Friday, September 18, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap


 Well, fall is officially here, it seems.  The temperatures at night are going down into the upper thirties (Fahrenheit that is), the leaves are falling from the trees at a rapid rate, and the furnace is now on pretty much full time.  

It has been a week of things breaking.  I dug out the pan that I normally roast our turkey at Thanksgiving in (it's like a 10x15 pan versus the 9x13s that I have in my cabinet) to move it to clean the spot it was in.  I somehow managed to drop a Pyrex baking dish, on carpet, in a way that shattered old reliable.  So, I bought a new roasting pan this week.  At least this one is metal and I can use it for chicken and things as well as for the turkey (the old pan was so big that really the only time I ever dug it out was at Thanksgiving).  The cheap cooling racks I bought at Denali Dollar years ago (it was kind of like our 1.00+ store in Wasilla for a while) started to rust.  They were never great quality to begin with, but I do use them all the time and I don't want rust in my baked goods, so I ended up having to get a new set of cooling racks from Amazon (I got a two pack for like 13.00 which seemed to be the best deal for ones people said didn't rust and were decent quality).  The son sat on the cloth box that I was using in his room for a hamper and he not only flattened it but managed to break all the spot welds on the thing, so after many years of service I had to call it quits for that and I'm hoping I can keep on top of the laundry so I can keep his room hamper free for now.  A fuel pump went in a vehicle and we had to replace it.  The DVD player in Alvah's room died (thank goodness I had a spare one that worked that I could grab).  The husband had to build a support system to help the mattress platform sit flat in the son's bed (which yay that worked good).  It's been kind of crazy around here.  My dad always said that things broke in threes, but we buried that number for sure this last week.  

So, yeah, money saving wasn't really too successful this week.  We did have a few silver linings though, so let's get to those.

1.  We finally got an appointment to get Alvah evaluated by the speech therapist that works through our homeschool.  Bright side to this is she'll be teaching ME how to teach Alvah, so hopefully between that and the classes and books I'm reading I might be able to hopefully help him to better to communicate with us.  I'll be so happy if that happens.

2.  I was able to buy 20 lbs of potatoes from our local farm that our CSA box was through.  Man the last box they gave us was awesome!  I ended up with two pumpkins (one is really green, so I'm not sure if that'll ripen or what, but if nothing else we can carve it at Halloween.  The other pumpkin is a white pumpkin, which I've never bought one of those before so that was cool), russet potatoes, tomatoes, honey, apples, broccoli, beets, carrots, lettuce, turnips and collards.  It was a great way to end a really cool experience.  

I was kind of nervous about buying the potatoes.  I put in my order in good faith and was just waiting for the amount when I picked them up because no one e-mailed me back when I asked for prices per pound.  I got 20 lbs of red potatoes for 20.00.  At 1.00 per pound for farm fresh potatoes...I was happy let's put it that way :).  I currently have them sitting loosely in a cardboard box under the coffee table in the den to dry out and cure (I'm mixing them to dry them on all sides) as they came directly from the farm covered in mud, so they definitely needed to cure and dry out before storing them.  Between them and the drawer full of "new potato" type of russets I have filling my crisper drawer in the fridge, I'm hoping to be well set on potatoes for a while :).

I pulled out an old waxed cardboard box that was used to store potatoes from a previous year when I bought some through another farm in Palmer and I'll reuse that box to store the new potatoes in.  Hopefully, if I can store them right, they'll last me well into winter.  Fingers crossed.

3.  We got approval to get Alvah a new talker through the homeschool and I was able to get in contact with the man in charge of technology orders and get in our order for the I-Pad mini.  It should be waiting for us at the office when we go in for the speech therapy evaluation next week.  I'm so relieved, honestly, as having to buy a new I-Pad mini so the son would have a portable talker was going to be expensive no matter how it was cut, so being able to use his educational funding for it was a real boon.

4.  Homeschool, speaking of which, is going well with Alvah.  I'm really happy with him so far this year.  He's enjoying me reading "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood" to him (he has never sat still while I read anything to him before now, so it has been great for me), his hand writing is slowly getting smaller and better and he's tolerating the bits he doesn't like a LOT better.  He's biting apples when I hold one up to his mouth, he's really enjoying watching us cook and bake (which it is really great watching him show interest in things) and yeah...I'm happy :).

5.  I finally got the pantry better organized and I think it'll work well for this winter.  I'll try and take pictures here soon and give a quick update on how we are going into winter and what my thought processes are on what I bought and why, so if you are interested stay tuned for that.

6.  I started to take measurements of my kitchen cabinets.  Why?  Well, since the earthquake my kitchen cabinets don't work, like organization-wise.  I ended up having a bunch of stuff come down off the top of the cabinets after the quake to save what was left of my glass items from getting broken in the many aftershocks.  Tons of stuff broke and a bunch of it I couldn't get replacements for, or I couldn't get near the same item as the items I was using weren't made anymore and weren't exactly easy to find (and if I had found replacements, since the items that broke were "vintage" and popular with collectors, it would have cost me a FORTUNE to replace them with similar items).  I've rearranged my cabinets about, on, ten times (at least) since the earthquake and each time I've made the spaces in the kitchen work worse (somehow).  So, instead of tearing apart the kitchen, again, and organizing the cabinets this way and that, I decided I'm just going to draft it all out and organize the cabinets that way and THEN put everything in its place when done.  If it worked for Julia Child I figure it can work for me *laugh*.  

This will be an experience for me.  You are looking at the woman who was only able to pass drafting with a "C" in high school by being good at making an ellipse in a three dimensional cube and doing those plans over and over and over again (my art teacher loved me though as I was able to make him a very nice series of templates for ellipse shaped mat frames for different art projects *laugh*).  But, yeah, me and three dimensional drawing/drafting?  Not something that I was good at to say the least.  Hopefully, my brain will get it this time ;).

7.  I just wanted to highly recommend to anyone the LEAST bit curious about the Norwegian countries and interesting tidbits about their traditions, how they speak (turn of phrase and things), etc. this newsletter I found online.  I was on Amazon (of course) looking at different cookbooks last Christmas to see what fun things I could find to do with the kids for our "Christmas Around the World" unit I put together and I stumbled across a series of cookbooks that were written by the owner of a restaurant called "ScandiKitchen".  I signed up for their newsletter mainly as a lark, but I actually really ENJOY getting the newsletter in my inbox every week and find it extremely entertaining.  Really!  I know, getting a online newsletter and being happy to get it seems kind of odd, but really it is a lot of fun.

