Sunday, February 18, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap


Whew!  What a week!

The kids had Thursday and Friday off due to parent teacher conferences (neither of the kids needed one of those, which was nice), so I was juggling kiddos.  Then the daughter started not feeling good Friday and has just been feeling icky and needing attention all weekend.  Thank goodness for popsicles as those have been a huge help with her sore throat.

Then the toilet in the children's bathroom started having problems and the float stop will freeze up or something and the toilet will start overfilling, so I have to mess with the shut off valve for the toilet on and off.  Luckily we have a rebuild kit for the toilet that my husband bought in case we needed it, but then we forgot to rebuild the toilet innards this weekend, so hopefully the husband is up to rebuilding that tomorrow.

We had sister missionaries over Friday night, so I spent a good portion of the week working my tail off TRYING to get the house mostly clean before the kids were off Thursday and Friday, and it turns out Monday (their first snow day this year due to the roads being icy).  I did okay.  Not as well as I would have liked, but I did the best I could with having to run and get the kids early the other two days of the week, once due to both kids not feeling good and then the other day the husband needed me to pick them up early so he could go into town early to help someone he knew with an electrical issue (which turned out to be Valentine's Day, unfortunately so he missed out on the "fancy" dinner I made...seen up top).

Oh and a side note on Jello in vintage recipes (since I made a Jello mold to go with dinner that day).  You know those Jello molds with CRAZY items in them, like celery and things?  I ran into an old cooking booklet from the rationing days of WWII in America and they were talking about not wasting food, any food at all.  They recommended if you had just a little bit of this and that left over from dinner to not throw it out, but to keep it in the fridge and that Jello would help a lot in using up leftovers.  They recommended people get creative with flavors of Jello to use up things like left over vegetables and things.  I think a lot of people ended up getting creative, and sometimes NOT in a good way, with the Jello and the left overs.  Just thought that was kind of a neat bit of knowledge to pass along.

The Jello mold I made was just orange Jello with some left over fruit cocktail and the left over bits of pineapple that was left from making the pineapple upside down cake in it.  Turned out great and the daughter went back for seconds!  Which, trust me, her going back for seconds on anything that isn't pizza or french fries is a huge deal!

The husband did come home armed with a rose and some chocolate covered strawberries Valentine's Day morning, which I was surprised and very thrilled he thought of me, especially taking the time to stop off somewhere on the way home from work just to get me something :).

So, yeah, sorry about the menu plan being MIA for this week.  I'm hoping to just post up the next week and a half of menu plans tomorrow.  Hopefully the kids will be healthy, the roads will be good and I can get some stuff done around the house.  I felt like last week all I did was run and pray the house would remain in one piece all week long.

Believe it or not, some money saving things did get done this week despite everything crazy going on, so let's get to that!

1.  Let's start with shopping.  Highlights for this week are seen above.

The breakdowns are...

Let's start at Carrs.  3 Things of Turkey Gravy, on sale buy two get one free.  Used free coupon from Monopoly game on one of them.  All totaled 1.18 for all three (unfortunately these were the ONLY powdered gravies Carrs had in stock, so I grabbed them for that price.  If I do not use them for anything, I'll save them to donate to the food bank come November to help them with Thanksgiving).  I also got a free 100 count bottle of Aspirin.  I wasn't going to turn down free pain killers, even though I'll only use Aspirin if I don't have Ibuprofen around.

I also stopped off at Fred Meyer this week and got some cool stuff while I was there.  Two Chobani Smooth Yogurt were free.  Fred Meyer had a coupon you could load for free Chobani yogurt and they actually gave you choices on what yogurt you wanted to get with the coupon.  My friend offered me her coupon as well (they have a dairy allergy in the family), so I went for the smooth yogurt as you got two yogurts versus one.   Fred Meyer also gave me a coupon for a free thing of Oreos as a "Best Customer" coupon, so I grabbed those while I was there.

I also went looking for some small cutting boards as I gave up on ordering some through Amazon as they kept putting off shipping the cutting boards I had ordered to the point I got fed up with it and decided I'd try to find some locally instead.  And I hit pay dirt!

They had kitchen gadgets buy one get one 1/2 off.  The cutting board and knife kit was hanging with the rest of the kitchen gadgets and I noticed they were 5.99 each, so I figured for a paring knife and a cutting board the price would be totally worth it.  When I checked out, however, I found that the kits rang up for 4.49 each instead of 5.99 each.  They also rang up as knives instead of a kitchen gadget kits, so the cashier had to do an override to get the coupon to work (which from what he said wasn't his first time he'd had to do that during the week on different kitchen gadget kits) and to make up for the long wait I had to wait (I was using the U-Scan) he took off 2.49.  So, all totaled I spent 6.49 for two cutting boards and two paring knives.  Not too shabby!

2.  So, theoretically, what do you do when you realize you desperately need a storage cabinet to store towels, wet wipes and other bathroom items, but you don't have an available closet and you also need room for a few books and don't know where to put them?  Well, in my case, you gut your china cabinet, put the vintage kitchen things in the actual kitchen (after rearranging everything in said kitchen it seemed) and then use the two shelves you emptied to make the storage space you need.  I thought it came out looking okay overall.  It doesn't look like your typical china cabinet anymore, that's for sure.

3.  I rearranged the small little basket looking trash can under my kitchen sink and put it downstairs in my den.  I then took the bigger lidded trash can and put it in the corner of the kitchen instead.  This will give me more room for cleaning supplies under my kitchen sink and also allow me more time in between having to dump the garbage in the big outside garbage cans.

