Sunday, November 12, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Boy I'm tired!  But, bright side, the cleaning and organizing is slowly getting there!  Yay for that!

This week has been long, but in some ways good.  I didn't sleep well last weekend, at all, and as a result come Monday morning I accidentally gave the son his higher nighttime dose of Risperidone instead of his half dose in the morning.  I was worried he was going to walk around like a zombie all day Monday, but instead he had a REALLY good day!  He had a good day at school and a great day at speech therapy.  I ended up calling his psychologist and asking if it would be okay if we just gave him a full dose twice a day for a while and see how he did.  She agreed.  As a result Alvah actually had a pretty good week at school and at home.  Tonight he's kind of grumpy, but I think a lot of that is that I think he woke up today just not feeling good...he's been acting like he's got a head ache today on and off and yeah...I think both he and I are looking forward to bedtime tonight as I think he's pretty tired and didn't sleep good last night.

The daughter still isn't feeling good either, but I had the nurse check down her throat Friday and she saw 100% nothing wrong, not even any irritation, so I'm kind of hoping the daughter is just dealing with allergies.  I'm praying both kids are up to going to school tomorrow as my grand plan is to come home and immediately start deep cleaning both of their rooms, moving furniture and shampooing the heck of the carpet to get all of the allergens from summer and fall up and out of their bedrooms.  I'm hoping it helps both of them.

But anyway back to the week.  Tuesday I ended up running into town to see if I could pick up the new higher dose of Risperidone and while there asked if my son's one med that had been called in for a refill request through the allergist was there yet.  Nope, it wasn't.  Which led me to stalking the allergist office for the next three days just trying to get a refill.  It worked out in the end as they gave me five refills on the medication, but geeeeez!!!

Then there was last Sunday.  The husband went for the monthly dump run, which in itself wasn't a bad thing by any means.  It had snowed the night before, but not horribly bad.  The roads were a bit slippery but not terrible.  And yet his truck was sliding around turns sideways.  With how much weight he had in the back of the truck and how slow he was going...well that wasn't good that it was doing that.  Since than we've been down to a one car family as there is no way that we were going to trust my husband commuting into Anchorage every day in that truck in winter weather.  Which led to the depressing conversation we'd been putting off for the last three years or so, which was, "Now what?"  We could put new winter tires on his truck, but that would cost about 1000.00 for winter tires and the truck is 20 years old now and wasn't meant for winter driving anyway (it's a small two wheel drive truck) and while we bought it with decently low miles on it, it's still got over 100,000 miles on it now.  So, do we put new rubber on the truck (somehow) and pray it does okay on the roads then or do we look at getting a newer vehicle since my car isn't exactly new.  Which led us going to the dealerships just to look.  Bright side the salesman didn't laugh at me when I told him the max of what we MIGHT be able to make a month on a  truck payment (and then how I'd make an insurance payment on said vehicle I have NO idea) and he pointed us toward a used vehicle instead of new (which both the husband and I agreed with when we heard the low end of what new was going for).  After it was all said and done we both just ended up depressed, not knowing what to do, and just generally wishing we were in better financial straights all the way around.  Sigh.  For now, we're just going to stick with driving my car and go from there.

Anyway, onto the money saving things we did this week (well except for not buying a new vehicle I guess *laugh*)...

1.  I ran to town more than I wanted to this week, so at one of the trips to pick up milk and one medication for the son I stopped off at Fred Meyer and got the free seasoned rice from the last Freebie Friday (the same trip I found that they didn't have the Au Gratin potatoes I was hoping to get).  That's part of the pic up top there.  I picked the Spanish Rice flavor.  My deliberation as I was looking at the flavors cracked an older guy up that was standing behind me.  I guess I was muttering, "No, I can make that one easy.  No, that one is cheap to make..." and so on and I finally settled on the Spanish rice because I wasn't overly talented at making that flavor.  He was chuckling when I turned around with the rice and he thanked me saying I had reminded me of his late wife the way I was muttering about the rice flavors.  I felt kind of embarrassed, but at the same time I felt good that I was able to bring back a good memory of his wife.

2.  I found that JoAnn fabrics was running a flash sale and you could print off a 20% off your entire purchase coupon and you could combine it with sale items and things.  I had a 60% off one item coupon that was still good too, so I ran to JoAnn Fabrics to see if I could get some mini spring-form pans cheap.  I know, it's an odd thing to get, it seems, but I fell in love with the idea of having some as soon as I realized they were a thing as the idea of making tiny cheesecakes for dessert or other single portion meals (quiche, lasagna, etc) seemed like a really great idea (and cute).  I didn't want to spend much on some of them though as really I didn't NEED them.  The cashier stacked my coupons (I love it when the coupons will do that) and I was able to get a three pack of mini spring-form pans for around 4.00.  I even paid for them with a gift card, so it was a pretty awesome score (I'm going to stick these under the tree for myself :).  While there I also picked up a few colors of embroidery thread I needed to get, so all totaled I spent around 5.00 that day.

