get milk on the way home and was amazed when I wandered by the reduced produce section.  The guy putting out the apples normally puts out bags with three apples per bag and the bags are 1.00 each.  This guy was shoving way more than 3 apples per bag, so I stopped and asked him what was up.  He said that the apples needed to go today or were probably going to be pitched as in each bag there was at least one apple that might just be beyond hope, so he was putting out the apples in the hopes people would buy them and use them for something.  I looked through the bags and grabbed six of them and he was indeed right...some of them had apples in them when I got home that were just about 1/2 rotten, so I ended up throwing a few away and cutting up some small pieces off of a few to feed to the chickens for a treat.  The majority of the apples, though, were definitely worth getting.  This will be a real boon for me as my list for winter is short of things I want to can this year with items I'll have to buy, and applesauce is DEFINITELY on that list.  So, tomorrow is apple sauce making day :).  I am going to try something different and save the peels and cores to make my own pectin (thus save myself having to buy it later if I need it).  I used the other 4.00 left from the 10.00 to buy milk.

4.  Shani stopped by and dropped off a big bottle of hand soap to me as a gift as it was a bottle she wasn't going to be able to use before she left for treatment.  She really does love Alvah and wanted to drop off the soap because she knew the H2O at Home products don't irritate his skin.  Great and now I'm teary eyed again.  Ahem.

She is leaving at the end of June to go to California for semi-permanent treatment and is liquidating pretty much everything she owns and is having an estate sale all of June in preparation of leaving.   So, if anyone local would like to stop by and see if they can use anything (all monies raised will be used toward her treatment, of course), message me and I'll give you the information on the sale as I find out details.  She also wants to make soap before she leaves, so I'm hoping to do that in the next couple of weeks as well.  Glad I picked up materials earlier to do that and kept that thrift store crock pot.

5.   What does one do when they need to start seeds and doesn't have any dirt to do it?  Well, instead of buying potting soil I couldn't afford, I decided to forgo planting herbs in the white wooden planters this year (too cold outside right now and honestly I am not good growing herbs from seed and herb seedlings are out of the budget this year), so I dumped the dirt out, mixed in some dirt from the yard and am going to prep it to become potting soil (thanks for the gardening advice, Jeannie!).

6.  The chickens have been getting any dandelions I pull from the garden, cursing all the way as I yank and they have been quite happily consuming them. Yay for free treats.

7.  Leftovers were consumed for lunches this week and both rotisserie chickens are now gone.  The daughter wanted to make home made pizza last night, but had pizza parties at school the two days prior to that, so there was no way I was going to let her have pizza three days in a row.  So, we had pasta (I made a whole pound to use in lunch rotation for the son this week and also for a side for lunches for my husband), rotisserie chicken and some of the free salad that I picked up this week.  The carcass from the rotisserie chicken was turned into chicken broth and stuck into the freezer for future use. 

8.  I mended some items this week and quite suddenly my daughter pulled out her sewing kit and showed real interest in learning to hand sew.  So, I showed her a few basic stitches since she wanted to learn to mend things and she's been going to town mending her doll dresses and things this week.  I'm quite proud of her for that :).  She's still got a ways to go on securing her thread before she starts and things, but darned if she isn't on her way.  She's growing so fast!

And yeah, onto a quick garden update!
Well, I planted some stuff in the garden this week.  So far, I planted cabbages (in the bed closest to the camera) and will disperse lettuce or spinach around the cabbages to grow as they are a quicker growing crop then the cabbages.    The cabbages will be used to make sauerkraut this fall after they are harvested and the tougher outer leaves and things will be used to make freezer slaw.

In the second bed I have peas planted in the back that is a really fast growing variety and in front of them I planted corn, which is a type that is specifically designed to grow in Alaska and only reaches like two to three feet high (it's mini corn!).  This is my "man I hope this grows as I'd be REALLY nice to be able to put it up for winter" gamble, but we shall see how it goes.  At least they'll be protected from the wind on that side of the house and are planted close together to support one another.  At the very front of the bed I will plant lettuce, but only after I'm decently confident that frost dangers are over and putting mason jars over the seedlings I have growing in the garage will be enough to keep them safe until they can take off.

