Sunday, June 28, 2015

Monthly Goal Update and This Week's Goals

This week actually saw a decent week in productivity around here.  I still had to run the air conditioner a couple of times just to pull the humidity out of the air, but the last couple of days we've seen a blessed reduction in the heat wave we've been having.  Now I'll just pray for some rain to help the poor fire fighters who are fighting fires in our state.

So, anyway here's what I got accomplished on my goals list this week.

1.  I had a good amount of productivity on the sewing front.  I made two table runners (one you can see in my Frugal Friday post further down the blog) one of which is a patriotic tablecloth for the Fourth of July this coming weekend.  I was rather proud of the star table runner, as one of the things I wanted to avoid was trying to sew the stars on one at a time with complicated seams, so I just made the stars out of denim and went with a fray starred effect.  And it worked fabulously!

I also made four place mats (only two are seen to show off the table runner a bit better), four cloth napkins (seen), a few handkerchiefs and two dish towels.  I've been needing to get the place mats, napkins (still have more of those to go), handkerchiefs and dish towels done, so it was a good feeling to get those checked off my list.  I still have more to go, but at least I made a dent in the pile of things I needed to get done.

I also made four napkin rings (seen above).  I keep looking for cheap napkin rings at the used stores but haven't found any that I was interested in getting, so I figured, "What the Heck" and made some out of good old fashioned plastic screening and yarn.  I've been making things out of plastic screening since I was little, so I was able to make four napkin rings in an hour with a break in between to get my son drinks and such.  I want to make some more out of different colors (I have a huge package of plastic screening I got, oh geez, two years ago or so?) so that I have a versatile selection of napkin rings.  I might get creative if I can find some different colors of yarn around here as well.

2.  I planted turnip seeds where the other potatoes I had planted didn't sprout and I'm waiting to see if the seeds take or not.  Since I'm having to just water them by hand, vs. letting the rain do it's voodoo and I'm not sure if the birds get in the garden or not, we'll see how well it goes.

3.  I made some progress on my hallway closet and sewing area.  I put the majority of bulk cloth I had into the hallway closet, kind of just pushing things out of the way to get it done, but it's in there.  I managed to get the majority of the sewing area cleaned up as well.  For the time being I'm kind of using the top of the TV cabinet we got as a mini cutting table as I just couldn't find a good way to reorganize the room to get the yard sale stuff out of the way without making the room impossible to play in, which wasn't going to fly with the kids.  So, I'll just make do with the area the way it is for the time being.

And yeah, that's about all I've gotten done this week.  Doesn't seem like much, but I was happy with the work I got done.

My goals for this week are:

1.  Hopefully muck out 40' van some more (weather just didn't agree with my plans this week, or the kids).

2.  Work on shopping goals for next month.

3.  Make jam, weather (temperature) permitting.

4.  Make some more cloth napkins and some more handkerchiefs.

5.  Darn husband's socks.

6.  Mend four other items.

7.  Bake bread, cookies (I keep promising my daughter that we'll get to the chocolate chip cookies and I just keep finding other things that need to get done first.  I really need to get this done).

8.  Harvest kale and prep huge amount in fridge for storage in freezer.

9.  Make out menu for 4th of July and work on fun themed thing for the holiday.

10.  Work on son's curtains (I keep putting this off.  I hate doing curtains *laugh*).

And there you are folks.  My goals for this week.  Here's hoping I can get some of it done!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This was a good week on the saving money front.  So, let's just jump right in shall we?

1.  I harvested LOADS of lettuce and kale from the garden this week, as well as parsley, oregano, chives, sage and rosemary.  I was also able to harvest two more pieces of rhubarb from my yard, which I cut into pieces and froze in the same bag as the last two pieces of rhubarb I harvested went.

I actually harvested so much lettuce that I was able to give some to a friend of mine, who is also a therapist for my son, so it's always nice to be able to give her some lettuce during the summer to say, "I appreciate what you are doing for my son."

I did an inventory of the rest of the things in the yard that I want to harvest this year.  The raspberries aren't looking too promising this year.  Between a winter that was all over the map for weather, but not a lot of snowfall, the raspberries would already be kind of sparse, but than we had really young and obnoxious moose that was in my yard through a good part of the winter and ate every single raspberry bush he could find down to nothing.  So, I'm down about five raspberry bushes this year as they just plain died.  I have managed to find four remaining, but they are fighting with massive amounts of underbrush for nutrients and what little rain we're getting, so I'm not sure how great they are going to do this year.

The fireweed (a local wild growing flower) is kind of late getting started in my yard this year and doesn't seem half as prolific as normal, but I'm still hoping to get enough blossoms harvested this summer for a decent amount of jelly.

The wild rosebushes in my yard, however, are going absolutely insane this year, so at least, if nothing else, I'll be able to harvest rose hips to make jelly out of.

The garden is doing well.  The lettuce is ready to be harvested again (thank goodness we love salad with dinner *laugh*) and the kale is nearly ready to have some more harvested off of it too.  The tomatoes are getting bigger, so I'm really optimistic that I'll be able to get some decent sized tomatoes this year and both plants are still flowering like mad, so we'll see how many tomatoes I can get during our short growing season.

2.  Other than my son's therapy sessions, we kind of stayed home and chilled this week.  Both kids are still fighting off the last effects of the cold we had and I've been busy with at-home things like pantry organization and such, so it was probably for the best that we stayed put.

3.  Our local car dealership sent out another mailer in which we "won" a 5.00 Wal-Mart giftcard (they have promotions where every mailer is a winner, which is the 5.00 gift card, which is what we always get *laugh*).  I went in while the family stayed in the car as you have to sit through the, "So, are you considering buying a new car anytime soon" speech, which was actually kind of nice as the salesman I got was not only funny, but also really nice about getting me out of there.
4.  I cashed in some Swagbucks, got some Amazon giftcards and went and got my daughter a couple "Fancy Nancy" books.  I'm not big on doing schoolwork obsessively over the summer, but these books have been wonderful to encourage her to read, so even though it's taking up Swagbucks and Amazon giftcards by association to do it, I find getting the books more than worth it.

5.  I made all of our meals at home, which saved us money and I've been, as usual, careful to make sure that I use up our leftovers so things don't go to waste.

I scored free mayonnaise today!  Just as an FYI this works without a coupon for the local peeps.

