Monday, September 18, 2017

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Right.  Menu plan.  Ummmm...we're eating!  Does that count?  The highlights of this week's menu are probably me throwing together some taco soup last night on the fly because I noticed that I had some black olives (our last in the house in fact...need to add a couple of cans of black olives to the shopping list) in the fridge that needed to be used up and some jars of taco sauce and salsa in the pantry that I wanted to use up and voila!  Taco soup was born.  It turned out pretty good and anything we don't eat in the next couple of days I'll freeze to eat later on when I need soup (read: when I have a terrible cold and I only want to eat soup).

So, yeah, I'll just post up the menu plan for the coming week here in the next couple of days and just say that I punted on dinner this last week.  Saturday I didn't even need to cook!  My daughter went to her friend's birthday party (and he knew what the sheep pillow was and did indeed like it!  Woohoo!) and came home with an extra pizza left over from the party so we had free pizza for dinner.

Which worked out perfectly, because I spent all weekend working my tail off canning (more on that in a minute) .  This week is already derailed and it's only Monday. Went out to take the kids to school this morning to have warning lights come on in my car telling me I had a super low tire.  Got the kids to school and managed to kick my poor husband out of bed (who subsequently could not get back to sleep most of the day) to show me how to fire up the air compressor so I could go and run my son to speech therapy and run some errands.  I thought the tire might just be low and would be okay, but as soon as I got home and let the car sit in the garage for a few hours (my husband filled it in the late morning) and the thing was down five pounds.  I saw how low it was getting going to pick up the kids and ended up picking them up from school 15 minutes early because I was worried the leak was getting worse on the tire.  My husband filled the tire before he went to work and will fill it again in the morning to keep it from settling too badly (we hope) and then tomorrow's schedule is my husband getting some sleep (I hope) while I run into town and wait while my winter tires get put on my car (thank goodness my tire waited to do this until after the 15th so I had that option) and hopefully they repair my leaky summer tire.  While there I'm hoping to get them to redo my tire sensors as they managed to reverse my front tire sensors on the last tire change over...AGAIN (third tire change over is the charm as they say).  More money I didn't want to spend right now!  Life sure is fun! 

So, yeah, onto what I managed to get done this last week.

Well, sewing goals didn't happen much.  I did work on the embroidered pillow case kit as I waited for my car to get it's oil changed and I worked a bit on my new pot holder for the kitchen while I was there too.  And I did manage to sew a few more pieces of velcro onto my second set of unpaper towels.  But, getting side tracked making a birthday gift kind of put a monkey wrench in the works for sewing goals, but hey at least I got that done and figured out!

I did, however, manage to kick some behind on canning goals this weekend!

1.  So first up is Saturday.  While my husband took my daughter to the birthday party, I got busy canning while they were gone (and surprisingly the son was in a good mood while they were gone as well!).  I first canned raspberry jam from the raspberries I had left in the freezer after making jelly earlier (seen up top).  I managed to can nine pints from the raspberries I had, which I was impressed and very happy with :). 

Side note:   I am REALLY glad I got the bulk pectin instead of buying boxes or something!  That stuff works TONS better than the pectin I normally use (which usually ends up being Sure Gel or Ball brands).  I have no idea why it's different, but it sure worked great in all of these recipes!

2.  Next up, I canned rose hip jelly Saturday afternoon.  I used a recipe that the Cooperative Extension Service had published and I ended up doubling it as I had more rose hips than I thought (woot!).  Instead of the consistency of two boxes of pectin, however, I added three. This really is the best way, I've found, to get a consistent set on jelly.  Otherwise, if your water content on something is too high in your fruit the jelly just doesn't set and you end up with syrup.  And I still have rose hip syrup.  I didn't need any more.   Twenty four hours later and the jelly had a decent soft set on it by the way it was sitting in the jars, so I know it'll set completely within a week (rose hip jelly can take that long to set completely).  I got eight and a half pints from the rose hips I foraged in the yard.  Not too shabby!  And while you can't see it in the pictures because I canned it in pints (makes the mixture denser in the jar or something) because I used so many really ripe rose hips the jelly came out a really pretty dark pink color.  Pretty cool.
3.   Yesterday I was pretty tired, but I did manage to grab the blueberries from the freezer to can and the cherries I wanted to turn into cherry pie filling from the freezer as well.  I read the recipe and realized that the cherries had to thaw for twenty four hours in the fridge first, so I threw those into a bowl and got to canning the blueberries.  I talked to my husband and discussed how best to can the blueberries (jam, pie filling, syrup, etc) and we finally both decided that neither one of us really liked blueberry jam (it's okay, just not a favorite of either one of us), pie filling could be made out of regular canned blueberries if we wanted to put some pie filling on top of something and syrup could be made from the liquid in just regular canned blueberries in syrup, so that's what I ended up making.  Just plain straight canned blueberries (in the recipe from Ball you macerate the blueberries in sugar and they make their own liquid to can in, so I can't really say that they are canned in their own juices or canned in heavy syrup or something...they are just canned blueberries to me *laugh*).  I ended up with twelve half pints of regular canned blueberries and then with the syrup that was left over I added some lemon juice to the pan and made a quick jar of blueberry syrup.  I'll thicken it when we use it on pancakes or something, but it tasted nice and blueberry-ish when I put it in the jar :).
4.  And then today in between car worries, wondering where our package drop off box went at our mail boxes (seriously, it's just gone!  I'm hoping they are upgrading to a bigger box system or something instead of the bad thought that someone decided to unbolt and steal it or something...people do WEIRD things when they steal up here) and then having to run to the post office because of that to pick up some packages and things, I managed to somehow can cherry pie filling!  The recipe was supposed to make about four quarts, I got three and about 3/4 of a pint jar full, which I'm going to cool, put into a freezer bag and freeze.  Then I'll just add it to a pie or topping on something later on.