You can go to their website HERE to sign up.  It is one of those entertaining oddball things I've found that are free to do, so I thought I'd share :).

8.  We made the apple cider donuts from the Raddish box this week.  I put them in a "fancy" box that I had to make them a bit more special.  I was, sadly, kind of underwhelmed by them.  I was hoping that they would be really apple tasting since the main liquid was apple cider, but instead, as my husband put it, "they taste like carrot cake a bit".  They weren't bad, don't get me wrong, they just weren't great.  The recipe called for cinnamon and nutmeg as the two main spices in the recipe and I found that the nutmeg just kind of overwhelmed everything else (at least to me).  I want to try again with some different recipes and see if I can find ones that are closer to the apple cider donuts I remember from my youth apple picking in New England :).

I did find that my husband would bring breakfast to work with him this way, though, so I'm seriously thinking of trying some different recipes so he'll bring food with him in the morning.  He goes to work really early, so things like donuts and other things that will keep for a while before he eats them are ideal so he can wake up fully before eating.  If I can get him to take food with him he's less likely to buy breakfast foods while at work which will definitely save us money as anything at the airport, as anyone who has been to an airport knows, is super expensive.

We doubled the recipe to practice our fractions and I sent in a half dozen with my husband to work to share with his co-workers.  His team really enjoyed them, so hey at least there's that :).

And, yeah, I think there are some things I'm forgetting, but those are definitely the major ones that happened the last bit.  How about you guys?  Things been going okay for you?

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2) plus a Garden Update


When it comes to money saving things the last few weeks, there is sadly not much to report. Bright side there is also not much to report on the other end of the spectrum either, so hey, at least no news is good news! Some of the biggest things that have happened the last few weeks are...

1.  I harvested the potatoes from the garden as we have been getting temps that are going down into the low 40s at night and I awoke this weekend to a heavy frost on the yard.  I decided it was time to dig the potatoes at that point because digging potatoes out of frozen ground wasn't exactly a welcome idea to me.  

Sadly, out of 8, count them, 8, potato plants, I got the whopping "harvest" you see above.  I can't blame the plants, really.  I usually dig potatoes by hand if possible because it is a lot easier on the potatoes to do that and when I dug down about four inches the ground was COLD and I mean COLD.  I ended up switching to a shovel just because my hands were getting super cold digging in the mud.  Never a good sign.  

So, yeah, sadly I'm going to have to buy in potatoes this year.  Last year was such a nice boon being able to go and harvest the potatoes at the experimental farm, but alas this year nothing like that happened.  So, I put in an order for potatoes with the same farm I got my CSA box through and I'll just pick them up and pay this week when we pick up our final box for the season.  I need to figure out a good way to store the potatoes on my landing as that seemed to be the place the potatoes lasted the longest of all the places I've stored them over the years and hopefully we'll be good to go through a decent portion of winter anyway.

2.  I signed up for an online course to help me learn LAMP Words for Life, hopefully.  It is an actual course to help teach speech therapists the program (you can even get credit for the course for continuing education purposes) through the Center for AAC and Autism.  The course normally costs nearly 80.00, but since I wasn't taking the course for credits and was just doing it as a parent I was able to book the course at a 50% off rate.  Which saving 40.00 was definitely a good feeling.

3.  I tried to buy cooking oil through our local store, but only got 1/2 of what I ordered through my online order.  I was on Amazon and was looking through my cart for mark downs (I, no joke, have like 150 items in my cart at any given time, but I try to keep things like food items and things we use on a regular basis near the top so that I can see if I can get those things cheaper on any given day) and found that gallons of canola oil were down in price from 10.00 per gallon to 6.00 per gallon.  I ordered two as it was definitely something I needed.  I then found that the olive oil I like to get was down in price and had a coupon of 10% off your first subscribe and save order.  Since I was nearly out, I ordered one of those and used the coupon.  As soon as the oil comes in (and I pray all of the oil gets here in one piece and travels well *fingers crossed*) I'll cancel my subscribe and save that is six months out so I don't end up with a nasty surprise six months from now when the item comes back up for shipment.

4.  We wanted to take a day trip.  Instead of worrying about all of us eating out, I packed some sandwiches and some drinks.  We actually ended up coming home before we ate, so we ended up having sandwiches a couple of meals at home over the weekend instead.  It ended up being a pretty frugal purchase and was a nice treat for us to have as I normally don't buy deli meat much at all anymore.

5.  The screen on the I-Pad mini we use as Alvah's day to day talker is starting to die.  I looked at prices and things to replace it, but first I e-mailed our contact teachers through our homeschool and asked if there was a way to use our allotment to pay for it as it is definitely an item used for his education and you can get a really good deal on tablets if you order them through the homeschool system (we get a certain amount of money each year as an allotment to use for the children's education in this state.  We have to justify expenses through our contact teacher and things, but it is nice to have money to use for the children's education for sure).  They had me fill out a special form to request the I-pad mini and they are pretty sure it will be approved.  Here's hoping as that will save me a significant amount of money if the allotment can be used for that purpose.

6.  Speaking of the home school, I found out that we get a free yearly subscription to the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Power Point and Excel) for up to five devices, so I went and got signed up and downloaded the programs for us to use.  I like Open Office, don't get me wrong, but it is kind of glitchy on my system, especially when it comes to paperwork I have to fill out for the kids, so it is nice to have the proper program so that the documents come out right on my computer and I don't have to borrow my daughter's laptop to print out documents.

7.  We watched a bunch of different things for free on YouTube and through Amazon Prime.

8.  We got the new Raddish box in this week and got some awesome recipes that I can't wait to try.  One of them was for apple cider donuts.  I had bought a jug of apple cider last year and so I was thrilled that I will have the ingredients on hand to make the donuts a bit later this week :).  There are two camps in this world, it seems.  The pumpkin spice crowd and the apple lover crowd when the fall season hits.  I'm definitely in the apple camp, so the donuts look super awesome to me *laugh*.  When I looked at the glass jug of cider I bought last year I found that the use by date is actually good till 2022, which impressed me.  I'm definitely going to look for that brand again and I'm going to buy a few more bottles to last me through till next year :).

9.  I went online and found some fun crafts for the kids to do for Halloween and Thanksgiving and found ones that would cost me very little in the way of materials to make.  For Thanksgiving we are going to make a project that I have all the materials on hand, which is always preferable an I think it will be pretty fun as well. 