In the far bed I planted what I'm liking to call "the root crop bed" as I planted a long row of turnips in the back, a couple of rows of beets and a couple of rows of carrots (both carrots and beets are short rows).  I planted some rat tailed radish seeds in the middle and I'll just push them where they need to go as they grow around the other plants.  I still have room at the far end and in the front of that bed, which is where I think I'll plant a dwarf quick growing variety of Swiss Chard I found and spinach as I can get more than a few rotations of spinach out of the garden by the time summer is over (if all goes well anyway).

Out in the yard somewhere I'm hoping to plant potatoes, onions and maybe some more seeds.  When summer crops are done I have parsnip, turnip and salsify seeds to plant for Spring harvests next year.  Here's hoping it all works out well.  So far I'm already worried about root maggots as I've run into enough in the garden beds to be worried about them, caterpillars are already out and about in places, which has me concerned, but so far *fingers crossed and knock on wood* the spider mites are surprisingly absent so far this year, so hopefully I'm not having to battle them again this year.

So, there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week.  How did you do?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

I'm totally winging the menu plan as I'm writing this, I'll admit it.  It's been super busy around here this week and things are just hectic.

So, here we go.  Some of the menu revolves around things I bought on sale this week, so yay for cheap meals!
Wednesday:  Rotisserie chicken, rice pilaf (Rice a Roni), canned peaches

Thursday:  Home made chicken noodle soup with easy home made noodles (used the rotisserie chicken carcass and what meat was left on it and the teeny tiny package of organic chicken thighs I got yesterday to make it).

Friday:  Pork pot pie (use leftover pork from freezer)

Saturday:  Home made pizza (daughter's choice of dinner to celebrate first day of summer break)

Sunday:  Beef roast and roasted veggies

Monday:  Fish and chips

Tuesday:  Waffles with bacon and eggs (make extra bacon for bacon sandwiches for husband for lunch on Wednesday)

Desserts:  Triple berry pie (pie filling from pantry) with home made ice cream, pudding, cookies and milk (cookies to be made this weekend, I hope)

For snacks:  Grapes, apples, carrot sticks (made in fridge as I had extra after the soup tonight), cheese sticks, yogurt.

To bake:  Cookies (Saturday), bread (Sunday so we have it for sandwiches after breakfast for dinner night on Tuesday).

And there you are folks.  Our menu plan, tentatively for this week.  How about you?  Got anything cool planned for dinner this week?

This Week's Shopping Trip

This week's shopping trip would normally be lumped into Frugal Friday, but since this week's menu is actually pretty entwined with some of the things I got while shopping this week, I figured it was time for a "shopping trip" post.

I spent 55.00 at the store this week, which honestly had me in heart palpitations as I'm trying hard to save every cent until I know EXACTLY what my husband's regular paychecks are going to be like and I have bills to make on top of the mortgage at the beginning of the month.  But, I have to say for 55.00...I can't really complain about what I got because I made every single cent of that 55.00 stretch.

So, what did I get?  Well, let's break it down.

First up is my trip to Fred Meyer.  My friend gave me a couple of her Fred Meyer freebies (a Lindt stick and a Yoplait dipper yogurt) so I picked those up at the store as well as my Lindt stick.  I also picked up the one thing that I saw that was on sale at Fred Meyer this week that I REALLY wanted to buy, which was Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (on sale for .99 a container this week).  I had 1.00/2 coupons that I had gotten from my mom, so I grabbed ten of them for 4.90.  That will hopefully be enough BBQ sauce to last us a year, so yay for that (not in the picture because they were NOT going to fit on that table no matter how hard I tried *laugh*) and I also got some tuna salad kits for the son for lunch for the next little bit (on sale for 1.19 each).

My mother-in-law, when I was dropping off some eggs to her, gave me a stack of Monopoly coupons she wasn't going to use, so I opened them and found some more freebies.  I then waited until the ad came out for Carrs on Wednesday and honestly I think dust flew from my heels when I saw the sales ad for the week.  I got there early, as soon as I could get there after school drop off and grabbed some awesome sales and stuff!

