Sunday, June 17, 2018

Monthly Goals: June 2018

Wow!  This post took forever to get done!  Namely because my computer went completely bonkers again and I just spent last night and this morning (and into this afternoon) restoring the computer to an earlier time, running scan disk, running disk defrag and all kinds of other wonderful programs to TRY and get this sucker working right and I still had to reinstall my internet browser to get it to even load.  Ugh.  Just ugh!  My husband is going to look at the laptop tonight once he gets up and see if there is a way to upgrade the RAM on the computer or not to see if that helps, but my frustration level is right below Kermit the Frog before he'd go berserk and start screaming incoherently right about now *laugh*.

Blogging, though, even before the computer (insert nasty mumbled adjectives to describe said computer under breath) decided to crap out on me again, I was already behind just because last week was so hectic.  Summer school started, we had a day where we had speech rearranged on us (and it's looking like the next couple of weeks are going to be like that too) as Alvah's new speech therapist is opening clinics left and right and the latest is actually out of state, so she has to fly down a lot to check on how the therapists are doing in their new home.  So, in one day, we had speech therapy, home for about 15 minutes, went shopping, rushed back home and grabbed Alvah's back pack, went and dropped him off at summer school, ran to go get his swimming bag from home and finish up shopping (I had to get some more yeast at our local Eastern European Market as they carry the SAF yeast I love to use) and then we ran back to the school, picked Alvah up early and ran him to swimming.  By the time we all got home, we were wiped.  Last week pretty much went down like that.  My husband took a four day weekend last week so he could spend some time with the family and we had fun doing stuff together.  Alvah did great adjusting to summer school, therapy and swimming going on at the same time.  Armina worked on getting her room cleaned up and I worked on tons of other things in the time I had available.

Which, actually, ties in pretty well to transition this post, so let's get to this month's goals (since all posts are behind right now I'm AIMING to do this one right now and do the frugal recap for the week tomorrow or tonight, depending, so no I haven't forgotten it :).

Normally, I'd have some garden goals included in this post for the month, but unfortunately, the garden just isn't going to happen this year.  This sucks as the garden normally provides us with greens and lettuce, if nothing else, throughout the summer months and in the case of greens, I normally have some of those to put up for winter.  But, it just was not to be this year, unfortunately.

I have tried everything and nothing has worked.  I have moose tramping through the garden MULTIPLE times a day at the moment by all of the tracks everywhere with more popping up all of the time.  I planted sprouting potatoes the other day only to have a vole or other animal (I have no idea what, honestly) dig up said potatoes and eat them (that was a first for me).  I finally, despite a sense of foreboding, checked on the raspberry plants around the yard only to find that the (insert really nasty curse words) moose had struck again and had eaten every single plant off at the snow line over the winter.  How those suckers will leave EVERY SINGLE rose bush and other plant, but go for the raspberry bushes is amazing to me.  So, I am definitely not getting any raspberries out of my yard this year, unfortunately.  The roses are blooming, although not as many as I'm used to seeing by this time in the year (it's still pretty wet and cold).  I've still got plenty of rose hip jelly in the pantry, it turns out, when I went digging, so at least THAT was a relief as making jelly isn't a core need this year.  I'm glad I still have some raspberry jam and jelly left, as well, as I'm not sure how my mother-in-law's raspberries are going to do this year either.  With how wet and cold it is, I'm wondering if the raspberries are just going to have one of those years where they rot on the plant before they ripen.  It's been known to happen.

So, yeah, giving up on the garden was AWFUL, and hard, but there comes a point where it just isn't going to work and when you have a family of moose tramping around the garden looking for cabbages or other goodies since you had them last either have to put up a 12' fence (so not in the budget, not to mention where in the heck would I put it since the garden beds are right up against asphalt?) or you just need to say, "This ain't going to happen" and get yourself a greenhouse...also not in the budget unfortunately.  The husband is going to try hard to get me a greenhouse designed and get it put in by next year, but we shall see how it goes.

Anyway, let's get to less depressing matters.  As goals go, I did manage to get the love seat done last month (finally!) and I got one skirt made for the daughter (yay!), but I still have a list about a mile long of things I want to get done this summer before the inevitable rush of school and things takes over, so I'm going to list things I'd like to get done in the next couple of weeks and pray I can get even 1/16 of them done.  Wish me luck!

Cleaning and Organizing Goals:

  • Continue to reorganize pantry.  Consolidate like items together.  Make list of things that need to be used (I found a few things when I was organizing my home canned progress seen up top there...Prince totally photo bombed no matter how many times I took the picture, so I just finally admitted defeat there) and try to make a more in-depth inventory list for the pantry.  Make list of needed items to get over the coming months.
  • Organize Master Bedroom Closet.  My husband kind of wants me to put this off, but I'm going to do it anyway.  I'm so tired of looking in there and just seeing mess everywhere.  I might only be able to use what I have on hand, but by God I know I can improve it if nothing else.
  • Organize hallway closet (I want to organize it better so it makes more sense and will hopefully house things like paper towels and things I need.  I figure the best way forward is just going to be gutting it and starting over again.  Once again, I'm pretty sure I can at LEAST improve it if nothing else).
  • Deep clean bathrooms and fill in silicone where grout is going on some of the tiles.  
  • DAP around sinks and bathtubs
  • Shampoo stairs 
  • Take old mattress off of race car bed, reorganize son's room and figure out better way of doing things.
  • Take every single thing out of kitchen cabinetsFix lazy susan shelf with JB Weld (you have to completely rip the entire shelf out to get it fixed, so wish me and my not-mechanically inclined self luck here!) and then reorganize kitchen better (I am DETERMINED to make it work better than it is now as I have bowing shelves, things in areas that don't make sense, things falling out of cabinets...I'm done with that mess).