10.  I called and ended up dropping an old vehicle off of our insurance.  It saved a bunch of money and since said vehicle is paid for and parked for the time being (we will put it back on the insurance in the event something breaks down and we have to use said vehicle or something), it was good to get the insurance bill down a bit.  Any little bit of money saved right now helps.

And there you go folks.  Some of what has been going on the last few weeks.  How about you?  Things going alright for you all?

Monday, August 31, 2020

Shopping Goals: September 2020


 I know this is a day early, but hey, better a day early than late right?  I'll take accomplishments where I can get them right now ;).  And note to self:  Update the pantry photo *laugh*.

Well, it has been a while since I've done one of these posts. Luckily, now that schoolwork is underway with the kids and we're getting into the groove, doing blog posts seems to be a bit easier as I can type them out as the daughter is working on other things.

When it comes to shopping goals, it's been kind of difficult to form a definitive “plan” of what to get or buy with how weird the supply lines have gotten.  Luckily, when it comes to school supplies, I'm pretty well stocked as I bought supplies in bulk for the kids' extensive school supply lists for public school. So, I have a huge box of glue sticks, a box of water color sets and other things for the kids to use as we need them throughout the school year this year. So, it's nice to have that savings, especially right now :).

Shopping goals this month might as well be titled "I can't find this stuff in the local stores and if I can I can't get enough to fill in the holes in my pantry" as most of it is just stuff I am ordering from Amazon. 

So, without further ado, let's get to it!


Shopping Goals: September 2020

Regular Stores (only IF the garden fails to produce a decent amount on the produce end as I do plan to harvest this month):

  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Cooking Oil (if I can't find a good enough deal locally, I'll order some from Amazon instead)

Amazon.com (no associate links follow, I'm just sharing the links):

  • Rice a Roni, 12 pack (I got mine for less than 1.00 per box when I ordered it): I like to keep some boxes of this around and we finally ate the last box I bought years ago, so I want to get some more for the pantry. We'll eat it per package directions, or I can use the rice and pasta mix to make other dishes without the flavor packet (which I have done in the past :). I paid for this with credit card rewards.
  • Barilla Thin Spaghetti Pasta, 20 Pack: I have been having a hard time finding more than a couple of boxes of pasta at a time at the store and I like to keep a year's supply of pasta around at one time (if I can) as we eat pasta a lot with the son. I couldn't find angel hair pasta (the son's favorite), so I ended up ordering thin spaghetti instead. I was able to score a 20 pack for  1.00 per box of pasta, which will get me right near my goal of how many boxes of pasta I wanted to keep in the pantry and at a WAY better price point than I can find at the store right now. I paid for this with credit card rewards.
  • Libby Canned Beets, 12 pack (No longer available on Amazon). I got the 12 pack for cheap (like 10.00 for the case) and already got it in the mail, but it is going to count against next month's shopping budget.
  • Seventh Generation Professional Glass & Surface Cleaner Refill, Free & Clear, Unscented, 128 fl oz (Pack of 2). I needed cleaners and couldn't find much at the store, so I ordered these as for a two pack it was around 20.00. I'll refill my spray bottles with them.

All of the above items are already ordered (in some cases they were back ordered and finally shipped this week) and will be in after September 1st so I just counted them on next month's shopping.

And there you go folks. My shopping goals for this month. How about you? Got anything you are buying this month?s is one day early, but hey, better early than late at this point ;).

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Culinary Inquiries, Explanations, Explorations and a Menu Plan!



When it comes to food and eating around here, I've been getting some inquiries on how things are going on that front here, asked some questions about some of the ingredients I've mentioned and/or shown on the blog recently and other things.  So, I figured I'd kind of conglomerate a few of the posts I was working on into one big post and just hit a couple birds with one stone (I hope *laugh*).  

First up, people have been asking me how the freezer inventory system I mentioned here was going for us this year.  

Well, the short answer is...it's not.  

"The best laid plans of mice and men" pretty much sums up the whole idea of having a freezer inventory going and just rotating things out as I needed to.  I'm not downing the original plan.  It's a good plan.  I stand behind the idea of it and I think it would work.  On a normal year.  Unfortunately, the year, as everyone knows, got turned on its ear pretty early on and the plan pretty much immediately fell apart.  Suddenly supply lines became unreliable, food shortages hit with weird things being out of stock (and still being sporadic in supply, like chicken, or yeast, etc) and there are some pretty dire predictions on how things, such as meat, are going to be this winter in the availability category.  So, instead of doing a freezer inventory like I had planned, I immediately changed plans to a pretty simple one.

The plan breaks down as this.  Stock up on meat as it is available.  Stock up on meats I know we will eat and just creative in the way I cook those meats as needed.  DO NOT waste freezer space on things that are on sale cheap that you MIGHT eat sometime in the future...maybe.  Start to weed out things that I got on sale cheap in the past that we hadn't eaten yet to reclaim that freezer space for things I know we will eat and fill in those gaps as I can.

And that, my friends, is it.  No "shopping sales" or anything like that comes into play here.  In my mind there is no point in trying to shop sales for more than say, fresh produce or something (and that is a crap shoot), as supplies of items is so unreliable that I don't see the point in wasting gas and going into the stores and than finding that they don't have what I needed to get anyway.  We always kind of had that problem up here, but with Covid it has gotten way worse.  Canned goods were out of stock so much and still sell out regularly up here to the point that I just started buying in bulk from Amazon as I could find things and just paid what I had to stock up on things.  I'm super glad I bought that freezer full of beef when things first hit as the price on meat has gone up and I've even noticed that the beef package I bought has gone up in price by a significant amount since I got mine (by like 500.00).  I go into the physical store once a month, if I can get away with it, to pick up my son's prescriptions and while I'm in the store I'll go and see what I can find for things like chicken or pork chops to supplement what I have in the freezer (or like the last time I went in I got some ground Italian sausage and some breakfast sausage as well as we were out of both).  Past that we just get whatever we can through the order online and pick up at the store program.  Is it the cheapest way to do things?  No, not even close.  But it is the best way to keep Alvah safe as he plays with everything when he is in a store, gets sick at the drop of a hat as he doesn't understand the whole "keep your hands away from your face" thing, won't wear a mask for more than a few seconds and I want to keep my kids (and others) as safe as I can.  