First off they had grapes on sale for .97 lb this week!  I knew those were going to sell out QUICK, so I immediately headed to the produce section as soon as I got to the store.  And I'm glad I did as I was right.  I got two of the last bags of grapes there.

Another sale they had that I desperately wanted to get in on before their stock was depleted was that they had petite sirloin steaks and London Broil on sale for 2.77 lb this week.  I grabbed a couple of packages of steaks and another of the London Broil to put into the freezer.

I was able to stack a couple of coupons with a Rice a Roni deal the store was having where if you bought 10 Rice a Roni or Pasta Roni you got a free Rotisserie chicken.  I had a personalized price of .99 per box of Rice a Roni this week and had coupons my mom sent me to use on the Rice a Roni, so I figured I'd use them to get the deal decently cheap.  I also had a coupon for 2.00/1 Rotisserie chicken that I wanted to use before it expired, so I grabbed two chickens while I was there.  Got up to the register and didn't realize that I had two coupons stuck together for the Rotisserie chickens, so the cashier took both of them off.  So, I got ten boxes of Rice a Roni and 2 rotisserie chickens for about 8.00 after coupons were taken off.  None too shabby!

Also on that trip, I had a 3.00/1 O Organics fresh chicken coupon that I'd been holding onto forever (like since the beginning of the Monopoly game) even though I hadn't seen the store carry anything other than some Open Nature brand chicken for their organic brand.  But I was thrilled to find this time that they ACTUALLY had some this time and not only did they have it, but it was on reduced 30% off!  I grabbed a package of thighs that ended up being less than 3.00 after the 30% discount was taken (the 30% sticker came off completely from the package when the cashier pulled on it, which made me grateful that I went with one of my favorite cashiers that always has a calculator handy :).  So, I got a free package of chicken thighs after coupon and discount.

Also while at Carrs I got two packages of Chips Ahoy cookies (one of the only cookies my son likes) for 1.77 each after coupon (these will go into the pantry for hopefully special occasions).  And I got a thing of apple juice for .99 after a digital only coupon was applied.  I also grabbed my free thing of sour cream and my free thing of tissues that were out of stock last week, as well as a free bagel, a free box of pasta  and a free bag of salad that I got in with the coupons my mother-in-law gave me.

Another boon to shopping this week was I was gifted some coupons for free Tyson chicken.  I was able to find frozen Tyson chicken at Target (I stopped after I got my mother-in-law her eggs), but they only allowed me to use one coupon, so I stopped by Wal-Mart on the way home too and was able to find another bag of chicken there (Target would only let me use one and I didn't feel like taking a ton of trips to town).  I am thrilled with the free meat as this will definitely help having those in the freezer :).

So, yeah, that was my shopping for this week.  Now I just need to find time to post up my menu plan for this week yet tonight and I'll be set.  How's grocery shopping going for all of you?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I had postponed this because I was hoping to be able to put a garden update on this post as well, but alas I didn't get a chance to do garden work yesterday and now it's looking like it's going to rain, so the garden update will have to wait until next week.

The medication for the son is definitely working better, by the way.  We go in for a follow up on Monday and he seems to get a bit better every day.  He's nearly back to normal for him, so yay for that!

Anyway, it was a good week on the money saving front.  At least I'd like to think so.

1.  Shopping went well this week!  I received a 10.00 Fred Meyer giftcard for Mother's Day from my Mother-in-Law, so I figured I'd use it to try and get some of the essentials I needed off of my shopping goals for the month if I could.  I ended up running into a good deal that I wasn't aware of until I looked for it.  Fred Meyer's regular price on vegetable oil is the best of all the stores I've checked so far.  It's only like 2.28 per container, which is a great regular price on it.  I ended up using my giftcard to buy 2 containers of canola oil and a quart of heavy cream (not as big of a size as I can get at the bulk store, but I'll take it...for some odd reason I forgot to add it into the photo above...ah well enjoy the vegetable oil ;).

