Friday, November 16, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Whoever said, "Time flies when you are having fun" had no idea, I think how time flies when you are just busy and trying to do ten different things at one time.  Ugh!

Bright side, despite having sick kids all the while my husband and myself have been fighting this evil bug as well, I still managed to get some stuff done, thank goodness.  Thanksgiving shopping got done, a free turkey was had (with two weeks worth of shopping getting done at one time with the husband's pay schedule on top of Thanksgiving needs...we definitely qualified for the free turkey when it was all said and done), a freezer got reorganized, TEFRA paperwork got done and submitted (and now we wait for interviews and just generally wait for everything to go through) and plans were made for the weekly menu and tentative gifts were written down for me to make for the family.  I'm definitely tired, but feeling like something got accomplished anyway.

As for the money saving things that happened this week, let's get to that shall we?

1.  My husband and I stopped by Fred Meyer when shopping to check out beef roast sales (we have like no beef, other than hamburger, in the freezer at the moment) and while there we got the free thing of potatoes I had loaded onto my card from Freebie Friday.  In other news, since we went on Friday, I completely SPACED loading the McCormick's Grill Mates freebie onto my card and am still a bit upset with myself about that.  Blah!  At least I got the preferred mashed potatoes for the daughter for Thanksgiving anyway.  And for free.  Always a nice price point :).

2.  I think I skipped through Carrs this week when I discovered their sales as it was great stocking up prices for things.  I got Stove Top stuffing for 1.66 a box, Libby's green beans for .69 per can (max of 4 on the coupon, but still...woohoo!), cheap Coke (stocked up for the son for the next little bit) and I even bought some frozen pies (both pumpkin and apple) for 2.50 each as part of 5.00 Friday.  I couldn't pass pies up at that price...I mean I can't even GET pie filling that cheap, let alone an entire pie =D.  These won't be used for Thanksgiving, but instead put aside to eat as a quick dessert throughout the coming months when we want something easy.  I even got a value pack of chicken for .79 lb as they were having a manager special on it and I couldn't say no at that price.  The way the freezer sits at the moment we have pork and chicken with a FEW things of beef and fish to scatter throughout the masses of pork and chicken.  I'd like to be better stocked up on other meats than chicken and pork, but you can't complain when you can get cheap meat, no matter what it is.

3.  My husband and I went to Michaels for the first time this week to get some t-shirt transfers as my husband wants to help me make him some t-shirts for Christmas that he'll make the designs for.  I also bought some cheap t-shirts while there as they were on sale for 3.00 each to use the transfers on.  I used a couple of coupons that Michaels had given me, loaded onto my phone, and was able to get things for much cheaper.  As soon as I realized Michaels was going to be coming to the Valley, I immediately went and signed up online for their rewards program and things so I could get the coupons *laugh*.

4.  While at Michaels I saw three packs of Scotch Tape, but nowhere the scotch tape was could you find any type of shelf tag or price point.  So we took one of the three packs to the register and got a price check on it.  The stuff rang up at 6.00 and some change!!!  I said, "no" to that one and told the husband I'd get the tape elsewhere.  And loe and behold while shopping I was able to get 3 packs of store generic tape for 2.50 each...a LOT cheaper than the brand name stuff at Michaels!

5.  I went through what food I had left after the mice got through with everything (that's still so depressing) and managed to find a few things to donate to the food bank this year.  It won't be much, some Jello and a few freebie items I got from Fred Meyer and Carrs throughout the year, but I figure something is better than nothing.

6.  I started my list of gifts for the family.  I AM planning on doing the "Gift a Day" series again this's just going to be later than I was hoping it would be.  So, yeah, watch out for that coming to the blog in the near (HOPEFULLY) future :).

7.  The husband has been helping me to clean out the garage and while he was cleaning he started pouring the tiny bits of oil that were left in different containers of oil into one container.  When I asked him about it (since it's not all the same type of automotive oil that he's saving) and what he would use it for he said the oil could easily be used to lubricate things that needed it, so he didn't want to waste it.  He's managed to recover about a quart of oil to use for that purpose out of all of the containers he had little amounts of oil left in.

8.  Confession time.  I raided the kid's Halloween candy we bought and grabbed some things of like mini-Sweet Tarts and things to use as decorations for gingerbread houses for Christmas.  It'll save me money and will work just fine and really I don't think the kids even miss the candy.

9.  Spent time this week working on getting the rest of the things that were stacked in the corner of my den that USED to be in the pantry and put those things back in the pantry as much as I could and still afford the cats an unobstructed access to the pantry.  I had to stack a few things in the laundry room, but I'm pretty much there, so I was happy with that.  Especially since I have to find room to set up the Christmas tree this week in the den, somewhere.

10.  I'd like to have a moment of silence for the loss of an old reliable friend this week.  My Columbia winter coat, that has served me loyally and well for many, many years (I got the coat as a Christmas gift from my mom in 6th grade) finally died this week.  The zipper completely split on me and there was no saving it.  My daughter tried to convince me to replace the zipper, but I showed her where the material on the actual coat was starting to disintegrate and I decided it was time to say goodbye. 

We went around to the used stores and I finally found a winter coat that I liked.  It was nice and heavy.  Not the material I would have chosen (it's got that faux suede feel to it that I know will get dirty and stay dirty), but it was nice and heavy and seemed like it would be suitably warm.  I paid 12.00 for it and got out to the car with it.  It was then my husband asked if I could wash it and I was kind of flippant saying, "I'm sure it'll be fine...".  Yeah, and then I found the care instructions and realized the coat is a 100% down coat.  So, no washing for the new coat. 

Anyone got advice on how to care for a down coat?  I've never had one before as those suckers are normally REALLY expensive and I honestly never thought I'd own one.  I'm figuring loads of Scotch Guard and waterproofing spray and yeah..past that I'm thinking I could get a dry cleaning kit and just refresh it in the dryer?  Anyone got any guidance on this one? 

And there you are folks.  My week in a nutshell.  How about you?  How did your week go?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Shopping Goals: November 2018

Okay, so the month is nearly half over before I could get around to this.  With the family being so sick since before November started and such, I'm definitely cutting myself a break for the reduced blogging schedule of late.  HOPEFULLY things start to get better, quiet down and improve around here.  It'd be wonderful.

When it comes to shopping goals, my shopping list has gotten longer and longer as the month as gone on.  Not ideal as the next paycheck the mortgage comes out of and I also am going to have to pick up the rest of the needs for Thanksgiving out of that paycheck as well (we get paid this week).  Unforeseen expenses have popped up (per usual, it seems) so money is going to be tight until further notice, so I'm going to be working on getting things checked off the list for as cheap as I can get it.

So far I already have a turkey in the freezer for Thanksgiving, cranberries and a couple of other small items, but still need to get a decent amount of stuff.  Thankful I have the turkey done already, though :).