I'm getting down to a point with the canning where I have sauerkraut to worry about jarring up here in about three weeks and I am hoping to have enough jars to get that done, but the peach jelly...well for now the peach juice is going to stay in the freezer until I can either afford more jars or empty some because I am pretty much out of anything that would work as a jelly jar.  Once I sure I have enough quart jars to can up apple pie filling (once I empty the fermenting jars in the pantry out, in other words) I'll buy some apples and make apple pie filling for the coming year and yeah...after that I'm pretty much done for a while! 

Oddly enough I didn't can half as much this year as last year, but at the same time I'm so much busier schedule wise this year that the canning I got done this year has been a LOT harder to get done.  Weird how life is like that.

And now onto this week's goals!  Now that the garden is pretty much done for the year (I am hoping to figure out a ground cover and start some seeds, but am not sure I'm going to make it the way things are shaping up) due to Bob and Ted, and now that canning is on hold until the sauerkraut is done doing it's voodoo, I have nothing stopping me (other than cars continuing to have problems *sigh*) to work on sewing projects and getting some cleaning and organizing done.  Yay!

Weekly Goals:
  • Prepare potato basket project and figure out liner
  • Cut out two pairs of sleep pants for son
  • Make two skirts for daughter
  • Work a bit on fall themed quilt
  • Continue to work on embroidery
  • Start work on reorganizing pantry and closets
  • Fix hole in daughter's pants
  •  Make out menu plan for week (there it's written down!  Now I have to do it!)
  • Recover house from canning weekend (the son had pretty much free reign as I was working this shows...poor house).
  • Clean fans
  • Continue to work on new pot holder for kitchen
  • Get tires changed over on car.  Get leaky tire fixed (hopefully).
And yeah, I'll call that good for goals for this week.  I'm sure I'll get sidelined the way things have been going, but well...hopefully I can get some of it done!

So, how about you?  Up to anything this week?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, it's been a hectic week.  We went to see the psychologist early in the week and she upped Alvah's Prozac to see how he does once the medicine is completely built up in his system.  So far I'm kind of mixed on it.  On the pro side of things he had a GREAT week at school, had a decent day at therapy mid-week and seems relatively happy for the most part.  But, I have seen an uptick in him hitting on the higher dose of medicine, so I'm paranoid watching him to make sure the hits are mild and that he's doing it when he's genuinely frustrated.  So far, so good, I think.

Then in the middle of the week my husband's truck broke.  His windshield wipers keep coming off of their linkage and so he's been driving home in rain a couple of times and had the windshield wipers go out and would have to pull into a gas station to rig them back up to get home.  Well, in the middle of a downpour the wipers just went and wouldn't stay on the linkage anymore.  And while out trying to rig them so they might work he realized that he had an out headlight.  Since he has full lamps (basically full headlights) that need to be changed out he knew that if one went out the other one was soon to follow, so he wanted to get replacements for both.  And he needs a new muffler.  We knew that the truck was going to need maintenance, but weren't expecting it in the same week.  So, basically we are a one car family until we can get the truck fixed.  Luckily the husband works nights now, so I can still make it to Alvah's therapies and get the kids to school during the day.  Thank goodness we at least had that option available to us.

The chickens went to their new home yesterday and it actually went really well for a change.  Every other time I've moved the chickens it was basically a bad comedy skit with me chasing chickens all over the place, so this time I made sure to move them RIGHT before dark so they were all in the nesting box and kind of loogy, which made it a lot easier.  They seem to really like their new home, my sister-in-law is signing up her kids for 4-H and the kids have already named the chickens.  I'm glad to be free of the added financial responsibility, honestly.  I was starting to get better at cheap chicken keeping, but still the feed bill was really sawing at a threadbare budget, which caused me additional stress whenever I'd see a broody hen in the coop because I knew their feed consumption just doubled.