While there I noticed that they were out of the Fred Meyer tortilla chips and I couldn't find the small bags of Smartfood to save my life (two kids and the husband were with me, so that didn't help), so I just got the Yoplait dipper freebie.  When I went by the reduced stuff I found that they had a big torn bag of rice (which only had a TINY tear on it and didn't seem to have lost much rice at all) for 12.49.  I grabbed it to fill my rice needs (I'm still hoping to get another 25 lb bag sometime before the end of the month)

All totaled I spent 13.00 and some change, after giftcard was applied (lost my receipt somehow) and headed to Carrs.

I went loaded for bear at Carrs as I had a ton of freebie coupons I'd gotten on my last shopping trip to redeem.  I didn't realize exactly how many until I got there and pulled them out of my purse and was thrilled with what I'd forgotten I had *laugh*.

I had three coupons for a free doughnut or bagel from the deli and thought about it for a few minutes and decided that I am sure I can get creative and figure out different ways to use bagels compared to the doughnut, which is good to eat THAT day or not at all, so I grabbed two plain and a cheese bagel and threw them into the freezer when I got home.  I also got a free thing of salt, a free can of corn, two free containers of aluminum foil (25 sq feet) and an 8 oz container of sour cream.  I also quickly grabbed two more containers of milk that they had on sale for 2.50 per gallon (max of two per shopping trip).  All totaled I spent 5.15 at Carrs that day and got back a TON of tickets (like 40) because all of the items I'd gotten were bonus ticket items even if they were free after coupon :).
Monday (the next day) the son's doctor called and switched his meds, so I ripped through my tickets, collected my freebie coupons and headed back to Carrs (no joke this was the best "roll over" week on freebie coupons ever!).  I ran by Fred Meyer as it was still early (I HATE fighting the traffic in the Fred Meyer parking lot later in the day) and after wandering around for a few moments I found the Smartfood by the front registers and then found they'd restocked the tortilla chips (woohoo).  I then quickly ran and grabbed a head of lettuce (they have head's of lettuce that are sold by the "each" instead of by the "lb" and they are like 1.67 each.  So I just go for the heaviest one and voila!  Lettuce for Mother's Day Caesar Salad taken care of!), paid the charge in change (I dug around the laundry room, the bedroom and the couch cushions and found about 2.00 in change overall, so I used it) and headed to Carrs.

There I redeemed coupons for a free thing of hot dog buns, a free bagel, a free loaf of French bread (which I used to make French dips for my husband for work lunches later in the week) and a free container of tissues.  I also grabbed one more container of hot dog buns for the freezer (since next week is the last week of school).  All totaled I spent 2.00 and some change at Carrs (I'm not sure where I put my receipts this week...ugh) and I got back 50 Monopoly tickets in return (yay baby!).

Friday rolled around and I spent all of yesterday running errands.  I had to go into town to get gas and wanted to get it at Carrs since I had .20 off per gallon there.  While there I redeemed SOME of my freebie coupons (I still have coupons for a free thing of tissues and another free thing of sour cream but they were out of both).  The salt was completely out and the last one I redeemed I had been holding onto for a few weeks, so I mentioned to my cashier that I was worried that they wouldn't get it back in before the freebie coupons expired (at the end of the month).  Since it was slow she asked if it would be okay if she substituted some Morton salt instead and I said, "Sure!" of course, so she ran and grabbed them and subbed them out for my freebie coupons.  If I had been smart and with it I would have asked her about the tissues and the sour cream, but I was just so thrilled she was willing to sub out the salt that I didn't think of it *laugh*).  I also got two more bagels (be prepared for some creativity with bagels coming up later on!), another free roll of aluminum foil (which those freebies worked out AWESOME as I don't have to worry about getting more aluminum foil for quite a while) and a free container of Greek Yogurt.  I also picked up a variety bag of chips for the kids for next week (field trips and things they are going on require bagged lunch and stuff) for 5.00 (the variety bags contain like 20 bags or something like that of 5 bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, 5 of Nacho Cheese Doritos, 5 of regular Cheetos and 5 of Cheetos Puffs) on 5.00 Friday.  All totaled spent 5.15 that day.