So, here we go.  This month's shopping goals.

Regular Stores:

  • Seedless navel oranges (2)
  • Potatoes
  • Herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme)
  • Frozen green beans
  • Dried cranberries
  • Instant mashed potatoes (I have a free Idohoan pouch waiting at Fred Meyer from Freebie Friday, so I wan to go and get that...the daughter doesn't like home made mashed potatoes).
  • Cream Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • American Cheese
  • Ketchup
  • Garlic
  • Onion Powder (used up the rest of mine)
  • Cheyenne pepper (once again, completely out)
  • Ice melt (we got like 1/2 an inch of freezing rain Sunday, so I used up the rest of our rock salt on the driveway)
  • Scotch Tape (for wrapping presents and putting them under the tree when I set it up later in the month...the tape has "mysteriously" disappeared and I'm pretty certain my daughter was involved with all of the craft things and such that suddenly popped up around her room)
  • Christmas sprinkles (I'm going to need to make a double batch of sugar cookies this year as both kids have decided they like sugar cookies now on top of my husband)

Wanted, but not needed items:

  • Additional turkey for freezer (turkeys are just so cheap this time of year that I would like to get another turkey to cut up and put into the freezer for use later or something)
  • Additional cranberries for freezer (I like to keep them around for canning cranberry sauce, to make cranberry orange bread and other uses...I'm a cranberry fan :)
  • Beef Roast (for Christmas dinner...waiting for a super sale on that.  If we don't get a really good sale on them I'll just try to figure out what the family might like instead)

And there you go folks.  My shopping goals for the month.  How about you?  What do you need to get this month?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, this is really, really late following the other post that was really, really late.  Good reasons for it though, so read on!

First up, be prepared as the recap of the past couple of weeks is probably going to be a lot longer than the actual frugal recap part of this post.  Why?  Well, reason number one is we've been sick for the last two weeks, nearly straight, so I don't have a ton to report.  It's like we couldn't kick the cold we've all been suffering from.  We'd feel good for a few days and then wham the cold symptoms would come back.  Alvah woke up Wednesday this week with a TERRIBLE cough and suffering so badly that I took him to the doctor just to make sure his lungs were clear.  Honestly I was half expecting antibiotics would be needed.  No, we learned something that was actually a bit more depressing than finding out your kid needs to be on antibiotics. 

Turns out that there's a new virus running around.  Our pediatrician, when the first wave of sick kids came in with cold symptoms that had lasted more than three weeks, got worried and ran a bunch of kids in for a barrage of tests to try and figure out what was going on.  The test results came back the same on all of the kids.  They had an adrenal based virus and everything else came back clear.  So, what is the fun that comes with this lovely virus?  Well, how about cold symptoms that don't go away.  For two to three MONTHS! 

So, we're thrilled as can be with the news.  Really.  Sigh.

I just wanted to pass the news along to everyone, though, because if this is running around up here that means that if it's not in your area it's heading your way. 

So, yeah, we've spent a lot of time the last couple of weeks with the son home sick from school feeling miserable on the bad days and then when he was in school (or even when he was home) I have been super duper busy with tons of stuff to do (all the while TRYING to fight off this thing).  I've had tons of paperwork to do for the school and for TEFRA renewals (tis the season) and stuff, so trying to do that while feeling kind of yucky has been a challenge.

Whenever I've had a second I've spent it in the garage trying to get it cleaned out so we can put vehicles in it instead of it just being full of stuff.  I've made decent progress and was hoping the husband could help me with some of the stuff I'm not sure what to do with, but he's been fighting the cold/virus the last couple of days so not a whole lot has gotten done on that front (he's trying though).  It's frustrating as it seems like we just can't get things done without something getting in the way anymore.  I still need to get winter tires put on my truck and haven't had a chance to do that either.  Ugh.

Oh and by the way we DID finally see a snow plow.  The day after election results were final and we got a new governor in office suddenly a plow went down the highway in front of my house plowing mainly bare pavement by that point and today, after the warmer weather today had finally started putting some holes in the ice skating rink that my road had quickly become we had more plows go down our road than I saw on our road all last winter.  It was ridiculous.  They not only tried to plow us in with a ice wall (I swore they were trying to build the Great Wall of China out of ice they went up and down the road so many times) at the end of our driveway but then they'd go down the road, spread salt and sand, and then go down 20 minutes later and PLOW THE SALT AND SAND UP!  I've spent a good portion of my day staring flabbergasted out my living room window.

Which leads us into our list for frugal things that happened the last couple of weeks!

1.  We did the ultimate free thing that makes a difference in your life and the life of others.  We voted.  I stayed up way too late that night waiting for our polls to close and votes to be tallied to make sure the state wasn't going to continue down it's current path or worse.  Hopefully things will improve up here now under the new leadership.  I can pray.

2.  When cleaning the garage I realized that the small window we had was going to be uncovered when I got everything out from in front of it.  I didn't want to leave the window uncovered (crime up here is really bad due to a really BAD law called SB91..see above about new leadership being desperately needed) so I went into my fabric stores, found some thicker fabric and took some thumb tacks to make a make shift curtain for the time being.  I'm hoping to make a small curtain rod out of something and put up a bit better curtain in the future, but for now the curtain looks pretty good (I'll try to take a picture for next week's post :).

3.  I made sure to purchase things on sale when we went shopping last week and was happy with how little was spent when it was all said and done.  The guy who was in line behind my husband and I even congratulated me on how much money I saved.  I actually found it kind of funny as that hadn't happened to me since my super couponing days *laugh*.

4.  We made a big batch of Halloween sugar cookies, which the kids had a lot of fun decorating the cookies (and also eating the cookies *laugh*).  The kids are finally old enough and the son loves the cookies so much I'm thinking that I'm going to have to make a double batch of Christmas cookies this year :).  I can't believe how thrilled I am that my son will actually EAT home made cookies...sure only sugar cookies at this point, but I'll take it!!!!

5.  Instead of buying chocolates for Halloween (which is REALLY expensive if you go for peanut safe chocolates), I instead melted some chocolate chips (I buy some at the store that are safe for the peanut allergy) in a make shift double boiler (I use my 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup as it fits over one of my pans perfectly and just melt the chocolate in that while it sits over the simmering water in the pan) and poured the melted chocolate into Halloween chocolate molds I already had.  The kids have enjoyed them and it saved me a TON of money making the chocolates myself.

6.  I took down the Halloween decorations and while I was at it I went and kept up the ones that would work for Thanksgiving.

7.  I, while cleaning the garage, had to put stuff out in storage, so I cleaned up the massive collapse we had in the storage van.  All it took was my time to get it done and I felt good about it as the Christmas decorations and tree were stuck behind the cave in, so it will definitely save me time later getting it done when I did (and while it was actually somewhat light out, so I could see better too).

8.  I added water to a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of hand soap to make the bottles last a little bit longer.