I heard from Shani and she at first thought that the prognosis was really good for her to recover to a point and be able to live for years.  They did the special scan for her cancer in California and found that it was all still in her liver, so they thought they could remove the tumors, get her on the right meds and she could live for years with a decent quality of life.  And then they did an in-depth MRI on her liver.  Her cancer is inoperable.  She has 40+ tumors in her liver and the doctor said if they waited another week it would be over 60 how the tumors are popping up and growing.  They also found that she had lesions in her colon in various places due to the cancer as well on further testing.  So, they are putting her on meds to try and stop the cancer from spreading so quickly and giving her injections and things to help at least give her a decent quality of life in the time she has left.  She's seeing a naturpathic oncologist who has her on a very restricted diet, so she's hoping that they can do something where modern medicine is failing.  So far she's already lasted longer than they said she was going to at first, so we'll see how it goes.

And yeah, between that and my daughter not sleeping this week (you read that right...THE DAUGHTER decided not to sleep and be louder than anything while doing it all week, which kept me up and has made me decently cranky at this point.  Grumble)...I'm tired and hoping that tonight I can get some sleep so I can at least get some of the things I wanted to get accomplished this week DONE tomorrow.

Now, onto the money saving things that happened this week!

1.  My daughter got invited to her friend's party again this year.  Her and this particular boy have been friends since we moved here and they met in first grade, so I try to make sure to at least get him something decent for his birthday (and he spoils her rotten for Christmas and things, so I feel terrible if I don't do something decent anymore).  This year, however, with the truck needing to be fixed, the mortgage NEEDING to be paid this week and all out of one paycheck and still have enough for gas and things for the next two weeks I knew money was going to be super tight, so I tried to think of an alternative to buying him something.

He loves Minecraft and Leggos, but I didn't have any reserve Leggo kits around like the one I gave him last year, so I tried to think of something I could make a young boy who liked Minecraft and Leggos with materials I had around the house.

After hours of scouring the internet and studying Minecraft (since I had NO IDEA what that was) I came up with a Minecraft sheep pillow (seen up top in all of it's "sheep like block glory") based on this example (I sewed mine, though, obviously).  I was going to try to make him a Creeper pillow (it's a green critter with black eyes and things), but I didn't have green material.  I had white muslin because I always have muslin and I had a tan sheet I'd bought to use for material to hopefully make my husband a few shirts out of, so I dug around and found some pink fabric for the mouth.  I didn't have black material for the eyeballs, however, that I could find anyway, so I dug out some permanent fabric markers (a used store find that was brand new from a quilting store that went out of business and I got them for .75 ages ago) and colored in the black with those, which worried me as it was pretty wet and smudgey and I was worried it would bleed if washed, but after talking to people who had used them before they basically told me not to worry about it as the markers were definitely permanent once dry (here's hoping).  It took me two nights to get done as I was doing it around chicken transfer and kids and things, but it got done.

It might not be the best Minecraft anything ever made, but my daughter helped me to fill it and she's super looking forward to giving it to him tomorrow at his party, so I know he'll love it even if it wasn't a dream gift he'd wanted to receive (he really has a super soft spot for my daughter and treats her really well).  HOPEFULLY he'll like it.  Fingers crossed.

2.  Shopping went minimal this week.  I went to the store and picked up the bare minimum of stuff (boy food really and some milk) to see us through the next two weeks.  I spent 65.00 for two weeks and I think I'll be okay with what we got until the next paycheck comes in.

3.  When my husband was looking for truck parts we went on Amazon and put together an order, figuring we'd have to wait a week until parts come in and then my husband went around and checked locally for parts.  By looking around locally he was able to find the parts he needed for the same price or cheaper than Amazon and we didn't have to worry about them shipping late or that they didn't ship to Alaska (it was surprising, but a nice surprise).

4.  When my daughter ran out of her favorite flavored water for school lunches and we were waiting to get paid earlier in the week, I asked her if she would be okay taking some pink lemonade or other reconstituted drink mix we had around the house for a few days.  She was perfectly okay with that, which saved us a trip to the store, which conserved the gas for the husband having to commute my car to and from Anchorage every day.  It also made me realize that there were more options on drinks to send in school lunches for the daughter, which makes me happy as variety is nice once in a while (and in the case of things like say, Tang, will also give her some added calcium and vitamin C).