3.  I managed to fix our furnace.  One night the furnace just kept making this horrible sounds like a plastic bag was stuck somewhere or something and it became really loud.  My husband didn't really have time to deal with it, so I started chasing the problem down.  I removed the cold air duct to see if something was stuck down it (the way our furnace is in the house there's one cold air duct and basically one heating duct going through the kitchen in both cases, so it's pretty easy to look for problems on those things) and managed to get things cleaned out there.  I then went and changed the filter on the furnace and it did, indeed have plastic stuck to it (the son shreds anything plastic to watch it float...it's been his favorite stim for about a year), but that didn't fix the problem either.  I, for a change, sat and stared at how the furnace was constructed and figured out that the set up was pretty simple that I could see and by logically figuring out how the air would flow I quickly found the blower fan.  I made sure to find a flashlight so I didn't inadvertently zap myself on the transformer end of the fan and then by doing a small amount of exploration I found the plastic bag that had somehow made it through the filter and gotten sucked into the blower fan, cleaned it up well and put everything back together.  I think after all is said and done the furnace definitely got a good cleaning all the way through it and it sounds fine now.  I felt proud for figuring it all out and getting maintenance done on the furnace at the same time :).

We also had a spare furnace filter that I remembered where my husband had stored from last year when we replaced the filter, so I saved myself some money from having to buy a new filter.
4.  My husband had a pot luck dinner at work.  Instead of immediately just signing up for a certain category (entree, etc) he came home and talked to me first and asked if I would be okay making oatmeal cookies for the event.  I was happy he thought of those as I do have plenty of oatmeal around here so I said, "Sure, we can do that".  We came up with a few back up plans in case the dessert category was filled up when he went in the next day, but it wasn't, so he signed us up for the cookies.

Well fast forward to Monday and I'm terribly busy with...well everything...and I realize that there is NO WAY I have time to make the three dozen cookies the recipe for oatmeal cookies made.  So, I just made cookie bars instead.  I did manage to cut up the finished bars into nearly three dozen pieces, so I figured it would work *laugh*.  Everyone at work seemed to enjoy them and they ended up being pretty easy to make.  A pic of the finished bars, pre-cutting is seen above.

5.  When cleaning out the den, master bedroom closet and other areas, I found things I forgot I had, including some Christmas themed paper and things, so I gave some things to my daughter to use for crafts.  She's had a blast the past few days using the small remnant of lace fabric I gave her (that I bought at the used store a long while ago) to make doll dresses out of and using the Christmas paper to make Christmas scenery so her dolls could put on Christmas plays and things.  I listen in and smile.  I know that there's not that much more time before all she will care about is hanging out with friends, teenage drama moments and getting a cell phone, so I smile and shed a few tears that my baby girl is growing up too fast and try to enjoy the time of play while it lasts.

6.  I had some kitchen towels that weren't absorbing liquid anymore, so I threw them through a few hot water cycles in the washer with a heavy dose of vinegar in the water.  I then washed them like normal.  So far this seems to have stripped the towels and made them nice and absorbent again.

7.  I cleaned out all of the sink drains this week.  Not a glamorous job, actually a rather disgusting one, but definitely one that will save money on a plumber later.  I then poured boiling lemon water down the drains as well just to help strip the drains a bit further.  They are all running much better now, so job done for now, I hope :).

8.  When frying chicken earlier in the week, I fried so much at one time (in batches, but I fried about five different batches of chicken) that by the end the oil was definitely done for and the house kind of stank as a result.  Instead of spraying Lysol everywhere, I just took some water, added a bit of imitation vanilla extract, a few allspice berries, a few cloves and some powdered cinnamon to a pan and boiled it for a while.  The home made air freshener worked wonders and made the entire house smell like Christmas (proclaimed the daughter, anyway :).  And really, it didn't cost much at all to do it and it got some humidity into the air.  All benefits.

9.  The fix I made to my crew socks with elastic thread didn't work very well.  The thread just wasn't secured in the socks enough and just came lose in the washing machine.  I'm still working on it.  I figure if I can find a way for a repair like that to work, I could extend the life of socks for a long time for me as I'm pretty light on the soles of the socks...it's always the elastic part that goes first for me.

10.  I fixed a hole in my one of my pairs of jeans this week.

So, there's some of my frugal adventures this week.  How did you do?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Goals for the Month: November 2017

 This has been a REALLY hard post to put together this month.  Mainly because I have a ton to do, little time to do it in, and I wasn't sure where to start on the goal's list.  I finally decided to just sit down and do it, so here it is.

Also side note:  Frugal weekly recap is coming.  I've just been busy and haven't had much time to sit down the last few days.

As I was saying, November is going to be a busy month for me.  For one, I do still plan to do the "Gift a Day" posts this year.  There is just going to be fewer gifts going on, but I will post up the things I make.  Mainly because I do enjoy it and other people seem to enjoy it to.  So, watch out for those starting (and hopefully ending, although that might require a miracle in step two *laugh*) up this month.

Then there is trying to get the house super duper cleaned in preparation of putting up Christmas decorations at the end of the month.  We'll be putting up the tree the weekend of Thanksgiving, like normal around here.  I would honestly wait to put the decorations up until later but the kids love them so much, especially my son, that I always cave and let them have their way. 

So, the biggest thing I've been doing the last couple of days has been working on cleaning and organizing my den as it has become a catch all mess with me organizing the master bedroom closet and the pantry and everything.  I mean a MESS!!!  I've brought loads of things to the used store this week and we took another load today, consisting mainly of old clothes that don't fit the kids anymore.

