Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019: Yearly Goals

Okay, so first I'm sure a lot of people are saying, "Hey, you forgot your 'Year in Review' post" when it comes to 2018.  Well, I tried.  Really I did!  I have worked and reworked a post about 2018 about fifteen times in my head over the last week and a half and I finally came to the conclusion that writing about it at the moment is just depressing as all get out and honestly?  I just plain don't want to relive last year, even through a blog post.  There was a lot of cruddy to muck through to get to some nice things that happened last year and I just didn't want to go through it all again. 

So, instead, I decided that the best thing to do was to just plain close the door on last year and just move on as well as I'm able to work up from this point on.  It just seemed more productive somehow.

Ironically, after saying all of that about not wanting to relive 2018, the one huge goal I have for 2019 is this...
After.  One step at a time.
Recover from 2018. 

I have a lot to recover from due to everything that happened last year and that is what is taking up my time, my energy and my resources until...who knows when, so it seemed like the best goal I could come up with.

The disaster assistance inspectors came and inspected the house this week, which was definitely a good thing and got us moving in a forward direction when it came to getting some assistance in fixing the house.  I looked at the paperwork they handed me and I found that the grant everyone can get is only up to about 17,000.00 per household, which works for us as my husband is pretty confident we can get the chimney replaced for that much, but it makes me sad for so many others who lost their homes to the earthquake and realizing that 17,000.00 isn't going to go very far at all for those poor folks. 

I also just wanted to say, "Thank you" one more time because it truly needs to be said.  Due to the generosity of others I have a working kitchen and appliances (well mixer should be here tomorrow :), a working spice cabinet, a working laundry, children who were able to get their lives back to as close to normal as we can get at the moment (thanks to new DVD's that their partners got destroyed in the quake and familiar and loved snacks), the ability to can food for next winter and was able to see a doctor without freaking out how I was going to be able to pay for it.  I feel really and truly blessed in so many ways in the middle of so much loss and struggle.  So, thank you once again! 

So, right, onto the other goals for 2019!

1.  Repair the damages from the earthquake.

This one is going to be ongoing and rough I'm sure.  I'm still not sure what condition things are going to be in come break up because the ground is going to defrost and then we'll see what kind of damage that might reveal and goodness knows what condition the outbuildings will be in when that happens, or the road, or our's a big ol question mark until that happens.

Th first priority is getting the chimney ripped down, the roof capped properly and a new chimney put in.  Hopefully the disaster assistance will pay for that...we should know in about 2 to 3 weeks what we're looking at in the way of assistance.  Along with the chimney getting replaced I'm also going to have to figure out our electric bills and how to get that all back under control as the disaster assistance isn't going to help us pay that it looks like, but I have faith it'll work out somehow.  We've had some nasty aftershocks the past couple of weeks with the 5.0 last week and we've had at least three over a 4.0 this week (one a 4.7 that went on for too long from what people were saying...we were actually at the pool with the kid's swimming lessons so we didn't feel that one thank goodness), so I'm worried about what damage might still occur from the aftershocks, so we're just taking it one step at a time around here.  Nails are popping out of the walls more and more everyday, cracks get larger, the kid's bathroom the vanity separated completely from the wall and needs to be completely reattached to everything...the list goes on.

But yeah, the earthquake and recovering from it are the main priority bar none.

2.  Pump up the food storage/Recover the Food Stores

I lost so much food storage last year.  Between the mice, the earthquake and the larder beetles and the fact that I couldn't put in a was rough on my food stores.  So, this year I'm hoping to start to rebuild my food storage to a decent amount.

I thought about it and a lot of what I'd like to put up is canned/tinned foods that are good for 10 to 30 years at a time.  This will allow me time to rotate out my food storage without worrying about rotating it as often as home canned foods and with them being in metal cans I don't have to worry about mice eating into them or bugs or earthquakes breaking them.  So, my goal is to hopefully take out 25.00 a month and to buy a few cans of food storage with that 25.00.  This money will come out of my normal food budget as that's the only place I'm going to have money to use toward that goal. 

I am also hoping to find some money, or if I can route out the materials around here to build with materials I have on hand, and make some shelves for my master bedroom closet.  The main purpose of these shelves is to, hopefully, work to hold the cans of food storage in a nice, and organized, fashion (since my main pantry is pretty tiny and I kind of need it for other things) to make it easier to rotate my food storage around as needed.  I'm figuring I don't need a HUGE area or anything, but I definitely want to get more organized when it comes to my food storage and things this year.  The earthquake really hammered home to us how much we needed to focus more on getting the whole situation with the loss of food stores last year resolved and in a way that was safe from vermin and aftershocks as much as possible.

Hopefully this will work out. 

3.  Prep for Success in the Kitchen

I have thought and thought about how to make things a bit easier for me in the kitchen as I find I get behind on the menu planning and things with how hectic life gets and I'm scrambling, again, to get food on the table and make things that the family actually want to eat.  So, I have worked really hard the last month to figure out how to make things work better and more efficiently, especially since time being a precious commodity has taken on whole new levels of meaning with everything I've found myself juggling of late..

I'm hoping to cook with beans more this coming year to add more protein to our diet, which means pressure cooking as making beans in a pressure cooker is SO much easier than in like a crock pot or something.  My sister bought me a electric pressure cooker for a late birthday gift and it should be in by Friday.  It's a Gourmia pressure cooker versus an Instant Pot, but it got good reviews, so I think it'll be fine for me (she was all worried as she couldn't really afford to get me an Instant Pot and I had to assure her that I had a Crockpot Express before because I didn't want to pay for an Instant Pot either *laugh*).  I did love having an electric pressure cooker for things like beans and making meat super fast on nights that just everything was conspiring to make you have to eat out, so I was really touched and thrilled when she told me that. 

In other news, so many things broke or have broken since the quake I feel weird as it seems every time I turn around I find myself facing a new appliance or having to order a new appliance.  The latest one I'm having to replace is the blender attachment for my Viking mixer *sigh*.  It seems in one of the aftershocks we've had of late the blender jar hit something in my sideboard just right and started to crack...or the main quake did it and I just didn't notice at the time...I'm not sure.  It's working still, but it's got a slow leak in it and I don't know how much longer it will last, so I wanted to make sure I had a back up plan.  I have a spare blender jar for my Viking around here SOMEWHERE, but I honestly am not sure if it is in the house or the storage van...I suspect the later, which means I'll find it in one piece or broken sometime this year hopefully, so yeah...a second blender it is.  Luckily I had some Amazon credit and I used some of that to order a new Oster blender that was decently inexpensive and got good reviews, so here's hoping it does everything I need it to do until we can afford to buy the type of blender my husband would like me to own (he wants to get a nice commercial grade one that parts are readily available for and is able to be worked on, and fixed, easily, but those are outside of my price range at the moment). 

Anyway, with all the new appliances and things that I'm going to be getting used to in the kitchen this year I can safely say it'll be a year of experimentation for sure.

4.  Reorganize, Reorganize, Reorganize!

This is one that I've actually been doing as I clean up things after the quake, but I'm still hoping to expand it as I go along.  I'm trying to see the silver lining in losing so much stuff and so I'm really trying to think of this as an opportunity to streamline how I organize things around the kitchen and elsewhere.