5.  When the chickens really needed their bedding changed was about the time I realized things were going to get tight this week until we got paid, so I didn't go and buy bedding like I'd planned on.  Instead I took the advice of one of our blog readers and went out and collected leaves when we had some sun for a bit one day (I had to go out and mix them up a few times to stop them from being damp, but it worked!).  I think my neighbors might have thought I was nuts as I was running out to the driveway in between appointments to stir leaves around with a broom to make sure they were nice and dry.  But hey, other than labor the leaves were free and did help to freshen up the bedding in the coop.  Thanks to whoever gave out that advice :).
6.  I looked out my door this morning to see sunlight and went out and stood on my deck breathing in the cool, crisp air as ANY sunlight we are getting this year has been rare and wonderful.  I happened to look over at the rhubarb plant on the side of the house.  Remember the teeny tiny rhubarb plant I planted last year?  I thought it had gone to seed and was done early in the year (which I thought sad, but figured it was due to the temperature changes and things we had), but it must have been the variety of rhubarb it was, because I looked at it and did a double take as I realized the plant was HUGE compared to how it had been at the beginning of the summer!  I went out and harvested about 1/3 of the stalks as I want to make sure it's nice and well rooted for next year and such, but I got a big sink full of rhubarb from what I picked.  I now have another huge freezer bag stuffed full of rhubarb in the freezer (yay!!!).

7.  My husband desperately needed some new jeans.  Normally we buy his jeans at Sears because we found that the Lee jeans hold up okay, but the last couple of times we've been in the store Sears was out of pretty much everything and trying to find jeans in his size (and he's a decently common size) was really hard.  I was figuring on buying some from Amazon, but my husband came up with the idea to check the used stores first.  Normally I can't ever find his size at the used stores (like I said, common size, so they tend to be sold out of them), but we happened to hit at just the right time and found two pairs in his size!  So, hopefully they fit him alright (as they are brands different than he normally wears), but we shall see as they are in the dryer now.

I also hit the used stores earlier in the week in the hopes that I could find a small remnant of black fabric (as all I have in black fabric here is canvas and I didn't think that would work very well with the other materials I had for the pillow).  I didn't find any, but I did find a Anniversary release of "The Tigger Movie" and "Bambi" for 1.00 and it was 50% off day at the used store for kids things.  I was thrilled as both DVD's were in brand new shape when I checked them and I grabbed them with some pocket change for the kids stockings this Christmas.  Both movies we only have on VHS tape at the house and my daughter loves "Bambi" and my son likes "The Tigger Movie" so I think that will work out well for gifts for the kids.  Good to put a few things away for Christmas anyway as the time is ticking away.

Now I just need to run into "Toy Story 2" in good shape and my son will be really happy *laugh*.

8.  I darned a couple of holes in a pair of jeans of mine.  I have no idea how well it will work, but since it was in an inconspicuous location I figured it was worth a shot (wearing out on the inside of the legs).

9.  We put up Halloween decorations this week.  Both kids were thrilled.  It always amazes me that we use the same decorations year after year, most of them the kids made at school or we made here at home, and the kids love them more and more every year (or so it seems).  I was able to add a few new decorations that the kids made at school last year to the walls, which was fun.

10.  I took advantage of lifetime oil changes on my car this week.  We built this into the price of the original car loan and are allowed four oil changes a year over the entire time we own the vehicle.  As a result I've always taken advantage of the four oil changes a year, which hopefully helped to keep the car in decent shape, and since we paid the car off years ago it's definitely cost effective to have the lifetime oil changes on the car now.  While at the dealership waiting for my car I took advantage of free coffee and popcorn and worked on some of my projects that I wanted to work on this month.

And there you are folks.  Some of my frugal ways this week.  How about you?  How did you do?

P.S.  By the way the menu plan is coming, it's just late.  It was hectic this week and I just never got an opportunity to sit down and make one.  I'm hoping to do a week plus one tomorrow to see us through till week after next.  We'll see how tomorrow goes as I have a lot to do this weekend!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Eeek!  I just realized that it's nearly 1/2 way through the month and I'm just getting started on my Monthly Goals.  It's hard with the schedule being so packed to get stuff done, though, so I have to say that I am happy that I'm getting things done despite not having a lot of time.

So, onto what I got done this last week!

1.  I canned some raspberry jelly (seen up top).

I ended up dyeing a dishtowel doing it (used it to strain the juice from the fruit instead of cheesecloth), but it got done this last weekend.  My daughter hates jams because they have seeds in them (but she'll eat the fresh fruit all day long...go figure), so I figure this way she has no excuse.  I was impressed that one freezer bag of raspberries yielded the required amount of juice for the jelly recipe in the Ball book with a bit left over, when they said that at least 12 cups of fruit would be required to get that amount.  So, yay for juicy fruit!  I'm going to take the rest and use it to make jam, probably this weekend with the way the schedule is shaping up, but we shall see!

2.  I canned applesauce!

I ran into reduced apples when I went shopping at Fred Meyer last week and bought eight bags, so I was hoping that I would have enough to do both applesauce and apple pie filling.  Sadly, though, some of the Granny Smith apples in the bags, which were huge and hard, were all rotten inside, so I ended up having enough apples to make applesauce only.  I'll just have to buy some extra apples to make pie filling.  At least the applesauce got done, though, which is the most important part :).

Seen in the picture is not only the applesauce but also the apple crisp I made for dessert last night.  Small kitchen was the only spot I had to let the crisp cool *laugh*.