9.  I took a small amount of credit (it was less than 2.00) I had with Amazon and bought my daughter a Christmas gift with it, as I found a seller that sold a piece of jewelry I had been wanting to buy for her with free shipping (even to Alaska) for super duper cheap compared to other sellers AND they had a good reputation on Amazon with thousands of reviews so I figured they were safe to order from.  I quickly found out why the gift was so cheap through them.  Turns out that the gift got shipped out from China (wasn't overly thrilled at that, but by the time I realized that it was shipping from China it was too late to cancel the order or anything).  The item was so cheap to purchase and was taking so long to get here that I figured that it might not come at all.  The item took over two months to get here, but it did INDEED get here last week.  Took me by surprise when it came.  I'd actually forgotten I ordered it by the time it came in (oops).  So, yay for one Christmas gift being out of the way for super cheap (I'd say what I got her, but she reads over my shoulder from time to time so I don't want to wreck the surprise *laugh*).

And yeah, I'm calling it good there as I am really running down here, the son crashed early (best possible thing to help him build up some type of resistance to this thing) and before the sinus headache comes back I'm going to bed.  How did your last couple of weeks go?  Well, I hope?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Frugal Friday (Times 2): Money Saving Weekly Recap

Wow!  It's been a roller coaster of stuff going on around here!  I keep praying that the Good Lord will be nice enough to bless us with just some nice smooth sailing for a bit where we can all just catch our breath, get things done, and be healthy, but so far it's not come to pass.

First there was the daughter and school.  Ugh.  It's been insane the last two weeks.  First, I pick up Armina from school Friday before last super upset as the counselor had asked her to come down to her office and she found out that she had to go into a more basic math class than the one she's in now.  As a result of this her entire schedule was going to be changed pretty much and Armina freaked.  With an autistic brother who is his own version of walking chaos, my daughter is one who craves structure and stability.  When things happen to mess up her little universe bubble...she doesn't take it well.  She doesn't even like her dad or I to play with her as it messes up her playing scenario she had going on.  So, I dealt with a freaking out daughter all weekend long and I kept assuring her that we'd figure it out and to not panic.  It didn't work and I dealt with a lot of scared and upset tears that weekend, but I tried.

So, that Monday rolls around and the husband came home from work early so I could run into school and have a sit down with the counselor about the daughter's schedule.  Luckily, the counselor had seen how upset Armina was at the prospect of her schedule getting messed with and hadn't changed anything, so we were able to figure out a way that while the daughter would lose her elective classes (which depressed the daughter as she was looking forward to taking art this year) she wouldn't lose any of her current teachers and only the one period would be changed to accommodate the new math class.  It's a supplemental class she and others in the school have to take due to their under average standardized test scores...kind of a tutoring class on top of their regular class.  Since the daughter's shown a LOT of improvement in her reading with her having her English teacher for not only English but Advisory (kind of a more busy version of study hall where different teachers trade off the class to teach kids different things instead of the kids having actual study hall) as well...I really do feel she could benefit from this, so I didn't fight it and I hope she can get caught up math-wise and not feel so lost in her regular math class because of the extra help.

And then report cards came home as soon as we got that mess worked out and I found a less than stellar grade in Social Studies of all things.  Since she'd been making an "A" at halfway point in the quarter I was baffled.  My husband and I stopped by one afternoon to try and talk to the counselor about it, but she was busy, so she ended up calling me back.  She went through the daughter's test scores and things in the class and couldn't find anything really amiss there, but DID find the reason for the not stellar grade.  Turns out the daughter had just not been turning in assignments.  I was mad at her for DAYS after finding that out.

Since than the counselor has helped me sign up for the online parent program through the school that allows me to literally pull up all of the assignments for the daughter's different classes and figure out what she's missing and what she might need help with.  I've tried to sign up for this program since the daughter was in Kindergarten with NO luck (it would just NOT work for me no matter how much I tried), so I was thrilled when the counselor helped set me up properly and I got it all working. 

Since then my husband and I have been working our butts off with the daughter to get a few assignments done that she hadn't turned in yet THIS quarter and to help her do a country project for her Social Studies class.  She had chosen China, which turned out was a lot more involved than the daughter had thought it would be since China has been influenced by so much through it's existence and then we had to send in some traditional food for the assignment.  Being frugal, I decided to forgo Peking Duck (go figure) and went with rice (to represent Southern China) as an example of a staple (and traditional) food and went with the traditional birthday meal of noodles and peaches (which seemed to be a universal birthday dish for China as a whole) for a bit of variety.  I THINK she got a decent grade on the project (I hate it when teachers just put notes like, "Give extra credit for..." but don't give you any details on whether they included said extra credit in the grade they posted *sigh*), so we'll see if it helps to bring up her grade.

Now that the daughter knows I can stalk her academically she seems to be taking things a bit more seriously, so I'll take that improvement in attitude for sure.  MAN, I hate Junior High.  The lack of energy, the lack of focus, the "meh" attitude about everything...I remember it well and now I get to fight it all over again in my children.  All we have to do now is do charts on questions she got wrong on a science quiz to bring up that grade and I THINK we'll be back on track.  I hope.  I pray.

Between that and just fighting ill health, it's been a challenge.  With two kids in two different schools there is just SO many more germs going around that it's like we can't stay well this year.  I've been popping vitamins like mad, making sure I keep balanced meals going as much as possible and trying to make sure I get enough rest, but it's still rough.  The son is home today with cold-like symptoms where he goes into coughing fits and is just generally not well.  I woke up with a terrible sore throat and congested myself.  It might be a kind of cruddy Halloween on the health front.  I'm praying it all works out and we'll be able to go and do some Trick-or-Treating for the daughter's sake, but we'll see. 

Because, of course...we not only have the whole health issues to deal with at the moment.  Nope.  We went from this....

To this...

All at once.  We got dumped on, hard, with snow starting Sunday night.  The roads have been an absolute MESS since then.  We haven't seen a plow, or a sand truck in two days and when I went to drop the daughter off at school this morning they were still plowing out the school (the school is the responsibility of the Borough while the roads are the responsibility of the state, so it's double dropping the ball here).  I have about 18" of snow sitting on my grill and deck at the moment.  Winter came in hard and the road crews just seem to be ignoring that winter is here at all.  My poor husband has been driving to work on a glorified ice skating rink (he actually wondered if the state had sent a Zamboni out to polish the roads to a nice polished ice surface last night as he worked his way SLOWLY to work) and taking the daughter to school this morning was definitely an experience.  Thank goodness for four wheel drive on the truck.  I was definitely grateful for it today.