When it comes to putting up baked goods in the freezer, I threw that idea out the window pretty much on day one when the pandemic started to really take off.  I don't want to waste the space in the freezer with bulky baked goods like loaves of home made bread and things.  I'd prefer to save that space for the veggies I'm putting up in the freezer for this winter with the CSA box and things.  And honestly, I'd prefer to save the flour and make baked goods when we need them to just make that flour stretch further.  I'm supplementing with home ground flour from the many buckets of wheat I have, but I want my nice commercially ground flour to last as long as I can to make my life easier.

So, yeah, hopefully at some point in the future I can pick up the freezer inventory idea, dust it off, and try it again.  But, it isn't happening this year that is for sure.

Next up is the questions with people asking me about some of the ingredients that they've seen in my posts (wait until I show my pantry if you think those are different *laugh*).  Since Covid hit, I've been trying really hard to focus more on feeding therapy with the son (since he doesn't have swimming or therapy anymore, or at least for the foreseeable future), so I have gotten some odd to some ingredients to add to my repertoire.  For instance, the spatzle threw a few people.  Spatzle are just German egg noodles.  I am hoping that they'll be close enough (since I got commercial ones instead of making them myself) to regular wheat pasta that he might start eating them.  That will give him a bit more nutrition in his diet.  Same with the black rice.  If I can get him to start eating just tiny bits of that, it has SO much more nutrition than white rice, that I'd be super happy paying for it.  Feeding therapy is basically like throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks sometimes, so if you start seeing some oddball things showing up in photos, those are probably things I'm throwing at that proverbial wall *laugh*.

I've also been trying to source more food with just more simple ingredients, trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup more for the sake of my family's health.  It's led to more nutrition label reading (I already read them obsessively looking for that peanut allergen warning) and then sourcing things out.  That has led me to getting more things imported in from Europe and countries that I know will declare peanut on their labels to keep the son safe, so yeah, um...I've gotten some interesting things added to the pantry this last year.  Some of the things are just to try out, some for nutritional profiles that I was impressed by (my family is going to hate me by the end of the year probably as they are looking at a foreign fruit and saying, "What is THAT?" *laugh*) and some things I just ran into in cookbooks and wanted to try out (like the juniper berries are to use in some German dishes that I ran into that sounded good and I knew, having had juniper berries in the spice cabinet before, that you can't really substitute out juniper berries with other spices).

To further the culinary adventures we are having...well there is me and my love of cooking and just exploring different things as they look neat.  For instance we recently tried Okonomiyaki (if you want a more Americanized version that is probably cheaper to make Budget Bytes has a pretty good one here) because I had a ton of cabbage to use and the daughter and I got into watching "Little Forest" on Amazon Prime video at night.  The daughter actually asked for me to make the "cabbage pancake" and after a little research I found out what it was and made it.  I made ours with bacon instead of pork belly, made and used some dashi stock in the batter (which honestly if you can I would suggest doing that or adding a bit of fish sauce to the water or something and making your own "pseudo dashi" as just using water would make a really bland pancake) and while I did order actual okonomiyaki sauce from Amazon (which I am glad I did as it is basically a sweetened sauce made of vegetables, which would be hard to replicate), once I read the reviews on Kewpie mayonnaise I just used Miracle Whip instead and it turned out pretty tasty (sorry purists).  The husband and I were kind of "meh" on it as to us it tasted like a cabbage pancake (go figure), but the daughter really liked it.  So, while I'm not going to go crazy making it into regular menu rotations or anything (as it is a fair amount of work to put together and cook), I might definitely make it again if the daughter asks for it :).  


With home school this year we are also doing some culinary explorations.  The Raddish boxes have been fun so far and that adventure will continue through the year (which should lead to some interesting menu plan additions) and so far we had to make, of all things, an ancient Mesopotamian/Sumerian meal to go with the daughter's history unit on Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.  We were instructed to make a salad with certain vegetables in it, a lentil stew (meat was optional and yes, it literally just said "meat" as your ingredient.  Lamb was suggested, but I used beef because that is what I had) and flat bread (I ended up using their suggestion for pita bread as I ran out of time and couldn't make the flat bread from scratch).  The finished meal, minus dessert, but plus added crumbs on the table (it was kind of a late dinner, I was tired, and I forgot to shake the table cloth...what are you going to do?) is seen above (we had grape juice, versus the wine and/or beer that was suggested with the dinner :).  


The dessert was interesting.  It was a dessert where you took plain yogurt, added honey to sweeten it and then you took fruits (fresh and dried), which was dates, figs (reconstituted), apples (we just had a couple in the fridge) and pears (we used canned as that is what I had) for us.  You then took your fruit after you reconstituted your dried stuff and you mixed the fruit with honey as well and then put it on top of the yogurt.  And I have to say that while this was something that was hard to source ingredients for (I had to order peanut safe dates from Amazon and also had to order lentils from Amazon as well, along with dried mint), it came together in the end really well.  I even got Cilantro the day before from our CSA box, so I was able to use fresh cilantro versus dried in the recipe.  

The lentil stew was REALLY good (I put the link to the Pinterest image version above as it is easier to read).  I was really impressed.  Even the husband liked it and took the leftovers to work for lunches (which you KNOW he liked it if he is willing to eat leftovers).  And really, it isn't that expensive to make (really the mint and the cilantro are the most expensive things if you have barley and lentils).  The dessert was really good too and really simple.  I also learned that fresh dates are worlds and worlds above the dates we can get in the stores up here and I will definitely look to purchase fresh in the future if I need some.  I thought I hated dates until I ate this menu.  And don't worry date fans, I did store my dates in the fridge per the instructions on the package, so hopefully they'll keep moist and good for a while that way.

Nice thing about the school related menus, as well, since a lot of it is feeding therapy/speech therapy related, I can get reimbursed for my materials.  So, at least the culinary adventures are a bit more affordable this way as I can use our school allotment to help us pay for it.

I also made Hunter Schnitzel one night for dinner and another night I made sausages with "fancy" German Sauerkraut (basically home made sauerkraut stewed up with some stock with added bacon and a few ingredients.  Can you tell I got a German cookbook for my anniversary?  *Laugh*),   It has been a lot of fun exploring the foods of different cultures of late and I'm looking forward to trying out more new recipes in the future.  I figure this year might not be working out the way anyone was planning on, but that doesn't mean cooking has to be boring :).

So, yeah, basically my pantry items have expanded this year to include things like Japanese ingredients, German ingredients and other eccentric ingredients (like I now have mint and dates in my everyday ingredients...it'll be interesting).