Some of these things are having to get done out of necessity.  Like I want to put any casserole dishes or other breakable baking things that are left down LOW, like in lower cabinets, so that they are way less likely to get broken during aftershocks and things, so that means completely redoing the kitchen make stuff as earthquake "friendly" as possible.  This will hopefully reduce damage during the coming months as we continue to get aftershocks. 

I'm also hoping to keep things like my new canner in boxes and packaging as much as possible until I need to use them for something to help protect them as much as I can during the coming months as well, which means that I am going to have to find room to do that as well.  I'm hoping to find room in the hallway closet for both food and appliances, which means other things need to get put somewhere else or otherwise get taken care of.  I'm determined to figure it all out, get some type of "system" going and move forward from there.  Things have been so chaotic that I'm seriously craving organization, order and stability.  I might not be able to control the "stability" aspect in things, but I can try to wrestle some sense of control out of a pretty uncontrollable situation.  So, I'll be working on that in the coming months.

5.  Move Forward.

I'm determined, somehow, to move forward this year.  Finances are uncertain, we have a bunch of new debt to juggle and other things to worry about, but I'm determined to somehow work it out, get it figured and start to work our way out of the hole we are in, again.  Luckily with my husband and family behind me I have a great team at my back, so I'm sure we'll find new ways to save money and get done what needs to be done while doing it, somehow.  I'm praying with every molecule that makes up every fiber of my being that we have a good year, financially and otherwise.  I desperately need it to be.  I have hope. 

One way I'm hoping to move forward this year is to start up my monthly goals again.  I find that I get more done when things are written down, so with the ever expanding list of things to get done around here I'm figuring that doing goal lists can not hurt to get those list of things accomplished.  So, be on the lookout for that.

I know this list isn't really all that long in the goals department, but man I feel like I'm staring down a very long, twisty highway and the weather is uncertain, visibility is poor and I'm worried about what could be in the road ahead as I start out on the journey this year.  I actually feel gun shy to even step up and tackle the year at this point as I feel kind of beaten down at this point.  Last year gave me a lot of grey hairs, for sure.  A good portion of myself wants to find some well entrenched fox hole, slap a helmet on my head and just take cover and pray that things pass over, but I know that things don't get done that way and it wouldn't be any better once I finally climbed out of my hole. 

So, as I climb into my spiritual tank and start off down the road ahead, may God watch over us, may the visibility be good, the road clear, the view nice and the missles getting launched in our general direction be few and not devastating. 


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Man, this week (last week, whatever you want to call it) was busy.  I started this post yesterday, but was so busy with cleaning and things I just didn't get it done until today.  Hopefully things will start to tone down at some point so we can take it easy and rest for a few days.  It'd be nice.

Can I just say it's COLD here right now?  The temp outside this morning was reading -20 and it's cold in the house because of it.

The temperature has tanked outside the last week, actually, which is pretty typical of January and the electric heat, while keeping the pipes from freezing and keeping it warm enough in the house so wer'e not going to freeze to death or anything...I'm sitting around in a heavy fleece sweat shirt, wrapping up in a blanket and am still cold and the heat is cranked up pretty darned high in all of the rooms.  We got a general contractor to come over and evaluate the damages to the house and things so we'll have a good estimate to show the disaster relief inspectors when they show up to inspect the house (it is one of the things they ask for, so I'm glad to get that done).  I was glad he was able to make time for us as the chimney lost another like 1/2 of a brick the other day after we had nasty winds all night long and I SWEAR it sounded like the chimney was collapsing when that one little half brick went.  You could have peeled me and the cat (that was sitting on my lap at the time) off the ceiling when that happened.

The general contractor did tell us, which backed up what the disaster relief people told me when I've called a couple of times to see if I could get an update on time tables and things (which they couldn't really help me on time tables, but hey, it's worth a shot), that because our main source of heat is out we should be bumped up the list of homes to get disaster assistance.  So, here's hoping they come soon or it's going to get to the point where we are going to have to figure out SOMETHING to get the chimney torn down, capped, and then formulate some type of plan to get the chimney replaced and get the heat turned back on.  I got our electric bill in for last month (which kicked on November 23rd, so we even had a week or so reprieve on the bill before the earthquake upped the bill through the roof) and it was about as brutal as I feared (thank goodness for budget billing at times like this!), but at this point I'm just going to keep track of how much it adds up to extra and see what our tax return ends up being and see if I can put some money aside to cover it, just in case.  I was wondering about oil run electric heaters and supplementing with those a bit, but when my husband brought up the safety hazard they presented with Alvah around, I quickly realized that a child in the burn ward was not going to save us anything and shelved that idea.

Cleaning, it seems, is finally getting somewhere around here, which is definitely an upper. We've gotten the upstairs at least back up to functional again and today we hauled off another big load of stuff to the dump, which helped to free up room and make things look like less of a mess. Which was another upper to the mood for sure.  I've started to tackle our master bedroom closet and try and find some new semblance of order to it, as I've had to put the Christmas decorations away in there for now as they normally go out on our storage van and there is NO WAY that's going to be a place to put the decorations away anytime soon.

We had some pretty nasty aftershocks last week, which we haven't had any in a couple of days that we can feel, which actually has my nerves as on edge as getting them as I'm like, "Man, are we going to have another bad one now?"  The aftershocks were hitting at least once a day last week it seemed, one day we had three even, and they were ranging from 3.6 up into the upper four range.  We even got a 5.0 on New Years Eve, which was bad enough to scare the crud out of everyone and by the time it ended we were all in the doorway scared to death that we were getting another bad quake.  It was easy staying up till midnight that night and I welcomed in the New Year for the first time in years...normally I just go to bed.

Aftershocks after a quake like the 7.0 of November 30th can go on for months and there are a lot of shot nerves up here right now from them.  The one bit of comfort I've found in all of this was liking "The Alaska Earthquake Center" on Facebook.  They have given updates after each aftershock, are tracking the aftershock pattern (which is tracking normally, which is good) and when they put out an article where they combined all of the energy released from the initial quake versus the energy released from the aftershocks (all 6000+ of them) it turns out that the aftershocks have only released 10% of the energy as the initial quake did.  THAT was comforting as every time there is a bad aftershock everyone freaks (including me) that November 30th might be happening all over again.  We all have earthquake PTSD at this point up here.  We're all just trying to get back to a point where we can live our lives normally again.  With each bad aftershock that gets pushed back and nerves run high again.  It's rough, but we're all getting through.

My birthday went so so.  The son was in a kind of needy and cranky mood due to the uptick in the aftershocks, so I ended up making a cake mix and throwing the son's beloved Pillsbury frosting on top of it and calling it good.  I had hoped to make pound cake or angel food cake for dessert instead, but that just wasn't in the cards.  Hopefully I'll be able to make some a bit later on.  Since the family hadn't gotten me presents for my birthday (I can't IMAGINE what other things the family had to focus on *slight laugh*) I guilted (ahem, scuse me, "convinced") the daughter into helping me clean the upstairs for my birthday instead.  My husband brought me home a Cinnabon for breakfast a bit later in the week as a late birthday gift and that was pretty awesome (cinnamon rolls are my weakness :) and I ate it for breakfast over two days (those things are HUGE!).

