Monday, June 26, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 So, it's Monday, not Friday, but better late than never right?

It was just kind of a dark and depressing weekend.  Alvah's mood seemed to gravitate toward being sad and crying and itchy and miserable to cranky and hitty and that got to my mood as it's so seldom that he's in a good mood anymore for any length of time.  Bright side, I think some of this is due to the fact that his medicine is actually working.  It's like a brain fog has lifted a bit and he's realizing that he's itchy, or sleep deprived (which seemed to be his main problem this last little bit...I'm going to talk to his doctor about putting him on some type of sleep aide I think as he's just not getting enough sleep) or not being able to get his point across and it's leading to meltdowns.  At least I feel like we are on the right track with him. 

Basically between him not sleeping, thus me not sleeping, his mood and then everything the AK state government is pulling on the Alaskan people (capping the PFD and taxes, taxes, taxes!  All the while INCREASING spending and giving themselves raises)  is just...ugh.  Trying to save money to move is definitely becoming a priority the way things are going on that front.

So, yeah, I rewrote this post about five times over the weekend and finally decided to just walk away until I wasn't going on a dark depressing stream of thought for pages and pages.  And hey, Alvah slept last night, so we're both doing better today and voila!  Mood improvement!

Onto the bright side of things!  After months of stalking...err...perseverance...we finally have an appointment to get him evaluated with his new speech therapist the first week in July.  So, hopefully we can get his medicine dialed in better before his evaluation.  Fingers and toes crossed on that.  I REALLY want this to work well this time and hopefully trying to help him works this time.

I finally got my daughter motivated to remove a tooth on her own instead of not wiggling it and making the dentist do it.  She figured out she could get money for her tooth, which would help her pay for a toy she's REALLY wanting combined with the rest of her gift card she got for her birthday (once I put the idea into her brain, that is).  I haven't seen a kid wiggle a tooth out as fast as she did (mind you it was pretty loose for the last YEAR, so it didn't take much other than her concentrating on it).  Already the new tooth is poking through the gum, so I am SO glad we got the tooth out.

And now onto the rest of the week on the money saving front!

1.  First up, today's big lesson.  Remember to rotate your food storage if you have it.  I've used up so much of mine that I thought I was doing good on that front and then I started actively seeking out food storage to use and help to pad out what we have around the house to help save money.  And found a couple of #10 (big coffee can size) of dehydrated apple slices I need to use up, which is probably going to end up as pies or crisps for dessert here and I ran into a couple of cans of dehydrated potatoes that my mother-in-law had given me from someone who was liquidating their old food storage before they moved a while back.  At the time I just went, "ooooo!  Dehydrated potatoes!"  I get some things from the LDS cannery (which by the way you can get things at the cannery even if you aren't a member of the Church as they consider food storage important) but we didn't have dehydrated potatoes as an option to purchase there, so I just looked at that and NOT the date like a maroon (Bugs Bunny reference...oh yeah!).  Fast forward to this weekend when I wanted to make corned beef hash and decided to use the dehydrated potatoes to use them up.  I took a shot of the top of the can before I opened it (seen up top there).  Yeah, 98!  As in 1998!  So, these suckers were about 20 years old now.  I opened them and sniffed and sure enough rancid smelling potatoes came back at me.  So, frozen hash browns from the depth of the freezer were dug out and used for the corned beef has instead (which for frozen hash browns and canned corned beef...the hash came out really tasty.  Even my DAUGHTER liked it and she's super picky!  So woohoo for that :).

I hate wasting food, so it bugs me that I didn't use the potatoes earlier, even though, realistically, they could very well have been rancid when I received them...who knows.  I'm going to save the can and use them to mix in with the compost pile for the garden later on, but still...remember to check dates and rotate food storage all!  It's important to not waste food!

Bright side, this led me to check every single can in my pantry for "use by" dates and to make sure things weren't getting too far out of whack on their dates.  I found a few things that I definitely want to use up just to stop the things from starting to taste like can (like tuna fish) and I also found that the canned brown bread I bought a while back had a use by date for next year, so I want to make sure to start using that up and replenishing a few cans for use later (if you keep it past it's use by date, I've found that it starts to get denser and more dried out and not taste as good, so it's one of those items that I definitely want to keep more in the "fresh canned" category).  I opened a can of it to eat with some cream cheese we had in the fridge.  My husband was a bit skeptical of a canned bread, but I told him how it was a religion in New England and he needed to try it.  And he did, indeed, like it *laugh*.  So, at least I won't be eating those loaves of brown bread on my own ;).

2.  I've found myself being able to say "no" to food sales a bit better lately as money is not only super tight (can't wait for the pay raise to kick onto the paychecks next month), but also I stop myself and just say, "Be calm.  You know when he's going to get paid next and how much, roughly, that it will be.  You don't need to stock up for the Apocalypse." 

It's odd switching your way of thinking like this, believe me.  I shopped for a variable, and non-existent at a moment's notice, type of pay cycle for the last 15 years.  So when you saw a good sale on ANYTHING that you might possibly use later you picked it up no matter what and you picked up as much as you could possibly afford period.  Now I can be a bit more conservative in how much of something I stock up on. 

Like stocking up for winter.   Yes, I'm glad I'm putting up fresh produce for winter as it just plain tastes better and we enjoy eating it a LOT more than the commercially canned stuff, but now it's not a panic driven mad dash to get as much into the freezer and pantry before work dries up over the winter months as it used to be.  It really does take some getting used to, but is also kind of a relief of stress at the same time.

It's different and weird that's for sure.  Good, yes, but weird and different *laugh*..

3.  I repaired two more holes in comforters this week.  MAN we're tough on those.  Mind you most people change their bedding at most once a week, but with Alvah I change bedding daily, sometimes twice daily (depending how much liquid he decides to throw on his bed), so I know our comforters and bedding take way more abuse than most people's.  I just feel like all I do is repair one hole after another on those things *laugh*.