Carrs, our local Safeway affiliate has mayonnaise on sale buy one get one free for certain brands, so I was figuring I'd at least get some of that to get cheap mayonnaise.  I ran into the squeeze bottles of Canola type on clearance for 50% off (they have lots of others on sale for the 50% off down the condiment isle.  This was at Palmer Carrs, FYI).  I grabbed two, figuring at 50% off at least I'd get two things of mayonnaise for like .90 a piece after the 50% off and the B1G1 promotion were taken.  BUT, the computer takes off the original price on the free item, so you end up with two 50% off coupons being applied on top of that, so you get two things of mayonnaise for free plus overage just with the store coupons and the sale!  If I had known it was going to work that way I would have bought a couple more containers of mayonnaise, but that's okay, I don't need tons or anything and this way I save the deal for others too.

I was also at our local bulk store earlier in the week where they had a container of mayonnaise for .99.  I had a 1.00/1 coupon from a thing my mom sent me, so I was able to get a container of mayonnaise for free.  I also had a personalized price of 2.99 for Miracle Whip this week at Carrs, found a container for 50% off so once the 50% off got taken off my personalized price it came down to 1.50, about.  I then had a 1.00/1 coupon I'd gotten printed off at the register a while back that was about to expire, so I got a container of Miracle Whip for .50!

The Crest I got for .25 after a 1.00/1 Catalina/Store print out coupon that I had that was about to expire.

So, yeah, as store freebies and sales went I felt pretty good about today.  Can't beat free when you are trying to make shopping goals for the month :).

7.  I sewed two dish towels, some handkerchiefs and two table runners this week, one of which is seen above.  There will be more on that in my Monthly Goal Update as I'm hoping to get a few more things done before Sunday, but I feel good about what I got accomplished so far.

So, that's what I accomplished on the money saving front this week.  How did you do? 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Yard Sale and Thrift Store Finds

This week turned out to be a good week for yard sale and thrift store finds.  My husband was especially happy with his Father's Day present, although he's already talking about buying oak planks to redo it, so might get kind of expensive to get it restored (my husband has been longing for a good project to do, though, so I'm glad for him).

So, here's what we were able to find this week.

1.  We went to one of our local used stores first and the man who was running the counter that day (the used store is owned by a married couple) laughed as he heard me gasp in excitement.

I found a vintage 2 1/2 quart casserole in the Verde design (the bottom casserole seen above) for 8.00.  Not the cheapest find in the world, but it is so rare to find casseroles with their lids, especially the colored casseroles, that I had to have it.  I use my vintage Pyrex dishes constantly, so it was well worth the investment.

2.  Father's Day we went yard sale hopping to see if we could find any cool things.  I had my daughter give my husband her surprise gift early, instead of for Christmas, and he loved the custom designed mug she made for him with pictures of her and my son on it.  I got my husband a print of an old time world map.  It was smaller than I would have liked, but after I put it in a frame it came out looking pretty good.  My son had made my husband something for Father's Day at school, so I figured that Father's Day was taken care of.  Ahhh, but then we found the cabinet at a yard sale (seen above).

It is a combination TV, record player and stereo cabinet.  It is old enough that the TV has replaceable tubes in it.  The guy who was selling it had gotten it from his mother and when they ran out of space he'd put it in storage.  They were having to move due to lack of another needed bedroom, so he decided to sell the cabinet for 30.00.

The top of the cabinet needs work/needs to be replaced as the veneer that was originally on it has seen a lot of abuse, is chipping away and is out and out shot.  And the planks below the veneer aren't much better.  But the guts of the cabinet are good and the front of it is actually in decent shape other than the spot seen above in the lower left quadrant is going to need some added sealing as the finish got something spilled down it and got eaten away.  We've got to replace a tube in the TV (oddly enough, still available) and the record player needs some minor repair work done on the wiring (luckily my husband knows how to do all of that).  For 30.00, though, it was a nice find.

3.  At the same yard sale I was able to pick up two vintage casserole dishes in the cornflower blue pattern (the blue flowered dishes in the pile there).  I was able to get both with the lids, which was an awesome find.  Paid 1.00 a piece for them, which was a great find to top out the day.

In other news, I swear the way it is going I'm going to have Pyrex/Corelle/Corning Ware from every single line by the time I'm old.  I never seem to run into the same pattern twice *laugh*.  Love it all, though.

And there you are folks.  My thrifty finds for this week.  I hope you had some fun, too!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Menu for week of 6/22/15

Um, so yeah, last week I didn't have a menu plan, so much as a plan that went something like this, "Step One:  Feed family and make sure to feed them so they are content eating what you serve.  Step Two:  Refer to Step One."  And, while not the most organized plan in the world, it did work.

This week you'll probably notice what seems to be repeats in the menu plan, but nope, they are actually recipes that I ended up not doing on the menu plans of the past due to the husband's work schedule, something not defrosting in time, etc.  So, we'll see how well I can do THIS week to keep on the menu plan.

I'm trying to use the crock pot as a time saving device more.  Right now my son is in summer intensive therapy (twice a week Occupation Therapy and twice a week Speech Therapy) and I'm seriously considering upping him to three times a week in speech until school starts up again.  So, some days I'm feeling like I have wheels instead of feet.

Menu Plan for Week of 6/22/15
Monday:  Leftover tacos (any left overs from tacos make into brown bag burritos and put in freezer).

Tuesday:  Honey Mustard Crock Pot chicken, salad, rice

Wednesday:  Hawaiian Meatballs (potentially in crock pot), salad, mashed potatoes

Thursday:  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad (use leftover meatloaf for open faced meatloaf sandwiches for lunch)

Friday:  Balsamic Chicken, garlic toast, kale

Saturday:  Pork chops, rice, salad w/ home made vinaigrette

Sunday:    Crock Pot Pesto Chicken, pesto pasta (serve chicken in pasta), salad, garlic toast

Desserts:  Jello w/ whipped topping, apple crumble, Apple Brown Betty

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Monthly Goal Update and This Week's Goals

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

Well I can safely say *holds finger aloft with purpose* that I got next to NOTHING done on my weekly goal list last week.   Please, please, hold the applause.

Seriously though, between the head cold, then the antibiotics and then the heat, I was happy to just get through the week.  Luckily, the heat has broken a bit now, although the humidity is high, but no rain as of yet, so I am kind of grumpy as I go out to water the garden when it keeps looking like it is going to rain.

I slept later today than I have in a long time and was still dragging myself out of bed when I got up, so I'm hoping that means I'm going to start doing better here as I am, whether I like it or not, getting rest.

I manged to get a few minor things done on my monthly goals this week, anyway.

1.  I finished my current embroidery project (seen up top).  The doily was a stamped kit I found at the used store, but without thread or instructions, just the stamped cloth.  So, I thought it might be fun to do.  I made my own color pattern and went with it.

Three weeks later, doing the work  on and off during my son's therapies and such and I finally got it done this week since one of the few things I was up to doing was sitting on my behind.