Then there is the food drive at school.  Every year they send home a list of things the school will need to make up Thanksgiving baskets for families who can't afford a good meal and this year the need is greater than ever.  So, I put together a bag of things for the food drive that we can drop off at school Monday.  My daughter helped me to go through the pantry and pick out some things. Freebie Friday snack items that aren't safe for us to have here (peanut cross contamination/contain peanuts, etc), free cans of vegetables I got from the Monopoly game at Carrs over the summer and a few other things that I felt we could part with to make some families lives a little better this Thanksgiving got placed into a shopping bag and put by the door.  Having been on the receiving end of kindness more than once this year, I feel like paying it forward is even more important.  I might not be able to do much, but by golly I'll do what I can!  So, that was on my list to do this month and will be checked off and done when we drop the donations off at school on Monday :).

So, yeah, it's so busy around here it's like a blur, although the last few days have been slower for the poor daughter who is battling either a cold or seasonal allergies and is kind of miserable with a sore throat and a bit of a cough.  I actually made her home made chicken noodle soup last night especially for her and she's requested some of the leftovers for dinner tonight.  Hopefully she starts to feel better soon.

So, anyway, onto the goals for this month!

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on Christmas gifts 
  • Hem jeans for husband (we bought a new pair that was too long for him the last time we bought him brand new jeans as the jeans were basically on sale buy 2 get 1 free IF you bought three pairs and they only had two pairs in his actual size.  I've been meaning to hem them, but couldn't figure out where I had stuck them and finally found them today.  NOW if I could find where in the Heck I put my crochet hooks I'd be thrilled *grumble*.
Organizing Goals:
  • Work on organizing den some more.
  • Move desk into den (this is part of a possible master plan for my master bedroom...you'd think I'd stop with "master plans" the way they seem to work out, but nope, not me.  Never learn *laugh*).
  • Rearrange sewing table and dresser in den.
  • Put up Christmas tree and decorations in den (at end of the month) 
  • Go through toys in son's closet and weed out anything that needs to go (it's been YEARS since I went through his things and yeah...it's time).
  • Rearrange kitchen cabinets to work better with the baking dishes (I'm in a constant fight to get a couple of cabinet doors closed as things slide forward and things and it's driving me a bit loopy).
  • Continue to weed through things and figure out what can go and what should stay.

And I'm going to call it good there as that's already a ton to do.  So, how about you?  Anything on your list this month?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Shopping Goals: November, 2017

This time of year, shopping goals become "goals" in the relative sense as "goals" are more like, "Hey, you need to get this!"  With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I decided to give my new "system" a run for it's money.

Basically my new menu and shopping "system" was supposed to work like this.  At the end of the previous month I would sit down and plan out a basic menu for the month ahead.  Nothing TOO specific (as with me a really specific menu is destined to fail and fail big), but just a general sense of what we would be eating that next month.  The few areas where I wanted to plan kind of more in detail was when it came to desserts and things like breakfast dinners.  This way I could sit down, figure out how much eggs, flour, milk and other staples I would need down to the cup (or egg as the case would be) and then I could just plan on going through that much staple types of foods at a minimum, so could figure out when I needed to replenish them before I was "running out" of them.  For instance a 5 lb bag of flour usually gives me about 11 to 12 cups of flour (I think...I wrote it down, but I'm not getting up to go and find my paper), I could figure out a dozen eggs as needed, etc.  Any milk I would need for baking on top of what we normally drink per week (with a milk loving son and a milk loving husband...we go through 3 to 5 gallons a week) would be factored in and I was HOPING to pick up enough groceries to last us through two weeks without much effort by figuring it all out.  Even things like eggs I could pick up a month's worth at a time, or close to, I figured, thus saving me having to potentially purchase something at a higher price if I found a sale on something cheap before the new "month of system" kicked in.

It was a system destined for failure.

What I failed to factor in was that while it all worked FABULOUSLY on paper, there were a couple key points I was missing.  One was time.  With speech therapy twice a week, psychology appointments, a husband having to have dinner on the table at 4:30 every day so he still had time to get ready for work before taking off for the night on top of me having time to get his lunch packed for the day and growing children who would decide that while they loved a food one minute and then decide they could not care less about it the next while going and consuming copious amounts of other foods...well things were already not going well and I hadn't even really started yet.  Already the "system" was getting thrown off and I had to go and make an additional trip to the store for more, or different, foods depending on what was going on.  Or quickly had to just throw something different than I had even come close to having planned on to get my husband out the door on time for work (which happened more than I care to admit the last couple of months).  Then, due to lack of time during the day (with other appointments on top of speech therapy or if I needed to do an errand or something), dessert schedules quickly started getting screwed up if I had all my other ducks in a row on something for dinner and so I ended up with more eggs than I needed and things as I didn't have time to bake or prepare a dessert when I had planned.

So, yeah...it was a nice thought and my brain keeps seething with a way to make it all work right.  I have tried the once a month menu thing and found that I just can't stick with it no matter how hard I try as I like to cook too much.  Preparing a menu for a month ahead just seemed like it took all the creativity out of cooking for me and that just made me unmotivated to follow the menu very quickly. 

Now, I have found that the figuring out roughly how many eggs I would need is KIND of working out ("kind of" is an operative term *laugh*), as if I have extra eggs I find that I just use them to make egg salad, french toast, or custard or something, so they don't go to waste (having chickens did do me a favor in that department as I have more experience using up eggs now).

So, anyway, if I can ever get the "system of menu planning to grocery shopping flow chart" figured out so it works well, I'll let you know.  For now it's just "Get this, it's on sale.  Redo menu as needed.  Wing it." with an overall budget worked out for groceries.  At least that "system" (if it can be called that) is working, so until improvements are made to the grey matter running the show, it'll have to stand.