General Goals:

  • Find lowly can of seltzer water by tonight so I can make fish and chips for Father's Day dinner (I KNOW I put it somewhere safe in the hallway closet!).  
  • Work on daughter's skirts (I should put sewing in it's own category, but then the one lowly general goal I have will be lonely ;).
  • Work on mending. 
  • Work on quilt.
  • Work on the saving money blogging series (this will get done if my computer doesn't go into meltdown so often here).
And there you go folks.  My "you're going to be so sore doing this stuff, so what the Heck are you thinking???" list of things I want to get done here.  How about you?  Working on anything this month?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I know it's Monday, so technically it's "Frugal Monday"  but it seemed odd to say Monday and then potentially have another post on Friday in the same week for some reason, dumb though that reason is.

Anyway, to get down to the point of the post.  Guess what?!?  More stuff broke!!!

I'm stuck in this weird Twilight Zone type of feeling right now and I'm not sure why.  There is this sense of unreality to how things keep breaking around here, panic about not being able to afford to replace and/or fix some of them and just a general sense of overwhelm right now. 

This week we added to "The Breakening" list...

  • The truck's alternator 
  • The carpet cleaner 
  • The downstairs sink drain
  • A ladle (luckily that is fixable I'm pretty sure as the handle just popped off)
  • More than a few articles of my clothes (it's kind of nuts how many items I had this week just plain give up and die on me, which was really sad because of a few of the items, especially some of my t-shirts, were super comfy and I really liked them).

We need to fix the truck somehow, which the new alternators can't really be rebuilt with a factory kit, so buying a new alternator is your only real option, which the alternator for the truck is going to cost about 200.00 to replace.  This next pay period is our "short" pay period due to the mortgage coming out of it, so not a good time for the truck to have any type of problem.  And then the one year raise came through for my husband, it wasn't much (every little bit helps, though, I'll be the first to look at that silver lining) and with how little we have in the bank after paying bills and getting's rough on the morale.  My husband has, once again, been going back to the worry that maybe he'll have to quit this job, even though he really likes it, just because we can't really get ahead on what he makes.  And while I normally try to remain positive as much as I can about things, this week it was hard to argue much with his worries as I have them to.  We'll just have to wait and see how it goes I guess and pray for the best.  At least this happened over summer break so I don't have to worry about getting the kids to school.

I did manage to wrestle some good from the week, however, so let's get to that.

1.  I managed to KIND of fix the carpet cleaner.  It kept breaking suction when cleaning and would just start free wheeling and revving WAY too high.  I flipped it over, after realizing that I had to try and fix it somehow as with the son in the house, and I'm sorry the second idea I had to use the husband's Shop Vac with a lot of scrubbing with my scrub brush and carpet cleaner by hand just didn't seem like a viable option at the moment, and got to work trying to figure out what could be wrong with it.  Turns out a lot of the rubber gasket type of material around seals is going and then on top of that the brush housing is cracked.  After some experimenting I figured out that I need to keep the tank at least 1/4 to 3/4 full to avoid the carpet cleaner sucking air and breaking it's vacuum seal with the carpet and then I also have to make sure to use an entire tank of water at one time because if I park the carpet cleaner upright now the gaskets leak and the water from the clean water tank immediately starts to pour out onto the carpet.  So, it's an interesting tight rope I walk as I'm cleaning carpets at the moment, but I'm getting there.  Got the living room about 1/3 of the way done the last couple of days (which believe me with how bad the carpet gets with my son in the house, this is a good amount of progress!).

2.  Grocery shopping was minimal this week.  I got some milk, some soda and some chewable Benadryl and that was about it other than prescriptions for the son.  I did end up ordering some Curel Itch Defense lotion from Amazon along with my husband's acid reflux medicine (I cancelled and reordered when I realized that Alvah was nearly out of the lotion and they didn't have the small tubes on Subscribe and Save anymore, instead I had to buy a big bottle of the stuff as an "add on" item).  My husband had gotten a 10.00 Amazon gift card for taking the same survey for the study on autism as I had taken, so I stole the 10.00 to apply toward the order (I told him and apologized for it, but he was okay with it as he knew we needed the stuff).

3.  I used up odds and end in the fridge and freezer to help stretch meals this week and to make sure that things didn't go to waste.

4.  I mended some shirts of my husband's this week as well as a pair of his jeans.  I also mended a couple of items for my daughter.

5.  I cleaned and organized a lot this week, and I still have a ton of other things on my "to do" list to go.  I'll get more into those, hopefully tomorrow, in my Monthly Goals post.