I have to say, as kits go this was harder than I thought it would be.  Mainly because the cloth was so loosely woven compared to what I like to work with when I do my own embroidery projects.  The thread kept getting lost among the woven fabric so I'd have to do the same line of stem stitch two or three times in places to have the work show up.

Overall:  I like the finished project.  Will I be doing another kit like this?  Probably not.

It does make a nice landing platform for my desk lamp though, so I'm not complaining.

2.  I cleaned out some more on my hallway closet and placed my tablecloths and what few cloth napkins I have in the closet for easy access (obviously it still needs work).  I've still got a ways to go on the pantry and hallway closet areas.  My final plan, I hope, is to move all of my food based things down into the pantry and then use my hallway closet as  linen cabinet, a mini appliance barn and a spot to put extra fabric for my sewing projects (more on that later).

3.  I ended up tearing down my entire cloth storage area in my sewing area in my den because my husband found a TV/stereo/turntable cabinet that he really liked for 30.00 at a garage sale today.  My husband and I both love vintage things, but my husband is way more into vintage electronics than I am (but, hey I'm way more into vintage dishes than he is so it's all good).  There had been a stereo/turntable cabinet at a used store that was going out of business last year for 75.00 that ended up getting away from him because we didn't have the money and he's regretted it ever since, so when we saw that cabinet at the yard sale for 30.00 I couldn't say no to getting it.

I've got to redo my den this week to see if I can clean out the final destination area for said stereo cabinet cleaned out (under where we hang out coats in the den) so I can set back up my sewing area, but even when I set it back up, I've got to get a better system of organization going for the sewing area as it was looking kind of bad with things just stacked anywhere there was room, etc.  It'll be a challenge for this week as we have a ton of stuff in the den right now that I've already gotten out of the 40' van in preparation for a yard sale, so space in the den is most definitely limited.

4.  I managed to sew a second table cloth this week and got it folded and put away.

5.  I did manage to prune the tomato plants and they are looking nice.

So, here are this week's goals:

1.  Get sewing area set back up and organized better.

2.  Make some dish towels.

3.  Make some cloth napkins.

4.  Make handkerchiefs for daughter.

5.  Start on husband's birthday gift.

6.   Work on curtains for son's room.

7.  Work on mucking out 40' van and prepare for yard sale.

8.  Bake bread and cookies.

9.  Hopefully reorder time and space to find time to make jam, weather permitting.

10.  Plant turnip seeds where other 3 potatoes did not grow (the package says 50 days to harvest...we'll test that theory).

And there you are folks.  My goals for this week.  How did your week go?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Well, this is a week where I spent not a lot of physical money on things, but did end up spending money in other ways.  Not quite a frugal fail type of week, but definitely not a great "woohoo" type of week on the money saving front.

Our temperatures here spiked into the upper 80's for most of the week.  Now, I realize that to those in the Lower 48 that doesn't seem bad, but by Alaska standards?  That is HOT!!!

Unfortunately, my house also, for some odd reason, retains heat better than an oven on my upper floor, so the first day it hit the lower 90's in some areas, the inside of my house was just intolerable even with the ceiling fans and going at full blast.

My husband ended up trading out labor for an air conditioner with my in-laws, so he hooked that up and between the ceiling fans and the air conditioner we were at least able to abide in our upstairs this week.  My poor electric bill I don't even want to think about, but it had to be done.

Today, finally, temperatures are down to a more reasonable level and it's looking like it's going to rain, which we have fires burning in Alaska right now, so any of the drops from heaven?  Greatly appreciated.

We also ended up spending money sending me to the doctor.  Since about, geez, March or so, I've had a post sinus drip cough, mainly at night, that has been driving me nuts and making it miserable to get to sleep at night.  I'd cycle between the cough and the occasional head cold until this last week where, on top of boiling, the kids and I got really nasty head colds.  Every time I coughed it started to hurt my bronchial tubes.  I do not mess with chest colds, at all, as my family has a bad tendency to get a heart infection from them and bad things happen, so I went to the doctors to get it taken care of before it got worse.  200.00 poorer now, but at least, hopefully, I can get rid of the sinus issues and the cough once and for all.

So, anyway, let's get onto the good parts of the week when it came to saving money shall we?

I harvested loads of lettuce from the garden this week, as well as oregano, rosemary, lots of parsley, chives (so thrilled to be able to harvest some of those!) and thyme.  I really never get tired of being able to harvest lettuce all summer.  Soon I'll be able to actively start harvesting kale and processing it for winter. 

1.  I can safely say, with the exception of the grocery store yesterday and the doctors, we went no where this last week unless it was me taking the kids for a short drive to sit in the car air conditioner, so we didn't spend money on much at all.  Even juggling two sick kids yesterday while shopping I was able to get out of the store only spending 50.00, after not really being in the store for nearly two weeks, so that was an upper on my end.  Now, did my sick addled brain forget things?  Yup, but we can live without them for another week.

2.  Even dealing with the easy bake oven that was my house, I was able to cook our meals at home.  We had a lot of salads this last week.  Pasta salad was made early in the morning to make sure it didn't heat up the house later in the day.  The garden's abundance of lettuce was used to make steak salad and the crock post was used to make chicken to put on top of salad another night.  It worked out.  Now I'm eating the left overs for lunches during the day too, which is a double bonus, for me.

3.  Despite having no energy due to the antibiotics wholloping me or my cold taking what little energy I had out of me, I was able to get a few things done around here.  I made another table cloth so I could get rid of yet another one that was badly stained.  I was able to find four cloth napkins buried in my pantry while looking for some refried beans, which was great since I'm trying to make napkins and place mats for the kitchen this week, so that will save me some effort.

4.  Instead of trying so hard to keep the house clean (it always goes to the status of a post war apocalyptic scene when I'm sick), I focused what little energy I had to do one small chore a day.  Even if it was loading a load into the dish washer to make sure we had dishes ahead for dinner that night, or cleaning the clutter off the table every night so we had a somewhat clean table to eat off of come breakfast time.  I scrubbed a toilet one day in a few moments of free time while waiting for the daughter's bath to fill.  I organized the tons of things in the den that are going to be used in a future garage sale to get them out of the way when I had to clean a mess the cat had made so I could vacuum later.  I vacuumed every other day if I could manage it.

Sure, the husband thinks the house is a wreck because all he sees is the mounds of dirty dishes in the sink and the mess underneath my kitchen table that my son left, and I can't blame him, but at least the house will clean up pretty fast once I am 100% back on my feet.  I'm feeling well enough today to hopefully tackle the laundry to get caught up on that and get my kitchen back in order.  That will do wonders for the house.