I kept the kids home yesterday as when I saw trucks trying to drive up my road and nearly going sideways and they had heavier vehicles than mine I said, "Um, no" and just called the kids in sick.  So, yeah, we'll see how the roads are tomorrow or we might be making loads of Halloween treats tomorrow night and just staying home.  The daughter will be disappointed as she's super thrilled with her Halloween costume (we ended up buying her one due to lack of time.  She picked it out herself and I have to say I'm glad she was able to do that as I was WAY off what I thought she wanted an enchantress costume to look like), but we'll see how it goes.

And now that you've got a basic (abridged as I know there was a bunch of other chaos going on that I just don't want to reprocess right now *laugh*) timeline of events the last two weeks, let's get to the money saving things that happened the last two weeks as well.

1.  Let's start with shopping since I posted the pic of some of my finds up top there.  Shopping went well last week.  Carrs gave me a ton of personalized price deals that were a combo of regular personalized prices and some of them were just a percentage off of a certain type of product (like 10% off frozen foods or 15% off health and beauty products).  They then gave me a 5.00 off my next shopping trip coupon (no minimum purchase required) a coupon for 5.00 off my next shopping trip of 50.00 or more and another one for 11.00 off my shopping trip of 100.00 or more (I didn't get the 11.00 thing as I figured it would have been 10.00, but whatever).  They also had a coupon for 5.00 your next shopping trip of 50.00 or more in the actual weekly ad you could use as well.  So, I stacked all of my personalized prices.  I stocked up on toothbrushes (which we were in desperate need of), got the husband some frozen dinners (I was able to stack a monthly personalized price of 1.54 per meal with my coupon code to get the meals for a little over 1.00 a piece) and other things.  The coolest find, for me, was actually the chicken (seen above).

I had a personalized price of .94 lb for the value packs of chicken and a personalized price of 1.11 lb on skinless chicken breasts.  I was kind of "meh" about it as while it was a good deal I didn't really NEED chicken that badly, but when I ran across a bunch of chicken on reduced I did the math and picked it up.  I was able to get thin cut chicken breasts for about .80 per package (score!) and I got big value packs of chicken drumsticks for 2.00 and some change after personalized price and discount.  I can ALWAYS use chicken at that price!

The pork chops after discount and a personalized price on pork I had ended up being around 2.00 and some change, which was totally worth it for a quick and easy dinner (the husband even brought the last pork chop with him to work that night for lunch, so it worked out doubly well).

I was able to get toothbrushes for about 1.00 a piece for decent ones, got the kids new battery operated toothbrushes (I ended up getting them adult toothbrushes versus the throw away kid ones as the interchangeable heads moved in two directions versus just spinning on the one part, was only 1.00 more than the kids toothbrushes and I can change the heads and the batteries in the new toothbrushes and keep some battery powered toothbrushes out of the for me :) and got other groceries we needed and walked away feeling good about what I paid.  After all of the discounts were taken, various money coupons were taken off and everything I ended up spending about 90.00 for everything I bought and I got meat, produce, name it (and we needed a lot of boy food, so the fact that I was able to get off that cheap made me feel good :).

2.  Speaking of shopping we have been working hard to get our Shop Your Way points redeemed at Sears as quickly as we can when they come in.  We went and spent about 30.00 in points a few weeks ago and got my son new shoes in the next size up (they were on clearance, which was cool), an 8' extension cord that was marked down to 1.00, some shoe insoles for my husband and we felt pretty good about what we were able to get.  This weekend we had to go and run and use up another 27.00 (around) worth of points before they expired (we get them and they expire FAST it seems) so on Saturday we went and saw what we could find.  They didn't have jeans in my husband's size in, so instead we looked around.  I, being me, immediately headed to the clearance racks.  I was able to get my daughter a nice cross body leather purse that was small enough to be practical but large enough to hold her cell phone (we got her a prepaid cell when dividends came in so she'll be able to get a hold of us during concerts and things if she needs to, so we don't get separated from one another and wander around aimlessly) for super cheap and I went and hit the men's clearance racks and was able to find my husband four shirts on clearance for a little less than 5.00 a piece to wear to work (which was good as the ones he has at home are getting holey).  With the Shop Your Way points to redeem we left spending about 5.00 for everything.

3.  I also stopped by the used store this week as we got the dress code for the daughter's school in and if kids wear leggings they were supposed to wear shirts that went down to cover their behinds.  The daughter LOVES to wear leggings and I was worried some of her shirts weren't going to be quite long enough (as she's growing again), so I went and got some shirts that I knew would work with the dress code and the daughter can continue to wear her beloved leggings to school.  While there I also picked up four pillow cases, two pairs of matching colors, to embroider some pillow cases for the kids for Christmas.  The daughter has already made her embroidery request known (purple foxes...go figure) and I'll figure out something cool to embroider for the son's cases.  I was happy though as the pillow cases were only .50 each.

4.  My daughter and I are continuing to watch Bob Ross at night before she goes to bed.  I've found this is actually working really well to keep her nightly stomach aches at bay, so it's been totally worth it to go to bed a bit later than I had planned us to to stop her from having to take medication.

5.  I ended up using the 10.00 Amazon credit from the whole lemon bar debacle to buy the husband another pair of shoe inserts (he goes through a LOT of them with the amount of walking around he does at his job).  Glad I used it up as it started out as 10.00 when I got it but when we actually got a chance to use it, it was already down to around 8.00 and some change.  I wasn't impressed that there was a time limit to use the credit before it went away after everything that happened.  I've not been impressed with Amazon this last year for sure.  It's like I finally invest in a year of Prime and that's when my customer service experiences with Amazon went through the floor.  I'm actually PAYING to be treated poorly.  Makes me feel great.  Grumble.

6.  I signed up for a new product testing mission with "My Magazine Sharing Network" to try out cold and flu medicines.  Considering how this year is shaping up health-wise, I was super thrilled to get that mission!

7.  I took advantage of a free mug code from Shutterfly to order my husband a new tank mug.  I had gotten him a white mug with the design on it earlier in the year to replace the one he really loved that was black because it had come in at a good time to get it (right after the other one broke), but this one I was able to get in black again so I'll be able to replace his favorite mug with a direct replacement.  I'm going to put it under the tree for him, so it also takes care of a Christmas gift at the same time.

8.  I had ordered school pictures for the kids but only the daughter's had come in.  I waited a few days and then, figuring something was wrong, I called Life Touch.  It turns out the order hadn't been shipped for some reason so the gal re-ordered the item to be sent out.  Hopefully this time it comes.

9.  Scheduled a lifetime oil change on my husband's car, so he'll be able to go in and get his oil changed for free.

10.  When the daughter needed a notebook for her new math class and needed some new glue sticks I went into the small school supply stockpile I have and got her the things she needed.  She was happy to get the stuff right away and I was happy that I didn't need to go and spend money to get the supplies.