6.  While sitting at therapy last week I started designing the first embroidered block for the quilt I want to make.  I am using material that I've used previously to make some of the squares, so am making sure to design the blocks carefully to cover up any stains in the fabric (which with the son, let's face it, there are enough of those to work around).  I'm using unbleached muslin for the embroidered square backgrounds (the super duty stuff I bought years ago will definitely be alright to use and wash a lot, but I have some thinner material that I am going to put fusible interfacing on the back of to make it a stronger fabric) and it's going to be quite the project.  I'm figuring on 34 embroidered squares mixed in with solid squares.  I'll get more into what the finished project's plan is hopefully in the next little bit here.  I am super excited about it :).  So far out of an old table cloth I made to use for the son at feeding therapy and the old couch slip cover I made for the cushions before I finished it with red covers a while back, I think I'll have a pretty good start on the quilt squares.

7.  When making the quilt squares to not only save time, but also to cut more accurately (at least it is supposed to be more accurate by my old sewing books) I tore the fabric versus cutting it when making the blocks.  And it worked!!!  I was thrilled when I had some perfect squares instead of my usual "how did that end of the square end up 1/4 inch shorter than this end?" type of outcome.  And it was much, much quicker and easier on the cutting hand :).

8.  I made my daughter a skirt with materials I had on hand.  I still have a couple more to make, but realized that I'm dangerously low on Guterman white thread and it's the only thread I use for an all purpose utility thread....Coats and Clark thread and my machine just lead to loads of frustration on my part and me wanting to send stern letters to the company on the quality of their product.  I was going to buy another 1000 m spool at Joann's this week, but then the truck broke and well...that got put onto a back burner fast and I'll have to work it into the budget somewhere in the near future.  I'm going to look through my thread and see if there are some decent old thread spools that I can use to make the last couple of skirts with.  But, hey, the first one turned out cute and my daughter has been pretty much living in it since I made it, so I THINK she likes it ;).

I'm sure there's more, but it's after midnight and the son and daughter haven't let me sleep more than five hours a night all week long, so I'm pretty tired right now and am going to call it good there.

How about you?  Your week go alright?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

Yay!  For the first time in forever I am finally getting this post done!  Feels good to be able to say I got my menu plan for the week done for a change :).  There is an upside to the son having therapy again.  I end up being stuck in a waiting room for an hour with time to kill.  At home normally I find things to fill that time with housework and things, but when I'm at therapy it's a great time to work on menu plans, darn socks, work on embroidery and other "hand done" projects that I normally would talk myself out of doing at home in favor of vacuuming or doing something like laundry.

We had our first speech therapy session today and the speech therapist got a good 40 minutes worth of work out of Alvah.  That's a pretty big deal with him as he really doesn't like to work and has a hard time bonding with people enough to be willing to work.  So, yay for a good start.

So, let's get onto this week's menu (so I can go to bed ;).

Wednesday:  Sandwiches and chips (impromptu type of dinner.  The son was in kind of a happy, but demanding mood). 
Thursday:  Stuffed pork chops, salad, apple sauce.  Dessert:  Rice pudding with figs.  I have yet to make the Titanic inspired dessert I had planned a while back, so I REALLY want to try it tomorrow as I have dried figs I'd like to use up and that would be a really yummy way to do it :).  I am totally going to mess with the recipe completely, refine it and make it my own, but it was a good base to start from. 
Friday:  Ribs, mashed potatoes, salad, home made bread. 
Saturday:  Pan fried chicken, leftover mashed potatoes, baked beans/corn.  Sponge cake (with jam or jelly in between layers) for dessert. 
Sunday:  Breakfast Dinner 
Monday:  Roast chicken, rice, green beans, cranberry salad on the side. 
Tuesday:  Chicken casserole (use leftover chicken) with mixed veggies, rice.

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

Monday, June 4, 2018

Frugal Sunday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Poor blog.  Life keeps getting in the way of me posting lately, it seems.

This week was just busy for the most part, but we did have a couple of scary allergic reactions with Alvah when the pollen was out in moderate amounts for the birch and alder trees, resulting in some facial swelling and a LOT of nasty itching on his part.  After copious amounts of antihistamines we managed to avoid having to go to Urgent Care or the ER for additional steroid help, but it was definitely a scary time for me.  We keep going back and forth about getting him allergy shots (alternative allergy treatments around here seem to only be open to women due to licensing issues or insurance doesn't cover them, so traditional treatments is what we've got at the moment), but I know he won't tolerate that many shots all of the time, so I really am at a loss at what to do other than just do the best we can.

And then yesterday I was planning to blog and just ended up not feeling well last night, so blogging definitely got tabled (my husband even had to go into work late because of me, poor guy).

Overall, though, despite the stumbling speed bumps of life, I did manage to get a lot done this last week, so let's get to that!

1.  My husband tore apart the ice maker this week, hoping to be able to fix it.  He found the motor was shot, so went looking around at the appliance repair place to see if he could just get a new motor, but the only way the repair places could get ice maker replacement parts for our ice maker was in a full unit, which would cost 130.00 to replace.  We went onto Amazon and found a replacement ice maker for 39.99 instead.  It's coming UPS tomorrow.  I was a bit concerned about a non OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) part going in, but my husband basically assured me that if the actual part didn't fit, the motor would be the same type he'd need to fix the old ice maker, so it would be fine.  So, we'll see how that goes.