4.  When I ran out of window cleaner, I switched to white vinegar.

5.  On Valentine's Day I decided I wanted to make a pineapple upside down cake as something special to go with dinner, but I didn't want to make a big 9x13 pan worth.  So, I went online and found a cake recipe that only called for 1/2 of a cake mix and then I used the other 1/2 of the cake mix to make the kids a cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles (the son has decided he LOVES sprinkles).  Everyone has really been enjoying their treats and I don't have to worry about the husband and I having to eat way too much pineapple upside down cake *laugh*.

6.  I used Jello to use up left over fruit in the fridge and leftover fruit from making the pineapple upside down cake (explained more up top).

7.  I went through piles of paperwork this week and started weeding out things we didn't need anymore.  It felt really good to reclaim the space and to get rid of paperwork that I would have to go through over and over again to find that "one important thing" I was looking for at the time.

8.  I mended a couple pieces of clothing this week.

9.  I spent a lot of time this week cleaning the house and I managed to get things done like dusting ceiling fans and other things I don't do on a day to day basis.  It has been great walking past places that I cleaned and are looking nice and spiffy now and I'm looking forward to getting more and more of the house looking like that.

10.  My daughter has a friend, it turns out, that has a birthday just a few days past her own and we were told by her friend's grandmother that she was looking forward to the daughter being there.  We had the daughter ask her friend what she'd like for her birthday and it turns out her friend likes crafty types of things.  So, I went into JoAnn Fabrics with the daughter armed with coupons to see what we could find.  With a 40% off one item coupon stacked with a 20% off your total purchase coupon I was able to get the kids little St. Patrick's Day decorations (my daughter has been wanting that certain type of decoration ever since she got braces and saw that her orthodontist had one...it's kind of like a bouquet style thing with tinsel and things sticking up from it instead of flowers) and the gift my daughter picked out and spent less than 15.00 for everything (which was less than the original price of the gift alone).

11.  I decided to use the leftover birthday money my mom sent to pick up some coffee from Amazon (since the cutting board idea from them fell through).  I found that they had New England Coffee Company coffees really cheap, but you were only allowed to buy one bag at that price at a time, so I went and ordered a bunch of different types and flavors.  I then added in some disposable, refillable yogurt tubes (so I can buy big containers of yogurt and make my own tubes for the daughter's lunch instead of buying the GoGurt and things for her...she insists on the tubes, so I'm getting around her protests ;) and some more Curel Itch Defense lotion for the son.  All totaled with coupons and things on the items I was able to get nearly 5 lbs of coffee, 150 tubes to fill with yogurt and the lotion for just over 25.00.  I did go over my birthday money by a bit, but eh...I was okay with that for everything I was able to buy :).

In other news, I love my new sneakers that I got with the rest of my birthday money my mom sent.  It's wonderful having sneakers that are in good shape again.

12.  The son's nylon hammock swing was falling apart in his room (we have one hanging from the ceiling for him so he can swing when he needs to) and it was falling apart everywhere as the fabric was just going hard core.  I called the sporting/camping goods store we bought the swing last time and found that they wanted 30.00 nearly for a new swing.  I went on Amazon and found a new swing that was actually bigger/longer (which Alvah needed the way he's grown) and WAY cheaper at about 10.00.  I put it up when it came in on Tuesday and the son has been in love with it ever since.  Definitely worth looking around for other swing options :).

13.  I loaded the McDonalds app onto my phone and found that they had a coupon for a 1.00 large french fry.  I was able to get the son a quick, and cheap, meal when he wasn't feeling good earlier in the week and I had to pick him up early.  It was definitely worth loading the app for that find alone.

And there you go folks.  Some of my frugal adventures for the week.  How did you do?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Monthly Goals: February 2018


Okay, so it's the 12th and I'm just getting to actually writing these things down.  I'm giving myself some slack this month, however as the first part of the month has turned out to be pretty hectic.  Hopefully the last of the month goes by in a relaxed and boring manner.  That'd be nice.

When it comes to last month's goals...well I didn't get about 99% of them done, unfortunately.  Between the son getting the flu and being down for a week, the daughter being down with her stomach for a week, other life stuff just getting thrown our way...really it's a miracle I got anything done at all.  A lot of what I got done wasn't on my list for last month, but I did get some stuff done.

Like...
1.  I got the chandelier over my kitchen table completely taken apart and deep cleaned.  It was disgusting with old grease combined with dust being stuck to it (I have a recirculating hood in my kitchen which...doesn't work, so grease and stuff just floats around and sticks to everything it can). 
2.  I did manage to clean the ceiling fans (at least THAT was on my list). 
3.  I got not a lot done on the love seat, but I tried (I'm hoping to get more done on that this week). 
4.  We repaired the son's recliner when it broke...and then had to fix it again this week, but at least it was all fixable and relatively easy to do :). 
5.  I reorganized the corner shelf in my kitchen cabinets and put my mixing bowls and some of my baking pans in there instead of the snack cabinet it used to be.  Snacks were just getting shoved into the back of the cabinet and going bad, the cabinet completely drove me crazy all the time and I was getting shoulder pain having to lift a stack of mixing bowls off of the top of my fridge every time I wanted to bake something.  So, it was time for a change.   
I'm not super thrilled with the system I have now (and by "system" I mean "unceremoniously stuffed the snacks into the hallway closet into every available nook and cranny"), but at least my baking pans are more protected now and the mixing bowls are within easy reach, which will make baking things SO much easier!  It's a continual work in progress for sure. 
6.  I started to reorganize the son's room a bit and am starting the slow process of going through toys throughout the house.  Luckily, the daughter is old enough that she's willing to go through her own toys from time to time and weed as she outgrows things, which does make my life a lot easier in the long run, but with the son's toys...I've still got quite a ways to go. 
7.  I started to work on a better way to menu plan and so far I'm really happy with how it is all working out.  I'm hoping that I can continue to make progress in that area. 
8.  I deep cleaned TV's and tablets, which all needed it and managed to get some dusting done.   
9.  I started brainstorming how to get myself a bit more room around here to store some of my books, get a better system going to store towels and things for the bathroom and other things and started rearranging things to make those things happen more readily (maybe).  I'm still working on it all in my head, but I'm hoping I'm at least getting there (I might not think fast sometimes, but I do think thorough ;). 
And so, yeah, I did get some things accomplished last month, even though I felt like I was spinning my wheels for most of it.