Right, so let's get onto the money saving things that happened this week.

1.  Coffee has been a huge Godsend the last month, even more so than normal.  Heat, comfort and caffeine in a cup just can't be beat at this point.  So, I was thrilled to get coffee this week!

I went to Carrs to get a few groceries a few days after Christmas and was thrilled to find seasonal coffee on reduced 50% off.  I dug out a Signature select one as I had a 1.00/1 coupon loaded for the Signature Select bagged coffee loaded onto my card.  Between sale, discount and coupon (as well as a personalized 10% off of Signature Select breakfast items, which for some reason took the 10% off the coffee...not complaining!) I got a bag of coffee for 1.85!  I have no idea how the coffee tastes as I didn't read it closely enough and I guess it is supposed to taste like it has white chocolate in it (I'm hoping it tastes okay as flavored coffee is hit or miss with me), but I'm hopeful it'll taste good.

I also got a few jars of mince meat on clearance for 50% off (which came out to about 2.00 and some change per jar after a coupon I had for it loaded onto my card) as I didn't have a chance to buy mincemeat on normal holiday sales and was happy to find it.  And I got some Christmas themed gallon sized freezer bags on clearance for 50% off which after I realized they were on sale as well ended up being about 1.75 for the box.  I would have gotten a few more boxes for that price, but could only find one, but hey a box of 28 for 1.75 I was happy with.

In other Christmas clearance finds this year, we went to Target to see if we could score cheap wrapping paper as after like five years the wrapping paper I had bought on clearance 90% off finally was running out.  I was kind of disappointed as it seems Target isn't immediately putting their wrapping paper and things on clearance 75% to 90% off right away.  The wrapping paper was only 50% off, but since we were there I just grabbed a few multi-packs of wrapping paper and called it good.  We still walked away spending less than 6.00 for all the wrapping paper and it'll last me years, so it was an okay find.

I went to Carrs yesterday to take advantage of value packs of chicken being on sale for 5.00 and a few other really nice sale items that I wanted to get and was happy to find the Christmas things on clearance for 75% off.   I was able to pick up a few bags of bows for .37 per bag (my son LOVES to play with the bows, so it was worth it) and a thing of gift tags for .27.

2.  This was a pretty cool find, so I am actually pretty excited to share this.  With my dough hook not working right on my mixer and my husband and I realizing that the mixer was going to need to be replaced eventually (since fixing it with no parts being available isn't really an option) and things, I started looking around to see what I might want to replace said mixer with.  Now, mind you, I was looking way into the future here and while I had a little bit of money set aside to help pay for one (thanks to some birthday money from family and a friend of mine) I figured it was just going to have to be a start of a slush fund to either get a new dough hook (if one ever popped up on E-bay) or a new mixer or bread maker.  So I started researching mixers.  I looked into Kitchen Aid, but was unhappy when I read more and more reviews and seeing what kind of corners Kitchen Aid had started to cut over the years, so I decided Kitchen Aid was a "no".  The only other industry standard I could think of was Bosch as that is the mixer that a lot of people I knew had and swore by it.  When I had bought my Viking I had looked into the Bosch, but there was some quality control things that had come up with the Bosch that I didn't like, so I had passed up on the Bosch and gone with the Viking.  It seemed that Bosch had gotten those issues under control over the years and was back to being a mixer everyone raved about, but it was also nearly 500.00 for the mixer!  That was not going to be in my price range for a long while, so I put that name aside and kept looking around to see what else was out there.  And I stumbled across a pretty neat deal.

Bosch owns Nutrimill, who up till now is best known for making grain mills.  Recently Bosch opened up Nutrimill in the US to make mixers over here from what I read (Bosch is a German company) under the Nutrimill name.  But, here's the cool part.  The Nutrimill mixer is a bit less powerful than the Bosch Professional mixer (650 watts versus 800 watts) and comes without the ability to run the blender and food processor attachments (which I have a food processor and can definitely find a blender later), BUT all of the Bosch attachments other than the two mentioned fit into the Nutrimill Artiste mixer (bowls, cookie paddles, the works) and are made to be compatible with the Bosch. The kicker is that the Nutrimill Artiste mixer is a LOT less than the Bosch!  Like nearly within my budget affordable.

I was 58.00 short to buy the Artiste mixer and was trying to figure out what to do as I wanted to order the mixer before it went up in price (as it was a pretty new mixer to the market I knew it was only a matter of time before it started going up in price big time) and then I saw a little ad blurb on Amazon about opening an Amazon Prime card and getting a 60.00 credit.  Since the same bank that runs the Care Credit card also ran the Amazon Prime card (and my husband had been wanting to get a dedicated credit card for Amazon purchases anyway so we didn't have to use our check cards so much online), which I have a really good history with that bank (Care Credit is the only thing I have on my credit at this point) I applied, got approved, and ordered the mixer and thanks to the 60.00 credit on approval I have enough money to cover the mixer 100%.  I even have six months to pay the mixer off interest free, so if unforeseen expenses pop up before the bill comes in (which after the earthquake it seems like life is just taken up with unforeseen expenses) I'll have time to pay the mixer off in the next six months (I have the money set aside, though, and am planning on just paying the bill off when it comes's hoping that works out).

But, yeah, if you want a high quality mixer, but four to five hundred dollars is outside of your price range, check out the Nutrimill Artiste mixer.  It might just be within your budget (and no, I'm not representing anything here, I'm just excited about finding a mixer within my budget that people rave about *laugh*).

3.  For a Christmas gift to the family we got a Roku stick for the TV in the living room with part of the gift card my sister sent us for Christmas.  This worked out really great for the son as he's found himself somewhat obsessed with a few shows on YouTube and being able to stream the programs upstairs stops him from waking up my husband when he's sleeping during the day downstairs.

4.  For New Year's dinner in my family we traditionally always eat sauerkraut and pork for good luck in the new year.  I hadn't defrosted any pork the day before to make for dinner and was wondering what to do, so I ended up throwing a pork loin roast in the crock pot with a couple of jars of sauerkraut and put in on high.  I wasn't sure how well it would turn out, but it ended up actually being really tasty and my husband was able to bring the leftovers to work for lunch and things so it worked out really well.

5.  My mother-in-law was nice enough to babysit the kids one morning this week so my husband and I could go to the postal annex and wait in line to get packages picked up.  I was impressed in that the lines at the postal annex are still really long, but at least the lines are moving this year because they have two people working the window instead of one.  So, I was at least happy with that as instead of hours waiting in line at the postal annex we have been averaging about an hour wait or so instead.