So all totaled I spent 25.30 on groceries this week (not including the lettuce that I paid change for or the 10.00 paid with the giftcard).  I would say that constitutes a "woohoo" since I'm still stocked on milk (I will miss that 2.50 per gallon sale!) and actually managed to get some of my shopping goals done as well!

2.  Spring finally got here!  Yay!  Side note:  I've been asked what the difference between "Break Up" and "Spring" is up here.  "Break Up" is literally when all of the frozen ground and things breaks up as the increasing light outside kind of force it to defrost, sometimes creating cracks in the ground as the frozen top surface moves around when the subsurface starts to defrost.  Basically everything starts to smell nasty as the composting ground starts to become fragrant and mud is everywhere, but you don't see any green anywhere.  "Spring" is a really...well violent type of thing up here almost.  I always say, "Break up is like pre-Spring and can take months, Spring on the other hand is over in about 5 minutes."  Not really QUITE that bad, but close.  See the large amounts of sunlight we get in the summer create kind of odd growing conditions for the trees and things as they become like mutant plants to grow as quickly as possible in our short growing season while the sun is good.  So, you'll look out your window in the morning and there won't be anything going on and it'll still look depressing outside and then a couple of hours of daylight later you'll look out the window and all of the buds on the trees will have just shot open and everything is looking green and growing out.  It's actually kind of cool and quite a relief when you see it as that means summer isn't far behind.

Since stuff, other than small amounts of grass, are finally growing, I picked some dandelion greens and fed them to the chickens.  They LOVED it and's free greens!

3.  I wanted to make cake for strawberry shortcake, but also wanted to make cake for the son as he won't eat any cake unless it has chocolate frosting (Pillsbury chocolate frosting *rolls eyes*) on the top of it.  So I came up with the above solution.  I baked one cake and just frosted half with chocolate frosting and left the other half plain to make strawberry shortcake out of.  It worked out fabulously and everyone was happy (yes, I could have made two circular cakes, but one of my cake pans refuses to let the cake go anymore and it just goes badly...this was easier).

4.  We went to Sears today as my husband found that he had a 9.00 off of 9.00 or more deal on Shop Your Way Points.  He needed some small screw drivers for work and grabbed those, thinking he'd have to pay 2.00 for the screw drivers after the 9.00 was taken off, but we also had some saved up points from earlier purchases we'd made (which surprised me they were still good since we don't shop there very often), so he was able to get the screwdrivers for 100% free! Yay!

5.  My mom sent me a bunch of coupons in the mail and I was thrilled that there were a bunch I could use as they were on items we normally use.  I put them in a special envelope and am looking around to try and find something small enough to fit into my purse so that I can carry more coupons with me and be more organized about it.  We're going to need it.

6.  We got my husband's first paycheck this week, which was for only 3 days (we only got paid for his first partial week), but it wasn't as bad as we thought it was going to be, so that was an upper.  I found that the paycheck is pretty much spent between gas for the husband to get to and from work the next little bit and also for bills that I have to pay by the 15th of next month since he only gets paid on the last day of the month and the 15th, which means next paycheck HAS to go to the mortgage.  Not knowing what his paychecks are going to be like yet is really nerve wracking I have to say.  Ugh.  But hey, at least we did get paid!

7.  I got an e-mail from a blog reader and friend, Dorothy giving me a suggestion for using up eggs by making an all egg crepe out of them.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to do that since the family's taste buds are so picky, but I started thinking of other things like crepes that I could do with eggs and store in the freezer for later use.  I came up with a bunch of stuff and the game plan right now is to try and try and free up a shelf in the freezer and make a bunch of stuff to freeze for later use.  I'm hoping this works out well as I'm actually kind of excited about it (more on that later as I get into it more :).
8.  I cut up half of a big package of thin cut steaks I had in the freezer and made some into beef jerky for the husband.  This turned out really tasty!  The recipe was actually rather simple too, so here it is...