And now, onto the goals for this month.

General Goals:
1.  Get ready to celebrate daughter's birthday (I think I got everything I really need to get that done now, but I would at least like to make her a few things for her birthday before it gets here, so we'll see how that goes.  Hopefully kids stay healthy and everything works out okay) 
2.  Get the flour storage corner figured out, hopefully a little bit better (seen up top).  I currently have everything just kind of stacked where I can get to it, but it really does look cluttered and not what I'd like for it to look like, so I'm going to see what I can do to improve the situation some. 
3.  Make sure daughter has a good birthday (preparations are underway ;). 
4.  Continue search for speech therapist.  In meantime write to Gemini program and ask about a scholarship program for the son. 
5.  Keep a watch on the phone bill.  When roll over gigs are close to used up from past months think about upgrading the internet (as we're running about 3 gigs over every month and so far the roll over gigs are taking care of that, but I'm not sure how long those will last as they expire if you don't use them and they are expiring decently fast here).  This won't happen this month, but I want to get in the habit of watching that carefully, especially if I can get Gemini working out as that's a streaming video program, so I know it'll eat into our internet even more.
6.  Continue to try and get son signed up for Special Olympics swimming. 

Cleaning Goals:
1.  Deep clean laundry room (half of it got doused in water when the hot water heater started leaking and got pretty clean then, but the rest of it needs things moved and cleaned under them and things). 
2.  Shampoo carpets 
3.  Clean children's air purifiers. 
4.  Clean cabinets in kitchen. 
5.  Take down curtains and wash them.  Put them back up. 
6.  Move beds and clean under them. 
7.  Take inventory of freezer and pantry to see what needs to be used up and what might to need to be replenished in coming months. 
8.  Start work on another pot holder for kitchen.

Sewing Goals:
1.  Love seat.  Get it done (simple, sweet and to the point). 
2.  Sew a couple of skirts for daughter's birthday (this is something I've been trying to get done for months and am STILL not gotten it done yet, so I'm hoping I make it before her birthday). 
3.  Get some mending done.   
4.  Attempt to repair favorite pair of jeans (I don't really think they are able to be mended where the hole is developing, but I can hope). 
5.  Sew a couple more pillowcases (it seems like we never have enough of those things for some odd reason).

Baking/Cooking Goals:
1.  Make chocolate chip muffins.  Put some aside for breakfasts for daughter and freeze the rest for later use. 
2.  Make a couple of more freezer meals.  Freeze for later use (I actually used the one dish of manicotti I managed to freeze last month and made it for dinner instead of baked ravioli the other night due to me having a bad headache, so yeah...more freezer meals would be a good thing. 
3.  Work on menu plan for next month.  Plan baking day for bread and other baked goods and try to get them done by the last week of February so everything is ready to go by March.
And yeah, since I know I'll fail if I list everything else I'd LIKE to get done, but doubt I'll accomplish, I'll leave it there.  How about you?  Got anything you need to get done this month?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, this has been an interesting week for sure.  Got dental bills paid off (woohoo!!! Still thrilled with that :) and transferred money into savings to pay for the car insurance that will come due in March and money to cover closing costs on the home equity loan (if it goes through okay...fingers crossed!).  Sure we're now broke again, but it feels good to have those costs covered.  Went and had to run back and forth to the bank about five times (so it felt like) to fill out paperwork and things to send things to the underwriter and an appraiser stopped by. 

The son was sick a couple of times due to sinus issues (or something...he just was acting like he plain wasn't feeling well a couple of times last week and developed a cough), so I tried to juggle him on top of trying to get stuff done.

Family far away went through issues that had me a worried mess. My half sister was in a car wreck last week where the only victor was some black ice and a couple of trees.  She's really lucky that she handled the situation as well as anyone could, was following the speed limit (which thank goodness was in a residential zone so she wasn't going fast) and that help showed up quickly to help call 911 for her (her phone was dead it turned out when she was able to find it somehow in the wreck).  And really she's just lucky she's alive (airborne car, two trees, airbag didn't deploy...you name it).  Top that off with a bad allergic reaction to Vicodin that they gave her for pain (that landed her in the hospital again) and I think I lost the right to complain about how my week went for the rest of my natural life. She's is in a lot of pain and things and looks like she is going to need physical therapy due to back injuries and things, but she's here and still breathing, of which I am grateful for.  I'm praying for a speedy recovery for her and not too many medical bills to panic the life out of her (she has the ACA insurance, so goodness knows how great that is).

Then my mom went through cataract surgery (first time she's ever been under the knife for anything, so she was actually more panicky than I was after having had two Cesareans in my time) and right after the surgery she got the flu and has been dealing with recovery from that (and she still has one more surgery to get through this week).  So I spent a lot of time on the cell phone texting and on the home phone talking to keep in touch on how things were going with my half-sister and my mom (no regrets at all, mind you!).  I am grateful for the unlimited long distance I have on my phone at times like this as it allowed me to talk as long as I needed to without panicking about the phone bill.  I did manage to clean and things while talking with a phone to my ear too, so a nod to my grandma and mom who did that with a corded phone through a decent portion of their home making days (I have to say I love my cordless phone and the freedom of movement it allows as I still remember getting wrapped up in those cords a LOT as a kid as you turned to check on something on the fridge or something *laugh*). 