4.  I made sure to make every trip in the car count so we didn't waste unnecessary gas running from one place to another during the week. 

5.  There was suddenly this big burning ball of gas in a sky that turned magically blue the last few days!  We played outside and have been enjoying the sunlight!  I might even have lunch out on the deck tonight.  That would be fun :).

6.  I broke down the shelves I had put together with cans of food storage and wooden shelves in the pantry and set up a shelf in the den instead.  I learned a valuable, and quite logical really, lesson as I was doing it.  If you make a shelf with #10 cans as your shelf spacers, trying to actually STICK #10 cans on said shelves?  Well it doesn't work (duuuuhhhhhh) because the shelves will be too tight once you put any weight on them.  So, I went through my cans and used anything that was liquid-like to build up the shelves or anything that I wasn't going to worry about using anytime soon (like some cans of beans as I have loose beans to use) and then I flipped cans that contained dried items on their sides and rolled them onto the shelves.  It worked.  I tried to put things on the shelves that I am planning on using somewhat regularly or things (like the powdered eggs) that I need to use up.  Here's hoping it works :).

We'll see how goat's milk powder works in things.  I had gotten that years ago when my daughter was on a dairy free and gluten free diet to try out and never opened it.  It's use by date is this year, so it's time to use goat's milk in things!

7.  My husband got a gift card for Father's Day when he went into Sears to get a new battery for the lawn mower (it died and Sears is the only store we have a credit card at, so it worked out for that) as part of a promotion.  He used his "mystery gift" of, what turned out to be 10.00, to get some pliers he needed for work.  Between his gift card and the coupons that had printed off for him at the register he paid around 10.00 for the pliers (more than he wanted to pay, but the expensive ones were the ONLY pliers Sears had in stock). 

8.  My husband took advantage of a yearly covered dental cleaning through his new insurance.  That alone saved us 450.00 with that being covered so yay for good insurance!

And now, since I'm still tired and kind of out of it (which is SAD considering how late I slept this morning), let's get to a garden update!
I FINALLY got the flowers planted in the front bed.  Of course as soon as I did that and figured that the weather was never going to get good this summer and got eaten alive doing it, THEN the sun came out *laugh*. 

I think I'm the only person in the history of the universe who managed to completely kill off a mint plant.  I looked all over it for signs of life and found nada.  I pulled off the dead branches and we'll see what happens, but I'm not too hopeful at this point.  Me.  The only person I know who can actually kill off an invasive plant.  Rock on.
The chives though...I'm so excited.  LOOK at them!  They are doing awesome!  I'm going to harvest them soon and dehydrate them.  I hope they come back again a second time this year so I get a double crop.  That would be awesome!

The garden is loving the sun.  The beans are growing (woohoo) and even more stalks of corn are popping up out of the ground.  The corn, though, is growing so...well not great...that I planted peas in between the corn that was up out of the ground in the one row and then I planted a row of pole beans in front of the peas.  I figure if you're going to trellis a bed, you might as well TRELLIS a bed.  So we'll see if everything comes up.  I'll be thrilled if everything grows this year.  Looking forward to the experiment if nothing else :).

All of the peas fell over in the middle bed as they are growing like mad.  My husband kept telling me he was going to rip stakes and make a trellis with the left over chicken wire and I was like, "Oh, that'll be great!"  And then he ended up doing exactly what I had thought of doing to begin with.  Zip ties and left over electrical conduit and chicken wire are now our trellis for the peas.  He put the trellis decently far forward which is good because I know I'm going to have to make one layer higher later with another thing of chicken wire as if the peas and beans climb HALF as well as they did last year...yeah they'll need the added height.

The spinach needs to be thinned a bit that I planted up toward the front, but yay for things growing :).

Look at the carrots and turnips!  I can't believe how well they are growing!  The beets are SLOWLY growing, which hopefully with the nice days we've been having the past few days that'll help them take off a bit better.  The lettuce I got from the food pantry is up front there.  I guess it's actually a heading type of lettuce that takes a ridiculous amount of time to reach maturity, so I'm just going to harvest it the way I always harvest lettuce.  Harvest the outside leaves and leave the inner ones, repeat.  I'm so happy it's definitely going to be ready to start harvesting.

Oh and the beans are finally coming up in this bed as well!  Yay!!!!

I was going to plant potatoes in the yard or in a planter, but as hard as I could I couldn't get a potato to sprout (yeah I KNOW, it's usually so easy!) and it has been SO wet that I would have been planting the potatoes into mud.  So, I finally gave up on that this year.  At least potatoes are cheap to buy up here, so it's not like I'm going to be feeling too potato deficient in the coming months :).

So, there you are folks.  My week in a rambling nutshell.  How about you?  How did your week go?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

Sorry for the lack of a monthly goal update, again.  It's been busy around here and I've been working on the monthly goals, so I just haven't had time to blog about it.

Then there's the son unit.  I'm thinking we're going to have to add a medication on top of his new one because he doesn't SLEEP on this new one.  Like at all.  He's been staying up till 2 am and he's up a few times at night and then up for the day by eight.  It's taking a serious toll on me, so I need to talk to his doctor about what I can do about it.  I've tried melatonin, again, and it did exactly what it did the last fifteen times I've tried it.  Nothing that I can see.  So, yeah, other medications might be necessary.  Because he's not sleeping his mood is good...when he GETS sleep.  When he doesn't the lack of sleep on this new med definitely effects him now (not a bad thing, honestly as it shows it's working) and there's been a couple of days, like today, where I'm counting down the seconds till he's asleep again.  Definitely not a lot of fun for anyone involved.

The garden is finally producing lettuce to the point I can harvest a little bit here and there and I was able to thin the turnips a couple of times this week and add those to the salad fodder.  So far the amounts I have gotten just from the young turnip greens and the lettuce have paid for the seeds I purchased to grow them, so yay for a return on your investment :).