6.  I ripped apart my flatware box/caddy that had gotten damaged in the quake to see what it would take to fix it.  I ended up having to cut the felt lining across the seam where the hinges were as the hinges were completely hidden by the felt (so impossible to evaluate or work on) and the felt wasn't moving even after carefully applying some solvent to the old glue holding the felt down to try and get some room to work.  Luckily I was able to weasel my way in and slit the felt and then I took the lid off to see what I could see.  We'll have to put in new hinges as the hinges are bent and I don't think salvageable and they'll have to be moved as when the hinges broke they broke out some of the wood in the lid, but I THINK the container itself is salvageable.  I'll have to carefully tighten up some of the seams on the box as the dove tails got tweaked a bit, but overall I think we can make it work.  I'll carefully glue down the felt again once we replace the hinges and do the repairs, so the hinges will probably be at least partially exposed no matter what, but overall it could be a lot worse.  I'm going to flip the box over when the repairs are done and put "Damaged and repaired after November 30, 2018 Alaska earthquake".  It might not be worth much after having to repair it, but if nothing else it might just become a part of family history.

7.  My husband got new socks for Christmas.  Not exciting, but appreciated :).  This is the second year I was able to give him new socks for Christmas and he finally has enough good quality socks that I was able to go through and find all of his massively holey socks and throw them in the rag bag.  I was happy to see that some of the socks that I had darned were still holding together decently well, so I was able to make a few pairs of those socks as well.  I also threw a ton of old shirts that were just plain worn out in the rag bag and things.  By the time I was done I had a decently big bag full of rags and  I was finally able to get his clothes nice and organized in his dresser and get everything neat and tidy.  I am SO glad I did it as the master bedroom is finally starting to look like a bedroom again instead of just piles of stuff everywhere.  I've still got earthquake piles to tackle and am taking it one baby step at a time, but it's getting there.

8.  I started to make a list to pump up our food storage.  I lost so much food between the beetles, mice and earthquake last year that I'm thinking buying in is probably going to be the way to go for some of it.  I'm not sure about the state of a putting in any type of garden this year that isn't like potatoes (since animals don't eat the plants since they are toxic) as the moose are still passing through the yard (luckily they don't seem to be staying, but the tracks are there) and when the moose were in the yard I looked out one day to see about five snowshoe hares running around the yard.  I wanted to scream in frustration when that happened as it seems the universe is conspiring against my small garden.  I am going to work really hard to figure out a cheap way to put in some type of greenhouse that I can plant some stuff in this summer so at least I can supplement my pantry with the stuff from the garden.  If I can't do that (which with money the way it is, I'm seeing that as an impossibility at this point, honestly) I am going to research what I can put in that will have the least likely chances of getting wiped out by moose or vermin.  Here's hoping I can come up with something.  As is all of my seeds got wiped out by the larder beetles, so I'm kind of down to what I can put together cheap again *sigh*.

Due to making the earthquake list on Amazon, I finally realized the wonder that was the whole "list" option on Amazon (which I'm a "list" person...I absolutely go nuts and make lists for bunches of things because I like to check things off when I get things done *laugh*) so I went kind of nuts with it.  I started emptying out my cart on Amazon, which had a ton in it that I always "saved for later", and started separating it out into different categories (wishlist, things for the kids, things for the home, etc) and I made one for food storage that I'm interested in so I can keep track of prices and things.  I've been checking the food storage list and things daily and if something bottoms out in price I figure I'll order it and put it in the pantry (if we have the money to do it, as it's only a good deal if you can afford it).  This month I ordered a #10 can of chicken bullion and a smaller can of basically dream whip to add to the food storage.  The #10 can of bullion, if I end up opening it, I can food saver the rest of the can into packages to avoid them setting up into a solid chunk (if my Food Saver still works, which I'm praying it does when I fire it up) or something and the dream whip type of stuff can be used in different applications as well.

9.  I finally started to get my act together and was able to get back on doing a menu plan this week (I'll post up that in a bit here as I'm, obviously, behind on blogging here).  It feels GOOD to actually have a plan of attack again and if I can keep on top of it, a menu plan helps out so much with making sure we eat in and that we have enough variety of leftovers so my husband can take the leftovers to work for lunches and not get bored with them.

And yeah, I'm going to call it good there.  How did your week go?  Well I hope?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Once again, I'd like to just thank everyone for their support and help during this mess.  In the middle of a real hard time, I really do appreciate how blessed I am by your help and support.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

First, good news!  The son's Medicaid got turned back on!  Thank goodness!  My care coordinator was nice enough to stalk the state and make sure they knew that I needed to refill his medications, so they put a rush on the approval and got his insurance back where it should be.  Which is going to be a relief being able to tell his therapist that next week and was also a huge relief going and refilling his medications and not being out nearly 1000.00 to do it.

Christmas around here went.  That's about all I can say about it.  Christmas Eve the son was in a terrible mood and didn't want to do anything but throw a fit.  The aftershocks have made his moods worse, I've noticed.  Some aftershocks have been pretty bad, one a 4.9 the other morning that I heard coming a good ten seconds before it hit and scared the crap out of me and we've gotten ones definitely above a magnitude 3 the past few days following that (the seismologists comfort me in all of this, though, by assuring everyone that this is a completely normal aftershock pattern after a earthquake of the November 30th magnitude).   Bright side he seemed to snap out of it a bit and have a good day Christmas Day, so that was something.

The day after Christmas I went and took down all of the Christmas decorations, desperate to get life more back to "default normal" for the son's sake, and honestly I need the room that the decorations were taking up to organize the masses of mess I have yet to get through.  It's been like peeling an onion around here.  I get one pile of mess worked out, open a new cabinet or turn around and suddenly there's another pile of stuff to start to tackle.  Today I was working on getting the den mucked out and put up where it needed to be (a shot of said den in progress up top).  We've got another full load of stuff for the dump, so we'll have to go and do that later in the week.  It's been really hard going through and getting things sorted when you have a son running around destroying the parts of the house that you managed to get cleaned up and get put back together, but I AM getting there.  Slowly.  So, so slowly.  

I'm hoping to make a decent amount of progress in the den in the next couple of days.   But I also have my birthday coming up within the next couple of days as well, so I have to find time to make a cake for dessert as well and I'd like to find time to make another batch of cookies as the kids have helped my husband eat the Christmas cookies and they are almost gone.  So, we'll see how much I get done in the cleaning front.  Wish me luck on that.

And so, let's get onto the money saving things we did this week!

1.  We got our Shop Your Way points in for the month from Sears, so we pretty much ran down to Sears as soon as we got a moment to quickly use the points in case Sears ends up closing up at the end of the year.  I found that they had Land's End things on close out and it was all 70% off, so I was able to get the daughter a few pairs of leggings and the son a pair of elastic waistband pants for free with the points and I was able to get a few bras for free as well, which I desperately needed some new ones, so I was happy to get those.

2.  Years ago I signed up with Maker's Mark bourbon as a Maker's Mark Ambassador (I think you can still sign up on their site, but don't hold me to that).  It's actually been a really fun thing to be a part of, even though I don't really drink much at all.  I had forgotten to update my address with them when we moved here, so I thought about it one day and realized that I hadn't heard anything from them in years, so I went and updated my information a bit earlier in the year.  So, I was able to get in on their really neat Christmas gift that they send to their ambassadors every year.  I remember one year I got some ribbon and some wrapping paper for free from them and this year they sent me a nifty pair of free socks :).  