The quest for speech therapy continued without luck, but it was worth the effort to try.  I started to recover the house from the mess it was after the son was home sick a couple of times due to sinus issues (it amazes me how, even when feeling poorly, that kid can just trash the house).  So, yeah, it's been a week for sure. 

In the midst of good and bad going on, though, money saving events took place, so let's get to that!

1.  Well, let's start with shopping since that is the one thing I thought to take pictures of this week.  I went to two stores this week.  Fred Meyer and Carrs.

Fred Meyer e-mailed me on Friday to let me know about a ton of freebies that were available to download, so between what I already had loaded onto my card along with a best customer freebie and some bonus freebies, I had like seven items I could get for free.  I figured that was totally worth a trip to Fred Meyer. 

Unfortunately, like about 8 out of 10 times I go to Fred Meyer,  four out of seven freebies were out of stock (and I wasted a lot of time looking for them, just in case) and they don't give rain checks on free items.  The biggest find that trip was that they had pink lemonade mix on sale for 2.49 per container I found when I checked.  I had a 1.00/1 coupon loaded onto my card that could be used up to five times and than I had some paper coupons I could stack with the E-coupons.  All totaled after coupons were applied I was able to get the lemonade for .49 each (and checked another item off of my shopping goals for this month :).  I only got three because that is how many coupons I had to get it cheap and it should last us for a while.

I also got the free Sweet Tarts hearts that were the freebie Friday item this week.  While I was checking out the lady in front of me handed me a coupon for another free thing of Sweet Tart hearts, so I ran back and got another box of them and added that to the freebie pile.  I was surprised to find that they were okay for peanut allergies when I checked the box.  It was great finding a Valentine's candy that my son can actually have (no cross contamination with peanuts) and he might actually eat (as he likes Sweet Tarts) and also getting a little something to make the daughter's holiday a little brighter as well.

I also managed to find a free Epic bar and a free Sparkling V-8 Energy drink.  All totaled I spent 1.51 at Fred Meyer (I might be a couple of pennies off...I paid cash and I can't find my receipt).

Carrs has started their monopoly game again this year and I'm already loving it!  I went in earlier in the week to grab a couple of 20 packs of Coke as they were on sale for decently cheap (and we were out of soda, which is not a good situation with the son) and a few minor items and since everything I end up buying in the way of "Alvah food" ends up being bonus ticket items, I ended up with 15 tickets for not a lot of items.  I opened the 15 tickets to find coupons for free powdered gravy mix, for a free powdered spice packet, a free Greek yogurt, a free small can of tomato sauce, and a free package of Oreo thin cookies.  I also got coupons for .50/1 RC Cola coupons (and a bunch of them at that!).  Then I went and checked the Safeway app while at the store (looking up the details of a coupon I couldn't remember just right) and found that I had a coupon for a free thing of Mountain High yogurt waiting for me as well (32 oz size too!!!).  I found after I checked out I had a personalized price on the Mountain High yogurt this week too and so I ended up with 1.50 of overage on the free yogurt (I LOVE it when that happens :).

When I had looked at the ad I knew I was going to go back Friday for some 5.00 Friday items, and so I did (and the shopping trip is seen above there) and used my freebie coupons while I was there.  To break down some of the couponing and bargain awesome here...

  • Three packages of powdered Au Jus Mix.  On sale buy 2, get 1 free.  Used free coupon on one of the packages I ended up buying.  Total price:  1.18 for three packages Au Jus Mix.
  • Two packages of Sloppy Joe seasoning and one package of Fajita Seasoning mix.  On sale buy 2 get one free, used coupon on one of the items I ended up buying.  Final price:  1.18 for three seasoning packets (I did have to go to customer service to get this to apply right in the system as the computers weren't liking the fajita mix as part of the sale, it turns out, but she fixed it for me :).
  • Tony's Pizza (4) on sale for 2.50 each as part of 5.00 Friday.  Used some 1.00/1 coupons my mom had sent me on two of them.  Final Price:  8.00 for four pizzas (these are for nights when mom plain isn't feeling good or we're looking for a quick meal).
  • 1 Box Penne Pasta:  .39.  I had a personalized price on pasta this week (not as low as I wanted for a stock up price on angel hair pasta, though) and it was 50% off due to a munged box, so it took the 50% off of my personalized price.  
  • RC Cola on sale 1.49 per bottle when you buy 4.  Used .50/1 coupons on bottles.  Total price:  3.96 for four bottles (the son likes RC Cola, but it's normally more expensive than Coke is even, so I RARELY buy it for him).
  • Crisco vegetable oil on sale for 2.50 per bottle as part of 5.00 Friday (2).  Total Price:  5.00.  I just needed oil.
  • Chicken tenderloins, frozen.  5.00 as part of 5.00 Friday.  Had a personalized price on the item, resulting in 1.49 additional getting taken off.  Total Price:  3.51 (I would have gotten more but they only had one bag left in the freezer and I couldn't find the stocking person to request more).
  • Teriyaki Sauce on sale 2.49.  Used a 2.00/1 coupon I had.  Final Price:  .49 (this will be used for a quick teriyaki starter later).
  • Oven Joy Bread on sale 1.67 per loaf as part of 5.00 Friday (I got this as the son will sometimes eat this in lieu of hot dog bun tops and this is cheaper).
  • 1 thing Kraft Parmesan cheese 7.99 (personalized price...the son refuses to eat the Parmesan cheese, the good stuff, I ordered from Amazon a while back, so yeah...back to the green can for him).
  • 2 lb container of grapes 5.00 as part of 5.00 Friday (this is a good deal for Alaska this time of year for sure as grapes are about 4.99 lb on sale right now).
  • 4 cans of tuna fish .79 on sale this week with a coupon.  I just needed tuna fish so I decided that was a good enough deal for me.
  • 1 bag of gala apples 3.49 (personalized price).