Teriyaki Beef Jerky
  • 3 thin cut steaks, cut into thin strips, fat trimmed off as much as possible (I went for about 1/4 of an inch so that the sauce would definitely saturate into the meat)
  • 1 bottle of teriyaki sauce (I used a "fancy" teriyaki sauce and was called like "Island Teriyaki" from Kikkoman that I'd won a coupon for in an online contest with Fred Meyer a while back...which I forgot to blog about *laugh*)
  • 1 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  •  1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of brown sugar (depending how sweet you like it)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke flavoring (depending how "smoky" you like it)
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
Place meat strips in ziploc bag.  Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl until everything is all mixed together and then pour into ziploc with meat.  Let sit overnight.  Drain meat, discard leftover marinade.  Dehydrate meat according to your dehydrator instructions.  Store in fridge or freezer.

I used the other 1/2 package of steaks to make my husband french dips for lunch (used the free bread and then one steak cut into thin strips for the meat in the sandwiches) and then we also had french dips for dinner last night as well with the remainder of the bread and steaks (it was too hot to bake ham in the we're having ham tonight *laugh*).

9.  I swept the driveway yesterday after running around everywhere.  It looks so much better after getting all of the fallen branches, fallen leaves and fallen pollen from last year out of the driveway and it improved how the driveway looked.  And all it cost me was my time.

10.  I am working on getting some embroidery projects up and running with the express purpose to sell them, probably on Etsy.  Here's hoping I can start producing some product here as we're going to need all the money we can get here.

11.  My husband stripped a bunch of scrap wire he had saved from the demo of some jobs and went and recycled the copper.  He didn't get a ton of money for it or anything, but he made 40.00 from a medium sized box full.  I told him I was using part of it to put toward getting the garden ready...he wasn't thrilled, but I wasn't going to give him a choice *laugh*.  I ran and got a couple of bags of manure to spread on the garden (the chicken manure just is too hot still to use as compost in the garden) to help put more fertility back into the soil and I got some marigolds for the front garden bed (as NOTHING I plant there grows it seems...even the mint I planted doesn't go anywhere and it's an invasive plant!!!) along with some ground cover flowers that smelled pretty.  I got a few cabbage plants to plant in the garden as well (since it's a long growing type, I'll plant other shorter growing vegetables around it, like Chinese vegetables and lettuce).  All totaled I spent around 25.00 for everything, which I didn't think was TOO bad.  And hey, I paid for it with money we got for recycling a material we got for free, so I can't really complain :).

So, there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week.  How did you do?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

I am fatigued (read that like Bugs Bunny and it just immediately makes you seriously try it).  The medication that the son is on right now (which I guess is like the Intuniv but just a immediate release med instead of an extended release one) is definitely working better than the last one did.  Downside?  His sleep patterns have officially gone to crap being on it.  I was up with him, wide awake and bright eyed and bushy tailed, until 3 am.  Night before that was one am.  It's going to be a long acclimating period when it comes to this medication and he's handling it better than I am energy-wise.

When it came to last week's menu I did actually pretty well following it (woohoo).  The only thing that differed from the original menu was that Saturday and Monday we ended up having left overs both days to use up some of the leftover tacos and things in the fridge, so I ended up not having to make a "new" dinner those couple of nights.

I also baked up a storm this last week.  I made cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting (for my husband to take to work to replace his beloved morning miniature cinnamon roll he was buying from Cinnabon), bread (used 1/2 of the bread recipe for the cinnamon rolls and made one loaf of bread), cake for strawberry shortcake and chocolate frosted cake (for the son as that's the only way he'll eat cake) and home made soft pretzels (the leftovers after dinner last night seen up top).  The pretzels were for last night's dinner, which was a treat for my husband.  I don't make them often because making pretzels take multiple pans and dishes to make (small kitchen makes this a bit of a process), take a lot of time and effort and I always find myself kind of "eh, these are okay" after making them *laugh*.  I'd planned the dinner with sausages and pretzels since know...Octoberfest.  Yup, shows how on the ball I am on menu plans sometimes *laugh*.