My final broody hen FINALLY just went back to normal behaviors the last couple of days (such a huge relief) and so we should, SHOULD, be back to three eggs a day about here soon.  So more egg are going to get used :).

So, anyway, let's get to this week's menu!

Wednesday:  French Toast with pancake syrup, sausage patties

Thursday:  Baked ham, potato salad, swiss chard (from freezer)

Friday:  Corned beef hash (use canned corn beef from pantry and dehydrated diced potatoes from pantry), salad (lettuce from garden)

Saturday:  Eggs Benedict, fruit cocktail

Sunday:  Turkey chili, corn bread

Monday:  BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes, left over corn bread, baked beans

Tuesday:  Pan fried chicken, left over mashed potatoes and left over baked beans

Desserts:  Home made ice cream with hot fudge sauce , sugar cookies (need to get to making these), chocolate chip cookie bars (left over from last week)

Breakfasts:  Toast (make wheat bread for son), cereal, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits

Snacks:  Boiled eggs, beef jerky (from freezer), cheese sticks (cut cheese as necessary), cookies and milk

To make:  Egg salad (make enough boiled eggs for snacks and for this, note to self), bread (for egg salad sandwiches and for toast), English muffins (if needed for Eggs Benedict...check freezer for English muffins), sugar cookies, corn bread, pizza (for lunch on weekend), bread sticks (for lunch on weekend for son)


And there you are folks.  Our menu for the week.  How about you?  Got anything good you're eating lately?  Feel free to share links to recipes!  I don't know about anyone else, but I'm always looking for cooking inspiration :).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update


Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there!

This post is later than I wanted it to be, but it's been busy around here this weekend.  We actually had a weekend without a ton of rain during the day, so my husband took advantage of the day yesterday to get the lawn mowed, which needed it bad (it's been so wet so far this summer it's been impossible to get the lawn mowed...it doesn't look the best because the lawn was still pretty wet and kind of clumped up in places, but hey it's not a hay field anymore!) and I have just been trying to stay on top of the son and trying to get things done.

It's been tiring around here.  My husband started working the night shift this week (his to be regular shift), which has led to a bunch of changes around here on figuring out how to make everything work and all the while making sure he gets enough sleep.  The son started his new meds and his mood is SLOWLY improving, underline on the term "slowly".  I guess it takes a while to build up in the system, so  I've had to deal with meltdowns on his end and him going back to not wanting to sleep much (he's finally started improving with that the last couple of days).  His first week of summer school seemed to go okay and he actually had a really good day Thursday, so hopefully he'll continue to do well for the rest of summer school.

I'll get more into some of the things I've been working on around here in the Monthly Goals Update post (which I'm hoping to do tomorrow but might be as late as Tuesday), but let's get to the frugal adventures for the week.
1.  I made a meal out of things that a lot of people would have just thrown away.  I had one gallon of milk left from the food pantry that, while not spoiled, just didn't taste good anymore and you could tell it was turning (I was actually impressed it kept as long as it did...when I GOT it, it was 2 weeks past it's expiration date on the bottle).  I wasn't sure what to do with it as there was about 3/4 of a gallon left and that was a LOT of sour milk to go through even if I made a bunch of things that called for buttermilk.  I then remembered reading about how to make quick cottage cheese out of milk and went and looked up this recipe and just used the recipe for the full gallon of milk for my 3/4 of a gallon.  After I had the curds all dried out, I placed them in a air tight container and stuck them into the fridge to do something with, but wasn't sure WHAT at the time.

Fast forward about four days.  I was looking at a small baggie of mozzarella cheese my husband had left over from his lunch where I'd made him meatball subs a few weeks ago, some hot dog bun bottoms my son wasn't eating and were stale and then the cheese and decided to make manicotti filling out of the home made cheese and other odds and ends.  I mixed up the home made cheese (which I subbed it for ricotta cheese for manicotti filling as dry cottage cheese can usually be subbed for ricotta in recipes), the little baggie of mozzarella, broke up the hot dog bottoms and made them into chunky bread crumbs, mixed in some Italian seasoning and some dried parsley, an egg and a couple of good shakes of Parmesan cheese and voila!  Manicotti filling (seen above there).  And double bonus was that I could pull a box of manicotti noodles out of the pantry (I had gotten 12 boxes of them for less than 7.00 on Amazon about a year ago).

I poured a can of Hunts Four Cheese tomato sauce over the top of the filled noodles and then sprinkled some mozzarella cheese from the freezer on top and baked it.  Overall, it turned out pretty darned good (seen up top), especially since there wasn't any meat in it and my husband said it tasted as good as a really good store bought lasagna.  Since the meal cost me a little over a buck to make (I figure after the cost of pasta and tomato sauce and such), I was happy with that opinion.

2.  We were gifted a Subway giftcard for our anniversary at the end of the month, but instead of using it for our anniversary, I told my husband we were going to take him out for Father's Day with it today.  It was kind of a fun trip (wish I'd remembered to take a picture) as this was the first time my daughter ordered her own sandwich.  She was so cute I totally let her get the chips and soda with the sandwich (my husband and I just got a sandwich and split it).  Overall we still have about 5.00 left on the giftcard, my husband enjoyed the low key meal (since I didn't sleep good last night, so did I honestly) and my daughter got a huge kick out of ordering her "awesome sandwich" (roast beef on white bread with American cheese and black olives.  Nothing else *laugh*).  My son loved getting a ride on a nice and sunny day and we ran and got him a large french fry at McDonald's to make his day too (I used spare change to pay for it).

3.  I had my daughter make my husband a home made card for Father's Day.  My son had made him a project at school before it let out for Father's Day.  My husband enjoyed both gifts a lot, so I'm glad I had her do that (the cookies I had planned to make today got delayed till tomorrow due to me having sinus issues and not being up to making cookies...which I feel kind of bad about, but I didn't want to try and read recipes when I'm nearly falling asleep on my feet today).