3.  I wanted to make bread to go with Christmas Day dinner, but my dough hook was bent in the quake (how, we have no idea as it's a pretty solid chunk of steel and it just baffles my husband as the bowl it was sitting in wasn't terribly bent, which you would think it would be with the hook getting bent as it was standing up vertical in said bowl).  I had tried to use it before and it had actually dented the inside of my mixer bowl.  I had stopped it in a panic as soon as it went nuts on the counter and hammered on the bowl and I realized how bad the bend in the hook must be for the balance of it running.  I tried to bend the hook back into true and got CLOSE, but couldn't get it straight, so I had my husband look at it.  The hook was still bent enough to totally throw the mixer off balance and you had to hold it or it would rock all over the counter., but it wasn't beating up the bowl anymore  My husband took the hook apart and then put it back together without doing anything else to it and got it to work to the point that I can put the mixer up to about 4 (out of 12 settings) before it starts to go off balance, so at least I can make bread with the hook for the time being if I watch it carefully and keep a hand on it, just in case.  

We looked at finding a replacement for the hook and quickly realized that we had a huge problem with my mixer in that there are NO parts for it available!  Viking just stopped making anything related to their small appliances when the plant that was making said appliances shut down and we didn't realize that aftermarket wouldn't pick up the slack and make parts for said appliances.  My husband and I talked about it and we both came to the conclusion that we're going to have to replace my mixer because if it can't be fixed it's only a matter of time before something major goes on it and we can't fix it, not to mention the dough hook being off.  I've tried kneading bread dough by hand a couple of times since I had the bicep tendinitis and the frozen shoulder and doing it by hand is just asking for pain, unfortunately and the bottom of my bread maker started leaking, so using that to pick up the slack isn't going to work.  So, I'm going to have to find money in our current razor thin budget to slowly save up to replace said mixer.  I'll still keep the Viking after I get a new mixer just because I have all the attachments for the Viking and that'll save me from having to purchase things like a pasta maker attachment for a Kitchen Aid and I'll just be able to pick up one attachment at a time as I can afford it.

So, yeah, depressing, but I at least got bread made, which definitely saved us some money from buying it at a bakery or something :).

4.  We went out for an early birthday dinner last night and used the two gift cards we had to Red Robin toward the dinner.  With the two gift cards combined (one only had a bit left on it) we were able to get dinner for 3.00 out of pocket.  And it was yummy and I didn't have to cook.  Always a nice treat :).

5.  We were able to get the kids some new bikes for Christmas.  We picked them up on sale from Wal-Mart, which was a LOT cheaper than what we were finding elsewhere and we purchased them with money my mom sent for Christmas for the kids for that purpose.  Now we just need to find some more adult sized training wheels for the son's bike somewhere and the kids will at least be able to practice bike riding this summer.

6.  I cleaned and oiled my sewing machine after I got done using it to make Christmas gifts, luckily being able to find my sewing machine oil to do so.  I've found a bit of regular maintenance will save you so many costly repairs in the long run on a ton of different things.

7.  I've started, finally, using the air fryer and I have to say I'm absolutely in love with it.  I love being able to cook just a few handfuls of fries for the son instead of having to preheat the oven and using an entire cookie sheet to make a few handfuls of fries and the air fryer makes really GOOD french fries!  I'm looking forward to trying it out on cooking other things.  I went onto Pinterest and a few other sites and started pinning and bookmarking recipes that I want to try out in the air fryer in the coming months.

8.  I took advantage of sales this week to get soda (for the son) on sale cheap and managed to get some hamburger and thin cut pork chops on sale for decently cheap and got some lamb chops super cheap on clearance.  I actually kept the pork chops and hamburger defrosted and am thinking of making it into different meals later in the coming days, thus saving me from having to defrost meat later on.  The lamb chops we're having for dinner tonight.

And, yeah, I'm going to call it good there.  The son is starting to throw a fit again, so I'm having a bit of a hard time thinking with the noise.  I hope you all had a good week!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Chrismas 2018: Gifts to the Family

Welcome to the second, and final, post on the gifts I'm giving for Christmas to the kids and husband this year.  I am going to do some things late or finish up a few gifts later on, but for now I'm just going to call what I have done good and feel grateful that I was able to get done what I did.  I am happy with what I did get done, anyway :).

So, let's get to the gifts I'm giving and/or made for the family this year!

First up let's start with the gifts I'm giving to my daughter.  I aimed for two gifts per person this Christmas.  I was going to aim for four, but just ran out of time, so embroidered pillow cases for the kids, some handkerchiefs for the husband and such are on the agenda for hopefully this coming week, but here's the two gifts that are currently under the tree.

First up we have a brush/art roll I made for my daughter.  I used materials I had on hand for everything I made this year, so I used some canvas material I had, a remnant of quilt binding that I had for the ties and binding and for the smaller pockets, I was originally going to make some out of canvas and then embroider them myself, but due to the time constraints I changed my mind.  Instead, I used an old pair of embroidered jeans that my daughter loved from when she was younger and cut out the embroidered parts, zig zagged around the edges and then sewed those on as pockets for smaller brushes or other art supplies.

I thought, overall, that it turned out pretty well and I think my daughter will like it.  She's getting some brushes and other painting supplies for Christmas, so I wanted to make sure she had a really nice place to put them all.

Next up isn't a gift I made, but one that I put together anyway.  Originally I wanted to make jewelry to put into this myself, but I didn't have time, so instead I found another way.

My daughter loves necklaces now and has been asking for a jewelry box for Christmas.  I couldn't find a nice one that I liked, though, so I figured I was out of luck.  And then my eyes lit upon my old jewelry box.  I bought the jewelry box when I worked at Walt Disney World when I was in college.  It was one of the items I had found, fell in love with, and was determined to pick up before I left Disney to go home.  And so I did.  And I kept that jewelry box for years.  A while back, though, my husband got me a bigger jewelry box that I loved, so I emptied out my smaller box and had just put it up and took care of it all of this time, not knowing what I wanted to do with it, but I just didn't want to get rid of it.  So, when my eyes fell upon the box, I realized that it was a perfect opportunity to give my daughter the box that I had fallen in love with all of those years ago.

To go in it, I included a necklace I had made for my sister a lot of years ago that she had sent me a few years ago with a bunch of jewelry that she didn't want anymore that I knew Armina would like (since it's purple and all).  Then I took a few other necklaces that I was able to find at the used stores and things over the last year and voila!  Now she'll have a nice beginning jewelry box and some necklaces to start her jewelry collection.  I know she'll love that one :).

All totaled I spent 2.00 on the gift to get a few of the necklaces.

Next up are the gifts I made for the son.

First up is a panel project I found at the used store.  The panel was 1.00.  I used fusible interfacing I had around the house to use as batting for the pages and used thread I already had, so the gift cost a total of 1.00 to make.  I know that the book is a bit young for the son, but he loves to flick things, so I am hoping he'll like to flick and flip the pages on the book and hey, if he can read I'm hoping that he'll get a kick out of reading "The Night Before Christmas" and enjoy the pictures too :).

I also made the son his yearly sensory cube as he absolutely LOVES these things!  Every year he plays with the cubes until he darn near destroys them, so I couldn't let him down this year.  For the materials this year I used materials I had around the house.  Leather, cross stitch fabric, striped upholstery type of fabric, fleece,  fake fur and a shiny velvety fabric.    I think he'll really like this one.  I made this one smaller than last year  so he'll enjoy it more as he really likes the smaller cubes versus the larger ones :).