So, back to this month.  This month's shopping goals are going to focus a lot around Thanksgiving and getting ready for it as here in the US our Thanksgiving is the last Thursday in November.  Since my husband's place of work is open 24/7 he's working on Thanksgiving this year.  My daughter, bless her heart, sat there looking sad when she heard me tell her that as I was trying to figure out the logistics of getting dinner on the table early, but not too early (so the husband had time to get plenty of sleep, but also having time to eat a big meal and actually have time to enjoy it and time with the family as well) on Thanksgiving and she made a comment that it didn't seem fair that dad would have to leave right after the meal.  She then looked up and smiled asking, "Mom, could we have it another day when dad can be home instead of on Thanksgiving Day?  So he can enjoy it to?"  I sat there a minute and said, sure we could, as my husband has Friday that week off.  My husband was happy and touched that my daughter thought of him when I asked him if he'd be okay with it (I knew he would be).  So, we'll be having Thanksgiving a day late this year :).

Other goals are just things I need and have been waiting for a great sale for.  Like butter.  It will go on sale for 2.50 per lb once in a while right now, but it seems like lately there's always a limit of 2 on it when that happens, so I'm KIND of hoping that they have a decent sale on butter coming up so I can stock up again as the prices at the bulk store on butter...well it's kind of getting ridiculous and is almost as expensive as picking up butter at the regular prices at the store.

So, anyway, let's get to the goals for this month!

Regular Stores:
  • Cranberries, two bags (one for cranberry relish for Thanksgiving and one to make into cranberry sauce later on).    
Done!  I got these at Carrs this week as they are on sale and cranberries tend to start selling out up here as Thanksgiving approaches.
  • Vegetable stock, 1 gallon. 
Done.  I had a few quarts of home made in the freezer from cooking down vegetable scraps, but I got a few quarts for a cheap personalized price at Carrs this week as well...this is another item that just disappears from the shelves as Thanksgiving approaches.
  • Butter (if a good sale comes up with the holidays...it normally does go on sale, so here's hoping) 
  • Boiling Potatoes (for home made rustic Au Gratin potatoes for Thanksgiving)...This one might get done with russets if we are tight on money come Thanksgiving or a good sale fails to come about...we'll see how it goes.
  • Russet Potatoes (just because they go on sale super cheap this time of year and the Alaska Grown ones will actually last for quite a while).
  • Navel oranges, 2 (done.  Got those with the cranberries)
  • Fresh herbs (for turkey and for potato dish at Thanksgiving)....if I can't afford fresh herbs we'll make do with dried.
  • Vegetable oil (I'd like to get a couple more bottles as I have been going through it more now that I'm baking a lot more).
  • Heavy Cream (done...got a good personalized price on it, so I grabbed it when I went shopping...this is another item that sells out as Thanksgiving approaches at the stores).
  • Buttermilk (for biscuits for Post-Thanksgiving meals).
  • Stuffing mix (it is the season for watching for sales on it and I really like to have it around for casseroles and things throughout the year)
  • Au Gratin potatoes.  Once again, tis the season for sales.  Fred Meyer had these on sale this week for .99 a box...once again, true to form with Fred Meyer, by the time I went on Tuesday they were sold out of them and I couldn't find a cashier who had rain checks at their register to write me one, so I gave up.  I picked up a few boxes at Carrs yesterday when I had to run in for medication for the son (more on that later) on sale for 1.66 per box (or 3 for 5.00), but hoping to pick up a few more to be stocked up for a while.
Bright side is that I am stocked up DECENTLY well on things like Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken soups, so I can save money not having to buy those this year and I'm good on canned veggies and fruit, so yay for that.

Normally I'd be all gung ho to go and get a turkey when they are on sale for cheap when you spend a certain amount (or free if you spend like 100.00 or something in a shopping trip), but I am kind of torn about it.  On one hand, it is cheap meat if I spend 50.00 on other things as you can get the turkey for .50 lb about, but on the other hand...I already have a turkey in the freezer, turkeys SHOULD be on sale through Christmas pretty much and well...we'll see how money goes.  Right now it's tight and spending money on a turkey I don't need RIGHT NOW just doesn't seem overly practical.

So there you are folks.  My shopping goals for this month.  How about you?  Got anything you need, or want, to get this month?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

I know I'm late when it comes to posting up the monthly shopping goals and just general goals for the month.  I'll try to post them up in the next couple of days.  It's been kind of hard to triage things when it comes to the list.  Shopping goals aren't too bad, other than splitting things I want to get over the next couple of months so that I don't put too much pressure on myself to get it all this month or something.  Now the monthly goals...that's more of a challenge.  There's just so darned much to do and all of it needs to be done in the next month to next month and a half that it's kind of overwhelming.  I've spent the last week running around like a chicken with it's head cut off and I don't see that changing in the near future.  Right now I'm just trying to break things that need to be done into bite sized chunks so I'm not losing what's left of my sanity.  But, yeah, we'll get to that list in the next couple of days.

When it comes to the menu lately...there hasn't been one.  I've been trying to keep dinner interesting and so far I haven't had any complaints, so I guess I'm doing an alright job, but I'm really hoping to get back into a more organized frame of mind.

I've been bookmarking recipes left and right for the new Crock Pot Express I got (I am just bookmarking Instant Pot recipes as I've found that everything translates very well to the Crock Pot Express settings) and am hoping to get my feet wet cooking with it here sometime soon.  I've been so busy lately all I've done is end up throwing something into the crock pot or making as quick and filling of a meal as I could to get to doing something else.  Getting into using the pressure cooker would DEFINITELY help get filling, nutritious meals on the table in a small portion of the time, so I really want to get into the habit of using it.