5.  I've been, once again, shopping from my pantry as much as I can.  I'm trying to use up some of my home canned items to make room for canning season when it kicks off in a few months, so that has helped to inspire me a lot.

6.  Although, I did get some cool stuff on the fly from this month.   All of the above cost me less than 10.00!  I went on a whim to Amazon about a week or so ago to see what their prices were like for BBQ sauce (one of my shopping goals for the month) and some other condiments.  Well, I didn't find other condiments, but I found Bullseye BBQ sauce that was down to less than 1.00 per bottle.  I got two, hoping for some cool sales on BBQ sauce at the store.  Went back the next day thinking, "Well, maybe I should try and get a couple of more bottles for that price" only to find that it had jumped up to 8.00!  Per bottle!

So, yeah, one of the lessons of Amazon.  If you see something cheap that you need?  Get it before the price goes nuts.

I got some more raspberry jello as my daughter found she loves it and it is cheapest on Amazon (it ended up being like 2.54 for six boxes after I ordered 5 or more items on Subscribe and Save.  They max you out at one bunch of these though, which was disappointing as I really wanted to get like 3 units worth, but ah well).  I got some strawberry jello as well as my daughter wanted to try it and it was cheap...right around 3.00 for six boxes of jello.  Didn't realize until it got here that was sugar free, but if we can't stand it, the food bank will appreciate it.

I also got some raisins as the bag was less than 3.00 one night and I wanted raisins to use in cookies and such, so that was a nice find.  And the box of pasta was .89 the same night, so I ordered one of those.

After the additional 15% off from Amazon for buying 5 or more items on Subscribe and Save I got everything for less than 10.00 (I honestly haven't added all of the small amounts up yet having been sick, but I'm thinking it was around 8.00 for all).  Not bad for items that I'll use.  I was especially pleased with the BBQ sauce as that went down to .74 a piece after the 15% was taken off!

A quick note to those not in the know about Subscribe and Save.  Once you sign up to receive an item you don't HAVE to stay subscribed after you receive it.  Amazon lets you cancel items, which is good because they don't grandfather prices in on Subscribe and Save (wish they did as I'd keep getting tons of stuff from month to month if they did that).  So, like the above items?  I know the odds are they are not going to go for those type of cheap of prices again, so I'll go online today, go to "Manage Subscribe and Save items" and cancel my subscriptions so I have the power to find those items cheap again when I need them if they are cheap, but I won't have to worry about paying 8.00 for a bottle of BBQ sauce come 6 months from now.

And, yeah, honestly that's about it on the money saving front this week.  Now a quick update on the garden.

Some items weren't happy with the hot temperatures.  I ended up watering my lettuce plants twice a day and the one lettuce plant that is out constantly in full sun I had to place one of my children's lawn chairs in front of to give it some shade as it was literally baking in the sun.  That worked and the it came back to life with minimum lettuce chips resulting on the leaves.

The tomatoes on the other hand LOVED the hot house conditions this week.  It was kind of crazy how quickly the plants suddenly sprouted fruit from blossoms I was worried I was going to lose a week ago (seen up top).  The fruits are now going strong and I've been carefully pruning the bushes to stop additional suckers coming out under where the fruit is sprouted, to help the plants put energy into growing the fruit.  I had read a lot of contradicting reports on whether pruning back tomato plants was helpful or not, but decided to give it a try.  So far?  I'm impressed with the results.  So we'll see how big the fruit gets this year.

The pineapple sage plant came back with a vengeance the last little bit, which was great as I honestly wondered if I was going to lose it with how bad of a start it had in the garden this year.

I transplanted the Basil plant into a pot and moved it inside.  The crazy fluctuating weather was just too much for the plant to handle, I think, so I moved the one part that was still alive inside.  It took a little bit, but the plant is doing much better.  I'm not quite sure what to do with it at this point.  Part of me wants to transplant it back outside in a bit to try and let it expand, but another part of me worries that two transplants in a season will just finish the poor thing.  I'll probably just keep it inside and see how it goes.  So far my plant chewing cat has left it alone, so it's all good so far.

My chocolate mint plant is now spreading better as I took some advice from Brandy and started burying the chocolate mint offshoots.  I had been surface burying them, but I wasn't burying them deep enough to root well I don't think, so I buried them well with surrounding dirt and the plant is doing much better (come canning season I'm going to be loving this advice, thank you Brandy!).

Oddly enough, the crazy fluctuating weather has also helped me see a reduction  in the insect attacks on my plants, probably because they have grown so much that any bug attacks I see aren't endangering the plants at the current time.  This, to me, was a wonderful find as it saves me time and effort from having to make insecticidal soap to spray the plants.  I've seen the occasional aphid on my tomato plants, which I kill and am watching them carefully, but right now it's not too bad *knock on wood*.

And there you are.  My frugal accomplishments for this week.  How did you do?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Thrift Store Finds

I admittedly haven't been out of the house much at all this week due to the kids and I coming down with terrible head colds.  After battling my sinuses for months, a lot of which was probably due to stress, my body just kind of gave up with this cold, so I ended up at the doctors and am on antibiotics for the first time in years.  Have to say that I haven't missed being on antibiotics much at all, but hopefully I'll start to feel better soon.

Saturday, however, before we all started feeling gross, we hit the used stores and I found a few minor things I was looking for.

I was able to get all of the things seen up top for 1.25 at one of the local used stores.  I was thrilled to find the small darning hoop, let alone all of the thread that it came with for so cheap.  I even got a good amount of darning thread with a needle in the bag (the white thread on the cardboard spool there).  So, that was a very cool find.

My husband is going to have to do some minor repair work on the darning hoop where it got bent out of true around where the spring is, but he's pretty confident he can do it without doing damage to the hoop, so that was good to hear.  I'm not really planning on using it for darning much, but it will make small embroidery areas that much easier to work on since it's nice and small.

I was also able to find a couple white bath towels in brand new type of condition at another used store for 2.00 a piece.  I have two bath towels that were just shot, so I got the white towels to replace them.  Why white?  Because I'm tired of towels I buy at Target or some other places bleeding after washing them tons.  Every once in a while I'll miss a colored towel in the middle of my whites and then I have a mess, so I'm tired of it and am going to try and just get more white towels.

So, there's my finds for this week.  I hope your thrifting adventures went well this week as well!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Berry Cheese Tarts

When I was a kid I always wanted to have a tea party.  You know a tea party.  With mini-cakes, cucumber sandwiches...the whole nine yards.

Unfortunately, I never really got to enjoy tea time.  Until I became an adult.  Now I can have tea whenever I want.  And honestly, it's as fun as I always imagined it would be when I was a kid.