Right, so now that I've babbled about everything in creation, let's get to this week's menu plan, shall we?

This week's Dinner Menu


Wednesday:  Sliced beef in gravy (using left over beef roast), mashed potato and turnips, salad.

Thursday:  Hamburgers, french fries.

Friday:  Chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice, spiced black beans (use dried beans)

Saturday:  Grilled pork chops, grilled corn on the cob, garlic toast (home made bread).  

Sunday:  Home made pizza (or stuffed manicotti...still up in the air on this one), bread sticks, salad.

Monday:  Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps (Raddish box recipe) 


Desserts:  Melon (honeydew, Wednesday), strawberry cheesecake, lemon bars.

Breakfast items (to make):  Zucchini muffins (Raddish kit recipe).

And there you go folks.  Tangents and a menu plan for this week.  I'm so happy I got at least a menu plan worked out *laugh*.  How about you?  Eating anything interesting lately?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2)

 Man, I'm behind again when it comes to blogging.  I keep hoping things will work out so that I have time to get some back blogging (of which I have about, oh, 18 unfinished posts to finish up and publish...doh), but it seems like life keeps throwing things into my path and I just run out of hours in the day.

So, what has been going on around here?

Well, a lot.  A friend of ours has lost their business and income due to Covid and now they are having to move into a small apartment they have on their property and having to rent their house to hopefully survive.  We made them a care package of food to help supplement what they are getting at the food bank and dropped it off to them this last week.  Things are rough for so many people right now, including so many people I know.  I wish I could do more.  As is with prices continually going up on pretty  much everything, it just seems like money never goes far enough for us, so I can imagine what it is like for so many others right now.

Then we ended up with another mouse problem.  Bright side, it did NOT get into the pantry (thank goodness) and the steel wool seems to be working well to keep them out of there.  Downside is that due to the steel wool keeping them from getting into the pantry, the sucker got caught in the wall and was stuck in the wall between the pantry and my master bedroom.  It was LOUD trying to gnaw through the wall to get into the bedroom and the scratching and everything and I think I didn't get any sleep for a few days as a result.  I even took the trim off of the bedroom wall, opened a hole a bit in the sheet rock on the bottom of the wall and really tried to help the sucker get out of the wall so it could "play with the cats" for a few moments before the cats dispatched it.  Instead it ended up dying in the wall, so I've been leaving windows open and the furnace turned off a lot to help air out the downstairs until the smell dissipates.  The husband wants to open up the wall to try and see where the mice are getting in at so that he can close up the hole, but he's not sure when he's going to find time to do that, so we'll see how it goes on getting that problem buttoned up, hopefully soon.

So, as a result of the mouse and the cats trying to dig through the walls to get to play with a new toy, they managed to dig out a bunch of the steel wool I had around the pantry walls.  So, that led to more than a few days of gutting the pantry and leaving spaces open for the cats to access so they didn't break anything trying to get to the wall and, once they had given up on the mouse being alive, it was a matter of slowly working on getting the pantry reorganized and put back together.  In the process a lot of cheap cardboard "pantry pack" boxes broke on me, resulting in me bruising the Heck out of my foot in the process, which then led me to getting frustrated beyond belief and then finally giving up and going on Amazon where I put 100.00 on my Amazon card to get a can organizing pantry system going.  I immediately started to experience buyers remorse on making the purchase because we are broke and don't have money and such, but at the same time I realized that I really had to make some investment in organization and storage just to make sure things get rotated correctly and I don't go insane (or break a foot) in the process.  I ended up ordering a couple of these units (no associate link, just sharing) as they are adjustable and have really good reviews.  We'll see how it works out.

I want to thank those that e-mailed me with recommendations (or posted advice) for skin creams for Alvah.  I ordered the ones that were recommended to me.  I'm always willing to try new creams with the son's skin being so terrible, especially right now.  Hopefully one of them will work as he's not sleeping worth a darn and a lot of that is just due to him being super itchy.

On the eczema front, I've really started working on feeding therapy hard core.  One of the things that hit me all of a sudden was how much Alvah liked ripping apart the nori when we were making his Ticket to Tokyo Radish box.  Knowing that ripping things and experiencing textures was an important part of picking up new foods, I went online and started researching seaweed snacks.  I found these snacks (once again no associate links or anything) that were made with perilla oil.  I had never heard of such a thing, but after researching it I found out that perilla oil could actually help allergies, so I got those to try out on the son.  He actually ripped apart some so far AND took a bite out of one.  He spit said bite out, but for him to bite it so quickly is definitely a good step forward :).

He's also been big on eating fruit snacks of late, so I ordered some gummy vitamins to try and feed him.  I ended up having to order the Amazon brand gummy vitamins which are REALLY sour tasting, but he's been a trooper about taking them.  I have to rip them into smaller pieces and he kind of powers through eating them, but he is taking them, which is such a relief that he's getting some added nutrition into him.

I also after discovering the YouTube channel "Kimono Mom's Kitchen" on YouTube started watching her videos on how she got her young daughter to start eating solid foods.  Her daughter sounds a lot like Alvah in her eating habits (would NOT eat solids until nine months of age, etc) and she came up with a way to start getting nutrition into her daughter by adding dashi stock to EVERYTHING her daughter consumed.  Basically this was a way to condition her daughter to the flavor and it would kind of bled into what she was eating and she wouldn't notice it.  Since dashi is super healthy and I have a big bag of dashi stock granules in the fridge that I got for Japanese cooking (since going out for dates just doesn't really work for the husband and I, I started making things like miso soup at home when I make a Japanese meal.  It has been a really great, and surprisingly easy, way to make dinner special but without worries about getting pick up and wondering about peanut cross contamination while eating around the son), I figured it was worth a shot to start adding small amounts of the dashi granules to things like rice when I cooked it.  He can definitely taste the dashi, I think, as he doesn't eat as much as he used to when I would make it without (the rest of us can not tell at all), but he IS eating it, which, to me, is definitely a good thing and is getting him just a TINY bit more nutrition in his diet.

So, yeah, none of those things are really "money saving" but to me they were definitely worth the accumulating additional debt over.

Now, onto some money saving things that occurred!