I actually made a full meal yesterday (seen up top) and my other big accomplishment was making the big value pack of chicken drumsticks I got cheap last week and I fried the entire thing into fried chicken one night.  This gave my husband plenty of leftovers for lunches for work and gave us lunch at home when needed as well (honestly I picked off the breading more than once and made a chicken salad for lunch or something and it was still really tasty).  To go with it I cracked open the first can of canned coleslaw from the garden salvage operations this summer.  Even my husband said it was really tasty (I drained it and then added mayonnaise to it), but the texture...well it came out really chewy due to being made from the outer leaves of cabbage, but still...tasty and nothing from the cabbages went to waste :).

But, yeah, let's get onto the menu!
Wednesday:  Chicken fingers and tater tots (I wasn't feeling good today, so I punted with something easy).

Thursday:  Left over beef stew, leftover home made rolls (seen up top there was our menu for  Tuesday, so we're having leftovers tomorrow). 

I made an orange cake (also seen up top), using some mandarin oranges I'd bought at the store that I was the only one eating to make the juice and things for the cake.  Instead of the orange frosting called for I used chocolate frosting instead so it tastes like a mild tasting chocolate orange.  Yeahhhh!

Friday:  Chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice (mix from pantry), salad, coconut pudding.

Saturday:  French toast, sausage links, peaches

Sunday:   Roasted pork roast, corn on the cob, salt water potatoes (pressure cooker)

Monday:  Pork fried rice (use leftover pork roast)

Tuesday:  Boeuf Bourguignon (I've found that you only have to really flavor the dish with the beef and can pad out about 99% of it with pasta and it's still really tasty :).

Desserts:  Orange cake, ice box cookies (to make), coconut pudding (Friday).

And yeah, I'd go into snacks and breakfasts but the son is trying to rip my arm out of its socket because he needs me for something, so I'm going to finish this up here. 

How about you?  Eating anything good lately?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap


Wow!  Has it been busy this week!  The husband had Monday and Tuesday off (he took a furlough day one day and took a paid leave day for the other) and the kids had Monday and Tuesday off because of parent teacher conferences, so the beginning of the week was kind of full, but in a good way.  We went to an open house at the fire station on Halloween (I forgot to take pictures as we were pretty busy) and then I took the daughter trick or treating in a new neighborhood we discovered in the area, which was well lit, nice subdivision and it was basically one long street.  Since it was cold, wet and foggy, my daughter was doubly thrilled that her costume would go over a coat well.  Overall, we had a lot of fun, didn't get too much peanut containing candy (which I'm going to pull out of her sack and send in her lunch at school as small treats...I still need to do that...busy week) and my daughter got to hang out with another little girl about her age who was trick or treating on the same route we were.  And the son got french fries (McDonalds) and a long car ride, so he was happy too.  The kids got McDonalds.  The husband and I waited and ate left overs at home, which we were both okay with. We got home earlier than usual for Halloween (my daughter the last three years, insisted on dragging me through these meandering neighborhoods that required a lot of walking, a lot of wind in your face and not much candy overall), watched some Halloween cartoons and my husband and I got about 1/4 of the way through "The Changeling" (a Halloween tradition around here) before the husband totally crashed on me and had to go to bed.

But, yeah, after the kids were back in school and the husband was back at work, it was time for me to start trying to catch up on work around here. 

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

1.  I made home made "Crunch" bars, cut them up, wrapped them in wax paper, put them in a freezer bag and stuck them into the freezer to eat as treats later (probably for Christmas since we were so busy doing other things Halloween, we didn't actually eat them).  A pic of the final product, before final freezer-bagging is seen up top.  Overall I got a ton of candy bars, so I was happy.  And the best part is that they are completely safe for the son's peanut allergy!
2.  Fred Meyer gave me free Oreo cookies for being one of their "Best Customers".  Since I've been spending about 100.00 per quarter at the store, I sure hope they have customers better than me *laugh*, but was thrilled with the freebie none the less as the son LOVES Oreos.

My husband and I went into town to see if we could fill a new script for him and while in town we stopped by Fred Meyer to get the cookies and just generally look around.  The store opened up it's new location last year and I've always been so busy that I've just kind of rushed through the food section and not really looked at the rest of the store.  It was kind of fun spending time with the husband looking around and I found a cool find!  My son LOVES blankets and throws (he wraps up in them, makes tents over his head with them...he has fun) and we've been trying to find one that was at least close to his favorite baby blankie that he's been attached to since he was born.  We actually found a clearance throw that felt close to the texture we were going for and I thought that it might work as a Christmas gift for him.  But when I looked at the clearance price it said 15.97.  I had just gotten done lamenting to my husband that I really didn't want to spend 16.00 on a blanket for Christmas the son might or might not want, when my eyes fell on the clearance sign and I realized that home clearance items were an additional 50% off!  8.00...that I could do!  So, we got the blanket and the free cookies and made our way (cookies seen, blanket not as that's currently hidden from seeking children *laugh*).

3.  Shopping went well this week.  The biggest find this week was definitely getting a big value pack thing of chicken drumsticks.  They are on sale for .97 lb this week at Carrs and they were 50% off on top of it!  So, I got a big value pack of drumsticks for 2.50.  I also got a whole chicken for 2.83 after 50% off discount and a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs for 2.72 after discount.  Yay for cheap meat!  I even got eggs for .97 a dozen with a personalized price.