11.  I used Brandy's (The Prudent Homemaker) recipe for carrot cake as the daughter had been BEGGING me to make one.  Despite a fiasco with dumping twice as much pineapple into the cake as it was supposed to have as the daughter was not wanting to help and in a panicked rush to get the cake in the oven after she didn't do what she was supposed to I just dumped the entire can of pineapple into the batter instead of reading the directions.  I ended up baking the cake for about an hour longer than the recipe called for (reduced the heat to 325 for 45 minutes and then back to 350 for the last 15 minutes) to bake off all of the extra moisture the cake turned out pretty good.  It was an interesting combo of a good carrot cake until you hit the pockets of pineapple in the cake and then it tasted like a pineapple upside down cake.  It got eaten at any rate :).

12.  I made rice and noodles for the daughter's school project instead of going for more expensive traditional fair.

13.  My daughter's boyfriend made her a pretty necklace, but he didn't wind the wire around the crystal well enough and the crystal fell out of the cage he'd made.  I took some jewelry wire I had around the house and fixed the necklace for her as she was upset at the idea of it being broken.  I didn't have the right color wire so she ended up with a combo of gold and silver wire holding the crystal cage closed, but she really liked how the necklace turned out, so I was happy with that.

14.  We watched Halloween themed cartoons and shows that we had put aside to watch at Halloween while the husband was home on his nights off.  The husband and I would then go down in our bedroom and watch the horror movies we wanted to watch for Halloween fare after the kids were in bed for the night.  This way the daughter doesn't have nightmares and we can still enjoy the more scary parts of Halloween that we enjoy :).

15.  Speaking of Halloween I was able to find the son a used Halloween costume that the package had just been opened on it.  I was able to get it for 5.00 versus nearly 30.00 and all the parts were included with it!  I washed it carefully to make sure nothing weird might be on it, but I was happy :).

16.  One of the mom's whose kids are in the same swim class as my kids was nice enough to gift everyone in the class some Christmas ornaments she and her daughter's made to congratulate the kids on a great job in swimming.  The daughter got a pink butterfly ornament so she wants to hang it up in her bedroom as part of her decor instead of hanging it up on the tree.  The mom was thrilled and I thought it was really cute and nice of her to do that.

17.  I signed up for some free samples the last couple of weeks.  I am still on some of the old coupon newsletters from my coupon blogging days and found a couple that were actually really up my alley, so I was thrilled to request them.  Now to hope they come *laugh*.

18.  I went and looked up online resources to help me help my daughter with her homework.  It's amazing to me how much great information is available online. 

19.  I asked my mother-in-law, who home schooled a bunch of her kids if she had any old text books I could borrow to help with social studies and math and she said she did!  So, hopefully I'll be able to borrow some books that might give a new, and better, perspective on things for the daughter to grasp.  Here's hoping!

20.  One of my husband's co-workers is retiring and had a going away party last night.  My husband looked at the sign up list for the pot luck dinner and figured out they were lacking in the desserts, so I asked him to sign us up to bring in brownies.  I used a free brownie mix I'd gotten from Fred Meyer earlier to make the brownies.  They were a big hit, nothing came back home, and they were nearly free for me to make (since they required cooking oil and eggs they weren't completely free, but close enough :).

And, yeah, I am going to call it good there as the son is getting cranky, I'm getting hungry and my back is starting to ache after sitting in one spot typing for so long *laugh*.

How about you all?  How did you do these past two weeks?  Well, I hope?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Shopping Goals: October 2018

Yeegads this is late!  I was kind of hoping to have this posted about two weeks ago, but life has been so hectic I just haven't been able to find the time or energy to do much other than what needs to be done.

Anyway, back to shopping goals.  At the moment we only have one more package to pick up from the postal annex and then everything should be in from Amazon.  So far the only supremely epic screw up on their part was the lemon bar mix, so at least that's a positive.  Since the box I have to pick up at the postal annex has a big bottle of olive oil in it...I'm nervous, let's just put it that way.  Hopefully they packaged the box well.  My faith in their ability to package things logically is shot at this point, but I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

I was hoping to pick up the package yesterday after getting the son to therapy and then dropping him off at school, but instead I ended up with both kids home sick, and I mean sick.  Alvah picked up a stomach bug and was plain miserable all day while I followed him around with a bucket.  I woke Armina up to get ready for school yesterday and realized her eye was swelling up on her.  We've had this happen in the past and all we have been able to get is that an undetermined allergy causes it to happen as it is completely random when it happens.  Her eyelid will start to swell and if you don't catch it in time her eyes will swell shut on her in record time.  I immediately got her some Zyrtec and while in the past that worked to take care of the problem, this time it didn't.  I ended up having to give her another dose of Zyrtec at night and Benadryl every four hours on top of that to stop the swelling .  I am playing it by ear today to see how she does and if she is still having major problems I'm taking her to the doctor to see if we need to get her on a different type of medication.  Hoping she's better today as on top of the eye thing she's gone full neurotic about missing school two days in a row and is obsessing about make up work and things, so she's throwing her stomach condition into a tizzy as well.  This on top of me trying to get over this virus completely and as families go we're a hot mess this week.  Sigh.

So, let's get to the shopping list for this month.  We've still got a bit more to get that I'm figuring on picking up slowly as by this point both the husband and I are completely burned out on spending money and really just want to get back to saving money versus spending it.

So, onto the "master list".

  • 20 boxes angel hair pasta (got these on a personalized price of .69 per box at Carrs)
  • 12 cans of Hunt's tomato sauce .  I got this on top of what I bought previously from Amazon as I'm finding we are eating spaghetti about once every two weeks minimum, so I wanted to get some tomato sauce ahead...I actually need to get some more cans to have enough to last us for all the pasta I make anymore, but this was a decent start.
  • 20 lbs sugar (got this on a personalized price and was able to get it for 11.00 and some change for 20 lbs, which was cheaper than going to Three Bears)
  • 50 lbs medium grain rice (actually about the same price as I would have spent at Three Bears, but I got fuel rewards for buying it there, which made it worth it)
  • Canned peaches, 12 cans (.89 per can with a personalized price)
  • Canned pineapple, 2 of each type (crushed, chunk...only got one as that was what they had, and rings).  .89 each with personalized price.
  • Bulk bags of apples, 3 (had a personalized price on them for 4.12 per bag.  Even found Honeycrisp is in the bulk bags right now so was able to get Armina some small ones to snack on for about 2.00 per lb.  Not bad).  I would still like to pick up more apples and just kind of stock up the one drawer in the fridge with apples as we love them around here, but we'll see how money, and sales, go.
  • Freezer Bags, 4 boxes (Carrs brand bags come in a package of 28 bags and were on sale for 1.99 per box, max of four.  The bags are good quality as well, so totally worth getting them cheaper than buying the bulk box of Ziploc freezer bags at Three Bears).
  • Generic Windex refill bottles on sale B1G1.  Got 2.
  • Halloween Candy (got Tootsie pops and Starburst so far.  Going to Fred Meyer for the rest, however as they are a lot cheaper price-wise on candy)
  • Vitamins (were on sale B1G1 on certain brands, so were able to stock up for decently cheap...for vitamins anyway)
  • Beef.  This is an ongoing quest to find it cheap enough to make it worth buying over the course of the month.  We were able to get a container of hamburger (on reduced 30% off, so worked out to be 3.00 per lb about after sale and reduction), a package of thin cut steaks (7.00 for three steaks) and a few London Broil roasts (those were on sale B1G1 last week at Carrs).
  • Chocolate Chips, 6 bags (they sell peanut free certified ones)
  • Halloween Pumpkin