4.  My husband changed the oil on his truck today.  Since we know with him commuting every day now that he's going to have to change the oil in his truck probably once a month, we went onto Amazon and found that we could get oil filters much cheaper through them, so I'll put putting buying one of those into my queue for any monthly Amazon shopping.

5.  I made custard ice cream (using up some eggs and the last of the heavy cream I had bought with my Mother's Day gift card a while back), boiled some eggs and did some baking to use up some eggs.  I have more planned for tomorrow (I hope anyway). My daughter helped me to make chocolate chip cookie bars and has been enjoying having them for an afternoon treat.

6.  I spent a good portion of the week gutting and reorganizing my pantry, my sewing supply cabinet and the den to try and make everything work the way I wanted it to.  While going through everything I found things I forgot I had and also found things were thinner in places than I thought and that I would need to replenish at some point in the future.  Bright side, though, was that crawling around and organizing everything the one thing I found was lots of ideas on how to use up things, which will either feed us (in the case of the pantry) or lead to future Christmas gifts (in the case of the sewing supplies).  I think I even found some good materials to reupholster the loveseat with, so yay for that!

7.  I mixed up powdered milk to use in baking again this week.  I'm using up the non-long term storage when it comes to powdered milk and things first and have found that it's working out well.  I even used powdered milk to make the ice cream along with the heavy cream.  No one can tell the difference, so thumbs up there.

8.  My husband and I have been really having fun watching a funny cartoon online when we have a few moments together.  Someone re-dubbed some anime series and just went for out and out humor and we've been laughing our way through it. 

I also watched "A Tudor Feast" on YouTube when my son wasn't sleeping at different points this last week, which is an earlier appearance of Ruth, Peter and Alex (of Wartime Farm, Edwardian Farm and Victorian Farm fame) along with a bunch of other historians and archaeologists.  It was all about them recreating a Tudor feast in three days time and I have to say that it really gives you an appreciation for things like pre-ground sugar and being able to just go and get cinnamon at the local store *laugh*. 

9.  I was able to get my husband some new insoles for his shoes on clearance at Fred Meyer a while ago and had set them aside for him.  His feet were killing him at work so he put the new insoles in his shoes and keeps saying how much they have helped.  So yay for extending the life of shoes (he should be getting a shoe voucher to get new shoes for work sometime soon, so here's hoping :).

10.  I repaired a few holes in comforters this week, repaired a hole in my daughter's shirt, glued a shoe back together with shoe goo and sewed on a few buttons that had come off of clothing. 

On the other side of things I managed to break a glass that my son had managed to camouflage under his bed and I kicked into his bed frame, managed to break the bowl I keep dry cat food in for the cats (comedy of errors led to that one) and we had a bowl get broken in the dishwasher when my son tried to stand on top of it with the dishwasher open (he also reamed the door on the dishwasher so I have to put a bowl under the door to load the dishwasher now and I can't open the door when the dishwasher is running unless I want it to leak.  Times like this he's lucky he's cute *grumble*.  And somehow a glass randomly just broke in the dishwasher too.  It's been a rough week for things getting broken that's for sure.

11.  This one kind of ties into the garden, so I saved it for last.  I finally came to the conclusion this week that the corn just isn't going to grow well in the garden this year.  Since it was one of my "experiments" I planted this year, I hoped for the best, but right now only about four corn plants are actively growing, so I'm going to let them grow but am going to just plant more peas or pole beans in the place where I had the corn planted.  I think it's just been too cold and wet for the corn to really grow well this year...I've put fertilizer on the garden, but there is so much rain it just kind of gets washed away and corn is a really heavy feeder, so it just isn't working.

I was going to try and hop to Carrs on Friday because I saw that they had corn ears on sale as part of 5.00 Friday (8 ears for 5.00 or something like that), but I finally decided I didn't really have 15.00 to spend on corn (which I figured would be about what I'd want to get to stock up the freezer for winter) and I didn't want to waste the gas just to run in and get corn, so I just let it go.  Which worked out overall as a friend of mine told me that the corn was sold out by the time she went into Carrs at 10:00 Friday morning.  So, yay for not wasting gas.

Now for a quick garden update!
I did a pretty good thorough weeding of the garden today, which the chickweed and horse tail are already trying to spread again.  But, at least the plants are being shaded out by dandelions and long grass anymore. 

Aside from the corn update above there, the garden has really enjoyed the nice weather the last couple of days and has just gone nuts growing right along. 
 The spinach is really starting to take off, the turnips will be needing a good thinning here soon, the beets are going to need some more seeds planted in the rows (some either didn't come up or more likely got picked off by birds), the swiss chard is up and starting to grow.  And the lettuce across the garden is starting to really grow and I think I'll be able to start harvesting some this week (yay!).

I was waiting for my husband to build me a trellis for the peas, but peas wait for no man and I'm definitely going to be going out in the next couple of days to build a trellis myself, otherwise the peas are going to start falling over.  You can see where the corn in the middle of the bed is just not really there.  I have a few corn plants that are actually growing up in the spinach row, so I'm not sure if the rain or some animal ended up shifting the kernels of corn I planted or what, but yeah...the middle of the bed is sad and needs something put into the hole.  The spinach up front (the grass looking plants) are doing well and the lettuce up front is going along good in places and kind of sad in others (which I'll plant some more lettuce seeds next to where the sad plants are right now and in between the other lettuce plants so I have a rotating crop).

I have to say when it comes to loving the weather, the cabbages take the cake.  They are growing like mad, and the lettuces around them seem pretty content too.  This is the bed that gets the most direct sun, though, so the soil is warmer.  This year, that's probably going to make a difference.