So, the other day, before our temperatures started to spike into the "I'm melting" category, I decided I really wanted a nice hot cup of tea with a fancy dessert.  So, I came up with this recipe.  It looks fancy (translation:  hard), and it is impressive looking, but it is actually rather simple to make.  The hardest part is making your tart shells, and really, once you make some Shortcrust Pastry Mix it's not hard at all!

Berry Cheese Tarts

  • 24 mini tart crusts (see below for instructions)
  • 1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 to 3 tbs. sugar (depending on sweetness level preferred)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 pint canned blueberries, 2 cups frozen (and thawed and well drained) blueberries, 2 cups fresh blueberries, or 1 can blueberry pie filling
  • 2 tbs. apricot or other "clear type" jelly, melted
Place block of cream cheese in bowl of stand mixer with sugar and lemon juice.  Mix well until everything is combined well and mixture is smooth, scraping bowl at least once.

Take cooled tart shells (important there) and place about 1 tsp of cream cheese mixture into each tart.  Top each tart then with your blueberries of choice (I used home canned blueberries, well drained, for this).

Once blueberries are all added to the top of the tarts, take a pastry brush and brush a thin layer of the melted jelly on top of each tart.

Place in fridge to set for about 20 minutes.  Serve.
Store leftovers in fridge.


Mini Tart Crusts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

Take prepared shortcrust pastry mix and line 2 mini tart pans (12 tarts per pan).  Keep pie crust relatively thin so it doesn't get too puffy in the oven.  Once pans are lined, pierce bottom and sides of tarts with the tines of a fork.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

NOTE:  If you don't have a mini tart pan that is heavy as all get out like mine, you can use a muffin tin.  Just line the muffin tin about 1/2 the way up with the pie crust (if your muffin tins are pretty deep) so that your tarts don't come out too large.  Since the muffin tin (or a thin tart pan) are going to conduct heat better than my heavy honking pan, I'd check on those in about 8 to 10 minutes and than every four minutes thereafter until the crusts are golden.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fred Meyer Deals for the Week 6/14/15

I apologize ahead of time if I totally forget coupon match ups on some things this week.  I'm really not feeling great today and my face is swollen from my sinuses, sooo I might be a bit distracted :).

I am very much hoping to get into Fred Meyer for the BBQ sauce and Ketchup deal this week.  Hunt's Ketchup is on sale .99 each with in ad coupon, a limit of 4.

There are some pretty good deals at Fred Meyer this week, including if you need some furniture.

Fred Meyer Deals for the Week 6/14/15

Recliners on sale B1G1.  For a furniture event, this is a good sale.

Country Oven Bread 2.50 each with in-ad coupon (limit 6)

Ruffles Family Size Chips or Doritos on sale 3.00 each with in-ad coupon (limit 2)

Coca Cola, Pepsi or 7Up 12 packs on sale 4.00 with in-ad coupon (limit 4)

Fred Meyer or Private Selection Bacon on sale 3.49 with in-ad coupon (limit 4)

Fred Meyer Cottage Cheese or Sour Cream (16 oz) on sale 1.39

Nancy's Yogurt (32 oz) on sale 2.79 (selected varieties)

Foster Farms Chicken Grill Packs (drumsticks or thighs) on sale 1.29 lb

Large Mangoes on sale 1.50 each

Pepsi 6 pack 16.9 oz bottles on sale 3.33 each

Duncan Hines Cake Mixes on sale 1.25 each with in-ad coupon (limit 4)

Hunts Ketchup or Fred Meyer BBQ sauce on sale .99 each with in-ad coupon (limit 4) 

Bush's Baked Beans on sale 1.79 per can with in-ad coupon (limit 4)

Vlasic Spears or Chips pickles on sale 2.39

Cheetos or Fritos on sale 3.00 each (these are on sale cheaper at Carrs through tomorrow.  They are on sale there B1G1 and the regular price is 4.99 each or something like that so they come out to 2.50 each about after sale)

Kraft salad dressing on sale 1.99 with in-ad coupon (limit 3)

Selected varieties of General Mills Cereal on sale 2.50 per box

Home Sense Ultra Bathroom Tissue (12 pack) on sale 5.49 (selected varieties)

V05 Shampoo or conditioner on sale .79 each

Hamburger, Chicken or Tuna Helper on sale 1.29 each

For coconut oil users, Nature's Way or Schiff Supplements are on sale B1G1 this week and in the ad they show coconut oil in the picture, so it might very well be on sale B1G1 as well this week.

Organic broccoli on sale 1.99 lb

Organic kale 1.49 lb

Apricots on sale 3.49 lb  (not sure if this is a good deal or not, honestly, but I just thought it was cool that we have fresh apricots in a sale ad...I know I'm weird)

Personal Watermelon or Whole Pineapple on sale 3.00 each

Red or Black plums on sale 1.99 lb

And there you have it folks.  The best deals I could find at Fred Meyer this week.  I would link to the General Mills cereal coupons, but the last like three times "selected varieties" have been on sale, it is for the cereals that have no coupon match ups and there are like two actual varieties on sale, thus not worth the effort of making you print off coupons you can't use.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

I am typing this with a box of tissues on one side of me and a hot cup of tea on the other, even though the temperature inside my house is around 88 degrees or so.  Getting a head cold when the temperature outside spikes from the mid 50's to the mid 80's?  Not my idea of a fun time.

Anyway, despite not feeling great due to lack of sleep (my poor son's eczema has just been going nuts all summer and his skin cracks, itches, scabs, itches, repeat) and now a cold, thus a supreme lack of energy and motivation, I was able to get stuff done anyway.

1.  I've gotten the VERY tip of the iceberg of sewing projects done.  I got one tablecloth made this week (seen above).  I made the tablecloth (and have another one cut out and pinned) out of muslin.  I have been trying to buy this as my main utility fabric when it goes on sale for 50% off, or I have a 60% off one item coupon when it's not on sale. It's a great way to get it cheap.  Last time I was able to get 18 yards for like 16 dollars after coupon, so it was definitely a good deal.

Anyway, onto the tablecloth.  I'm trying to bring more white into the house in the way of tablecloths, dish towels, etc so that I can just plain BLEACH them.  I get tired of going to the used store, buying some nice colored table cloth and then someone in the house getting some oil on it or something and then I can't do much about it because the table cloth can't be bleached.  So, I figure white is the answer to that.  I'll use cloth scraps to make colored napkins, table runners and place mats as I need them, but for the time being white seems like a good solution.  I'll still have some colored table cloths, but I'm hoping to use them for more special occasions or when I absolutely have to.  We'll see how it goes.