Overall I spent 54.00 on groceries this week, but a portion of that went toward getting some things out of the way for Thanksgiving that I knew would sell out pretty fast in the next week or so (like heavy cream), so I did plan for more in the budget to accommodate the extras.  I'll go more into that on the shopping goals post for the month later on.

4. I have been without a wall calendar all year, and honestly I've felt the pinch more than once as I LIKE having a wall calendar, but I didn't want to spend the money on one or waste the printer ink printing one off.  So, instead, I've been making my own...with some gaps in between when I got too busy and just forgot about it and relied on my phone instead.  This month I asked my daughter to do a quick drawing for Thanksgiving for the top of the calendar.  I thought it was cute, so I thought I'd share a pic of the calendar.  I told her it looked like the turkey god was going to either bless the meal or strike us down at the table.  She said it was because she loved turkey.  That works too *laugh*.

5.  I mended my husband's jacket that he's been using as a rain coat.  It was a real pain to repair as the outer fabric was a thin, lightweight nylon-like material, so it kept slipping as I was repairing it, but I got it done.  So, one raincoat repaired!

6.  I worked some new elastic thread through some of my old socks that are in good shape, but the elastic around the legs is going and so they keep slipping down while I'm wearing them and driving me crazy.  This is the first time I've ever attempted this type of repair, but I had plenty of elastic thread in my stores, so I figured "why not"?  We'll see how the repair does.


7.  I finally got my canning for the year completed (I hope).  Today I canned apple pear sauce (I wanted to try pear sauce, but also was worried it would be too strong tasting for the daughter's milder palette, so I combined it with apple sauce.  It worked great and it's pretty tasty! 
 I took the cores and peelings and some older apples, boiled them all together and made apple pear juice.  For a big pot of scraps, essentially, I got three quarts and one 10 oz jar of juice (or whatever size the smaller jar is).  None too shabby!  It tastes good enough to just drink it, but I am thinking of mulling it when I open it, like I like to do with apple cider and serving it as a hot drink this winter.  Either way, it's good!

8.  I gutted the master bedroom closet (see I told you I would *laugh*) and have been going through everything in the den so I can do it when my husband is sleeping.  I took a huge amount of donations to the used store with my husband (he carried the huge boxes *laugh*), which felt good.  I still have a bunch of stuff to go through (I'm trying to figure out how to adjust a full sized sheet into a twin sheet at the moment as I have some full fitted sheets I'd like to shrink down to fit the kid's beds) and I'll take donations to the used store as needed.  The winter gear I put aside that doesn't fit the kids anymore so I can donate those to the school nurse for needy families in the area.

9.   Got more insurance renewal paperwork done for the son, which I'm praying is enough to get us renewed for the coming year). 

Speaking of insurance, I got a reminder card for the son saying he was late for his dental cleaning.  I was confused as I was pretty sure the kids had been into the dentist later than last January (which is when the card said was his last appointment), so I called and checked.  Turns out that they had been in in June (I knew it!), which led to me talking to the receptionist about the kids upcoming appointment date in December.  I was worried about my daughter as I thought our insurance would only cover one dental cleaning a year, but it turns out that our insurance covers two cleanings a year, but only one set of X-rays (which we only get one of those done a year anyway).  So I was definitely happy to hear that!  I'm going to call the insurance company and confirm, just to be safe, but if it does cover that, yay!

10.  I took down the Halloween decorations and put up the Thanksgiving decorations yesterday.  We normally don't have many Thanksgiving decorations as the kids just haven't brought many home from school, but last year my son actually brought home a bunch, so between that and having my daughter do a few drawings, we're good on Thanksgiving decorations for the year :).

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

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Woot!  I am actually close to on time this week.  Honestly, I would have done this last night except I ended up with my laptop parked down in my den because it was the only spot around where I could set up my printer and fill out insurance paperwork with the husband asleep in the bedroom, and well...I didn't feel like going, unplugging the laptop and moving it upstairs to do blogging (the battery doesn't hold a charge on my laptop anymore, so I have to leave it plugged in all the time).  So, yeah, really no excuse except for my own tiredness on why this post didn't get done last night.

But, hey, I got stuff done today to add to the post anyway, so it works ;).

So, let's get this rock a rollin!

1.  My husband was off last night, so was up at a decent hour today and so we went for a drive since the son really wanted to get out of the house.  We ended up going to Eklutna Lake after driving around for a while.  The park stations are closed this time of year to pay your fee before going into the park, so we parked a ways out and went on the hiking trails and things around the lake for a bit.  It was a lot of fun as we'd never been there before.  I was impressed because it reminded me of a lot of the Maine campgrounds my dad used to take us kids to when I was little.  I managed to snatch a few pictures of the lake while we were there.  One is up top there.  Here's another one...

This picture actually shows a bit of what I was hoping the pictures would show, which was that the water is blue.  Being an East Coast girl by blood (by more than a few generations *laugh*) and such, I don't think I'm ever going to get used to the blue water that we get up here.  It seems like a Disney attraction to me when I see it somehow ;).

It was a fun afternoon and all it cost us was gas, which I think was worth it.
2.  I finished the daughter's Halloween costume Thursday so she could wear it to the Halloween celebrations at school yesterday. 