And finally is the gifts I made for my husband.  He really liked the neck pillow I made him for Christmas last year (actually we both end up stealing it from each other we both like it so well *laugh*) and so I wanted to make some more this year, but with more stuffing in them so that they'd be more supportive on the neck.  Originally I had plans to embroider them like last year, but I didn't have time, so I'll just embroider them a bit later.  I was also going to make him some tool rolls, but he couldn't remember what he wanted me to make them for, so that got put onto the back burner until he can figure out if he wants some made or not :).

So, there you are folks.  What I've been basically doing yesterday afternoon and a good portion of today.  But, yay for getting the gifts done and under the tree!  That makes me feel good anyway :).

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

First, I'd like to thank everyone again.  The outpouring of support and encouragement during this whole mess has been a huge blessing in mine and my family's lives.  Thank you!

I've spent the last two weeks trying to get over that darned kidney infection while also dealing with two kids home as their schools were shut down due to the earthquake damage, aftershocks and various health things with the kids.  Alvah has been a challenge since the earthquake.  He's been kind of bipolar.  One minute he'll be happy as a clam and then suddenly he's unhappy with the entire universe and starts hitting himself and others.  It's been unsettling to say the least.  It doesn't help that his eczema has been going nuts since the earthquake.  Armina's allergies have also reared up in a huge way.  SHE has eczema now, which she hasn't had since Kindergarten, her eyes are swollen and puffy, she's got a sore throat...the poor thing is just in pure allergy Heck right now.  This is NOT a good time to be allergic to dust :(.  Poor kiddo.

In the middle of all of the earthquake clean up, Alvah's Medicaid got denied due to his mental health professional's office and the state having an argument over who the release of information form was supposed to go to even though my care coordinator had sent in at least two blanket release of information forms to the mental health office it's frustrating beyond belief as everything could have been avoided if someone had called ME or my care coordinator in the month everyone was kicking a can down the road that happened to impact my kid in a bad way.  I had no knowledge of it at all until the doctor's office called me a few days after the earthquake and asked me to go in and sign another release of information form in person so they could fax over Alvah's records before the state cut off his LEAST two weeks later then they should have by their own admission.  I rushed over and signed them within an hour, but it turns out it was already too late as when I went to refill his medications I found out his Medicaid was turned off.  The pharmacy, bless them, was able to run his Clonodine through on a discount card thing and I was able to afford to refill it, but I've been rationing out the store of Risperidone we have as that stuff is 400.00+ to refill it.  Even with a discount card I'm not sure how much that would hurt to refill.  My care coordinator is trying to work voodoo behind the scenes to get things rushed through and turned back on, but for now we are in Medicaid limbo.  Thank goodness Alvah's therapist's office was okay with back billing Medicaid once it got turned back on.  Please send up a prayer that it gets turned back on quickly for the sake of my anxiety.  I have nightmares about suddenly having to pay therapist bills out of pocket as that'd run anyone into the poor house very quickly.

We've heard nothing from the disaster relief inspectors, but they've been busy, unfortunately, having to condemn a bunch of buildings and homes in different areas.  My husband and I went to do some last minute Christmas shopping for the kids yesterday (since we had literally yesterday to get it done since both of the kids were actually in school) in Eagle River and we were able to see some of the damage Eagle River suffered first hand.  We stopped off at where the Salvation Army used to be (it was there before the quake) only to find the building surrounded by caution tape and a couple of huge obvious cracks running down the building and a sign on the door saying only authorized personnel could enter.  The Eagle River McDonald's has been closed since the quake and we're not sure if it is even going to reopen it's been down so long (obviously it's not a good sign if something is closed that long).  A lot of buildings had boards where windows used to be, including Carrs in Wasilla when we stopped off to get some groceries today and we could see where a part of their sidewalk sank as they had cones around the area to keep people from walking where the ground might be unsafe. 

It's actually kind of surreal walking around and seeing the damage and things and you stop and just send up a prayer thanking the Lord that you and your family are still here. 

I did, though, call the disaster relief office today and made sure our application was in the system and we were on the list.  Depending on the electric baseboard heat has been kind of rough.  It keeps the pipes from freezing and things, but downstairs gets pretty darned cold at night and we're all having to bundle up a bit to keep warm.  I'm dreading seeing what my electric bill is going to be after running the electric heat all month.  My husband is hoping that the disaster relief will help us pay for the electric bill in the time it takes for them to get here and inspect and things, but I figure worse comes to worse I'll just have to let it go for now, wait, and then redo our budget billing after we have the furnace in working condition again.  I'm going to HATE to see what that bill would be per month, but it's the best I can do to keep on top of that expense.

But, yeah, let's get to the money saving things that happened this week.

1.  I finally managed to get all of the broken glass (I HOPE) off of my kitchen counters.  MAN that took a lot of cleaning.  Glass dust is really hard to get out of crevices and things.  And I wanted to make sure that the counters were clean, clean since we were going to make Christmas cookies and the LAST thing you want is to run across a little piece of glass while doing something like that.  Which we did get that done (yay!).  I didn't have time to make gingerbread houses yet, but I'm hoping to wrestle time to do that somehow. 

This weekend is going to be dedicated to getting Christmas gifts sewn downstairs (if the sewing machine works *fingers crossed*).  I was going to try and do them earlier, but it took me all week to get the den mucked out, things put away and such to the point I could actually get TO my sewing table.  So, hopefully that'll get done.

I did find while cleaning the floor that the linoleum took a terrible beating and is actually cut and/or dented in places where I have realized that mopping the floor isn't going to be wise as I'm worried it will leak through to the sub floor, trap moisture and we're going to end up with mold issues.  So, I'm down to cleaning the floor on my hands and knees, carefully, and wiping the floor dry after I'm done.  Not fun, but it is what it is.

2.  My husband and I managed to put in the new toilet.  It's been wonderful having a working toilet again and much to my surprise Alvah was able to figure out how to flush it immediately, so that was good.

3.  My mother-in-law gave me a Red Robin gift card for my birthday at the end of the month.  I still have a gift card with some money left on it from earlier in the year, so by combining the two cards together I think we can at least eat out for my birthday.  The kids will certainly enjoy getting to eat at their favorite "fancy" restaurant :).

4.  My Jolly Time anniversary popcorn bowl took a beating in the earthquake and wouldn't even sit right on a flat surface.  It's still got some bends in it that I'm afraid to bend out since the bowl is enamel coated metal and I don't want to crack the enamel, but after some careful work I managed to get it to at least sit on a flat surface again to the point we could at least eat popcorn out of it.

5.  I rebuilt my bread box...kinda.  The wood is splintered on the inside in places, but I got it to go together enough that it holds together and the door will shut...kind of sticky, but it shuts.  I will probably have to replace said bread box at some point in the potentially near future as it's pretty whomped on, but for now it works.  I use my bread box constantly, so I'm glad I was able to get it back together again.