In other news the more I work with muslin, really the more I like it.  While it did shrink when I washed it, it didn't shrink too much and it gets really soft after I wash it, so it's nice to have as a utility fabric.  I have a lot of plans of things to make with it.

2.  I got the kids registered for the next school year, which took a lot longer than I wanted it to on my "I love to freeze up if you look at me wrong" laptop, but I got it done.  So yay for that being out of the way!
I got some of my kitchen cabinets mucked out and organized better.  They were getting kind of bare as I started using things and condensing everything down into my pantry, so I thought emptying out the cupboards and scrubbing them shiny was a nice way to put a good spin on things.  And it IS nice having things a lot more organized and being able to find things better in my kitchen.  I've still got a ways to go, but it's getting there.

4.  I've gotten some better ideas of what my canning and preserving list is looking like, part of which came about by cleaning out my cabinets.  I found two packages of dried figs and a large bag of dried apricots in my pantry that I knew I had but had forgotten where I had put them.  So I am planning to use those to make Heavenly Fig Jam and apricot jam (if the recipe for that turns out, I'll post it for you).

5.  I staked my other tomato plant before the weather got hot, so I got that done.  Good feeling to be sure.

6.  The laundry, actually, is pretty much caught up.  At least 98% of it is clean right now and I started working on folding and sorting "Mt. Foldsalot" today.  I got about half done and am hoping to get the other half done tomorrow.  It's been slow going this weekend as I'm worn out and sick feeling.

7.  I got the top floor carpets of my house shampooed today.  I wasn't planning on doing it, but my son broke out in hives and I was worried it was something in the carpets, since my husband had complained of getting itchy after lying on the living room floor yesterday.  So, I determinedly got the top floor carpets shampooed, which will hopefully help stave off the hives for my poor little kiddo.  I plan on getting the bottom floor carpets done tomorrow no matter how I feel.

This Week's Goals Are:

1.  I got nothing done in the way of mucking more things out of my 40' van this week, so I'm hoping to get some more out of there this week.  Although, honestly, the way I'm feeling right now I'm not counting on getting much done in that regard.

2.  Continue to work on sewing projects and mending

I found about seven more of my husband's socks that need mending today *sigh*.

3.  Make new dish towels.

4.  Work on husband's birthday gift

It's a month away or so, but I'm figuring it's going to take me a while to get it done.

5.  Continue to work on pantry and kitchen.

6.  If weather permits at some point, make fig jam, apricot jam and strawberry jam.

7.  Work on new curtains for son's room.

8.  Get up early and bake bread and cookies.  

With the way the heat has been this has to be done early before the house gets too hot.

9.  Shampoo bottom floor carpets (as stated above).

10.  Prune tomato plant.

The verdict is out on whether pruning the suckers off of tomato plants helps the fruit or not, but for Early Girl tomatoes, the variety I plant, it seems to be recommended, so I'm going to start doing that now that the fruit is starting to form.  We'll see if it makes a difference in the size of the fruit as usually the tomatoes I get are decently prolific but really REALLY small.

Here's hoping I can get any to all of that done with a head cold this week.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Shortcut Pastry Pantry Mix

If you like pie, and who doesn't like some variation of pie, you will want to have a recipe like this one in your recipe file.

Shortcut pastry mixes are in pretty much every old cookbook I've found, including rationing cookbooks, so that's telling you how convenient mixes like this are to have around.

So, here's a recipe I've run into a lot over the years (originally the following recipe, I found was printed in a vegetable shortening ad) and makes a consistently good pie crust.  It makes a flaky pie crust, but it is still tender enough to be good.  And it's so darned easy to make a pie crust from this mix that you'll make pie more often, I promise.

Shortcrust Pastry Pantry Mix

  • 7 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1 tbs. salt
  • 1 can vegetable shortening (1 lb or 16 oz)

Put all the dry ingredients in your food processor, along with 1/2 the shortening.  Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal (about 3 ten second pulses did it for me).   Add the other 1/2 of the shortening and pulse until the size of green peas is formed (two or three pulses should do it).  Store in a tightly closed (preferably air tight) container in a cooler part of your kitchen.
Note:  You can also do this by hand by taking a pastry blender, a fork, or two knives and cutting the shortening into the flour, but it takes a lot longer and I'm supremely lazy when it comes to cutting in fat, I'll admit it. 
To make pastry for a double crust pie:  Measure 3 cups of mix into a medium sized mixing bowl along with 5 tbs. ice water.  Use a fork to combine until a dough is formed.  Split dough in half and then turn out onto a floured surface and roll dough out as needed.

To Make pastry for a single crust pie:  Use 1 1/2 cups mix with 2 1/2 tbs. ice water.  Follow other directions above as stated.

Makes 7, ten to eleven inch pastry rounds.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Things are finally coming ready in the garden, which is definitely helping in the money saving department.

Although, there are some draw backs.  I did some research online and found out that I was supposed to plant garlic in the autumn to overwinter and sprout the next Spring.  Since I planted the garlic in the spring this year, I'm not sure if I'm going to be seeing garlic this year.  If not, though, I am figuring I'll at least clip the greens to use as garlic-like chives in dishes.  I refuse to be defeated by a package that didn't tell me I was supposed to plant bulbs last year.

The tomato plants are also showing the results of nearly two weeks of solid rain and colder temperatures.  I'm hoping the sun comes back and the warmer weather or I might lose the flowers on my tomato plants due to flower drop, at which point the tomatoes may grow nice and green but won't produce any fruit, which would not be great at all.  But, overall, I've had good luck with planting tomatoes up here, so really law of averages comes into play eventually and I know I'm not going to get tomatoes from time to time.

Anyway, onto the things I did to save money this week (some of the things I did this week are actually going to be covered in my monthly goal recap over the weekend, but I'll cover the rest here).

1. I harvested lettuce from the garden for the first time this week, twice (one such harvest is seen above)!  It was great having salads with dinner again.


I also harvested parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, two pieces of rhubarb and some kale from the garden and yard this week.  I'll be making the parsley into parsley "juice" to later use in parsley honey and I cut up the rhubarb and put it into the freezer to use in dessert next week as rhubarb doesn't seem to keep well once it is picked, so I wanted to make sure it would be ready when I was.  The herbs I've been using in dinner dishes throughout the week here and there.  The kale will be added to some soup I plan to make over the weekend for me to have for lunches next week.

I picked some marigolds from the garden and some wild flowers from the yard to use as a centerpiece for my kitchen table.  It was nice bringing some bright things in from outside during the dreary weather.