So onto this week's menu!
Wednesday:  Chicken in Alfredo Sauce with rice and green beans

Thursday:  Chicken Teriyaki (from freezer), leftover rice fried up with some bouillon (just to make a flavored rice for a little something "different"), garlic peas

Friday:  Ham with kale (from freezer on both of those) and baked potatoes

Saturday:  Ham and cheese crepes (use leftover ham), salad

Sunday:  Chicken Caesar Salad (or Ranch if I don't have any Caesar salad dressing I can use to make it.  Grill chicken if possible for something fun).  Use leftover bread to make croutons (note to self).

Monday:  Pork Roast (pull some that has been cooked and frozen from freezer), potatoes au gratin, fruit cocktail

Tuesday:  Lamb chops, rice pilaf, broccoli in cheese sauce (from freezer)
Desserts:  Strawberry shortcake, cake with chocolate frosting, ice cream,

Snacks:  Apples, string cheese, sparkling juice, oranges, beef jerky, pretzels with cheese sauce (note:  Make cheese sauce), cantaloupe

Breakfasts:  English muffins (from freezer), cinnamon rolls, cereal

To Bake:  Date and nut muffins (didn't get these done last week), mini fruit pies (for husband's lunches next week for a treat), pound cake (because it's Mother's Day Sunday and mom should get what she wants for dessert darn it ;).

Monday, May 8, 2017

Shopping Goals: May 2017

Holy cow.  Have I really not done shopping goals at all this year yet?  Wow (I couldn't remember how I worded the Shopping Goals headline, so was looking for a previous one.  Finally gave up when I hit the beginning of the year *laugh*). 

Anyway, I actually do have shopping goals this month for a change.  Of course, it's in a month where money is...well completely up in the air on dependability and what we'll be able to afford vs. not, but I still have to figure out a way to make some of this stuff happen as we're plain running OUT of things.

I wanted to buy some things we needed when shopping this week, but well...I ran out of money after buying foods that the son would eat (sad, but that stuff costs a bunch).  I figured carefully on how much I could spend on groceries and things and quickly figured out that I was kind of maxed out on how much I wanted to spend after I got gas and would still have ANY money left in the bank after my husband bought fuel the next couple of weeks (like 20.00 type of left).  So, I did something that used to be really hard for me to do.  I texted my mother-in-law and asked if she had some cooking oil and rice I could have to see us through until (hopefully) things start to look up with incoming pay...sometimes you just need to ask for help when you need it (seen up top there after I had poured a bunch of the oil into my nearly empty oil container).  She not only dropped off the rice and the cooking oil she also dropped off a check to help keep a bit of a pad in the bank until my husband's paychecks finally start coming in from the new job and she dropped off some egg cartons for me to use (thank you so much, Stacey!).  I will repay her as much as I can in eggs as she will not only appreciate them, she'll use them :).  Not only that but my father-in-law called my husband and offered him some additional work on his days off and/or after hours on his job depending on what his schedule was like.  Which made ME happy (my husband has been terribly depressed since he found out how much fuel was costing and keeps worrying he made a huge mistake taking the new job.  I just keep telling him to calm down and we'll see what his paychecks are like once he actually GETS one and go from there) as any additional income is welcome at this point.

So, onto the shopping goals for this month!

Regular Stores:
  • Cooking oil (this one is a "hmm" on whether the bulk store or the regular store will be cheaper, so I'm keeping my eyes open to see)
  • Hot dogs (as sales kick off for Memorial Day I'd like to get a few packages to keep in the freezer for grilling over the summer and just as something different for lunch as the daughter loves hot dogs).

Bulk Stores:
  • Rice
  • Heavy Cream (found out the ice cream I normally buy that was decently cheap and safe for my son's peanut allergy, isn't anymore due to them switching their production lines around.  So, I'm once again down to making my own ice cream to be assured it's safe).
  • Bread flour (I SWEAR I have a big bag of it around somewhere, but if I can't find it I'll have to buy new)
  • Mozzarella cheese (maybe if I can find it cheap enough at either the regular stores or the bulk stores.  I want it to make home made pizzas this summer with the daughter as pizza is one of her favorite meals).
And yeah, that's about it when it comes to shopping goals this month (I'm sure I might be forgetting things, but those are the most important).  So, what about you?