The first item I had to find was some brushes and I finally found my long cheap brushes and sewed some guides for them into one of the pockets of the apron.  That way the brushes would stay put when she was moving around the school and things and they wouldn't constantly fall out of her pocket if she bent over or something. 

The other challenge was to make a palette for her to carry around with her.  Originally I was just going to make one out of cardboard and then put some actual acrylic paint on it, but then I started realizing that for one, trying to find a plain piece of cardboard without writing on it where I could get the right shape for the palette out of it and for two the acrylic paint would just rub off onto the apron every time she put it into the pocket of the apron, and she WOULD want to put it into the pocket of the apron during class and things. 

So, I finally decided to make a form out of heavy cardboard for the palette and then I took scraps of felt I had around the house to encase the cardboard form in felt and then adhere felt "paints" to the palette as well.  I even managed to use an old bottle of wacky tacky glue I had around the house (and yes, that is the actual name) to glue everything together.

It worked fabulously.  The costume was a big hit with the kids at school, I guess, and everyone took a turn playing with the paint brushes and "paints" and even her teacher told her how much she liked the costume, which made Armina feel really good.  I was thrilled that she was thrilled, honestly, as I try really hard to, even though I know we're broke, make sure that the kids don't feel ostracized due to their financial situation.  Or at least I try to make sure it impacts them as little as possible.

Here's a final shot (staged by the daughter, not by me) of the "artist" in her element...
3.  When I took the kids to school on Friday I found out that the son's teacher was planning on making cookies, but she had frosting for the cookies that wasn't safe for the son to eat and was frosting he wouldn't eat anyway (wrong flavor).  So, I grabbed a container of frosting from the pantry and brought it to his class so he could enjoy making cookies too.  He seemed to have a good time and came home in a really good mood.
4.  I managed to can both peach jelly (from the juice in the freezer), seen above.

And...
Pancake syrup today.

I realized I was running low on pancake syrup, so I wanted to add it to our winter stores.  I canned it in quarts instead of pints this time mainly to save lids as I only have a few regular mouth lids left after all of the canning I've done and I still want to get some canning done tomorrow (more on that in the grocery shopping part of this post).
4.  I managed to save up enough Amazon gift cards to get myself an early Christmas gift.  I bought myself the Crock Pot version of the Instant Pot!  I'm so excited about this it's almost indecent *laugh*.  I decided on that one because it does basically everything the Instant Pot does, but is cheaper (which cheaper always speaks to me ;) and I trust the Crock Pot brand.  I got it in the mail yesterday and can not WAIT to start using it.  Some women get them a designer purse and they get all excited.  Me, get me a new kitchen gadget that I can use to make cooking more exciting and I am like a little kid on Christmas morning *laugh*.
5.  My step mom sent me one of her pinata boxes.  I was especially thrilled with the books she sent me in the box (seen above).  The end one with the picture on the cover but no clear title on the cover is one called, "Passport to Survival" which is one I find really interesting as the book focuses on making foods out of primarily four ingredients.  Wheat, honey, salt and dehydrated milk.  The author runs through her reasons for using those ingredients and I'm kind of looking forward to reading into it more thoroughly.  The book on needlepoint will be a good one to read through, as well, as it shows how to make bookmarks and belts and things, which I'm thinking might come in handy for Christmastime.
6.  The husband and I went to the used store earlier in the week and I found a box of booklets for .50 a piece.  I would have loved to have grabbed tons of them as there were some really cool vintage booklets on different things, but these two booklets really caught my eye.  So, I begged a dollar off of the husband (I didn't have any cash or anything on me) and got to read them when I got home.  The leftovers book was from the 40's and while it a bit disappointing as I was hoping for some "ah ha" moments on how to make food stretch further (although I did find it comforting that I was doing a ton of things that were already in the book for making leftovers stretch), but they were some decent recipes that I am hoping to try sometime soon.  There were also some nice tips in the booklet, so I think it will be useful.

The canned foods booklet was of indeterminate age and had some decent looking recipes in it, but I noticed that the can sizes were off from what they are today for different items.  And then I noticed a section in the back stating to just store the food in the can after you open it and keep it in a cool spot and it would keep for a while and was like, "Wait.  What?  This was before refrigerators were a thing?!?"  So I googled the booklet and the only thing I could find after a little research was ads in 1932 publications giving information to order the booklet.  1932!  That was pretty cool.  Especially since most of the recipes will still work today.  

Not bad finds for .50 a piece.
7.  I FINALLY finished one of the pillowcases that I'm making for my family back East for Christmas this week.  I was so happy to get at least one gift done so far :).  This was made from a kit that was gifted to me and embroidery thread...which was gifted to me (by my step mom), so overall it didn't cost me anything to make it.  I thought it turned out pretty well.  Only a bunch more to go on the gift making front, but yay for having one done!

8.  Grocery shopping went well this week.  The big scores this week were apples for for .97 a pound at Carrs this week (that's UNHEARD OF cheap!) and pears for .97 lb too!!!  I got a big bag of each and am planning on making something with them tomorrow.  I'm thinking apple and pear sauce or apple and pear pie filling.  I'm still torn, but it's a good kind of torn!

So, yeah, I'm going to call it good here as my husband is home tonight and we're watching a movie.  How did you all do this week?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Ugh!  Late for two weeks straight!  A part of me who yearns to be organized is hanging its head in shame right about now.

Ah well.  I'll get over it.