So, all totaled after freebie coupons, other coupons and personalized prices and things were applied I walked out spending a total of 44.82.  Add in the Fred Meyer trip that day and I spent less than 47.00 on everything and I also got two gallons of milk on sale at Carrs on sale for 2.99 each this week, so I spent a total of 53.00 on groceries last week.  I also got a stack of Monopoly pieces that I managed to get another couple of coupons for free items the next time I go to the store.  Since the soda and stuff I had gotten earlier in the week actually went into my "restock up" budget (which is basically the "stock up on son food" budget) I took out of our last paycheck due to going so long in between pay periods, I think I did pretty good overall.  I'm hoping that we'll have enough soda to last at least a couple of weeks (which would be nice with the way the son blows through it), so hopefully I can cut the grocery budget the next couple of weeks (since my husband gets paid next week, but we have to worry about the mortgage payment coming out of that paycheck so the last couple weeks of the month are usually the tightest).

2.  My husband bartered a haircut for himself for a jar of home made raspberry jam with my sister-in-law. 

3.  I got the notice for the cat's upcoming rabies vaccinations being needed.  Instead of worrying about doing it pronto, I got a quote on how much a basic exam plus the shot would be from the vet and I will take them in one at a time in the coming months before I have to worry about them going outside this summer.  Not ideal, but definitely better than watching money fly out the door all within one week.  At least the cats are healthy this time *knock on wood* so I'm hoping for a routine visit this time around.

4.  Kind of a frugal "darned if you do, darned if you don't" situation.  Swagbucks has been messing up my computer worse and worse as time has progressed and this last couple of weeks have been awful.  I can't even search through Swagbucks without something freezing my system up and things.  Since my laptop is old and I don't have the money to replace it, I ended up removing Swagbucks from my computer.  Sure, it completely stinks when you can't earn Amazon giftcards that way, but when it comes between that and killing a computer?  I'll take the computer.  The computer is running much better now when online, so I'm glad I did it.

5.  My daughter and I made butter today (she didn't take the boredom and repetition of churning well...go figure *laugh*) and I placed it unsalted into the fridge.  My plan is to make some little specialty butters out of the butter to use with dinner as I think she'll get a kick out of that.  I saved the liquid from making the butter and plan on using this "buttermilk" in  baking or something.  Anyone have any tips on what you can use it for?  I figure if nothing else I can add some lemon juice to it and make it into like the more modern equivalent of buttermilk.

6.  I used powdered milk (reconstituted) in baking and cooking this week to save the more expensive fresh milk for human consumption.  I'm always pleased when I remember to do that as I just plain forget a lot of the time and reach for the gallon of milk in the fridge because it's right there and easy.

7.  I asked my son's teacher about Valentine's for my son's school party this year and I found out that we didn't need to buy them for my son's class at all because they were going to make cards as an activity.  I took my son's box of cards from last year that had some missing and asked my daughter (who used all of hers last year) how many children were in her class.  Turns out we're going to be about four kids short with the box of Valentines I have, but I figure I'll scan and print out a couple more Valentines and call it good. 

8.  I saved leftover bits of bread and dried them out, smashed them up and added them to my bread crumb container. 

9.  I washed and reused my son's bottle liners.  I've been doing this daily and am amazed how much use I can get out of a couple of bottle liners before they get worn enough that I throw them away.

10.  My husband and I watched a few movies we've been wanting to see that were movies we thought we would have to pay for to see, but turned out we could see them for free as part of our Amazon Prime membership. 

11.  Our electrical rates actually went DOWN for a change!  I was thrilled when I saw the reduction of 2.7 (or was it 2.9)% on the bill as the last few years it seemed like our electrical rates just kept going up about four times a year.  It was definitely a welcome sight!

And there you go folks.  Some of my adventures this week.  How about you?  How did your week go?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

Please enjoy the stand in photo of my meal planner in lieu of an actual shot of food.  I forgot to take a picture of dinner last night, although it was awesome!

First, I'd like to say "thank you" for the support over the IEP meeting and everything from my last post.  Glad to know I'm not alone in those meetings kind of sucking the life out of the room.  I'm in a much better space about everything and sat down and compiled a list of everything that Alvah has accomplished in the last year and how far he's come.  He even spoke in front of his teacher and aides day before yesterday, which they were thrilled with (he said, "Yes" in response to a question and it was an appropriate response to boot :).

After many hours of frustration containing e-mails and calls and voice mail messages I have not gotten one single call back from any of the speech therapists I've called.  I've started to think outside the box when it comes to this problem.  There is the Talkies program at the literacy center that I could try, but that is like 60.00 per session (they don't take insurance), so I'm on the fence about trying to find the money to do that weekly right now.  I'm starting to consider an online program called, "Gemini" which has popped up on my Facebook feed more than a couple of times.  It's an expensive program (like 100.00 a month), but they offer scholarships if you are financially strapped and help to walk you through what program is best for your child (it's a video based modelling program and with the son's obsession with TV and technology, that might just work out pretty well with him), so I'm seriously thinking about e-mailing them and seeing what they say to letting us give them a try for a price I can (hopefully) afford to pay.  I'm starting to wonder if all of these things happening to speech therapists all these years is God's way of pointing me off toward the path less traveled when it comes to teaching Alvah how to communicate better.  Here's hoping it makes all the difference (Frost reference.  Ha!  Never thought I'd be able to work one of those into the blog ;).

A couple neat things happened the last couple of days.  One was that our tax return came in and because of that I was officially able to pay off the last of the husband's dental bills!  MAN that felt so good to get done!  It's been a long, hard three years but we finally got there :).