Including this bed is the one where the first bush bean is finally pushing it's way up through the soil (yayyyyyy!!!!). 

I had flowers I was going to plant in the front bed and I still plan to plant them, hopefully tomorrow, but it's been so bug ridden outside that by the time I got done weeding the garden and taking care of the chickens I was covered in bites and just wanted to come in and get out of mosquito land.

So there you are folks.  My updates for the week (albeit late).  How about you?  What's going on in your life?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu


Sorry for the lack of monthly goal updates again this month.  It's just been really busy around here and I haven't gotten much of a chance to be online, or work on my monthly goals much, honestly.

Good thing that happened!  The compounding pharmacy called and said they thought they had found a solution that was actually edible and they were able to use a new ingredient in the mix so they could put in a water based flavor component, so I was able to pick up my son's new grape flavored medicine a few days ago.  And while the medication is still bitter (the pharmacist is going to try a few new things before we refill next month to see what he can do to tweak it a little bit to help with that) and my son gagged on it the first time we got it down him, he's doing a LOT better with it now and I can actually GET the medicine down him.  So woohoo for awesome pharmacists :). 

My son also started summer school this week.  Day one he was just doped as we still had him on the old meds and we upped his dosage a bit, which turned out to be just enough to make him tired all the time.  Day two he was the first day of the new meds and his moods were kind of up and down.  Today he had a good day, although his moods are still up and down around here, but it takes a while for the meds to build up in the system, so we'll see how he does after about a week.

And my husband started his new shift, so that's been an adjustment period for sure.

So, yeah, it's been busy.

When it comes to this week's menu...man I had all of these plans to get up early this week, get housework done, get menu planning figured out and everything, but the son didn't sleep, I didn't feel that great and with the new schedules and things to get used to...it just didn't happen.  So, the menu plan this week is just kind of focusing on using things up that have been in the freezer or pantry for a while.

Like I made my own version of "Napoleons", a type of dessert that calls for layered puff pastry, but cutting up a half package of puff pastry into 16 rectangles, baking it so they were all nice and crusty and puffy.  I then took a container of whipped topping from the bowels of the freezer and grabbed a box of vanilla pudding from the pantry and folded the whipped topping into the made up vanilla pudding.  And I pulled out a jar of home made apple pie filling.  All this week, I've been separating little squares of puff pastry into three layers and sandwiching in the pudding/whipped topping and apple pie filling into the little puff pastries and we've had them for dessert or as a treat.  My husband LOVED it and it's been kind of a "gourmet" treat to send in with him to work.  Overall, for a recipe I just messed with off of the puff pastry box after I had randomly grabbed it as something I'd like to use out of the freezer...I thought that it turned out quite well :). 

I'm not sure if salads are in the cards this week, yet.  I should be able to start harvesting lettuce here within the next couple of weeks, though, even if it'll be in a limited amounts.  But, yay for lettuce :).

So, onto the menu for the rest of the week!
Wednesday:  Turkey noodle soup (using up rest of turkey left overs from Thanksgiving, egg noodles from pantry, dehydrated veggies from the pantry and turnips and celery from the freezer).

Thursday:  Hamburgers, corn chips (from pantry)

Friday:  Creamy basil chicken (use evaporated milk, basil from Aerogarden, dehydrated peppers), rice

Saturday:  BBQ ribs, baked beans, corn, mashed potatoes

Sunday:  Pork steaks, pan fried potatoes, fruit cocktail

Monday:  Ham and cheese croissants (haven't gotten to having these yet)

Tuesday:  Turkey rissoles, left over veggies (baked beans, corn, etc)

Breakfasts:  English muffins, blueberry muffins (to make), bran muffins (to make), eggs, cereal, oatmeal

Snacks:  Rose hip fruit leather (from freezer), apples, yogurt with jam, cheese sticks (cut cheese into sticks as needed), cheese crackers (to make)

Baking:  Bread (tomorrow is hopefully baking day), blueberry muffins, bran muffins, cheese crackers, sugar cookies (for Father's Day on Sunday...they are a huge favorite of my husband :).

So, there you are.  Our menu for the week.  How about you?  Making anything tasty lately?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Well, we seem to have caught a theme this summer.  And that "theme" is rain and kind of cold temperatures.  Bright side, though, is with the colder temperatures this year so far the spider mites are non-existent (which you would not BELIEVE how thrilled I am to say that) and I haven't yet seen one slug (knock on wood about ten million times).  We are having large amounts of carpenter ants around everywhere, though, so I'm going to try and get the DE I bought spread around the house despite the lack of spider mites, just to help keep those buggers at bay.  I'm also definitely going to spread some of it on the garden as I've seen white flies around (which is what was taking out my poor rhubarb plant) and cabbage moths.  I clipped the flower ends off the rhubarb by the house since it was the only one bolting and that seems to have helped it put more energy into growing, so yay for that! 

This week was interesting.  For one this ended up being, "Be on the phone with Amazon week."  First, there was the breakfast kit I bought from them.  It was supposed to be delivered Wednesday via UPS along with a couple of other individual cans I had gotten but it never showed while the cans did.  So, I went online and checked the tracking number only to find that the package tracking never seemed to go anywhere.  So, I called e-mailed Amazon and they e-mailed me back and apologized up and down that this was the second order I'd had to call on in a month (the chocolate frosting debacle) and they called UPS and were told that the package was delayed due to inclement weather and would be here by Friday.  They even gave me a month of Amazon Prime for free to make up for the inconvenience.  So, go and check on the order the next day only to find a refund had been issued because UPS returned the package to Amazon and they told me to go and reorder it if I still wanted it.  Go and check the item and it had gone from 25.00 for the kit to over 100.00.  I was just like, "No.  I'm not putting up with this."  So I called Amazon determined someone was going to do something if possible.  The gal on the other end of the phone checked the notes on the entire mess and actually went, "Wow, that's a mess.  We can't have that happening."  I told her I'd like a replacement for the item I'd ordered for the same price as I'd paid since this was NOT my fault, and she agreed, had me place an order and adjusted the price down for me so that everything would wash.  They shipped the new order rush and it came via Fed Ex yesterday and they actually beat UPS delivering the dinner kit I'd ordered.  I was impressed.  Since the tracking information had showed that the package was going to be delivered Monday, not Friday like the lady had originally promised, Amazon also issued me a 10.00 credit to make up for the mess, which I used to order a few more food items on Subscribe and Save for this month.