Fred Meyer (still need to get)
  • Mop
  • Broom
  • Scrub Bucket

Three Bears (still haven't gone to get this stuff yet)
  • 2 Gallons Distilled White Vinegar (these are usually sold in a box of 2 gallon jugs for about 5.00 and some change)
  • 2 Gallons Apple Cider Vinegar (same as the distilled white vinegar)
  • Hershey Chocolate Bars (for husband's acid reflux)
  • Maple Syrup, one jug (no links as that would take FOREVER for me to do)
  • Junket Ice Cream mixes (I got 2 strawberry, two chocolate and two vanilla in a variety pack.  They are safe for the son's peanut allergy.  Buying flavored ice cream that is safe for him is pretty much impossible, so I was thrilled to find it)
  • Garlic Willow Ear Oil (bought on a recommend from Brandy at the Prudent Homemaker in that it has helped keep her kids out of the doctor's numerous times by curing ear infections)
  • Salt Free Mustard (we bought one to try out)
  • Bottle Brushes (desperately needed them and they were on the one place I could find them)
  • Curel Itch Defense Lotion (squeeze container to put in back packs and things)
  • Kindle Charging Cord, braided cord, 6 ft length, 2 pack (the son wrecked my charging cord, so this was definitely on the "need" list)
  • Black Cannon Printer Cartridge (needed this for the upcoming TEFRA novel I get to fill out and send back to our care coordinator).
  • Coffee, 3 containers (I got two bags of New England Coffee company Breakfast Blend coffee in big bags for 7.00 per bag and then I got a big container of Chock Full of Nuts coffee for 8.00 and some change after a coupon and the Subscribe and Save discount)
  • Pioneer Baking Mix, 40 oz boxes, pack of 10 (this is basically Bisquick, but made in America by a small mill outfit and it is cholesterol free, so I was sold on it with that alone.  It's a LOT of baking mix, though, so I'm definitely going to be making more biscuits and things in the coming year :)
  • Cheetos, small packages, pack of 40 (for the son's lunches)
  • Olive Oil, 68 fl. oz
  • Crest Toothpaste (3 packs), total of 3 for a total of 9 tubes of toothpaste.  Hopefully this will last us a while as the son loves to get into the toothpaste and while I have some sample sized toothpastes, we were completely out of the large tubes.
  • Children's Chewable Ibuprofen, 2 boxes (they have orange flavor available, which my son takes a LOT easier than trying to get other Ibuprofen down him).
  • Cascade dishwasher detergent pods (way cheaper through Amazon than the store)
  • Stayfree pads, 2 types (these are no longer available on Subscribe and Save, so I'm glad I got them when I had the chance as it was WAY cheaper buying them that way.  This will hopefully be enough pads to last me quite a while)
  • Hormel canned turkey, 12 cans (way cheaper than buying it at the store)
  • Hormel canned chicken breast, no salt added, 12 cans (again, way cheaper than the stores)
  • Afresh Dishwasher Cleaner, 6 tabs
And there you go folks.  My "basic" shopping list for this month.  Believe it or not this was on top of our regular shopping we had to do.  It's been so long since we had money to spend that it felt good to add to our stockpile by even a little bit.

How about you all?  Having to buy things this month?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

First, to those who have e-mailed me the last bit, I'm sorry for not getting back to you and I know some of the replies are SUPER late getting back to you and I'm sorry.  I WILL reply to e-mails, hopefully soon, so don't give up on me.  I've just been dealing with the odd twists and turns that life throws at me of late.

The big thing that happened this last week was I contracted some type of skin virus (the best guess we've gotten, anyway).  I started to break out late last week in what we thought were hives.  I took some Benadryl and went to bed and awoke the next morning to the welt type bumps spreading.  I ended up going to the doctor's for the welts as they just weren't going away (even after taking multiple showers, changing bedding, washing things in hot water to strip any allergens off of them, etc), weren't hives and we were just baffled to what was causing it, but were definitely worried and alarmed. The bumps kept spreading out in a localized area and resembled bug bites in their welt type of look, but didn't act like bug bites (they'd burst and seep fluid and do that for a while and then scab over, hurt like mad and then finally start healing).  After about three days the bumps stopped spreading (yay) and they are finally starting to finish up their life cycle it seems and starting to heal up and go away, but my legs (the place where the majority of the bumps ended up hitting) are kind of a mess still. 

But, yeah, I've been an itchy, exhausted (the biggest thing next to the welts with this bug was how tired I have been...fatigued doesn't even BEGIN to cover it), hurting, cranky mess the last little bit.  I'm finally starting to feel better.  Still really tired, but more of a normal type of tired versus a "I can't move even if I wanted to" type of tired.

So, yeah, I parted with 250.00 for a doctor's visit this week, which was actually the cheaper Urgent Care option available on a Saturday.  Yippee (my excitement knows no'll get you through ;).

Right, so let's get to the rest of the week.

1.  On the "bad" end of the spectrum this week, Amazon finally ticked me off so badly that I actually called and went off on them and I wasn't nice.  At all.  I am proud of myself, though, in that I did not swear and I did calm down and apologize to the woman who was on the other end of the phone and told her I wasn't mad at her and such.  Luckily, once I explained why I was SUPER upset, she totally understood and told me to vent away as she would have too.

See that baggie in the picture up top there?  The one from USPS saying, "Sorry for the state of your mail"?  See what is in it?  Yeah, it's a box of lemon bar mix.  Did said mix fall out of a box somehow and still get to me?  Nope. YES, Amazon slapped a shipping label onto ONE BOX of lemon bar mix and threw it in the mail and seriously thought it would get to it's destination in one piece, didn't think that it was the least unsanitary to do anything like that, actually thought it was a legitimately good idea and went with it.  To top off that bit of "I can't even" the lemon bar mix was supposed to be a pack of SIX, not one lowly box, so the screw up was multiplied. 