Then my mom sent me some money for my birthday and made me promise to spend the money on me instead of the family.  I kind of cheated and used part of it to buy myself some small cutting boards (which I WANTED so I figured it worked) and then used the remainder to buy myself a new pair of sneakers as my old ones are really on death's door.  The daughter got her birthday money from grandma too and used it so well I was proud of her.  She went on Amazon and CRAWLED through the Ever After High dolls until she found ones she wanted, BUT were decently cheap.  So she was able to get two dolls with her birthday money AND get 5.00 cash back (which was her goal) that she then put into her piggy bank.  I love the fact that I have a kid who likes to save money :).

And we got the paperwork into the bank to (hopefully) get a home equity loan to start getting things fixed up around here and start to resolve neglected maintenance issues and hopefully be able to pay for the truck my husband's friend is selling. 

I'm actually kind of nervous as it seems like things are actually looking up financially.  Every time something like this has happened in the past something BAD happens (like tens of thousand of dollars type of bad), so I'm really hoping this time, this time, it might work out.  Fingers, toes and eyes crossed that we're looking at a better financial state.  I know we'll still be tight on money, but being able to move forward instead of just spinning our wheels would make things so much easier to deal with!

So, yeah, onto the menu plan for the week!  After going through the last bit with the menu planned out for an entire month in advance?  I LOVE it!  It's great being able to pick up items in advance when a sale hits to help with a particular "special" meal or something, it allows me flexibility because if we're not in the mood to eat a certain thing I can just flip through the menu and find something else to try and then switch out days with the item I had planned (and I can do this weeks out, so I don't have to worry about the family protesting the same thing in a couple of days) and yeah...it's nice!  I'm going to add "work on next month's menu" to my monthly goals this month for sure (yes, I'm still working on them...I'm terrible this month).
Wednesday:  Chicken Caesar Salad (made chicken in pressure cooker).  This was awesome and such a nice change, I think a big salad might be on the menu at least once a month from now on :). 
Thursday:  Frozen pizza.  The son's recliner broke, which turns out is an old La-Z-Boy (not bad for 12.00 that we spent on it) and so my husband went into town to pick up a part early from the La-Z-Boy repair place, so I packed him food and the daughter and I split a cheapy frozen pizza for dinner while the son had french fries.  We live fancy around here *laugh*. 
Friday:  Tuna Melts, pickles, fruit salad/fruit cocktail  
Saturday:  Baked Ravioli lasagna, left over salad, bread sticks (make for son) 
Sunday:  Chicken Fried Steak , corn on the cob (from freezer), apple pie (pie filling from pantry) 
Monday:  Ham steak, green beans, mashed potatoes 
Tuesday:  Baked fried chicken (basically shake and bake), potato salad, baked beans, corn (dessert:  Leftover apple pie)
Desserts:  Apple pie (make), jello mold (Monday...Armina REALLY wants to try to make one that we found in the recipe book she got me for Christmas, so I said sure.  I'm not sure how well apples are going to taste in raspberry jello, but okay!).

Breakfasts:  Home made waffles (I made a bunch extra when we had waffles for dinner and put them into the freezer for use later) with fruit toppings of choice (from open jars in fridge), eggs, ham (sliced from half ham that I plan to cut down into deli meat and steaks and things this weekend), granola, yogurt (with or without fruit), cereal, toast (cinnamon sugar or regular).

And there you are folks.  Our menu plan for the week.  How about you?  Making anything good this week?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Shopping Goals: February 2018


I am thoroughly depressed tonight.  I texted Alvah's speech therapist this morning to see if we had speech this week and got a very sorry text back in return saying that due to her not being able to find services to help take care of her dad she has to wait for a Medicaid waiver for him to help afford his care, which can take six months or more, so we're looking at no speech therapy till at least July.  And even that is doubtful.  So, I spent most of the day e-mailing and calling people leaving messages on the search, once again, for a new speech therapist.  I really feel cursed today when it comes to speech therapy, I really do.  Between that and the yearly IEP meeting, which are always depressing as you hear everything your child can't do...it was a hard day.

Anyway, back on the matter at hand.  Shopping goals for this month.  I really don't need a lot of stuff this month, but I am hoping to see a few sales potentially pop up so I can stock up on a few things as we are getting low on a few things.

So, here's the list of things I'm getting (hopefully) this month.

Note:  This post contains affiliate links.

The Pantry/Shelf Stable Foods
  • Angel Hair Pasta (if a good sale pops up, as this is the only shape the son likes to eat.  We do have a decent amount left, but we also go through it pretty fast with him)
  • Diced tomatoes (only if a good sale pops up as I do have whole tomatoes canned still and I can just dice those up if needed in the meantime)
  • Powdered lemonade drink mix (if I can find a good price on it)
  • Chicory (from Amazon.  I'm taking the advice from a friend and getting some to use as a coffee extender.  I'm willing to give it a shot to make coffee last longer).

The Fresh/Refrigerated/Frozen
  • Hamburger 
  • Pork Roasts (I picked up a few pork loin roasts today as they were on sale for 1.99 lb through today at Carrs as part of a three day sale...I got small ones that were about six dollar each and will use them in casseroles and things to make them go further)
  • Heavy Cream (got this when I went shopping as well.  This is for one purpose...to make butter in the Kilner butter churn my daughter got for me for Christmas as she was all upset that we hadn't used it yet and was worried I didn't like it).

Health and Beauty Items

And that is about it for the month.  I doubt I will be able to get everything on the list, but hopefully I can get most things.  Here's hoping!

How about you folks?  Anything on your list this month?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap


As weeks go, last week was a mix of good and bad.  The good was we got paid, I was able to stock up on groceries (including fresh produce! Woot!) and get all of the bills paid that ware due for this paycheck and we still have a bit of money left over, which is definitely a nice feeling (here's hoping we can actually keep the money that is left over this time...fingers crossed). 