1.  My rice cooker that I got at the used store has just never worked...right, for lack of a better word.  You would plug in the cord and nothing would happen and you'd have to plug it in up to eight times before the menu screen would light up and you could get going making your rice.  My husband took apart the rice cooker last week and immediately figured the problem was the retractable cord making a loose connection.  He removed the old cord and replaced it with a spare cord he had in his spare pieces and parts.  With just labor and a part he had around the house (and some soldering skills) the rice cooker now works a TON better then it ever has, is much faster cooking said rice and it definitely saved me from having to buy a new rice cooker (as the problem with it not powering up was getting worse and worse and I was worried that I'd have to spend money to get a new one) as the son much prefers the rice cooked in a rice cooker compared to the pressure cooker (honestly I can't tell any difference in quality, but he does somehow).

2.  I harvested some lettuce from the garden this week and also pulled the green onions I'd planted on a whim.  I was actually impressed with how big the green onions had gotten and I even had some small onions to show for it!  I cut up the onions and put them into the freezer to use later in miso soup and things.

Our CSA boxes the last few weeks have been really nice too.  We got a TON of zucchini (two of which I actually gifted to our friends in their care package as they wanted some), turnips, potatoes, broccoli, edible pod peas, daikon radish, strawberries, tomatoes and other things.  I've really enjoyed the variety of things we have gotten from the box this summer and I'm really glad I used part of our stimulus money to spend the 200.00 on the box.  We've definitely gotten more than 200.00 worth of produce out of the box and it has allowed me to put up a bunch of different vegetables for the winter time, which we'll definitely appreciate this winter :).

3.  I was able to actually get chicken at the store, which was great and has officially made it so that the meat is stocked pretty well for the time being.  I am hoping I can keep it that way in case of further shortages, especially this winter.

4.  The daughter needed a new pair of sneakers, which was my fault for waiting so long to get her some.  She has been in the same size of shoes for a few years now, so I just was not used to the kids wearing out shoes before they outgrew them.  I used an online converter to figure out what her size would be in women's shoes compared to kids sizes and went on Amazon.  I found some good sneakers for her for MUCH less than buying them from local sources and they should be in on Friday.  Hopefully that will help to alleviate her hurting feet when we go out anywhere.

5.  Speaking of going out places, we have gone a few places this summer.  The latest one was this last weekend we went to visit Willow and show the kids what there was to see.  

We parked the truck and took a very short hike to check out the old highway that they replaced years ago (the new highway is over the railroad tracks there) and my husband told the kids how he used to travel the old highway when he was a kid.  We had a good time and it is easy to social distance when you basically just take a long drive *laugh*.

6.  I put in an online order with Carrs.  They had melons on sale for 3.33 a piece for mini watermelons, honeydews and cantaloupes.  I ordered one of each, figuring there was no way that they wouldn't be out of stock on at least a couple of them.  Well, I ended up with all three *laugh* so we've been eating melon for dessert the last little bit.  I have to say I've been enjoying it greatly, especially since it didn't cost us much to get them.  

7.  We invested in a big container of food grade CO2 at a local business.  It was kind of expensive this time around as we had to buy the canister, but the refills will be cheap now that we have the container.  I bought a CO2 converter hose set up online to refill Soda Stream bottles from a big CO2 canister, so we should be good to go on refilling the Soda Stream bottles on our own instead of having to pay for new canisters or refills, and at a much cheaper price (a really big bottle of CO2 will cost us less than 40.00 to refill while a new Soda Stream canister costs us that much).  So, now I'm looking forward to trying out new flavors of sparkling beverages now that I don't have to worry about hording the CO2 for the son's soda.

And, yeah, I'm going to call it good there as I have to make lunch for the kids and get started on afternoon schoolwork.  I hope everything is going well with you all and here's hoping I can get back to blogging regularly again here!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2), Plus a Garden Update

Believe it or not I am working on blog posts, but I just got delayed due to school starting around here (we decided to start early so we could book time to take more time off at Christmas) and also, it turns out, by stopping the son's sleeping meds, not only did his mood improve dramatically but it also ended up making his digestion start working overtime, so I've been dealing with some bouts of unpleasantness in that area of late.  Between all of that and his eczema flaring badly, it's been kind of rough around here of late when it came to finding time to get things done.

I honestly almost didn't write about money saving things that have happened of late, as there isn't a whole lot to report.  But, I'll give you a rundown of things that have happened of late.

1.  First big thing to report is my husband finally got time to work on the lawn mower.  He bought parts and replaced and tinkered and nothing was working to get the mower to actually fire up and run.  He finally pulled the heads off the lawn mower to find the motor just full of gunk (mud, etc) and he realized that some major seals failed.  So we are looking at basically an engine rebuild or having to buy a new mower.  We're not sure what is the most cost effective at this point.  We just decided we're going to just let the lawn go, probably until winter (we don't have an HOA or anything to worry about) and if worse comes to worse we'll rent a push mower to do the front lawn so it doesn't look too horrible.  Over winter we'll try and save up enough money to hopefully cash out a new mower next year or be able to cash out a new motor.  It seems to be the best recourse at this point to avoid having to put over a thousand dollar onto a credit card or draining our savings down to nothing to pay for one.

2.  I finally settled on a Mueller brand pressure cooker as it got rave reviews on Amazon and I have to say so far it has worked great and I'm really happy with it.  It is definitely better quality than my old pressure cooker, so we are already off to a good start.  I've used it to make a pork roast, some rice (my rice cooker is having issues...something to do with capacitors my husband is telling me, so I have to have him look at it so it'll power up correctly) and mashed potatoes.  So far, so good :).

I was able to get the cooker for about 74.00 after an online coupon on Amazon was applied, so I was happy with that as the coupon saved me about 5.00.  Every little bit helps.

3.  I've been doing a ton of rearranging around here and one of the things I did was I went through and found all of my Rubbermaid modular pantry storage containers that I had that I could move things around and use, combined it with a big Tupperware pantry storage container I had and I decided to put some things up on top of my fridge to make them easier to get to (or just put them up there if I didn't have room for them elsewhere, such as the juniper berries).  

Some things like the spatzle and the black rice are part of my son's feeding therapy plans, so I'm going to be happy to have them within easy reach.  

I was even able to stick a couple of containers on each side of the fridge, tucked behind the front storage containers so I could fit a few more things on top of the fridge.  I really like the organization of the items and it actually looks pretty good.  