2.  I had some stuff on order with Amazon Subscribe this month, but cancelled it to save money and ordered my husband's acid reflux meds by themselves.  While doing so I found out that the medication he's been taking actually changed their formula and that is probably why he's been having problems with his acid reflux of late.  I found a generic form of Nexium to try out as that contains the magnesium with the other med he needs (and seems to do him the most good). 

3.  I was blessed with a few gifts this week.  I was gifted a box of food, which was welcome (yay additional boxes of pasta!) and I was gifted some sewing notions and little craft kits (which some of them, I'll admit, got put aside for Christmas gifts for the daughter) and also got a box of cookie cutters in the shape of letters and numbers, which will be fun to use to make sugar cookies (HOPEFULLY tomorrow as I'm kind of wiped today still).  We were also gifted a month of free swimming lessons for my daughter through the swimming outfit my mother and other in-laws use since my daughter is going to class with her grandma and cousins, which was really really nice of the owner to do that.  My son is going to be going for an autism specific swim class starting this week, so I'm hoping it goes well.  I'm concerned about the water being salt water with his eczema, but am hoping that he'll do alright with the class as being in the water does him a lot of good.  Here's hoping it all works out.

I'm officially going to be running around like a chicken with my head cut off between swimming lessons, ABA/Speech and summer school, but hopefully it will break up the summer enough for Alvah and also give him the therapies and other things he needs to not lose any skills this year, or better yet start to excel.

4.  I was a mending machine this week (still working on a few items though).  I fixed a couple of pairs of my husband's jeans, rebuilt a work shirt of his (seen up top there as I was proud of how it all looked when done as getting that patch to line up right without pulling in weird areas was a favorite pair of jeans that died, cut up, was used to make the jean patch...I hope it holds up well), hemmed a pair of jeans that were too long for my husband (they were on sale for buy 1 pair get one pair free, but the store had only one in his size, so we had got a pair that was too long for him and I FINALLY found the time to hem them for him), fixed a few shirts that were losing seams and am working on a few holes in work shirts for my husband today that he needs to wear to work every day.  

I also spent a big portion of my time yesterday, when not feeling well, online and on a good old note pad as I planned out the quilt that I decided I am going to make for me for my bedroom.  It's going to require a lot of embroidery and a decent amount of time, but it is going to be a lot of fun to do, so I'm really looking forward to starting it now :).

5.  I started to take an in depth inventory of the pantry this week and found a bunch of apple sauce that I had canned that my daughter, somehow, overlooked repeatedly while she was down getting a jar of apple sauce here and there, so I was happy to find that.  I started to make plans to use up some jars of things that were getting kind of old (still good, but the quality of home canned goods starts to go down after a year, so it's best to use them up before they get too old).  I made apple pie this week for dessert to use up a jar of apples I'd canned in light syrup and have one more to use up soon.  I took the syrup that was in the jar of apples, after I strained the syrup into a bowl and put the apples in the pie shell, and put it in a saucepan.  I added a teaspoon of corn starch, some cinnamon and nutmeg and whisked it well to eliminate lumps and then just heated it up until the syrup thickened.  I then poured it over the apples (thus no need to add any thickener to the pie or sugar) folded the crust over to make a one crust pie essentially (we like a lazier made pie, what can I say) and baked it.  It came out really good!  So, I know what I'm going to do with the other jar of apples for sure ;).

6.   Shopping was HUGE this week...I can't think of another way to put it.  We finally, for the first time in a month or more, got an okay sized paycheck in, so we went shopping and I pretty much spent my entire month grocery budget in one fail swoop.  Bright side is that I got my son a bunch of his favorite snacks (including Goldfish crackers, which he adores and were FINALLY on sale), so he's been a lot better about not wanting to go out for McDonald's french fries every day and takes the "no" a lot better when he does ask, but going to McDonald's wasn't on the agenda.  I was just happy to get food back in the house in decent quantities to last a bit, honestly.  I know that we're going to go over on our grocery shopping this month because of that shopping trip, but we were out of so much that I'm completely okay with that.

7.  I made pasta salad to use up some of the elbow macaroni I have around here (my husband and I are just NOT macaroni and cheese people and I just don't use elbow macaroni for much) along with the few straggly pieces of celery I had left (I am DEFINITELY going to buy organic celery from now on!  That stuff lasted about THREE TIMES as long as non-organic celery and it still tasted good at the end!) and other odds and ends.  It came out well and we've been eating it as a side with dinner for the last three days or so.

8.  I started to plan the menu plan for this month, although with the son's allergy problems and me being sick yesterday, it kind of put me behind.  But, for the first time in a couple of months I'm feeling good about getting back on the menu planning wagon.

9.  I found a new YouTube channel that I'm loving watching.  The woman did a collaboration episode with Townsends/18th Century Cooking and after watching her companion episode, I immediately subscribed.  The channel is, I believe (I can't get my laptop to bring up YouTube no matter how hard I try anymore) the English Heritage Channel and she runs a cooking show on it where she gives you recipes from the Victorian era out of a "big house" (upper class).  The episodes are short (with my life this is a benefit sometimes), are really well done and are really interesting to watch.  I watched one episode this morning which was essentially fried rice in a breakfast dish with seafood (mind you there was no soy sauce or other oriental flavors involved in the seasoning, but the principal was the same).  It's a new fun thing to watch :).