We went to the bank and put in the paperwork for the home equity loan.  We're only applying for a small loan, so we're hoping everything goes through alright.  Here's hoping!  It'd be nice to be able to have the cash flow to get home maintenance projects done around here and be able to get a new to us vehicle. 

The daughter was home all week pretty much with her stomach cycling and her just feeling miserable.  She's finally starting to feel better today, so I'm praying she's on the mend.  Between her being home sick and the son not doing great still...I think he's tired and just in a bad mood because he's not feeling 100% yet, it's been a long week.  Friday he and my husband went on the yearly ski trip with my son's class and even THEN the son didn't have fun, was grumpy and not wanting to be there, and my husband had to call the trip short (thank goodness he drove the son this time so they had that option).  At least Alvah enjoyed the ride and spending time with his dad while NOT skiing, so that's something I suppose.

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

1.  At the beginning of the week when the fridge was really empty, I started to clean it.  I figured it was a good time to do it when not a lot was in it, and it worked really well!  I still need to pull everything out of the door and wash down the basket type shelves, but overall, I am happy with how it has come along this week (seen up top after shopping was done for this pay period because I completely forgot to take a pic when it was empty...it would have been depressing to look at that way anyway *laugh*).

2.  Trying to get a better idea on how best to maximize freezer space (KIND of hoping to get things organized so I only have to run two freezers and can have one in reserve should something die on me), I started looking up vintage fridge and freezer ads from like the 50's.  Things like freezers were a lot smaller back then, at least on the fridge freezer and things, so I started taking inspiration on those on how to organize things a bit better.  Wish I could find more frozen vegetables in boxes versus plastic bags (they stack a LOT better that way), but I'm getting there on getting better organized :).

3.  I found that Amazon has a much better price for my husband's acid reflux meds than what we pay at the box stores, so I put some on subscribe and save for this month.  I always stalk Amazon after I do something like that to see if the item will go down in price after I put it on Subscribe and Save so I have the opportunity to cancel my subscribe and save order and reorder at the lower price (thus locking me in at that lower price for that month) and I saw an option for a 4.00/1 coupon on the item (I just added it to my cart so I could monitor the price better since they give you notifications on it that way), so I quickly went and made sure the coupon would work on the subscribe and save price, cancelled my order and reordered it with the coupon applied.  4.00 saved for about a minute worth or work!  Totally worth it :).  By doing this I'm saving a total of about 10.00 off of what I would pay for the GENERIC form of the meds at the regular box stores.

4.  I found Carrs had Tilamook cheese go on sale for 5.99 this weekend for the 2 lb blocks.  I had been contemplating getting the 5 lb block of cheese from the bulk store for twenty plus dollars, so I jumped at the chance to get the cheese cheaper through the sale.  I got two blocks to add to the one block I already have in the fridge.  Overall, with sales and things, I managed to get 6 lbs of cheese for less than a 5 lb block would have cost me regular price and with the smaller blocks I can actually fit all the blocks in my deli drawer, thus saving me regular shelf space in my fridge.  Total win!

5.  I ended up rearranging the days on the menu plan this week because of sick kids and stuff like that and so the other night I ended up making the coconut fried fish and chicken that I had planned on making later in the week (you can actually see the chicken marinating in some buttermilk I had to use up in the fridge in the pic up top if you look for it).  I pan fried the pieces instead of deep frying them, thus saving a ton of oil, and I didn't have sweetened shredded coconut (what the recipe called for), but I had unsweetened grated coconut (which was much bigger pieces).  To make it work, I mixed the coconut in with the actual batter, so the pieces of coconut would kind of glue onto the fish, and then breaded the pieces with just bread crumbs.  It worked well and everyone enjoyed the dinner.  And I got to use up some coconut that had been in the freezer for quite a while :).

6.  My husband glued my little bamboo cutting board that I had (it's actually an old plastic bowl lid I had, but I found it was the perfect size for a small cutting board).  I had chopped some veggies on the board and not immediately cleaned it afterwards, so the juices seeped into the cracks and made the board crack apart where the seams were.  My husband took some glue and some clamps and got the board back together, which I was thrilled he did that as I've found with my small amount of counter space (that half the time is taken up by tons of things like loaves of bread, baking dishes that I need to use later on, flours and so forth) that I reach for the small cutting board more and more to do quick cutting jobs.  Next time I get an Amazon gift card from family or through Swagbucks I am so going to go and see what I can find for small cutting boards and pick up a few for the kitchen.  They really are super handy and SO much easier to clean than one big cutting board.

7.  Instead of spending about 3.00 on some orange rolls at the store (I wanted to get us something inexpensive as a treat when we got paid), I decided to make my own with a leftover orange I had in the fridge.  I used the 1 hour bread recipe that I like and split the recipe in half.  One half became a loaf of bread and then I quickly worked with the other 1/2 of the dough and rolled it out to make into orange rolls.  I used a recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook (I have an early 80's edition) to make the orange roll filling/icing.  I ended up having to add a bunch of powdered sugar as the icing came out runny enough that when I rolled the rolls up the icing kept trying to leak out everywhere, so I thickened it up a bunch to put on top of the rolls.  Everyone liked them and the nicest part about it was that normally with the Pillsbury rolls in a tube, we normally consume about three rolls each as they are small and not very filling, but with the home made rolls one roll is enough to fill us all up, so we have about three meals worth of orange rolls for everyone versus one breakfast with the Pillsbury rolls.  And the home made ones cost about 1.00 to make a pan of them, versus 3.00 for the tube at the store.  Definitely on the "make again" list.