4.  I fixed a lamp my in-laws had given to us (okay, so I begged them if we could have it, which probably helped to sway them a bit *laugh*) that used to belong to my husband's grandparents.  Grandchildren had played rough with the lamp (it is a "working" spinning wheel lamp, so calls to children like nobody's business) and had broken a few things on it.  I was able to get it mostly working.  We still have to restring it as there is a knot in the string that is on the lamp now that causes the gears to slip and the lamp to come unstrung.  I'm happy I was able to mostly fix it, though, as both my husband and I really like the lamp.  I was able to fix it with parts I already had around the house (I'll share pictures of it later as the ones I took came out blurry).

5.  I completely rearranged the pantry (I know, like when do I keep it the same for more than six months at a time *laugh*) and so far everyone seems happy with the way it is working out.

6.  My mother-in-law called and said that raspberries were ready to pick over at her place.  I managed to get enough for two quart jars of berries.  I had decided that this year I wanted to can the berries whole in syrup to use in desserts and things as just freezing them seemed to lead to freezer burn quicker than I liked.  It was hot and humid and when I saw that I was going to get probably two quarts of berries out of what I picked, I decided to not can them (I'm running out of room on my pantry shelves anyway) in the hot water bath canner, but instead to freeze them in quart jars instead.  It worked great and now I have two quarts of raspberries in the pantry ready to defrost and use in desserts and then I can use the syrup they are canned in for other purposes as well :).

7.  Our CSA has been really helpful in filling in gaps in the freezer for winter storage.  I processed four heads of broccoli this week, a head of cauliflower, some more kale and we are going to be using a big zucchini, some small cucumbers and other items with our meals.  

And now, a Segway into a garden update!

I'm really happy with how the CSA is working out as well...the garden is growing.  Kind of.  I THINK I can hopefully start harvesting lettuce this week.  After a long, long wait.  Past that I don't have any peas developing yet, the chard is just dead in the water and hasn't done anything since it popped out of the ground no matter how much nutrients I dump on it and the Asian broccoli I planted did the same thing.  So, basically I might get enough lettuce out of the garden this year to make a difference and past that I'm just praying the potatoes don't let me down.  It has not been a good garden year.


And there you go folks.  Like I said, there hasn't been much going on around here in the money saving department.  I hope things have been going well for you all and stay tuned.  We've been having some interesting meals around here of late, so menu plans will hopefully be shared again and give some inspiration and I'm hoping to post up my monthly goals here in the next couple of days :).

Monday, July 27, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Plus a Garden Update)


Okay, first, I just want to assure everyone that no, we were no where NEAR where that really big earthquake was and we are just fine :).  Actually, we didn't feel a thing (for which I'm thankful for, honestly), not even a tiny tremor as the earthquake was WAY far South of where we are.   Even my husband's uncle, who lives down South, said everything was fine where he was, so it's all good.  I'm sorry if I panicked everyone by not posting after the earthquake.  Honestly I didn't even know it happened until my mom called me in a panic because the news reports were mentioning Anchorage (which is on the coast thus part of the tsunami warning that went out to basically the entire coast of Alaska) and she knew that my husband worked in that area and was all worried he was taken out by a tsunami or something.

I was going to blog earlier (to help assure people we were okay), but was down all weekend pretty much with a bad headache (at least typing was not on my list of "can dos"), so that didn't happen. 


Right, so let's get down to other business.

What have I been up to lately?  Well, I finally got independent learning plans (or ILPs) into the home school and got those approved for the kids.  Curriculum that I ordered through the home school came in (including the Radish box and Kiwi crates, which astounded me how fast we got those in), I got the one book that is on back order with Moving Beyond the Page ordered and in and we are ready to go to start school next week (a couple of weeks early compared to the public schools up here, but we want to bank some time ahead so we can hopefully take December off for the Christmas holidays :).  It was such a HUGE relief to get that all done and supplies in as there is a huge demand for home schooling right now (go figure) and so a lot of home schooling curriculum suppliers are running out of things pretty fast.  Thank goodness I'm kind of obsessed with getting things done in and in early, so we are at least good to go and I don't have to panic about trying to figure out where to find materials.

The next thing I've been working on is I have been working my tail off trying to get my bedroom to not be a horrible cluttered mess.  This had to start somewhere so I ended up having to clean my bedroom closet first (you can scream like a scream queen from a horror movie now as that is pretty much what I did when I opened up the closet and saw what was ahead of me *laugh*).  I brutally decluttered things out of the closet and moved things around, which led to me donating a bunch of things to the used stores, but got me to a point that I was able to fit a couple of big items in the bedroom into the closet, thus giving me room to move stuff around.  I've got plans for the bedroom in the next couple of weeks and am trying REALLY hard to get it painted this week if I can, so hopefully it'll all work out so I can get done before school work starts up again.

The next big thing that happened was the son's sleeping medication just plain stopped working.  It has been slowly getting worse in its effectiveness, but this last week it just plain quit.  I started giving him the max dose I was allowed to give him to see if it would work, but I think all it did was make him sick feeling, because last night I just plain decided not to give him the med (I mean when his sleep schedule has been to sleep from 6 am to noon every day, what is the point?) and he has been so much happier today, so much more energetic and so much more like his old self that I'm really glad I stopped giving him the medication.  I have a virtual appointment with his doctor on Wednesday and we'll see what she has in the way of advice or guidance to see if we can get him a bit more sleep (and better quality of sleep to boot).  I have to say I loved it when he was sleeping and I'm already really missing it as he does okay with little sleep (so it seems), but it is downright killing me.

So, on the money saving front...

1.  We made up our first Radish box "Ticket to Tokyo" last night for dinner.  The son actually did seem happy to help in his own way and tore up a bunch of seaweed sheets when he realized how brittle they were, happy as a clam until mom shrieked like a cartoon character when she realized what he was doing and was able to save two sheets to make the sushi rolls with *laugh*.  Luckily, I was was able to save the torn seaweed sheets and added some to the yakisoba noodles (basically noodle stir fry) and it just added one more veggie to the mixture.  I did NOT use short grain rice for the sushi rolls and just used the medium grain rice I had in our normal stores.  It worked perfectly fine, I just added  a bit of extra water to make the rice super sticky when I cooked it :).

The box called for certain vegetables, like Napa cabbage.  Well, Napa cabbage is going for roughly the same amount as a down payment on a car right now (my jaw dropped at the price), so I said "no" to that one and used some bok choy that came with our CSA box instead.  Kohlarbi was one of our vegetables this last week, so I used it in the sushi rolls and in the yakisoba noodles because why not?  And really, everything turned out really well and I was really happy with everything.