That was all I got done of my canning goals this weekend.  I'm hoping to be more productive this week, although the way my schedule is it's going to be at least Friday before I can get much done in the way of canning and sewing. 
3.  On the sewing front, I did get a bit of embroidery done!

I started work on a pillow case (they came in a set of two) that I was gifted.  It's not hard work, but with the embroidery going over the entire pillowcase there is a decent amount of work there.  I'm hoping that these turn out well as I want to gift them for Christmas presents :).

4.  I did manage to get the heaters in the kid's rooms cleaned out and fired up this week.  The nights are cold enough that you are okay sleeping under a heavy quilt or comforter but come morning, since the kids sleep with their doors closed (their insistence, not mine) their rooms are pretty chilly when I go in to get them up in the morning, so I've been firing up their heaters for a little bit to take the chill out of their rooms.

This week's goals are kind of all over the place, but hey, hopefully I can get it all done!

This Week's Goals:
  • Can Rose Hip Jelly
  • Can Raspberry Jam
  • Can Blueberries
  • Can Cherries
  • Prepare potato basket project and figure out liner
  • At least cut out sleep pants for son
  • Make two skirts for daughter
  • Work a bit on fall themed quilt
  • Continue to work on embroidery
  • Start work on reorganizing pantry and closets
  • Fix hole in daughter's pants
  • Figure out birthday gift for daughter's friend's birthday party this weekend
  • Get oil changed on car

And there you are folks.  My goals for this week.  Hopefully I can get it all done.  How about you?  Up to anything this week?

By the way I do plan on doing a month in review for August.  Mainly because I realized that I didn't really get to do much I'd planned on but a bunch of stuff I wasn't planning on.  Weird the way that happens.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, as week's go this one can fall under the category of "busy".  Next week and the week after are just as jammed packed with things to do.  I've got orthodontist appointments for the daughter, speech therapy, oil change appointments...the list goes on.  In between everything that is happening I've got to find time to get everything done that needs to get done, so MAN I'm a bit frazzled and really tired right now.

Alvah's eczema got infected this week.  Luckily our pediatrician is awesome so I called to make an appointment to get him seen and told them what was going on.  His pediatricians reaction was a good one, which was, "Why bring him into the office and get him exposed to other sick kids with open sores on his hands and feet?  I'll call him in a refill for the antibiotic we gave him last time he had an infection with his eczema".  And that's what she did, which I am relieved she did that so I could spare him getting exposed to more germs, for sure.  So, Alvah is on antibiotics for the next ten days to clear up the infection in his eczema so it doesn't sink deeper.  Poor kid just can't catch a break :(.

So onto the money saving things that happened this week (which I guess not going to the pediatricians office was a money saving thing as it saved me gas and the appointment :).

1.  When I was dropping the kids off at school a few weeks ago, I saw something weird, but kind of cool.  In a pile of dirt left by the plow over our very snowy winter, someone had obviously thrown some sunflower seeds they didn't want to eat and the seeds had taken root in the sand.  So there was literally a huge bunch of sunflowers suddenly blooming all around the dirt pile.  My first thought was, "MAN I'd love to forage some of those for sunflower seeds!"  So, after dropping the kids off at school one day this week I stopped and talked to the front desk staff and asked if I could potentially snag some of the sunflowers from the pile of dirt by the parking lot.  They were surprised to hear about them and laughed when I showed them and they said, "Sure, go ahead!"  We had some high winds this week and a few of the sunflowers got blown down in the storm, so I grabbed a few of them to put on the kitchen table (seen up top).  I don't know if I'll get seeds from the big one or not, but it was still nice to bring in some fresh flowers into the house to enjoy :).

2.  I managed to get sugar and freezer bags (two things on my shopping goals for the month) this week.  I went to comp shop some things at Three Bears and ended up picking up chicken feed there as it was like five dollars cheaper than the feed store I have been buying from and I also found that they had their cheap freezer bags on sale for .90 a box!  I picked up enough to last us for a while.

I wasn't impressed with anyone's prices on sugar when I looked and was trying to figure out how to get enough for canning on the cheap when Carrs came out with their new week on Wednesday.  I checked my personalized prices on things and was surprised to get a personalized price of 2.00 per 4lb bag of sugar!  I went and got six bags, which will hopefully see me through the canning I want to get done in the coming weeks.  Here's hoping!

3.    The plastic that I put underneath the tablecloths on my table finally died on me after many years of use.  The son can be hard on a table, so I tried to think of an option that wouldn't require me going and buying more plastic to put under the tablecloths.  I finally took some beeswax I had around the house and waxed the table after oiling it.  It is now shiny and repelling water decently well, so I am calling it a success for now.  I'm just going to have to be careful to clean up spills and things quickly to avoid the wood getting damaged.