6.  My husband and I took advantage of free dump days at the dump for people who needed to dump earthquake debris.  The Burough actually waited quite a while before opening the dump for free, so a lot of people had already paid to dump their stuff, but we weren't able to get to the dump for a while after the quake due to my husband's work schedule, getting the hot water heater replaced, putting in the new toilet, etc.  Taking advantage of the free dump saved us a ton on dumping fees just from the sheer weight from broken glass and things we took in.  I was really grateful that we had that available and ended up having to wait longer than we had hoped to dump some of the multitudes of earthquake debris we had.  We still have more we'll have to pay to dump, but we're definitely grateful for the free load we got to dump.

7.  We took advantage of a free event that was a lot of fun and the entire family got to attend.  My son's classroom Christmas party.  It happened to be at a time after my daughter was out of school for the day, so we, as well as all of the other families in the son's class, were able to show up and have fun with the kids.  It was a lot of fun and we got to take home a few new Christmas ornaments from the crafts they were doing in class and a new piece of Christmas artwork for the walls. 

I also took the opportunity to say "sorry" to Alvah's teachers and therapists as the gifts I had put aside to give to them this year got destroyed in the quake.  I felt bad as I try to give something to them every year, but it just wasn't going to happen this year. 

8.  I managed to get my spice cabinet pretty much cleaned out.  I still have a bunch of spices and things that are under the lazy Susan shelf that are working their way out slowly but surely and I'll have to vacuum them as they work their way to where I can get to them, but for the most part I THINK I found and cleaned up the majority of the damage.  It's been depressing opening it up and knowing that even the containers I have left, a lot of them lost a lot of stuff that was in them, so I'm carefully rationing what I have left until replacements come in and things.  Except cinnamon.  Somehow that all survived and I have tons of that left.  So, that's something I suppose.

I found while cleaning the kitchen that a bunch of my cabinets came out from the wall in the quake and there are definite gaps, so my husband is going to have to spend some time this weekend screwing my cabinets back into the wall.  At least they held.  That's definitely something to be thankful for.

9.  I started to try and find a replacement dough hook for my mixer as my other one got hit and bent in the quake.  Not having much luck (the mixer hasn't been made in years), but I'm hopeful my husband can bend the dough hook back so it's close enough to true to work right.  Here's hoping or I might have to buy another mixer so I have something to mix bread dough in.  Yes, I use my dough hook THAT much.

At least I finally got the glass cleaned out of the mixer *knock on wood* and we were able to make cookies with it and not worry about eating broken glass.  That was a good thing for sure.

10.  I made sure to use all leftovers the last few weeks.  We have some things in the pantry we need to use up because they got coated in Teriyaki sauce or something similar and I don't want sticky things sticking around in the pantry because...well bugs for one and because mold for another...not to mention the potential to attract mice.  So, I took a couple of meal's worth of chicken bits we had left over from different meals, combined them together and made Chicken Helper with them.  It worked and I didn't have to worry about the chicken going to waste.  Tonight we used up a little bit of cheese that we had left over,  a little bit of sour cream we had left and some leftover taco meat and corn chips and made nachos for dinner.  Worked great and used up a bunch of stuff we had to use up.

And there you go folks.  Some of the ways we saved money this week.  At the moment my exhaustion is suffering from exhaustion, so I'm going to head to bed so I can get up super early tomorrow and get to work on gifts.  I hope your week went well.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Christmas 2018: Gifts from Daughter

Well, I was going to start posting up one gift a day on here, but with how busy I am and how far behind on gift MAKING I am, I'm going to have to do things different this year and just kind of do a "gift dump" post as I go along to show you what we've been working on around here for gifts.  I'm in panic mode on getting gifts done on time at this point and we still have cookies to make, gingerbread houses to make and decorate, Christmas cards to fill out, Santa letters to mail off and just all the general things you should gradually be getting done in December that did NOT happen gradually this year.

So, welcome to the amended "Gift a Day" series here on "The Make Do Homemaker".  May you, hopefully, find some inspiration on what you can make for your family and friends this year in the process :).

Today, I decided we'd start off with the gifts my daughter has decided to give out, so far, for Christmas.  So, let's get to those!

 First off, up top we have some of the gifts my daughter is giving to Alvah for Christmas. 

We were at the used store right after Thanksgiving and I hear my daughter let out an excited shout.  I turn around to her trying to remove a small Snoopy from the stuffed animal rack (it had a clip on it to clip onto a backpack or something that was kind of hard to remove from the stand).  She smiled as she asked for my help and said, "Look!  It's brand new!  I want to get that for Alvah for Christmas!".  Alvah loves Snoopy and has since he was little and I was impressed with her eye for finding that one.  I helped her remove the Snoopy, which was missing a price tag, and we went up to see how much it was.  When we found out it was .50, Armina was doubly proud as she knew she was getting a gift Alvah would love super cheap.  I am so proud that I'm passing down the bargain hunting thought process to the next generation *sentimental tear*.

We were than sitting at home later that same day and Armina was brainstorming on what else to give to Alvah for Christmas (he's kind of hard to shop for, go figure) and her eyes fell upon a small bottle of water that Alvah had gotten from his teacher as part of a Halloween gift bag.  I'd drank the water and had put the bottle down on the table and Armina snatched the bottle up and asked if we could make a small sensory bottle out of it for Alvah as she knew he liked the ones I've made him in previous years. 

Armina had to sacrifice a small bottle of glitter she'd gotten with a nail polish kit from one of her Aunts as I couldn't find any glitter in the house to save my life and then I helped her with the corn syrup and distilled water solution to make the glitter float.  She chose the color of the water as she wanted the glitter to really show up well (which it does) and then I super glued the lid onto the bottle.  It came out nice looking and cost us nothing to do as we had all the materials around the house to make it.

When we were at the store the next day I pulled out a coupon for a free box of Jolly Time popcorn we'd gotten in the mail for taking a survey about popcorn consumption.  Armina had helped me take the survey (I know, weird thing to do together, but I take the time with the kids when I can get it) and her eyes lit up when she saw the coupon and asked if she could have it to buy Alvah a box of his favorite microwave popcorn for Christmas. 

At this point the child was on a roll *laugh*.

I was digging around in my closet looking for a certain bunch of Christmas decorations and stumbled across a snow globe you could personalize that I had bought at 90% off at Target years ago.  I had been using a bunch of those types of gifts for years to help pad out Christmas gifts and this was pretty much the last one in the stash.  Armina asked if we could make a snow globe for Alvah to go under the tree too as Alvah really likes snow globes.  Since it was plastic, I said sure and Armina chose a Christmasy scene from the front of some old Christmas cards we had and we put the scene into the snow globe.  So, another gift down for near free (I mean I think the snow globe ended up being about .50 after the clearance discount years ago).

We then checked the mail that same day and one of my product missions came in from "The Upside" a new product testing outfit I signed up for through Smiley360.  "The Upside" just does health and beauty products and my first mission was for "Udderly Smooth" lotion.  I tried out a small amount on Alvah's eczema (a really tiny amount since you never know how his skin is going to react) and then Armina asked if we could wrap the tubes up so she could give them to dad for Christmas for his cracked heels.  She was super excited about the idea because shopping for dad is even harder than shopping for Alvah (and she does have a good point there *laugh*).