Oh and just because I keep forgetting to take pictures of the actual CSA contents when I get them, I figured I'd share a picture of the inside of the fridge instead.  I LOVE having the problem of "where am I going to stick all the fresh produce" when I get some at the moment.  It is a huge thrill for me to have this much fresh produce in the house right now :).

The box called for chicken tenderloins, but unfortunately chicken is really hard to find at the stores right now unless you want wings or a whole chicken (so it seems the few times I go into the store anyway) and I finally ran out of the boneless skinless chicken thighs I got from the butcher.  So, instead of chicken teriyaki skewers we had pork teriyaki and I just ended up baking the pork and peppers in the teriyaki sauce as I don't have any skewers either.  Sometimes you just make do with what you have and call it good.

I used 1/2 of the English cucumber we got in our box the week before last to make pork gyros for dinner one night (I love farm fresh vegetables versus store bought as there is NO WAY a store bought cucumber would last two weeks in the fridge up here) and then I used the other 1/2 in the sushi rolls.  For the gyros I used a pretty old container of plain Greek yogurt I got for free at the beginning of the Monopoly game with Carrs this last go round (before the pandemic made me just not caring about the game anymore).  It was more like cheese versus yogurt so I added a bit of sour cream to it to loosen it up.  It worked great and no one missed the meat being pork instead of chicken, which was good :).

2.  I had wanted to get some really good German take out for the husband for his birthday (it is this week), but our local German restaurant didn't survive the pandemic *sniff*, so I went to good old plan B.  Amazon.  I ordered a German dessert mix and a few small items I'd need to make hunter schnitzel (do not to ask me to give German names to that as I'd slaughter it) and hopefully we'll be good to go on the new "at home restaurant" style meal.  Here's hoping it all works out well.

3.  My electric pressure cooker died on me last night and started leaking steam everywhere and then when I went to use it again (after replacing the sealing ring and a deep, deep cleaning) to give it a heat up and then a pressure test it failed both admirably well.  I use the pressure cooker actually quite regularly, especially to cook things like beans, so I know I'm going to have to get a new one.  I am depressed about it, I'll admit it, as it is going to cost a decent amount of money to replace (at least as small appliances go).  I redeemed my credit card rewards through Amazon (that I got for ordering the kid's home schooling curriculum stuff through and will get reimbursed for) and will be able to get at least 30.00 off with gift cards, so that is something anyway.

I am definitely not going with a Gourmia brand one this time, that's for sure.  That sucker lasted less than two years and I sure did not use it everyday like a lot of people do with their pressure cookers (and yes, I called the company to ask their advice and didn't get anywhere).  I guess with pressure cookers you get what you pay for.

Anyone got recommendations on a good brand of pressure cooker to buy?  I'm not sure if I want to buy an Instant Pot as it sounds like the quality control is all over the place (at least via Amazon reviews), so I'm definitely open to advice in this area.

4.  I had a personalized price of .43 per lime this week at Carrs (UNHEARD of cheap), so I used the personalized price to get 5 limes through my online order.  Since the personalized price was for large limes (which is all they have listed online), but the store didn't have any, they replaced my 5 large limes with 5 small ones, but only charged me for one large lime.  So, I got 5 small limes for .43!  I have to say as awesome goes that was pretty awesome!

5.  I continued my quest to fill up my pantry as much as possible before winter.  I took what I had left from my grocery budget after getting what we needed at the store and ordered things from Amazon in bulk to fill in holes.  I got enchilada sauce really cheap (like 12 big cans of enchilada sauce for less than 12.00, which at the store those size of cans normally got for at least 3.00 per can) and a flat of  Van Camps baked beans for decently cheap (I'm trying to make things like baked beans from scratch as much as I can...or at least I WAS until my pressure cooker died, but I wanted to make sure I had them for those nights when you just don't have the energy to bother).  I also blanched and froze bok choy and kale from our CSA box to add to out winter stores as well.

6.  I requested a free sample of unscented/hypoallergenic spray deodorant to try out on the son and see how he reacts to it.  The free sample shipped this week, so we'll see how it does when it gets here.

7.  We ended up with hornets building a nest in our roof, and at a really nasty spot to get to.  I went and bought Raid at the store (which you need a treasure map to find hornet killer it turns out), which turned out to be on clearance, so I got it for 50% off normal price (which was nice as I had to guy two containers worth to get rid of the hornets).  My husband managed to outlast the hornets by spraying the entrance to the nest enough that it seems like the hornets finally died or moved on.  Since the nest was right by our front door, I was happy to see them go.

8.  Our lawn mower broke down for the first time in eight years.  It is a 30 year old lawn mower (at least) and has worked really well for us, so my husband is going to attempt to get parts and fix it (it is a Craftsman brand, so goodness knows if parts are available or not anymore with Sears going out of business).  Here's hoping it can be fixed.

9.  I fixed a couple of holes in a comforter and hemmed a few pairs of pants this week.

And now onto the garden update!

If there was one word I could give to my garden the last little bit, it would be "ignored".  Between the son not sleeping, his eczema going crazy, all the home school stuff I've been juggling and everything else going on (new pay schedule at work for the husband, allergy flare up with the daughter so we have to make sure her eye isn't swelling up on her, etc etc), I just plain forget about it sometimes as we've been getting enough rain I haven't had to worry about it dying from not getting enough water or anything.  I finally went and checked it yesterday for the first time in a couple of days.  I have to say out of everything the weeds are growing the best. 

The lettuce was finally grown enough that I thinned it a bit and we tried the lettuce.  It is VERY bitter tasting, probably due to all of the rain we've been having and I'm going to have to use it sparingly.  Luckily we've been getting an entire head of lettuce each week from the CSA (and a huge head at that), so we aren't hurting for salad fodder, but that was kind of depressing.  We have a few broccoli sprouts that survived whatever bug onslaught was taking them out, but they are so small I doubt they'll get to a point I can harvest anything by the end of the summer.  The peas are growing (yay) and I keep putting them onto the trellis to climb and keep them off the ground (they stay on the ground they are getting eaten, so I want to make sure they have every chance to get big and produce).  The peas are a variety that only grown to about 2 feet in height before producing, so I'm kind of hopeful they'll start producing peas sometime soon.  If I only get potatoes and peas out of the garden this year that'll be something and I'll count my blessings :).

And there you go folks.  An update on what we've been up to this last week.  How about you?  Been up to anything?