4.  I had gotten a couple of nasty notes from my dentist's office (on the same day even) from the new office manager saying that my payment was too low and I needed to call and make new payment arrangements.  I was upset, actually really upset, as when I had gone in and gotten the dental work done that had wracked up my bill I had told them I couldn't afford caps and to just pull the few teeth that needed caps to avoid extra expense, but my dentist had refused and told me I needed caps and that they would accept whatever payment I could afford and I could pay them off when I had the money.  So, I've been making lower than I wanted to payments to them for the last three years while I worked on getting my husband's dental bills paid off, but I had been paying them the amount we had agreed to.

Instead of calling immediately and being all upset, I waited a week until I was significantly calmed down and called the office to discuss the issue.  I explained the situation, explained how it had happened and did say that I didn't appreciate the three bills in one day with nastier and nastier notes on them.  The office manager was apologetic and agreed that I could call them back in a few months to see about maybe upping my payment (since one of the two chunks of dental bills for the husband we have left will be paid off when dividends come in next month) and told me not to worry as they would honor the terms they had agreed to the in the original agreement.  It felt good getting that settled and also felt good not going in all upset and having to pay a higher payment that I couldn't afford at the moment.

5.  I took a frozen pizza we had gotten cheap out for lunch today, but the family was kind of disappointed it was pepperoni as they would have preferred Canadian bacon and pineapple or some other type.  I looked in the fridge and saw a baggie of black olives we had left over from taco night and then remembered I also had some deli Hawaiian ham I'd gotten cheap in the freezer to use at a later date, so I took both items, removed the pepperoni from the pizza and made a black olive and ham pizza instead (I stuck the pepperoni in a baggie and put it in the freezer for use later).  Instead of the husband and daughter eating one piece of pizza each if it was pepperoni they both ate plenty and we ended up with only one piece of pizza left over.  I call it a win :).

6.  Rifftrax sent out an e-mail asking people to take a survey and if you took said survey you would get a 3.00 gift certificate added to your account.  I took the survey, which took no time at all, and got my 3.00 gift certificate this week.  I am planning on saving it in our account and using it closer to Christmas as a gift for my husband.

7.  I started to read some free books on Google books.  The books are out of print and cost a small fortune on Amazon, so I was happy to find them to read for free.

8.  I have been having a blast binge watching the 18th Century Cooking series on YouTube and have bookmarked a few recipes to try (or in my case variations on said recipes).  It's neat seeing how some things have changed a bunch but some things, that you would think would never have been around in that time period (like onion rings) were actually made.

9.  I didn't really want to spend money on straw for the nesting boxes as we are getting tight on money until payday, so I went through and shoveled up a bunch of the clean bedding the chickens had just plain knocked out of the coop scratching around and things and dumped that into the nesting box instead.  It's not the perfect solution, but it'll help alleviate the situation until hopefully the chickens can get picked up and brought to their new home.

10.  Instead of buying cheesecloth for a project that needed to be strained, I used a clean lint-free dishtowel instead.  I ended up dyeing the dish towel, but since it's white I'll just bleach it white again or as close as I can get.  I'm not too terribly worried about it and it saved me from having to buy cheesecloth, so I'm happy.

11.  Instead of wasting a bit of celery I had left in the fridge that was starting to go limp, I dehydrated it instead and put it into a baggie to use in soups and other dishes later.

And there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures for the week.  How about you?  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

The crock pot is going to be strong this week.  With everything I have to get done around here between canning, sewing and such, I need all the time I can get to work on other things.  So, slow cooking meals, meals in dutch ovens or crock pots, and things like that, are definitely high on my priority list.  Makes me wish I had an Instant Pot that I didn't have to babysit like my stovetop pressure cooker, but yeah...that price tag of 60.00 or more...I'll continue to dream for sure ;).

Also, please enjoy the shot of the meat pie I made last week with the puff pastry from the freezer I was talking about.  I ATTEMPTED to make some fancy decorations with the left over puff pastry, but they all kind of puffed up and became puffy globs, so the rose I sculpted and the leaves I placed around it failed miserably on the aesthetic front, but hey, it was still fun to do *laugh*. 

Anyway, let's get onto the menu for the week!
Wednesday:  Leftover Tacos

Thursday:  Stuffed Steak in the crock pot with green beans

Friday:  Marinated chicken thighs (in crock pot), baked potatoes (in crock pot...maybe...I'm still nervous about the prospect as I keep reading varying success rates with doing it), salad

Saturday:  Pan fried fish (use cornmeal for breading) with turnip greens and rice

Sunday:  Waffles with sausage and fruit

Monday:  Fauxtisserie chicken (crock pot), baked beans, corn

Tuesday:  Chicken salad sandwiches (home made bread, use leftover chicken)

For Breakfast:  Orange Rolls (Saturday), toast, cereal, granola with yogurt (or without), oatmeal/porridge, cream of wheat

For desserts:  Cookies (note:  Make cookies), apple pie, leftover birthday cake.