8.  I used up odds and ends in the freezer and fridge this week to help make meals, so reduced waste.

9.  As appliance purchases go, I have to say that I have been loving the electric pressure cooker and my electric kettle.  The electric pressure cooker has been a God send when I'm super tight on time or the son is in a bad mood and making it so I can't spend a lot of time cooking at the stove.  Normally that would be the time where I'd just finally give in and go and get fast food or a frozen pizza or something, but now I can just throw the materials into the pressure cooker, set it and walk away without worrying about things scorching or something.  It's great.  And the electric kettle, since I got it I've found that I'm using my ginormous microwave like 99% less than I used to, which has led to a reduction in our electric bill, which is great.

10.  I went to Three Bears, our locally owned bulk store, to see what their prices were when shopping this week and found, to my amazement, that their prices were actually higher on about 90% of the goods I was looking to comp shop compared to Carrs or Fred Meyer.  I did, however, find that they had a 5 lb bag of chicken strips for about the same price that I would have paid for 2 lbs worth at the local stores, so I bought the big bag to use in the daughter's lunches (and potentially for her birthday dinner later in the month as she's still torn between hot dogs and chicken strips for her birthday dinner, luckily now I have both items to choose from :).

And there you have it folks.  Some of my adventures this week.  I'm nearly done with the shopping goals and the monthly goals here, so stay tuned for those here in the next few days.

So, how did your week go?  Save some money this week?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu


All hail the mighty paycheck!   We got paid yesterday.  So, we have groceries in the house again, which is a relief to say the least :).

This next month (February) is going to be a bit different on the grocery front for me as this is the first month where I planned out my meals a month in advance, so my grocery budget gets kind of screwy as I am picking up things early for things later in the month.  For instance, this shopping trip I ended up picking up good salad dressing (Caesar and blue cheese) to use in salads later in the month that are planned on the menu and I also picked up some shaved Parmesan cheese this month to use in said Caesar salad as well because I had a really good price on the salad dressing (2.85 personalized price minus 1.00/1 coupons I had for Litehouse dressings, so I got them for 1.85 per jar) and the cheese (1.87 as it was on sale and also on reduced for 50% off).  So I'm kind of pooling my grocery budget for the month and just deducting as I buy things.  So far, so good.  I budgeted out a "stock up" amount in this paycheck since we had gone so long in between getting paid (and thus shopping trips) and I was under budget, so woohoo for that :).

I'm not sure how complicated I'll be able to get with the menu plan in the next bit.  Turns out speech therapy might be off for a while.  Our new speech therapist, Christene, who has been doing great with Alvah and such, texted me last week and cancelled speech therapy for the time being as her dad, who has been living with her for the past few years, had a massive stroke (which he's had smaller strokes over the past few years, but this was the most severe one he's had) and now requires 24/7 care and she's trying to get care worked out for him so he's watched and cared for while she works at home.  This has been a depressing development, for sure.  I feel terrible for her, for one, as taking care of a loved one when their health is failing is super rough.  And then a part of me feels like it seems, when it comes to speech therapists, we're cursed or something.  I mean as soon as we get a speech therapist, Alvah bonds with them and starts making progress something terrible happens to them and speech is off.  It's depressing.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  For the moment I'm still planning on having speech therapy twice a week just in case things start trucking along again, so I'm planning on utilizing the pressure cooker a lot on those days or even things I can make a day or a few days before and just have it ready to reheat in the oven. 

The menu plan last week went awry, but not terribly bad as I was still able to feed everyone and not waste any ingredients or anything.  The crepes didn't happen the one night as the son was getting over being sick and was just so busy that I couldn't turn my back on him for two minutes to get crepes made.  So, we had ham with au gratin potatoes and veggies instead.  My husband went into work early on Monday to do a side project, so we ended up having spaghetti that night instead of enchiladas.  I was going to have enchiladas yesterday to make up for it, but the husband's stomach hasn't been feeling great this week, so I pushed off the enchiladas completely till later and we had balsamic chicken thighs with rice last night for dinner (actually my husband had them for lunch at work as his stomach was bugging him and he wasn't hungry at dinner time).  Tonight I decided to make the actual item that was on the menu plan and I'll figure out a way to use the leftover re-fried beans and Spanish rice later in the week (since they weren't left over from the enchiladas like I had planned).  So, yeah, we did eat this last week and nothing went to waste or anything, so as far as I'm concerned we're all good :).

And now, onto this week's menu!

Wednesday:  Grilled honey lime chicken  (I used the marinade from the recipe, but used boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts and then we just ate them on the plate instead of in a sandwich type of situation.  I also marinated them for an hour in the fridge before frying them versus the 10 minutes she used in the original episode.  It was good!), Spanish rice (from the Uncle Ben's mix I had in the pantry), re-fried beans. 
Thursday:  Ham sandwiches (ham from freezer, sliced) on home made bread.  Lettuce as a topping (yay for having fresh produce in the house again!!!) with choice of condiments.  Chips. 
Friday:  Home made pizza and breadsticks (if husband's stomach is still hurting he can have the last piece of leftover chicken in the fridge).  Use leftover ham as topping on pizza. 
Saturday:  Chicken enchiladas with leftover rice and beans.  This was originally "Leftovers/Punt" day so this was a good day to move this to.
Sunday:  Waffles (from mix in pantry) with fruit topping (pie fillings in pantry.  Family's choice on what sounds good to them), sausages 
Monday:  Sweet and Sour Chicken, rice, garlic green beans 
Tuesday:  Coconut fish and chicken pieces (I'm adapting a recipe I found and liked in Taste of Home magazine :), oven fries, salad

Desserts:  Jello parfaits (Monday, make Sunday), vanilla pudding (Saturday), yogurt parfaits (use leftover fruit topping from waffles, Tuesday.  Make yogurt from powdered milk).

Breakfasts:  Oatmeal, toast, cereal, yogurt with granola, cinnamon swirl bread (make Thursday).

And there you have it folks.  Our menu for the week.