I'd go into the ins and outs of last week but it would take a novel to explain it all.  Appointments that didn't happen, even though they were supposed to.  Things getting changed at a moment's notice.  Working on insurance paperwork.  Trying to get laundry and housework done once the husband went to work so as not to wake him up while doing it.  Standing in line at the postal annex for an hour at a time (the holiday rush is starting early this year due to Amazon not shipping much via UPS or Fed Ex anymore up here, so the sheer volume of mail going through the regular post offices was already increased big time.  Normally this time of year the lines start to get longer.  About the week before Thanksgiving the lines start to get ridiculous and by Christmas...you've got at LEAST an hour wait for a package if you are lucky).  A sick son home today.  It was an eventful week...a lot of it stressful, honestly, but everything worked out, for better or worse, in the end.

Bright side, though, is that stuff did get done despite the setbacks so let's get to that!

Just as an aside my Amazon order came in and it did, indeed, actually all get here in one piece.  I was so relieved when I opened the boxes to find everything had survived believe me!

1.  I got sauerkraut canned this week.  All totaled I got..well a lot.  A shot of it can be seen up top there.

Bright side, I should be good on sauerkraut for a while now.

2.  I finally fixed my daughter's pants that had numerous holes in the knees and one in the thigh.  I have NO idea what that child did to her pants, but boy I pretty much had to rebuild the knee of her yoga pants.  I then took a couple of patches and placed over the middle of the mended areas so they didn't look weird.  My daughter thinks they look cute but the patch on the knee of her pants, "feels weird" when she bends her knee, so I'm thinking after all of my hard work she won't even wear the pants anymore. Being a parent is fun sometimes *laugh*.

The patches I have had in my stores for years, so I'm not exactly sure where I got them originally, but the repairs on the pants cost me nothing out of pocket, so that was the most important part :).

3.  Shopping went minimal this week.  I went to Carrs and got a few items that were on sale this week and called it good, as we didn't have much money to spend.  I got bare essentials to get the son through the week, got some milk and some eggs and called it good.

4.  We worked on my daughter's Halloween costume this week, for obvious reasons since Halloween is next week and her Halloween party for school is this Friday (the kids are off the day before Halloween and Halloween of next week due to parent teacher conferences).

So, Saturday I affixed a kind of crooked pocket over the Pillsbury logo on the apron I decided to turn into an artist's apron for her, since the logo was kind of crooked on the apron and I had to kind of twist the pocket to cover the logo on one side more than the other...long story and not proper measuring on my part.  Bright side, the pocket came out pretty much the exact same color as the apron (made it from unbleached muslin), so you couldn't really see how crooked the pocket was.  Tonight after my husband went to work, and my son had crashed for the night super early, my daughter and I went into the garage with the acrylic paints I had in the house and a couple of big boxes broken down for a drop cloth and started dribbling paint on the apron.  Then a couple of good wads of paper towels to "blot" the paint (and also take up the excess and help the paint to dry faster) and voila!  An artists apron is born!

I thought it came out pretty good, actually.  We still have a few minor things to do to the costume and my daughter is ready to rock it at the Halloween celebrations at school on Friday :). 

5.  I did more rearranging of things this week (I'll take pictures of it later as I am still working on cleaning up the remainder of everything I've been working on around here), which cost me nothing but my time and hopefully will reorganize things a bit better.  Tomorrow I'm hoping to start on my closet in my bedroom as it's in a terrible state and I'm tired of it (the husband started cleaning it and never went very far other than to pull everything out of everywhere and leaving it in the middle of the floor so you can't move into the closet and the bedroom has stuff stacked all over it and now well...I need my closet back and I need my bedroom back or I'm going to get cranky...there...that was diplomatically put I hope).

6.  Going through some of my old dehydrated food storage I ran across a 72 hour kit thing that I had gotten for free from a company a long time ago for doing a giveaway of said kit on one of my old blogs.  I looked at the "use by" date and realized that it had passed by a few years, so I pulled out said kid, went through it and figured out everything that needed to be used up (which was everything as what didn't go past the "use by" date a couple of years ago went past it earlier this year).  So, we're going to be having some "camping meal lunchtime fun" this weekend.  My daughter will be far from thrilled because it doesn't involve hot dogs or pizza, my husband will get a kick out of it and I won't care so long as the stuff is edible (I'm so not picky anymore *laugh*).

7.  I pulled out more socks that needed to be darned when I sorted all of the back laundry last night (I always fold the laundry in my bedroom...this has become a logistical nightmare with the hours my husband works, so I'm finding I have to stay up LATE one night a week and just sort laundry and then put away laundry for the kids the next day...exciting life I lead ;).  I'll put the socks aside and darn them later when I'm waiting on my son at speech therapy and things.  It gives me something to do and serves a practical purpose.

8.  I FINALLY got the case in I had ordered for my new Kindle.  It had shipped from China (which I didn't realize THAT was going to happen until it did as the company is out of the Lower 48 that I bought from) and when it finally came in today it actually came with a screen protector, which was okay by me.  I used the screen protector and now we have a couple of spare ones from the kit I ordered earlier for my husband's and my kindles in case either of us need a replacement later on.

9.  I found a sweater when pulling out the heavy duty winter clothes that I knew I wasn't going to wear as it was cut too short in the waist and would bug me when I wore it (do sweaters keep getting shorter in the waist or is it just me?  I am always thrilled when I get a regular length sweater anymore), so I unraveled it and balled up the yarn to use on a different project later on as I liked the yarn color.

And I'm going to call it good there as I've got things to do before bedtime.  So, how did you do this week?