My love seat arms have definitely seen better days at this point.  Our leather furniture is about four or five years old now and between cats and kids it's starting to suffer.  Unfortunately for me my son also discovered one bad arm on our love seat where the leather was in bad shape and he started plucking the remaining leather to watch the bits float down on the drafts from the window.

To avoid this from happening, I am looking for a replacement for the love seat over time, but for the time being I made a fabric "sling" to go over the arms of the loveseat and under the cushions.  I would have attempted to sew a love seat cover for the entire love seat, but I've had couch covers and such in the past and they have driven me crazy the way the covers would constantly pull off the couch in different directions every time you sat down.  So, making a sling instead allowed me to cover the arms, pin the fabric under the legs of the loveseat to help keep the fabric in the right place and also, in the event that my son pulls the fabric off the arms (which happens often), it is very quickly fixed.  It's working quite well so far and it cost me nothing to do as I already had the fabric and I sewed and cut nothing...I just used the length of fabric in it's entirety.

5.  I cooked all of our meals at home, which saved us money.

I was able to get a bit of my monthly shopping goals done this week without spending a penny.  Freebie Friday at Fred Meyer last week was a coupon for a free thing of Kraft BBQ sauce, so when I went to pick up cat food at Fred Meyer I got my free thing of BBQ sauce.  One less thing of BBQ sauce I have to buy and it was DEFINITELY under my price target ;).

7.  I've been concentrating on getting the house organized, cleaned out and just making the house a nicer place to be.  I was inspired by a post on The Prudent Homemaker where she said (paraphrasing here) if your fridge is empty, clean it!  You'll feel better having a sparkling fridge.  And you know what?  She was right.  I've been cleaning cabinets that are getting kind of bare due to using items in them and it's nice having everything pulled out, cabinets cleaned sparkly and reorganized again.  I've even found new places to put things that worked out better than the "system" I had in place before.

8. We've continued to have fun watching different movies on YouTube and I watched some different shows on as well.

9.  After throwing a hissy fit at my electric company, I looked out the window last week to see someone actually physically reading my meter, which was a nice change of pace (can you sense the sarcasm here).  As a result of reading my meter, my electric bill went down by 200.00 this month, which was a nice thing to see, and was still down 50.00 from last month's adjusted bill.  It will be nice to have that easier bill to pay next month for sure.

I hope your money saving efforts have gone well this week as well!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Thrift Store Finds (or TupperPyrexarama)

Well last weekend my family and I hit the used stores to see if I could find some kitchen things I needed, try to find some pants for my son (he just keeps growing!) and maybe find a few twin fitted sheets for my son's bed as well.

I didn't have much like on the clothing, sheets or needed kitchen utensil front, but I was able to find some AWESOME deals on vintage Tupperware and Pyrex to the point I could not pass those deals up (because I do use those things in the kitchen as well).

We hit my favorite used store first, as they usually have the best variety of objects at large with clothing and other things and I found...

1.  Two vintage Pyrex nesting bowls in brown/gold (seen up top) for 1.50 for the largest one and 1.00 for the smaller one.  They, to be honest, were in pretty rough shape in that they had surface scuffs and scratches on them from what appeared to be years of abuse.  I looked online and it seemed all the collectors suggested using Barkeeper's Friend to clean them, which I tried on the smaller bowl and wasn't impressed, honestly.  Both bowls were pretty faded from probably going through the dishwasher and the Barkeeper's Friend seemed to make it worse on the smaller bowl.  So, instead I took Cameo Cleaner to the bowls and that worked a LOT better...took off the scuffs and everything without fading them (Cameo is a aluminum and stainless steel cleaner my grandma swore by and she used it on tons of stuff...I take after her in that respect.  I get it at Fred Meyer, ironically it's sold next to the Barkeeper's Friend and stuff).

The collectors than suggested using coconut oil to oil the bowls...I used olive oil very lightly instead as I'm planning on using the bowls fairly often (so trying to avoid making them really slippery) and my son is allergic to coconut oil.  It worked fabulously, so hey I'm good!

Collectors also tend to swear by using empty sour cream containers turned upside down to prop the bowls up for display.  I wanted to separate them to stop further abuse of them clanking against each other, so instead of doing that (earthquake zone here!) I used some old dish towels folded up that were far past their prime. It worked wonderfully and is MUCH more stable than a small platform to prop them on.

2.  I also found this Pyrex divided dish, which was missing a price tag, but the gal who was at the register gave it to me for 1.50 as well.  I really love it as it is in perfect condition and I can see where this will come in handy.

I wasn't quite sure how to use this dish as it is a divided casserole dish, essentially, but found some ideas online from old Pyrex inserts and such on how to cook two dishes at once and such.  Overall, though, I'm sure I'm going to be using this more as a serving dish than anything else.  Now to find me a lid for this :).

We then went to another used store we really like and I was able to score...

3.  This vintage Pyrex casserole dish for 1.25.  It was REALLY beat when I got it and is missing some paint, but I thought it was so cool that it was the same yellow as my Pyrex yellow mixing bowls (which means it is probably from the 40's), that I got it, cleaned it up and made it all shiny again.  I'm figuring this isn't going to be spending time in my oven to help preserve what is left of the paint, but it'll make a really cool fruit bowl for the table or even a back up mixing or serving bowl.  This is another one that I'm going to be searching for a lid for.

I got these two Tupperware square bowls for 1.50 each.  I have only ever found one other one with a lid since I've been collecting Tupperware and use it a LOT (LOOOOOVVVEEE it!) so I was thrilled to find two more.  They required some cleaning with dish soap, elbow grease and a nipple brush, but I got them nice and sparkly clean again.

I found one additional Tupperware bowl, with a LID that is the really old style of Tupperware from the 50's.  It was really awesome finding that!  This set me back 1.00.

So yeah, as far as weekends go on the collecting front last weekend was awesome!  And I got some cool stuff that I can definitely USE, so that's always a great feeling.

I hope your thrifty shopping has gone well lately as well!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Easy Raspberry Cobbler

So, this is a recipe that came about because I had leftovers of things that I had to use, including some freezer burned raspberries and some biscuits that were on the verge of going bad on me (one was JUST starting to show signs of mold, so I quickly used the rest).  And so, this cobbler was born.

Just a word to the wise if you have powerful tasting raspberries?  This is going to make those raspberries super powered tasting when you apply heat, so, do yourself a favor and serve it with custard (as I did) or vanilla pudding.

This is super easy, though, and a great way to use up leftover biscuits.