10.  Got my home owners insurance renewal paperwork in the mail and, of course, my insurance company, once again, didn't process through the insurance score consent I e-mailed back in April to them.  I contacted my local insurance representative and she's going to work on it for me.  Ugh.  Irritating, but at least I have an insurance rep who is willing to go to bat for me (the gal I had the first few years of my policy was just nasty and evil to deal with and I REALLY disliked her.  I was thrilled to get this new gal a couple of years ago as she is always nice and professional).

11.  I looked over our budget billing and wasn't happy with what I was seeing with our gas bill, so I called them to try and figure out a way to alleviate the inevitable hurting that I could see coming with that bill.  The gal I talked to was very nice and refigured my bill and raised it by 20.00 per month on my request.  I've also been turning off the heat during the day right now so I am hoping that my gas bill will be low enough to not kill me next month (when budget billing is due to redo for the next year).  The woman assured me that I can call up next month if the bill is too high for me to pay and I can split up the payments over twelve months or something, so hopefully this won't hurt too badly when all is said and done.

And there you go folks.  My week in a nutshell.  Hopefully I can get back onto an even blogging schedule here this month.  So far I'm at least happy with what I'm getting done so far in June, which is a nice change of pace.  How about you?  How did your week go?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Frugal...Whatever This Is...Money Saving Weekly Recap

Just to warn you, this is going to be a kind of depressing post.  I have really tried to work my mood up from "darn this sucks" but I've been finding it difficult today. I even made myself cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting and I'm still kind of depressed (you know it's bad when that happens as cinnamon rolls are a huge mood boost for me and always have been).

This has been a cruddy week so far.  Truly.

Things keep breaking around here (I officially passed tired of that trend about the second big thing breaking) to the point I keep wondering what universal force I stepped on the wrong side of to bring this stuff down upon the household.

This week, so far, my son's favorite glider rocker, which has taken much punishment over the years and is as old as my daughter (actually older since we bough it when I was pregnant with her) and has seen many years of rocking kiddos in it and reading bedtime stories to the kids when it was in their old bedroom, finally just out and out self destructed.  This time there really isn't any saving it.  It broke two main seat springs within a few days of each other and the back suddenly got really loose on it again and I found a cracked support on the back.  So, that just plain needs to go to the dump unless my husband can find some parts on it that he can possibly scavenge to use for other projec

Then yesterday the ice maker on the fridge just died.  No warning, no nothing.  Just kaput.  I spent most of last night and ALL of today, pretty much, trying to see if there was a way to fix it as the ice maker is one of the few appliances my husband actually out and out WANTED in our kitchen when we finally got a house and we've had one in our homes ever since.  And I have to say that they are nice to have...when they work.  I'm not having any luck fixing it (got the freezer completely defrosted, though, in an attempt to see if the water line was frozen...that didn't work either...the photo was when it was defrosting), but I did manage to get it to make a weird hissing noise and now it's leaking water into the ice cube hopper, so I might be having to turn the water off to the fridge by the end of the night.  Woot.

We are down to no money in the bank to the point just THAT would be depressing.  We should get paid tomorrow, but with all the bills that are due, my phone needing to be recharged within four days or getting shut off (glad Tracfone does stalk me about that, though) and everything else...primal scream therapy seems like a great idea as it is just frustrating (not to mention worrisome).  And in the middle of it all my son has decided that he's unhappy about life in general this week and has given me a pretty constant headache all week long (at least the Risperidone stops him from hitting himself in the face, thank goodness).

The garden is resembling a Monty Python sketch so far this year.  I planted seeds, nice cold hardy varieties that I had bought special last year and they didn't do great last year, but I figured I had the seeds I'd give it a shot.  Birds immediately ate them.  I managed to get a few seedlings popping up in my front garden bed, a moose ran over them and they just up and died after that...even my chives that I have worked so hard to nourish might be complete goners this year.  Got a few seedlings to pop up and put the pots outside to start to grow, my cat dug them up and left them for me with little cat trenches left in the flower pots (at least he brought home a dead mouse yesterday and left it outside, so my plants aren't the only things he goes after). So, yeah, I think I might build a few castles on a swamp next to see how far I get (Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail reference in case anyone was wondering).  Ugh. 

I have some sprouting potatoes.  I think I'm just going to go and bury them in the garden and just walk away.  They'll either grow or they won't.  And I'm just going to throw the free seeds I got around them as they start to grow and hopefully I'll get a bit of lettuce this summer.  Past that between the pests and the weather we've already lost two really tall spruce trees to what is probably spruce beetle damage and the other spruce trees on the property are looking beat on and I'm not sure what is going to happen, but cutting down a bunch of trees is looking to be in our future this year, so goodness knows what things lurk in wait for my poor garden.

I had to upgrade our internet last night.  My husband got a warning e-mail saying we were at 75% of the usage on our plan and when I checked we were actually quite a bit above that.  I've been monitoring our usage carefully to use up all of our roll over gigs before I would have to upgrade our plan (which I knew was in the cards with how much my son streams things on various apps and things, not to mention what the rest of us in the family do) and my laptop dying and having to reinstall everything about four times before it would catch, ate up the rest of our roll over gig cushion.  The result is that the phone bill will be going up 20.00 a month, but it was cheaper than paying overages every month.  We get twice the gig amount with the new plan and will have a faster speed as well, so there's that I guess.  I was depressed having to up another bill, though, with the dental bills and everything we've had to deal with of late.