So, of course, logic would dictate that throwing a thin cardboard box into the mail with a freaking shipping label on it would make it NOT get to it's destination in one piece.  The mail service actually did everything in their power to get the package here.  I stand by that one and applaud them for the effort.  They put pieces of packaging tape on both ends of the box as the thing got crushed by machines and things and tried their best to keep the box together to get it to it's destination.  They finally put it in the baggie when the sides started splitting apart.  Man, I'm STILL mad about that mess.  I finally found a lemon bar mix that is okay for the son's peanut allergy (King Arthur Flour lemon bar mix, for those who might suffer from peanut allergies, has no cross contamination with tree nuts), ordered six boxes so I could make some on and off and send them to school with him to try new textures out and things (he likes lemon Starburst so I was hoping to work the lemon flavor into more real types of food) and THIS was the result.  The gal I talked to gave me a refund on my order (as, of course, the six pack of lemon bar mix is no longer available) and then gave me a 10.00 credit on top of it, but just...ugh!  This is the second Subscribe and Save order they have messed up in a ROW for me.  I'm seriously going to think twice before ordering anything food related from them again anytime soon.  This was bottom of the barrel screw up type of levels and I'm seriously not comfortable with their quality control at ALL at this point.

But, yeah.  That happened.

2.  This is more of a sidebar to the actual post, but I just wanted to pass this along as I know some folks head right for the numbered points and skip introductions. 

I want to thank the folks who have been e-mailing me Instant Pot recipes and other electric pressure cooker recipes to help me out with managing time and/or just hoping to make my life a little easier.  Mary Elizabeth, if you read this, I've tried to e-mail you back a couple of times now, but my e-mail hates your e-mail and I can't get the messages to go through, so I'm hoping you read this here.  I REALLY appreciate the e-mails and recipes, I really do, but...well...I gave my Crock Pot Express away to someone who needed it a lot more than I did to help them out in a bad situation.  So, while I appreciate the recipes, I can't really use them since I don't have the machine anymore and I really hate for you to continue to e-mail me all kinds of cool Instant Pot resources when I can't really make use of them (I have converted a few of the recipes to the crock pot, though, so thank you for sending the recipe ideas).  If you have any recipes for traditional stove top pressure cookers, though, I have several of those, so feel free to send me those :). 

3.  The other thing in the photo at the top of the page is my big purchase for the family (well the son, really) that I took money from the dividends to get.  I call her "Sputnik" as she's about the size of a small satellite (she's currently residing on my freezer until I can figure out where in the Heck I can store her at) and she's a 5 quart air fryer.  I bought it for exactly one reason.  To cook french fries in it.  French fries are a major part of the son's diet and he loves deep fat fried french fries, so I figure if I can make really good french fries in this thing that taste like fried french fries?  It'll pay for itself in  no time and I'll be thrilled that Alvah is eating a little bit healthier.  I haven't had the energy to try it out yet being down with this bug, but am hoping to try it out this weekend or something.  Here's hoping!

4.  I took advantage of a personalized deal from Tiny Prints for 10 free holiday cards  (including envelopes) with a personalized free shipping code.  I used some cute pictures of the kids from last winter to make the cards.  It'll be nice to be able to send out a few Christmas cards this year :).

5.  I roasted a chicken this week.  Nothing extraordinary there, but I've found a new to me method to bake them that works great.  Brandy, The Prudent Homemaker recommended cooking chickens upside down as the juices will then flow down into the white meat as the chicken cooks and it basically self bastes itself as it cooks.  I've done that with the last couple of chickens I've cooked and they have turned out awesome both times.  I'm definitely doing this in the future!  I just need to figure out how to carve a bird upside down now as I have to flip the bird over to carve it and it looks kind of weird, but small price to pay for an awesomely moist bird *laugh*.

6.  My husband found a really nice Halloween pumpkin when we went to the store last.  I wanted to get the jack o' lantern pumpkin as pumpkins were on sale for .59 lb, which is as cheap as they ever get.  I was even able to use a 1.00/1 pumpkin when you buy two party size bags of Doritos coupon (yes, that was the coupon on the Doritos bag...I'm baffled too *laugh*) to get the pumpkin cheaper yet.  When I got home I treated the outside of the pumpkin with alcohol and then coated it in Vaseline to help the pumpkin keep until Halloween (I read this method will help pumpkins keep longer, so I figured it was worth a shot) and then parked it in the pantry.  I've been checking on it regularly to make sure the mice, are indeed, still gone from the pantry and so far so good *knock on wood*.

7.  I ended up looking up some Amazon original series that we get to watch with Prime this week since I wasn't up to doing much, especially at night (should have been sleeping, but instead was up itching and not able to get comfortable) and ended up binge watching the first six episodes of "The Dangerous Book for Boys".  The series main plot is that the dad has recently died and the family, who are kind of an odd bunch, are just trying to get on with life as well as they can with him gone.  Having lost my dad seven years ago I was actually rather surprised how profoundly some parts got to me when watching the show, although I think a lot of that was just because I was exhausted and not feeling well.  It's amazing how loss sticks with you, no matter how much time has passed.  My dad was even kind of like the way the dad is portrayed in the oddball genius eccentric type of person.  That pretty much described my dad to a "T" *laugh*.

8.  I sat down with the daughter and tried to come up with a plan for her Halloween costume this year.  She wants to be a sorceress, but finding things in her size that aren't overly "kiddie" (she's tiny for her age) is turning out to be a challenge.  I'm praying to feel up to near 100% here soon so we can work on her costume as I'm thinking it's going to be rather more elaborate than I've made before and I'm going to need time to get it done.

9.  The son got to go on his yearly bowling field trip last week and had an absolute blast.  Both of the kids also did AWESOME in swimming last week and are finally starting to get swimming a bit better and are able to swim a bit on their own.  I'm proud of them both :).

10.  The heater in my truck decided to die (of course right when the weather started getting colder and you needed said heater).  My husband was able to fix it just for the price of parts, which saved us labor costs and he was even able to fix it while we were sitting in the parking lot of the parts store.  I am so thankful to be married to a man with skills.

And there you are folks. Some of the adventures I got to go through this week.  How about you?  How did your week go?  Well, I hope?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Be prepared for getting two posts today.  I'll post up my Shopping Goals for the month later today, I hope, so that I have everything written down.  It's been crazy and haywire around here.  Between the termination dust creeping down the mountains (it's an Alaskan early warning system that we have letting us know winter is coming...the snow starts coming down the mountains in the distance from higher elevations.  Once it hits the tree line you are pretty much assured winter is imminent), the colder weather setting in and PFD's coming in this's been a crazy rush to get things done around here. 

I don't know what follows qualifies as "frugal", since I spent more money last week than I have in years (well kinda..this was the first year in forever where we could decide where the money got to be spent versus having to just slap all of it onto a chunk of dental bills and just being immediately broke again) and gave myself nervous hives doing it (no seriously, I broke out...I have issues spending money anymore, I really do...I've been driving my husband a bit batty obsessing about it this last week).