Then there was the dead sea salts.  Desperate to try anything to help Alvah with his eczema flare up he's having right now and also to get nutrients in him to help with the ones he's lacking from not eating real food, I ordered some dead sea bath salts from Amazon to put in his bath water.  I was all excited when I saw they were in my mailbox yesterday so we went down and got them and I get home, open the inner package which clearly states "Dead Sea Salt Mineral Bath" only to find there were just plain Espon salts in the inner package.  Look closer and someone had stuck the "Dead Sea Salt" sticker right smack dab over the "Epson Salt" label that was already on the package.  I was furious and called Amazon AGAIN and so now the Epson salt is sitting in the same box my order came in, duct taped shut as that is what I had, waiting for UPS to pick it up hopefully Monday to return to Amazon.  My refund will process supposedly as soon as UPS scans the label they are going to bring, which then the gal said to reorder the item and I was like, "Why would I do that?  So I can get two more packages of Epson salts?  Something is obviously screwed up with this item, so no thanks."  I'll take the 11.00 I spent and go look around locally to see if I can find some dead sea salt soaking salts that way.  Frustrating to say the least.

Then there was the call from the pharmacy saying that they thought they might have a break through on the flavoring of Alvah's new medication and I was all excited for like two seconds until the guy said, "Peanut butter flavored" and I had to break to him that Alvah was SEVERELY allergic to peanuts.  So, back to the drawing board there.  At least the pharmacy is being really great about experimenting and trying to come up with something (the guy even admitted it was kind of fun since he didn't get to do experimenting like this too often), so we'll see how it goes.  In the meantime I've just been giving him his old med on the same schedule we were before as it wasn't hurting him to take it for sure.

But yeah, on the brighter side of things let's get to the money saving things I did this week.

1.  I processed the peaches this week and out of ten pounds of peaches I got nine pints of peaches (I am the master of the floating fruit as you can see up top). 

2.  I saved the peelings from the peaches and the pits and once I was done with canning the peaches I put them in a pan and filled it with water until the peach peels and pits were just submerged.    I then slapped a lid on the pan, brought it to a boil and then simmered the peels and pits for about an hour.  I then strained the juice through a linen dish towel until all the juice was strained out and then I let the juice cool.  I have to say that the peelings and pits make an awesome tasting peach juice!  I ended up with a ton of juice.  I froze some to make into more jelly later and then took the other part, mixed it up with my home made pectin and sugar and voila!  I got twelve 1/2 pint jars of jelly and one full pint (I ran out of 1/2 pint jars) of jelly from just that batch of juice AND I still have 3 cups left in the freezer to make more jelly out of later.  Booyah!!!  The home made pectin worked well too.  It took a few days to set properly, but it seems like it's all set well now.  I'm thrilled, honestly, as really I got a ton of jelly from parts of fruit that I would have thrown away a few years ago, including the pectin I made.  The jelly is really yummy and my daughter swears it tastes kind of like strawberries (I just taste peach, but okay *laugh*).  I also like the pretty pink color it came out, but that's more aesthetics than anything.
3.  I processed a huge ten pound log of frozen hamburger today that I had bought frozen for 1.57 a lb ages ago and had been avoiding doing anything with because it was just so huge.  But, today I finally got it processed.  I managed to get eight hamburgers cut off the log to make later and then the rest I cooked into regular hamburger.  That I will divide into 1 lb portions (after it cools) and freeze those to use for things like tacos, sloppy joes, even meatloaf later on (just use 2 eggs with cooked meat vs. 1). 

The hamburger was so cheap because it was REALLY cheap/fatty.  It was 73% hamburger, so I knew it was going to produce a lot of fat when I cooked it down and it didn't disappoint.  Instead of pouring it into a container and disposing of the fat, I poured the fat into a bowl to let the little bits of hamburger that were left to settle.  Once the fat is fully set up, I'll skim off the pure fat (without the hamburger bits in it) and put it into a container in the fridge.  This fat I'll use for cooking and baking to help supplement the fat I have on hand.  I think it will work well and when it comes to making, say a pie crust for meat pie, it'll also help to add flavor to the crust.  Win, win.

4.  I started taking inventory and working on plans to reorganize my pantry and food storage areas.  It isn't costing me anything but time and I'm finding I'm enjoying the challenge.

5.  My biggest "woohoo" purchases this week when it came to shopping were a package of pork steaks for 5.15 (on sale for 1.49 lb at Carrs this week) and milk for 2.88 per gallon (also on sale at Carrs).  Since I knew I was going to have to run to the store for groceries, including getting things for my son for snacks at summer school starting this coming week, I also made sure to call in EVERY possible refill I might need on his medications so I wouldn't have to take multiple trips to town.  It worked well and saved me a lot of "little" trips to the store this week.

6.  Kind of a "darn" on the frugal front was getting a call from the bus barn about transporting my son for summer school this year.  I was kind of hoping to let him ride the bus to the school (which the school is only 10 minutes away about, but I wanted to save some money on the fuel consumption) but when they called they told me his ride to school was going to be 1 1/2 hours long.  There was NO WAY I was going to let him ride the bus for 1 1/2 hours for a school that was 10 minutes away by car as he wouldn't enjoy that bus ride as it would just be too long.  Bright side is that summer school is really only three weeks long as they get the week of the Fourth of July off, so it won't be too consuming gas-wise (although I kind of wish it was a full month for the sake of therapy).