And the final icing on the cake is getting a call tonight from the fraud alert people at Visa to tell me that someone had hacked my check card number and had attempted to purchase over 400.00 at Macy's website with it, which thank goodness that it got declined.  So, now my check card doesn't work as I wait for a new card number and I have to call the bank tomorrow to order a new card (which of course my check card is the one I use for paying bills online and stuff, so I'm going to have to change card numbers with EVERYTHING here).  So. my husband gets to go shopping with me this week when we finally get paid because I'm down to my last few checks and have about three stores I'm going to need to go to.  Sigh.

Anyway, let's run down the quick list of money saving things that happened this week.

1.  When I defrosted the fridge freezer today, I realized that the freezers had gotten low enough that I really saw no point in keeping all of them running.  So, I conglomerated everything down to the fridge freezer and the downstairs freezer and I just unplugged the little block freezer in the kitchen.  I'll use it for additional counter space for the time being.  I'm hoping that this will cut our electric consumption enough that it might help us wash the increase in the phone bill to hopefully keep things somewhat balanced.

2.  I spent a whopping 23.00 on groceries this week.  I got soda for the son, milk, cheap garbage bags (we were completely out) from Three Bears (1.86 per 15 flap bags) and some chewable Benadryl for the kid's allergies.  We didn't have much money to spend, so we made it work as well as we were able.

3.  We took my son to his speech therapy evaluation and I actually enjoyed talking to his speech therapist.  Since she was Alvah's old speech therapist from school last year (and about half of the school year before that) she knew where Alvah was at on communication and knew his personality and such.  She even offered to comp ABA therapy until insurance would pick it up in July because she knew Alvah and felt like he could definitely benefit.  She was the first speech therapist we've ever had who wanted to start Alvah out multiple times a week and was talking about doing hours of therapy between speech and ABA.  We talked her into an hour twice a week for the moment to hopefully help Alvah bond and told her that she was free to do some ABA things if he burned out on speech during that hour.  She was happy with that and I'm praying that he takes off in this environment.

4.  My mother-in-law gifted us with a half sized violin this week so my daughter can take orchestra in school next year.  My sister-in-law gifted us by giving my daughter some beginning lessons on care and how to tune the violin and things while my husband and I took my son to his speech therapy eval.  My daughter, so far, loves the violin and can't wait to play it.  I am being very cautious with her playing around with it until she has a few more lessons and care instructions under her belt, but so far she really seems to be enjoying it.

5.  I cleaned the house this week and started to get some major in depth cleaning done.

6.  I redid our ratty love seat this week.  So, so much better now without all the peelies!

7.  When the son's rocker died, I took our good rocking chair upstairs to replace it (he's not overly impressed with it yet, but I'm hoping it'll grow on him) and realized that I now had a big old hole in the den where the two rockers used to sit.  I am thinking of setting up a table to cut fabric on (saving my knees crawling around on the floor) and to do sewing projects on.  At least it'll be a good functional use of the space and I have a table in my laundry room I can use for it.

I'm sure there are other things, but I have a pretty bad headache tonight and am exhausted so I'm just going to call it good here and call it a night.  How did you all do this week?  Good I hope?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Weekly Goals Week 1: Redoing a Ratty Loveseat

Blogging is behind.  I'll readily admit it.  The main reason?  Every time I think about getting on the computer, I know my OCD will kick in and I'll try to fix the computer to work better (for instance I spent a good hour tonight cleaning up the hard drive and deactivating Windows features that I know, in the past, have messed with my computer something fierce) and then I'll get frustrated, walk away breathing deeply and trying to remain calm, and so I just kind of defeat my own motivation to blog at the moment.  I THINK I might have gotten some major malfunctions patched/fixed on this sucker though, so here's hoping.

Anyway, I was going to post up some weekly goals this last week, but ended up rethinking that instead and decided what I'm going to do, for the time being, is to work on one big goal a week and then post up the progress of how I managed to do it (if at all) at the end of the project.  Since school let out Alvah has been in a up and down type of mood, so it's been kind of hard to do multiple things at one time.  So, by focusing on ONE major project that I'm behind on a week, I figure I'll hopefully get my "big" list done (and hey if I can pound out more than one project a week, good on me!).

So, this week's project is FINALLY getting the rest of the love seat redone.  The son has taken to peeling the leather in scads of late and it was just looking so terrible I couldn't stand it.  That and I knew if Alvah managed to punch through the material under the leather upper and hit foam?  There would be no saving the love seat.  At all.  He would go to town on the foam and there would be nothing left to salvage.  So, it was definitely time as some of the material was getting pretty threadbare.

This project took two days of the week to get done, with many breaks to get the kids snacks, take the son out to play, get laundry and other household stuff done, etc.  So, let's break down the stages of development.

Sorry I don't have a great "before" picture to work from from where I actually started this go-round as the peeling problem is WAY worse than when I originally put the new back cushion cover piece on, but we'll start with that old photo since I have that one from back in January (January...dang, this project took me a long time to get completely done).