Snacks:  String cheese/cheese sticks, cheese and crackers, apples, branch bread (note:  Make branch bread) with jam or jelly

And there you are folks.  Our tentative menu for this week.  How about you?  Got anything yummy planned?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Monthly Goals: September 2017

First, I am still working on the menu plan for the week, thus why this is getting posted first.  This cold is persistent.  Everyone I talk with says they have it for a good month, which I'm coming up on myself.  I've still got a nasty cough and a nasty sore throat on and off.  I keep trying to take it easy for the sake of fighting off any infection, but with how busy the schedule is between doctors, specialists and therapy with Alvah...I'm wiped out and am just kind of working for the weekend at this point and hoping that the Zyrtec I'm taking at least keeps things from settling in too far. 

When it comes to things to do this month...I have a lot to do.  The weather is growing colder, quickly, and we're getting rain on top of rain, so trying to forage at any given moment to get more rose hips and other things for the pantry is going to be a race against the weather this year.  On top of that I've got embroidery to get done, sewing to do, canning to do...the list goes on. 

One of the things that I ended up having to add to my "to do" list this month is getting some canning of fruit from the freezer done.  I was going to hold off until the weather got cold to can the raspberries, peach juice, blueberries (that I have left from last year) and cherries, but my standing freezer in the laundry room is starting to have freezing up problems on the bottom shelf where it turns everything into a solid ice brick down there.  My husband wants to defrost the freezer to see if there's a chunk of ice blocking something (since it's a frostless freezer), so the best thing to do to make sure the quality of the fruit doesn't get lost (or freeze into a solid brick on refreezing it) is to just can it.  While the freezer is defrosting I am hoping to also clean the coils and things on the freezer and give the weatherstripping the once over on it as it's getting to be about ten years old now and might need some TLC.  I CAN'T have the freezer die on me as I can't replace it and I NEED the extra freezer room to be able to stock up on things like meat when it is super cheap, so trying to keep it in good running order is important right now.

So, let's get down to what I want to get done this month (and in some cases NEED to get done this month).

Canning Goals (To-Do):
  • Can applesauce (I managed to get a good deal on reduced apples at Fred Meyer yesterday so this is a "NEED TO DO" this week)
  • Can apple pie filling (if I have enough apples)
  • Can cherries from freezer
  • Can blueberries from freezer
  • Can sauerkraut (if done fermenting at the end of the month)
  • Can peach jelly
  • Can rose hip jelly
  • Can raspberry jelly and jam

Sewing Goals:
  • Make sleep pants for son
  • Make training bras for daughter (luckily she's been able to wear some undershirts I got her a while ago in the meantime)
  • Make some skirts for daughter (some for Christmas and some to wear around the house...she HATES wearing pants at home because she gets hot, so she's found she loves to wear skirts.  Unfortunately she only has like three and one of those KIND OF fits her at this point, so I need to make her some more)
  • Make nightgowns for daughter
  • Finish second set of unpaper towels (I LOVE these things!  I definitely recommend to those who are used to using paper towels to go through the extra trouble and put them on a paper towel roll and tear them off just like paper towels.  It really does add that extra convenience and you don't forget they are there like you might a drawer full of rags or something :).
  • Make potato basket liner (more on this little mental light bulb later)
  • Start work on fall themed quilt (more on this later if I ever get around to it *sigh*) 
  • Work on comforter salvage operations (I have like four comforters that just need to be scrapped and rebuilt at this point...I REALLY need to get on this).

Embroidery Goals:
  • Work on tote bag
  • Work on pillow cases for Christmas Gifts (I want to embroider and send pillow cases for my family back East for Christmas as they are so good to us when it comes to Christmas every year and I've had to really punt when it came to giving them anything for YEARS)
  • Work on embroidery ideas for kids

Other Goals:
  • Start work reupholstering love seat (it's in BAD shape and I need to do something with it).
  • Redo the pantry (I am hoping to scab some book cases from storage to help me out with this idea somehow, but I DESPERATELY need to find a better system for food storage.  I'm just getting too old to constantly crawl around on concrete when I need something.  My knees are definitely protesting.  I also want to try and keep the back of the pantry where I keep my canned goods currently more dark for home canned goods and produce, like potatoes, to keep things fresher longer).
  • Deep clean room heaters in preparation for colder weather.
  • Clean and organize closets better to put up summer weight blankets and things and pull down winter weight items.
  • Start work on new pot holder for kitchen.
  • Darn some socks.
  • Fix holes in the knee of daughter's pants (I need to figure out where my patches ended up when my sewing shelf, which is still broken by the way, fell apart).
And yeah, that's the tip of the "mental scream of overwhelm" that I have going on right now *laugh*.  How about you?  Got anything planned this month?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Shopping Goals: September 2017

Well when it came to shopping goals last month, I did pretty well, actually.  I managed to pick up vegetable oil at Three Bears (our local bulk store that doesn't require a yearly membership fee...but prices are higher than say Sam's Club or Costco...just kind of a give and take type of thing) and got two huge jugs of it for about 10.00.  That will hopefully last me a while, although I'd like to pick up a couple more this month or next just to make sure I have enough oil to last for quite a bit.  I still need to get toothpaste, though.