7.  My husband and I cut my son's hair this week (and boy did he need it).

8.  I made sure we used up leftovers for all meals so there was no waste of food at all and that those leftovers were used quickly, usually the next day.  It's worked out rather well, although I do have to say your fridge looks pretty empty when you do that *laugh*.

9.  We got the news that my husband starts his regular shift at work starting this next week, so yay for a 7% pay increase =D.  That will DEFINITELY help!

10. I got more cleaning done this week, including getting my son's new bed frame set up and his room rearranged AGAIN to accommodate it (I'll share pictures later as my son has already trashed his room today).  I found that his new mattress was just going to get wrecked in his race car bed frame (which I had told someone before *cough husband* but he wanted to keep the race car bed).  I knew my husband wasn't going to be keen on me getting rid of said race car bed frame completely, so I put both his old bed, and his new bed, in his room.  Alvah likes it because he can jump on his old thrashed mattress (thank goodness I didn't throw that out) on his old bed and I like it because milk isn't pooling down in plastic crevices anymore and making lots of problems for me to clean up.  So, yay!

And now onto a garden update!

I walked out to the garden, Monday and just about had a heart attack.  Something had gotten into the garden, dug a few holes (which luckily one of said holes was RIGHT on top of a cabbage but didn't hit the roots of said cabbage and kill it) and chomped off the top of two of the cabbages.  I wanted to cry in all honesty.  I just couldn't afford to have something going at the garden this year as we need all of the food we can get put up for winter. 

Monday through Wednesday I went out and did the only thing I could think to do to help protect it from rabbits (my first thought since I had seen a huge one roaming around our yard) or from moose (the most likely culprit honestly as I couldn't see a rabbit leaving the lettuce alone and the two holes in the garden I could see just being moose hooves that sank into the ground...it would have been a baby moose that did it)...I covered the garden with the tarps I had put on them earlier and put the make shift green house up over the cabbages and such to help keep things off of them.  I figured if I could make getting at the cabbages and things inconvenient, if the moose or rabbit had my garden on a "visit this garden" list, maybe making it harder for them would just deter them long enough to forget about it.  Finally on Wednesday I knew I needed to uncover the garden as the plants need all the light and air they can get this time of year with our short growing season, so I let it go and figured I'd see how it went.  After I took the tarps down I left them tucked under the front of the camper (something new and strange looking to help deter critters) and then put up some boards and things on ground level to help camouflage the garden a bit.

So far, so good.  The two cabbages that got chomped seem to be recovering and I might still get a head off of each of them since they were still young enough when they got chomped.  Here's hoping whatever it was that decided to stop and snack was just passing through.
The onions I was going to plant ended up not being viable.  I went to separate the bulb into different onions and it was mushy and not good inside, so I chopped up the tops and dehydrated them and then just added them to my dehydrated onions jar.  So, they'll still come in handy, but that also means that I am going to want to plant something else to replace the onions I was planning on planting in the yard.  I'm glad my son is starting summer school this coming week.  The "you need to plant by this day PERIOD" day up here is pretty much June 15th.  After that the plants just won't have enough time to grow, so I'm determined to get my small bed I have planned dug up and planted before that day.  So, rain or shine, this week that is getting done.
But hey, one row of corn is up (where art thou, other row of corn?).

The carrots look like a drunkard planted the seeds.  This is what happens when you get a bunch of downpours right after you plant seeds.  They end up in interesting locations.  Thinning is going to be interesting to get the plants into some semblance of order.

And the beet seeds are finally sprouting!  YAY!!!  I was starting to worry they might be a loss.  The other row of corn might still be, but we shall see how it all shapes up here.  Now I just need to wait for the beans to start growing (hopefully soon).  My husband even has an idea for how to build a trellis for the peas, so I'm really hoping he can get that done this weekend as the peas are really starting to take off here.

So, yeah, that's my week in a nutshell.  How did your week go?

Friday, June 9, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

Well, better late than never on the menu plan this week.  It's kind of been an odd and busy week, so planning the menu just kind of flew out the proverbial window until I looked at the calendar this morning and thought, "Oh, THAT'S why I've been doing the menu on the fly the last couple of days".  Yup, that's me.  So together it's not even funny.

I'll get into my week more in the Frugal Friday recap.  For now let's focus on food.

Currently there is a 10 lb log of frozen hamburger defrosting in my fridge.  I bought it frozen from Three Bears last year and it's just been sitting in the freezer because, while I got it super cheap, I was like, "Man, what am I going to do with 10 lbs of hamburger?"  Because I really don't have a choice but to defrost the entire thing at once.  I think I finally came up with a good plan, so I am going to be processing that this weekend on top of doing lots of baking and reorganizing on the food and freezer front.  I'm kind of looking forward to it.  I'm a person who really does LIKE to be organized, but life usually gets in the way of me getting it to work too well.

So, anyway, past the huge amount of hamburger that I have managed to creatively stuck into the fridge to defrost (since it's like 2' long), let's get to the menu plan for the week!
Wednesday:  Left over stuffed pork roulade (fancy name for "pork roll"...seen up top after a few pieces had been eaten by the daughter *laugh*) with applesauce (from pantry)

Thursday:  Leftover pork roulade (I had a terrible headache last night, so leftovers were, once again, on the menu.  It was my husband's idea...I'm glad he really liked the pork roll :).

Friday:  Waffles, bacon, fruit cocktail

Saturday:  Hamburgers on home made buns, oven fries (trying out and seeing if red potatoes make good oven fries...we shall see!)

Sunday:  Beef pies with apple pie for dessert (it's "Pie-a-palooza" night ;).  This is the first day of my husband's new shift (yay pay increase!) so I want to make sure he's got something easy to eat on the go in case he's really busy.