Just a quick note:  This project was done with materials I had on hand and that is all.  I didn't have the money to go out and buy anything, so yeah, be prepared for some interesting twists and turns here.

Step 1:  Remove old arm patches (the leather looking pieces that aren't peeling on the tops of the arms there) and put new arms on.

Taking the old arms off was actually harder than I thought it would be.  The old stitches I'd used to sew the leather patches on were coming apart in places (I mean the upper arm pieces moved a lot over the years), but the sheer amount of leather that had peeled UNDER the patches was extraordinary, and disgusting.  All the brown flakes on the carpet in front of the couch there?  That was after I'd swept up a huge pile of flakes as I was working on the one arm.  It was pretty gross.

Oh, in case anyone wonders about this, as I've been asked this question in the past.  No, I do not remove ANY of the original material from the furniture when I do these projects.  I just plain don't have the room, or the time to do so.  Basically, I will remove the back panel from the furniture to attach the back cushion covers (as the material would just rip apart if I didn't as that material takes a lot of pushing and pulling over time) and nail it all back together once I have the material secure, but otherwise I just carefully hand stitch each new piece to the existing material little bit by little bit until it is completely covered.  I use double thread to do these projects and use the heaviest thread I can find (in this case, carpet thread that I had in with my thread stores) so it can take punishment.  I also found that with this style of furniture that letting the material for on the back cushions and a bit of material on the side cushions hang down loose allows more give and take with the fabric itself and wears on the pieces I sewed on a lot better.  Leads to more tucking of fabric, but I'm okay with that.

Anyway, getting the new arms all sewed on destroyed my finger tips for the day and flared my bicep tendonitis, so I called it a day and went back at it the next day.

Step 2, Day 2:  Take old arm cushion leather cover patches and reuse material for new back panels.

This development came about because I came to the conclusion after doing the arms over that I plain didn't have enough material to do the back panels that were flaking to pieces too.  Since the patches for the arms matched the couch, I decided to reuse them to make new back panels.  Seen here as I was sizing up if there was enough fabric to get them done (and there was...barely).

This took FOREVER as I had to sew along the contours of the love seat and also I had to sew over onto the fabric I'd used to cover the back cushions (the material was too shoddy in places when I covered the back cushions, so I had to move fabric around to accommodate).  I also sewed the leather patches into place and then folded over the back cushion fabric and made a double seam on the back pieces so they would not only take more punishment, but also so that everything looked better in the finished product.  This was taken when I took a break to cook dinner.

Day 2, Step 3:  The cushion covers.

Then there was the cushion covers to deal with.  I was at a loss on what to use to cover the cushions with at first as I needed something I could wash a lot as the son is hard on furniture (and loves to smear things like pop tarts into cushions).  I finally, and a bit regretfully, went into my fabric stores and grabbed a nice hefty sheet that I'd been planning on using to create a fall themed quilt with.  But, at least the sacrifice was worth it.  AND I know it's completely washable.

Sorry for the not picture perfect quality of the photo, but the son kept diving onto the love seat to play and I had to do the best I could with the time I had *laugh*.

I've still got a bit of detail work to get done on this.  I need to put finishing touches on the cushion covers (there's some folds versus actual stitching that I need to fix on them), and probably a few things I need to secure on the love seat itself as things get moved around here and there, but overall, for a make do and mend type of job, I think it came out looking PRETTY decent.

So, weekly goal one, done.  We now have a working love seat that you can sit down on and not stand up with tons of little leather pieces sticking to your pants as you do so.  I'm calling this one a win.

This week's goal is going to be getting some skirts made for the daughter and HOPEFULLY starting to get my pantry rearranged.  Stay tuned for that (and yes, the money saving weekly recap is coming tomorrow...I wanted to include this project with it and didn't want to wreck the surprise by doing that one first *laugh*).

Monday, May 21, 2018

Little Ways to Save Money Part 1: Become a Product Tester

So, before I begin, please excuse any wonky text in this post.  My computer is going nuclear on me again and I'm not sure how to fix it.  I keep maxing out my CPU usage at 100% somehow and my physical memory (even though I have nothing on my laptop but a few programs) keeps maxing out as well, so I'm not sure WHAT Windows did to my computer when it reformatted it, but it sure didn't fix it.  Blah!!!!!

I was watching a program on YouTube with my husband when it popped up in the "Recommended" list, mainly for kicks as we like to watch programs like the one that popped up to see if they could give us any new insight into saving money.  "10 Ways to Save Money You Haven't Thought Of" the program proclaimed proudly, so of course we had to click on it and see what it had to offer.

Immediately I was a bit concerned as the woman started talking from her designer couch with about 300.00 worth of Pottery Barn throw pillows stacked behind her and so the program began.  Confession:  We didn't even make it half way through.  I'm sorry but advice like, "Don't buy your dog organic dog treats for 40.00, instead make them at home with organic chicken from the store" didn't seem up my alley of frugality.  I mean my cats don't SEE treats unless you count the free ones they get every once in a while from the store freebies and things.

So, after watching other advice that was just...well not what I would consider advice for the everyday person, I decided to start a series on the blog here with different SMALL ways that I've found I've saved money and hopefully it'll help someone out there come up with inspiration in their own life on saving some pennies to help them through tough times :).