So, yeah, so far when it comes to Christmas gifts my daughter is totally whomping me on getting those done.  I'm proud of her, though.  She put thought into each gift and still managed to do it on a shoe string budget.

So, stay tuned as (hopefully) I get to share some of the gifts I'm working on around here for Christmas as well.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Shopping Goals: December 2018

First, be prepared here as I'm (obviously) way behind on blogging, projects and life in general at the moment, so there's definitely going to be some catch up I need to get done.

When it CAME to shopping goals for this month, my plans were to look for a bit more cheap beef, maybe look for a cheap ham toward the end of the month, stocking stuffers...just normal stuff and just call it good.  Well, that was pre-earthquake, so now post-earthquake, the list of things just gets longer the more I go through things.  Sigh.

I'm on my second round of antibiotics for my kidney infection.  Bright side is that this time I feel like the antibiotics are working a lot better, so hopefully this time I can lick it.  I'm tired, but a lot more functional than I have been since the earthquake.

A Christmas miracle (I'm standing by this even though Christmas is still a few weeks away)  happened when I went and dug out the Christmas gifts in my closet.  I'd been dreading cracking the closet open for fear of what I would find under the huge pile/wall of everything.  A miracle occurred in that the gifts to the kids were in boxes and the boxes survived the earthquake because a huge pile of blankets fell on top of said boxes before the really heavy stuff started to fall on top of those.  Everything appears to be in one piece.  I was so relieved.  I desperately want to give the kids something close to a normal Christmas this year after everything they have been through the past few weeks.  The presents under the tree seem to still be in one piece as the heavy things from the shelves above landed on clothes or books (and the books survived okay I think), so that was good to find as well.

Downside to that is the gifts I had scrimped together to give to "Toys for Tots" didn't fare as well.  I made a note that I'm NEVER going to get another cute character snow globe as a possible yearly donation ever again.  What a mess.  When it broke, it took out a bunch of my old artwork from college, which was kind of upsetting (at least it helped to hold down the glitter and absorb the water), but I got over it as at least it wasn't pictures of the kids or something that I would feel like I'd never be able to replace.  I've sent up a prayer and apology to my grandpa as I try to donate to "Toys for Tots" every year in his memory as he was very proud of his service in the marines, but this year I just can't afford to replace the donations, so the organization is just going to have to get it done this year without my help, unfortunately.  Same thing with walking by the Salvation Army kettle this year.  It depresses me not being able to donate, but it's just not going to happen this year as we need every penny we can scrape together.

Right, so new shopping goals.  I'm still sorting through my spices and herbs, but I had a decent amount of loss.  Salt was actually a big one.  Regular salt in every spot bit the dust and then every specialty salt I had just went everywhere, mixed with other stuff and was just ruined.  I bought a box of kosher salt when I went shopping this week so at least I had salt to add to things for some flavor, but yeah...that was depressing.  I'm not worrying about replacing the salts at the moment just because I didn't use them everyday and I just have better things to worry about right now.

I also found out the hard way that if you have to clean up a bunch of Cheyenne pepper, black pepper or things like ginger with a damp paper towel as your only friend?  Wear gloves!  Those suckers will burn you if you expose yourself to them too much!  I learned the hard way so you don't have to!

We lost dishes and things, of course.  The CD player in my ancient stereo that I always used to listen to music on while cleaning or sewing blew it's stabilizers in the earthquake, so I'll be on the lookout for a replacement for that and things.  I had to order Alvah a new TV for his room as his TV screen started burning out in one spot that is spreading as time goes on since the earthquake (it's an old liquid crystal display, so goodness knows what hit it to cause that to happen), so at least that is on order.  At least some things are getting replaced so far.

So, for shopping goals I'm going to start out with my Earthquake list  (I set it to public so hopefully you all can see it okay) on Amazon and work out from there.  Mind you not everything on the earthquake list is things that need to be replaced anytime's just a list of things that I'm adding to as I find things broken.  Like the flatware/silverware chest.  The one we have that my husband's grandfather gave us flew off the sideboard and had the microwave land on it, so it is pretty broken, but you can jam the lid on and it will still protect the silverware inside, so I just added it to the list to remind me that it is broken.  I'm just going to add to that list as I find more things that are broken to remind me to buy, replace or fix the things on said list.  Others, like the stove top popcorn popper are more of a "yeah, we should probably get one of these as a back up plan" as with the microwave not working right making popcorn for the son has become a bit more problematic and made me realize a need for a "plan b".  I hope that makes sense.

Some things, like my sewing machine, I haven't had a chance to fire up yet (pray with me that it survived the shaking and everything works right as I NEED that in working condition right now), but will just update the list with things as I find/need them.

Some things I've already gotten because I had to.  Kosher salt got bought because I needed salt desperately, although pepper isn't far behind and I'm making one little pepper shaker of pepper last as long as I can (once I saw what the stores were charging for pepper).  Sprinkles were bought because we are going to make Christmas cookies this weekend come Hell or high water (I'm determined) and gingerbread houses are not far behind (although spicing on said gingerbread houses MIGHT get kind of interesting, I'm thinking they'll still smell good).  To help, I at least had a few things of sprinkles survive the onslaught (with the peanut allergy, Betty Crocker sprinkles aren't cheap).  Toilet paper was purchased because all of my paper products ended up ankle deep in water in the laundry room and the toilet paper just kind of clumped into a solid mass with a lot of it, which doesn't work.

So, yeah, onto the rest of the stuff on my list to get.

Regular Stores:
  • Mechanical pencils (some of Armina's school supplies didn't fare too well in the earthquake when it hit the school.  At least we finally got her winter coat, her lunch box, her backpack and her violin back from the school yesterday :)
  • Orange rolls (a family Christmas tradition)
  • Candy canes (the son has been blowing through the ones on the tree)
  • Stocking Stuffers (I have exactly two days where the daughter will be in school as her school is the last one that is going to be reopening for classes next week, so I am trying to figure out how to get some of this stuff with her's challenging).
  • Powdered sugar (as it usually goes on sale pretty cheap this time of year)
  • Kosher salt (picked it up so I'd have some salt in the house)
  • Flavored Rice (the few boxes I had to mix things up at dinner time got destroyed via teriyaki sauce)
  • Kid snacks/boy food (having the kids home for the last two weeks has blown through a lot of what I had stockpiled for Christmas break)
  • Sour Cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Wet cat food

  • Bikes for kids (they need new ones now and we figure it'll be a good thing to get and put under the tree to them from my family back East.  We let them ride them around the garage during the winter to help stay active)

Water Softener Store:
  • Water filter for water softener (after the earthquake they are recommending everyone replace theirs)
  • Water softening salt

Hardware Store:
  • Sleds (we are getting plenty of snow and the kids need new as the shed collapsed on their old ones)
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Picture hangers
  • Small frame staples
  • Look for weights for pressure canner when it comes in (I would like to get the weights for it so that I can use it easier instead of having to babysit the pressure for up to two hours, depending on what you are canning).
I'm going to call it good there.  I'm sure there is more that is on lists that I've written all over the place as I find things, but I'm still kind of disorganized after everything, so I'll get there.

How about you?  Need to get anything this month?