Monday:  Chicken noodle soup

Tuesday:  Ham and cheese croissants (I got four croissants from the food pantry, so I figured it's be a good chance to use them), fruit cocktail

Breakfasts:  English muffins (from freezer), toast, cereal (from pantry), oatmeal, muffins (to make), eggs and bacon.

Snacks:  Boiled eggs, cantaloupe (was also on sale for .99 each last week, so I grabbed one when I got the peaches, cut it up and placed it in the fridge), yogurt and jam, cookies (to make) and milk.

So, there it is.  Our menu, such as it is, for this week.  How about you?  Got anything yummy you are making this week?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monthly Goals: June 2017


June is a month where it's always busy around here and this year it's going to be even more hectic.

For one, I signed my son up for summer school this year so he'll have at least some therapy going on this summer no matter what, so we will have that going on.  I'm hoping that the one speech therapist I found is able to get him in here soon (she said it was going to be at LEAST the second week of June before she could start with him) so we might be running to speech therapy again, hopefully soon.  And then there's just a ton to get done around here as well. 

For instance, I went to Fred Meyer yesterday to redeem a coupon for a free container of ketchup I had loaded onto my card (it was the last day for said coupon...and it didn't even work, so I had to go to customer service to get my free ketchup coupon applied) and while there I picked up an ad since the online one is just MIA this week for some reason so far.  And I never even opened the ad (no seriously I didn't...and I left it in my basket at the U-Scan by accident so I have no idea what is on sale this week *laugh*) once I saw that they were having a three day sale and it was on various produce items.  The big one that I saw that I KNEW I had to find money for one way or the other was peaches were on sale for .99 lb!!!  I ran and got ten pounds (if we'd had money I would have honestly gotten 20 lbs as my daughter LOVES home canned peaches and we barely had enough to last through winter last year) and used a gift card I'd been gifted with five bucks left on it to help pay for it.  So, canning peaches is on my list this week.

I did a quick inventory of home canned goods and decided this year my canning list is going to be a lot shorter than last year.  We still have plenty of strawberry preserves left (and the strawberries I bought earlier in the freezer to make a few more jars later in the winter if needed) and I have things like mint jelly, fig jam and other canned goods still left.  Although I will hopefully hit up  my mother-in-law to grab some more of her raspberries come fall (if they grow this year with how wet it is turning out to be...they might just rot on the bush the way the weather is going) and can some raspberry jam.  Mainly with the logic that going over and gleaning some of my mother-in-law's raspberries won't cost me anything but time and effort vs. actually spending money at the store and we do blow through the raspberry jam as I put it as a filling in cakes and things.  I actually got some frozen cherries from the food bank (so, so grateful for the extra food), so I'm hoping to use those to make cherry pie filling at some point in the future (not too worried about doing it immediately since the cherries are already frozen).

Applesauce and peaches were on my "hopeful" list as we do use that stuff during the winter, which so far I'm super happy about how well that's turning out as I already have 10 pints of applesauce put up and now I'll be able to add peaches to our stores too (IF I can stop my daughter from eating them all before winter *laugh*).  I'm going to ATTEMPT to make peach pit jelly out of the remains of the peaches as I've heard it's really good and will use some of the home made pectin I made when I made applesauce to help it set (don't want to waste ANYTHING at this point).  Rose hips will be harvested this year again to make jelly and rose hip fruit leather (as my daughter actually really liked taking it to school as a treat in her lunch) and I'm hoping to get some fireweed jelly out of the yard as well this year.  The rhubarb is already bolting due to the weird weather patterns we're having and getting eaten alive by various bugs (of which I CAN'T find on the plants, but the leaves are getting big holes eaten in them), so we'll see how well that does this year.  But, I'm down to one other thing to put up for winter in the way of fruit, which is pears, so we'll see if some great sale comes up for that.  If not, oh well, I'll buy canned, but I'm hopeful at this point I'll be able to find some at the store to can as so far I've gotten lucky :).

So, let's get to all the various goals I have this month shall we?

Sewing Goals:

Make reusable shopping bags.  Design and embroider them.
Mend comforters (again *sigh*)
Mend daughter's pants (time to dig up some patches)
Mend husband's pants and a few shirts
Work on figuring out material to reupholster loveseat (it needs it)

Canning/preserving goals:

Can peaches
Can peach pit jelly
Dehydrate chives (the only thing that's growing really good right now)

Cleaning/Organizing Goals:

Gut pantry and reorganize (it's really a mess right now)
Make inventory list of pantry and emergency food storage
Make "food storage space" in den (I'm trying to figure out a good way to keep track of the #10 cans of food storage I have so I know EXACTLY how much food I have to use.  Now is the time to use up what I have left and hopefully add to food storage as I can, but if ever there was time to supplement food with emergency food storage now is the time.  I don't have much left on the emergency food storage as I've used up so much over the last three years, but I'm hoping I have more than I think I do hidden around here in different places).
Clean windows and mirrors

Gardening Goals:

Dig up small garden bed in yard
Plant potatoes
Plant onions
Plant more beans
Plant more peas, chard and anything else that looks viable to grow out of the seed stores I have
Make trellis for peas and pole beans

 Baking/To Make Goals:

Make flour tortillas for the first time (this is hopefully happening today...tortillas are expensive so we'll see how home made ones go over).  Freeze some to use later.
Make crepes.  Freeze.
Make waffles (blueberry, chocolate chip and regular).  Freeze.
Make sausage pancake bites.  Freeze.

General Goals:

Get recycling taken to the recycling center.
Take donations to the used store and get them out of the den.
Take inventory of school supplies and figure out what I will definitely need to get for the kids for school next year.
Celebrate anniversary at end of the month (it's going to be a really simple affair, but I'll probably make cake if nothing else)

So, yeah, that's a summary of things I want to get done around here.  How about you?  Up to anything?