So, let's begin with part 1, which is a small way you can save money, but also will cost you nothing but a bit of time to accomplish (at least if you are careful about your missions).  And that is...

Consider Becoming a Product Tester

First a disclaimer:  I am NOT posting any affiliate links in this post.  I am merely sharing this information in an attempt to help others :).

Becoming a consumer who tests products for companies is becoming easier and easier.  There are more and more online product testing outfits popping up all of the time.  And hey, your opinion on new products is worth something!  So, why not get some free groceries in exchange for you doing a bit of "product push" on social media and sharing your opinions on those products?

I know that some people out there don't want to be a part of social media and avoid it like the plague, and trust me I get it.  But, you might want to consider doing a social media account with not a lot of "friends" just so that you can share product testing things, depending on where you are financially in your life.  For instance, I don't use Twitter.  I hate Twitter.  But, I have a Twitter account just so that I can share my product testing things on Twitter and get points for the share.  I also share product testing posts to my personal Facebook account (sorry friends of mine) and to an old blog page I created on Facebook as well to gain additional share points.  If you have a legitimate Facebook page, or Instagram, or Pinterest...all of those pages can be used to share these product testing opportunities and get you points toward the mission completion. 

You also get points through these outfits for talking to people in person and writing a report on the product testing site about the experience.  I've actually struck up conversations with a cashier and other customers about products I was testing out just because they were a captive audience and I thought that the freebies were cool and wanted to pass along how they could sign up for the product testing site as well.

The product testing opportunities aren't really steady, so much as a nice bonus you get offered every once in a while that you see pop up in your e-mail.  You won't qualify for every mission, and I've been known more than once to out and out turn down missions that required me to spend money up front for a product and get "reimbursed" for said product later, or in some cases where I would be required to drive an hour to go and sit in on a product speel before getting said product to test...those I simply decline as I just don't have time or the money to mess with those things.

I might miss out on some of the "big ticket" missions by doing things the way I do, but I always hit my minimum points for missions (usually no more than that as I just don't have a lot of time to mess with things) and through the years I've tried everything from crescent rolls (a Pillsbury product testing outfit that isn't around anymore, unfortunately), to tea, to razors, to vitamins, to pain killers, to cold medicines, to pet products (including cat litter) to feminine care name it. 

The biggest thing when it comes to the missions on product testing sites is, to me, making sure you stay on top of it.  Before I even get the product, I share my first post on Facebook and Twitter just saying, "Hey, I got free stuff in exchange for this post" which immediately gains me 10 points toward my goal (which is usually somewhere around 40 points...some of the bigger ticket items, like the free razors I got recently, require you to do things like share an online review of said product and take a screen capture...look up instructions on how to do that online and away you go) and once I get the product I try it out as quickly as possible (I admit though, a few times I had to admit on reviews that I didn't get a cold and therefore couldn't review, say a cold medicine, before the mission time was up), share another post on Facebook and Twitter (which I, once again, just state I got free stuff in exchange for the post) and then fill in the actual review on the product testing field on the mission page and whatever else I need to do to get my minimum points for the mission done. 

I know this sounds like a huge time investment, but it really isn't.  The big thing is taking missions you WANT to do (and are willing to do the amount of work involved to get through said mission),  sharing about the mission and getting to your minimum amount of points to complete the mission and get your "badge" (which basically means you fulfilled your part of the product testing mission) which helps you qualify for future missions (and over time qualifies you for better missions as they realize you are dependable to get the missions done you sign up for).  There is a bit of time that you have to invest out of the gate with these outfits to fill out surveys so they can peg your demographics down a bit and make sure the mission they shoot your way is hitting the right demographics for their clients, so try to be truthful on the surveys so that your missions are geared toward what you would want to receive (versus getting offered like free bird food when you don't have a bird or something).

Will you get tons of products to try by signing up for these outfits?  No, probably not (not unless you have a lot of time to invest in getting involved in their online communities and becoming a "featured" mission completer or something), but every little bit helps and I have to say I haven't had a product freebie through these outfits yet that I didn't appreciate getting.  The free cat food I got recently really helped to stretch the dry food I had in the house, the cats and ate and liked it (which I reported on my mission that they did) and I got a 10.00 bag of cat food for free along with some free wet food and some cat treats.  None of these were things I would have bought normally, but getting them for free was appreciated.  Getting the free razors recently helped to extend the life of my regular razor heads that much more, which every little bit helps when it comes to saving money.  Over time, the little things add up!

If you are looking to sign up for a couple of product testing outfits, the ones I can recommend at the current time (since I'm a member of them...heck I've been a member of Smiley 360, from back when it was just "Smiley" and I've been a member for YEARS):

Smiley 360 (all kinds of different products) 
Generation Good (Seventh Generation products and green living topics) 
MyMagazine Sharing Network (Kroger/Fred Meyer product testing outfit)

There are some, like Amazon Vine (I believe the name of it is) that I've SEEN people's reviews mentioning being a member, but I'm not sure how you would go about signing up for them, or if they are even still available.

So, there you are folks.  One little way to save money in your life :).  I hope you found this post the least bit useful.  And hey, if you are a member of a product testing outfit, please let us know and what it's all about so we maybe can check it out.