As previously mentioned it was dividend time this last week.  They came in late last week and while not as much as we should have had (darned governor and legislature), it was still enough to pay off the one chunk of dental bills we had (the spacers and the one tooth my husband got capped last year), pay the dishwasher off (plus a little extra) on the Sears card and with the sleep center gone as feels good to have that accomplished!  I was even able to pay for the next session of swimming lessons for the kids (they are both doing so well we just couldn't bring ourselves to quit...Armina is finally starting to have fun in swimming and Alvah is so close to swimming on his own now.  I think the husband enjoys helping in the pool as well).  I'm hoping to roll the money over that I'm saving each month from paying off the sleep center and the care credit onto the Sears card first, which should pay off the remainder of the bill in a few months and then I want to continue to roll that money over onto the house account to start to pay that bill down.  I'm really hoping, for a change, the Good Lord will be okay with us having some forward momentum and we can start actually improving financially versus being in a near constant state of panic about finances.  That would be a nice change of pace versus how it has been for years now.

I then dragged my husband to the store that morning, as soon as I paid the bills that we wanted to pay, and we got groceries and pantry items (I'll list that stuff on the Monthly Shopping Goals as I still have a few small things to get yet), being careful to just buy what I NEEDED versus what I thought looked good or what I thought we MIGHT need later on (okay, so I bought one container of the Pillsbury limited edition Pumpkin Spice sweet rolls to try, but that's it).  We loaded up the truck with some of the bigger trash that was in storage and/or around the yard (old mattresses and box springs for the most part that had been accumulating for years as we didn't have the money to haul them away before now) and took that to the dump.  I worked on making sure that I could put everything in the pantry that I had bought, all the while trying to be careful to try not to over clutter the pantry so that the cats had free reign in there as much as possible to keep the mice away.

Between that and the kids being sick with allergies or other issues most of the week, I spent most of the weekend running around the house like mad trying to get the housework caught up.   And then yesterday we had the daughter's first concert of the year for orchestra (which they are doing great so far!  I was really impressed :). 

I'm not really sure what kind of money saving things I can list this week, honestly.  We mainly spent money on paying bills.  Frugal, I suppose, but for satellite projects I didn't get much done.  But, I'll list the few things I did do :).

1.  We had fondue one night last week for fun.  I used a cheap cut of beef and sliced it super thin, which worked well for dipping and also made it tender enough to eat.  I also saved the end pieces from the loaves of home made bread I made, staled them (husband's suggestion) and we used those as dipping bread pieces as well.  It was fun, yummy, and actually a pretty cheap (and balanced) meal when it was all said and done.

2.  Instead of doing the majority of my PFD shopping at the bulk store or Amazon, I went to the actual store and if the items were close in price to Amazon (and I knew I couldn't get them way cheaper at the bulk store) I just bought the items there.  This will hopefully save me some trips to the postal annex (last year it started getting nuts come October, so we want to keep trips to a minimal this year if possible), help support local businesses and, most importantly, we got the fuel rewards for shopping there so my husband was able to get a tank of decently cheap gas.  Nice benefit :).

A word on the postal annex since I've had a few questions about it.  I'm not sure about the rest of the state, but in a lot of areas around where I live in Alaska we have a few lock boxes for packages, but no curb side drop off for postal service.  So, if a package is above a small box size it gets kept at your local "postal hub".  This can be your local post office if you live in a city center, or if you live outside of the city limits (which is a LOT of areas around here) your packages get kept at the postal annex...which is basically a big warehouse with postal packages in it.  Combine a lot of people getting routed to the postal hubs for packages everywhere around here and the fact that Alaska depends on a TON of stuff getting shipped in (like say, Christmas gifts) and you end up with a two hour line to wait for packages from Halloween till probably about February (because people use their gift cards after Christmas too), if not sooner (which Amazon started shipping more and more through USPS versus UPS starting last year, so the lines at the postal annex got even longer than normal and even sooner than normal).  So, yeah, I try to get shopping and waiting done before the end of October for the sake of my sanity.

3.  I don't use many checks, but was down to one check in my checkbook and I knew I was going to have to get another book of a checks after writing the check for the kid's swimming lessons.  I decided to look through my desk to see if I could find one more book of checks instead of having to order a new box.  I managed to find one book of checks that was duplicate numbers (the bank messed up years ago when they were reordering checks for me) from a previous book, but since I use so few checks I knew the out of order numbers weren't going to matter.  So, I saved myself the price of having to buy another box of checks this way.  If the previous book is any indication, I should be good for another five years or so with this book *laugh*.

4.  I was thankful for recipe sources like Pinterest and All Recipes and things the last few weeks.  I just plain didn't have any time to sit down and figure out anything resembling a menu plan, so scrambling and going online to figure out something to eat for dinner was saved by having those sources at my fingertips.

5.  While the son was taking therapy I was able to find enough time to get some embroidery worked on, which was a nice, and relaxing way to pass the time.

6.  The husband and I went to Sears while the son was in therapy one morning last week and, after a mess of a time getting accounts figured out (turns out we have two Shop Your Way accounts due to me having started mine back when they used to have a kid's club and the husband starting a Craftsman's Club account a few years back before they terminated the kid's club and rolled it into a regular account...long story, like everything with Shop Your Way it seems), where I ended up going online on my phone, looking up the account I had, figuring out my pin all the while the guy who didn't really understand English too well tried to communicate with my husband over the phone, we were finally able to redeem some of the points we had to spend this month.  We got the husband two pairs of jeans and a screwdriver that my husband wanted, all for free.  We still have some points left (free cash points and things kicked in when we checked out, which messed up the total I thought we had, so we still have like 18.00 to spend), but we're not sure what we'll spend them on yet.  We'll figure it out.  Glad we were able to get jeans in the husband's size, though.  So, yeah, we got through the experience and everyone lived ;).

7.  We bought a couple more favorite programs of the son in digital format.  I bought the programs in SD versus HD and saved more than a few bucks in some cases.  I always tell my daughter about watching programs on the old black and white analog controlled TV when I was a kid and tell her so long as she can tell who is talking, what is going on and there aren't lots of lines going across the screen, the kids will survive just fine watching things in SD format.  So far the kids haven't complained *laugh*.

8.  My husband and I were exploring Prime video and found that they have some Rifftrax movies on Prime that we can watch as part of our Prime membership for free.  It's actually been entertaining to watch the movies without having to worry about purchasing them separately through Rifftrax and we've watched some movies we never would have purchased, but that we ended up watching an enjoying just  by exploring what we could watch for free.  It's kind of fun :).

9.  I had to renew the virus scan/internet security program for our computers.  I like buying the program this late in the year because I end up spending 30.00 versus 80.00 for a virus scan key code.  We really like the program we've had the last three years, so double bonus is that we just input the keycode and don't have to worry about re-downloading the program.  When I renewed the program, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the program we use have now started to roll over the time you had left on your subscription onto your renewal, so I was able to gain seven days onto next year's subscription by them doing that.

I'm sure there was more, but I'm going to call it good there as my mind is going blank I'm so tired.  So, how did you do last week?