I've been worried watching and reading about what has been going on across the country when it comes to our food supply in the US right now.  The cost of pretty much everything shows signs of going up, in some cases (such as wheat) by a pretty big margin, so one of my goals in the next couple of months is to try, somehow, to squeeze more money out of the paycheck to get stocked up on foods, like pasta, for the next year to ride out the prices increases and things.  Some things, like meat, I just don't have enough money, or freezer space, to have much control over, but things like flour and pasta I can stock up on to hopefully see us through the next year and for not too much money (still going to be tough to find said money, but I'll figure it out).  So, those are on my list of things to get the next few months.

I've also been worried about things happening on a local level.  Our governor is calling a special session at the end of October to try and force the legislature to pass taxes, including an increase in our gas tax (which we already pay some of the highest prices in the country for gas) and an income tax, among others, so stocking up on things BEFORE the end of October when that special session happens is kind of necessary for me to make sure we don't get nailed with additional taxes after that date.  Moving is becoming more and more of a need at this point the way things are looking, which means somehow I need to be as smart of a steward with our funds as possible if we're EVER going to be able to find the funds to get out of the state. 

So, yeah, anxiety levels for me are high right now.   I just take deep breaths and tell myself that God will show a way if it is meant to be, so just keep your eyes and ears open and breathe woman, breathe!

Anyway, here's my tentative list for this month.  Some of this list is inevitably going to bleed over into next month and will probably be paid for with the small amount of dividends we'll have left after paying off a chunk of my husband's dental bills, but I'm hoping to pick up as much as I can just through normal pay periods so I can save as much of the small chunk of dividends we'll have left next month to put into savings just in case we need to do something like fix a car.

So, onto the list!

  • Potatoes (hoping to stock up and get about 40 lbs in the next couple of months to last us for quite a while)
  • Carrots (to supplement the carrots I got from the garden for this winter.  These will be bought to just blanch and freeze for later use)
  • Pasta (this is a maybe.  I'm going to comp shop a good price I got on pasta through Amazon and see which one will be cheaper, probably tomorrow)

Fred Meyer
  • Apples (Gala apples are on sale cheaper than anywhere I've seen so far this year, so I would like to buy 10 lbs to can some more applesauce)
  • Sugar (25 lb bags of sugar used to be cheaper here than at Three Bears so I plan to comp shop that again as canning is going to use up a lot of sugar in the next month or so) 
  • Lettuce (since my lettuce is done for now.  I have a few seedlings that survived the moose and am watching them but they're still a ways off of harvesting)

Three Bears
  • All Purpose Flour (50 lbs)
  • Bread Flour (25 lbs)
  • Freezer Bags (I found they have a brand for 1.00 and some change for 15 bags and mine are wearing out from rewashing them so much, so I need to replenish a bit)
  • Shelf stable milk (this is an "if" item as I got a good price on some on Amazon, so I want to see if Three Bears is cheaper.  I keep this around in case we can't get to the store as my son will NOT drink powdered milk)
  • Tortellini (I got a really great deal earlier in the month that I put on Subscribe and Save for 12 boxes for 15.00.  This beats store prices by a LOT!)
  • Angel Hair Pasta (this is a maybe depending what Carrs/Safeway has for sales.  We eat angel hair pasta regularly as it's my son's favorite shape, so I stock up for the year on angel hair when I can)
  • Curel Itch Defense Moisturizing Lotion (while it doesn't do as well as Puriya lotion for Alvah, it's 3.00 per tube versus 30.00 for a small tub, so I've been supplementing to make the expensive stuff last longer)
  • Toothpaste (I ordered two tubes for  2.00 and some change, which is cheaper than the stores.  I'm still waiting for a good sale on toothpaste before I buy at this point)
  • Puriya Mother of All Creams (moisturizing cream for Alvah.  Expensive, but getting REALLY low so I am trying to budget out for that too).
You Pick Farm:
  • Turnips (depending on price and when they become available.  I'd like to get ten pounds to see us through the winter months)

Feed Store:
  • Chicken Feed (I'm nearly out and I have no idea when my sister-in-law will be able to pick up chickens, so they need to eat)
  • Straw (the last broody hen has made the nesting boxes REALLLLYYYY gross and I just can't stand it anymore.  If my sister-in-law picks up the chickens soon I'll use the rest of the bale of straw to make a scare crow for the front yard for a fall decoration or something.  But I need to clean the nesting boxes.  I just need to!).
And there's my tentative list of things to get in the next little bit.  How about you?  Need to buy anything this month?