Easy Raspberry Cobbler

  • 1 to 1 1/2 Cup(s) fresh or frozen raspberries (I used smaller frozen raspberries so I used 1 cup of berries, but if yours are bigger I'd go with 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 TBS sugar (or more depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 3 to 4 leftover biscuits
  • Custard or vanilla pudding to serve
Combine raspberries and sugar in a saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until the raspberries break down into a syrupy consistency, stirring often.  Remove from heat.

Take leftover biscuits (and yes, I'm sure you could use those biscuits from a can if you are so inclined) and crumble them into the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.  Don't crumble the biscuits too fine, though, as you want the biscuits to absorb the raspberry goodness!

Pour raspberry mixture over the biscuits in the dish and mix with a spoon to combine them well if needed.

Place in the fridge until chilled (or heck you could probably serve this warm if you wish.  I liked it chilled, though).
Serve with custard or pudding over the top of the cobbler. 

Menu Plan Monday: Menu for Week of 6/8/15

It is kind of hard to put together a menu on very little sleep, but I've been working on it sporadically throughout the day and I at least have a plan (I think).  So, here we go!

Menu Plan for Week of 6/8/15
Monday:  Chicken nuggets, french fries, fruit cocktail (yes, I'm punting.  My husband isn't feeling great and my daughter wasn't feeling well last night and part of today, so she got what she wanted for dinner).

Tuesday:  Shrimp skewers, rice, salad

Wednesday:  Noodle Bowl Night

Thursday:  Hawaiian Meatballs, fruit cocktail, rolls

Friday:  Grilled Chicken, rice, salad

Saturday:  Pork pate, bread, salad

Sunday:  Leftovers
Desserts:  Steamed pudding (not sure of flavor yet), other things (yup, I'm so organized this week).

Hope your menu planning went well this week.

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Well, when it comes to getting monthly goals accomplished, I am getting things done, so I guess, "So far, so good" would pretty much cover my outlook.

Last week I managed to...

1.  Move the Closetmaid unit from my bathroom to my son's room to help organize his toys.

So, yeah, "organization" in my bathroom now is just a big Rubbermaid container containing things like towels and extra toilet paper, but I needed the unit for my son's room, badly.

The picture up top is how I redid the unit in my son's closet.  His closet before was just a mess, honestly, and not functional at all due to the fact that there was just a rod in the closet with no shelves to speak of.  My daughter's closet came with shelves built into the closet because it was being used as an office by the old owners, and I've loved having those shelves to help with her toys, so I knew I needed something like that for my son.

And the Closetmaid unit worked fabulously.  I put small toys in the drawers below and then put oversized toys that he likes above on the shelves.  I also tried to scatter old vintage toys of my husband's and things on the shelves for some decorating appeal and placed some old construction toys that were taking up the top of my china cabinet on top of the unit.

I was able to almost completely empty the big open bin toy boxes in the bedroom.  All that is really left in them is some big truck types of toys, which will go in the entertainment center when we move it, which will work great.  Otherwise the unit held all of the toys in the bins and I was even able to move my son's tire Hotwheels holder where we put all of his favorite little cars into the closet as well.

There is more of an upside than just having his room more organized.  Alvah LOVES the new layout.  I mean LOVES it!  He's actually taking out multiple toys every single day and playing with them, now that he can see where everything is, which for an autistic child, playing with toys on his own (and in some cases bringing said toy out for you to play with the toy WITH him) is HUGE!

So, yeah, I'm super pleased with this update :).

2.  I think I have a plan to get the pantry more in line with what I need to do and I started working on the kitchen spaces to make things more functional.  Which also led me to work on getting my china cabinet more organized to house more things from my kitchen...well you know how that goes.  Bright side it seems to be coming together slowly but surely.

3.  I started working on my preserving list for the fall, taking inventory of things I still had left in the pantry, etc.  I think I got a pretty good plan going and hopefully I can find what I need at the stores, on top of being able to get what I need from around here to make it all happen.  We shall see :).

4.  I FINALLY got my daughter's insurance resolved!  My sister-in-law gave me a number to call (thanks, Ana!) and I called it, got directed to the right department and got some help.  Sadly, all the gal on the phone had to do was pull up my daughter's information and find out that she'd been approved the day before, but it was a relief to hear it all the same.  I got the approval letter in the mail a couple of days ago and we should be seeing her renewal card come in the mail soon.  Relief on this one is overwhelming.  Seriously.

5.  I got some more things moved in from our 40' van.  This process is taking forever, so it seems, as I'm the only one moving things and I'm having to do that around the kids, but I'm making progress.  We might be having a yard sale next YEAR the way this is going, but it is getting done.

So far sewing goals are non-existent because I had all of my sewing things barricaded, but I got the den cleaned up and more organized yesterday so I'm hoping to get on some of those goals this week.

This week's all around goals are:

1.  Stake up the tomato plant I have left. 

Yes, this isn't on my monthly goal list, but it still needs to be done.

2.  Continue to work on mucking out the 40' van.

3.  Work on sewing projects and continue mending.

4.  Register kids for the next school year.  

Also not on my monthly list, but it needs to be done.

5.  Catch up on laundry.

This is probably never going to get crossed off a list, but it's a nice dream.  I figure if I'm making a list, I'd better add this in just because.

6.  Work on getting pantry organized and move things out of hallway closet into pantry.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

This was another one of those weeks where we didn't spend much money, at all, due to not having any money to really speak of, but there was some major uppers to the week.  Some of them I'll save for my weekly recap of goals that I got accomplished toward my monthly goals, but some ways I saved money this week were...

1.  I got to shop a bit from my 40' cargo van this week.  My den looks like a tornado hit it as I've been going through Rubbermaid containers seeing what we still had in storage, but I managed to find some things that I'd been looking for since we'd moved pretty much.  One of those things was my container full of baby quilts and blankets and other sentimental things people had made for my kids.  It was a relief to find that.

I was also able to find things like my old storage of material (woot) and my yarn storage (double woot), which included two full brand new skeins of yarn I'd forgotten I had, so my mind has been stewing on what to do with them.  And hey, it was kinda like Christmas because by this time, in my mind, the yarn was free.

2.  One of the things I found in the van was a wooden sewing box that my husband bought for me for my birthday or Mother's Day (I honestly can't remember which) when my son was like two years old.  Being my son, I had the sewing box, which I really liked, for about...oh an hour or so...before my son tried to climb into it and just broke it all apart.

I found it in pieces in the 40' van put aside where my husband was, one day, going to fix it and decided I was tired of waiting.

About eight nails and some wood glue later and now I have a nice wooden mending box to keep socks and other small items in along with my thread and stuff.  The box even has a built in pin cushion, so I have a place to stick my needle other than inside of one of the spools of thread.  Pretty cool!

3.  I've been working really hard on waking up early, preferably before my kids, so that I can get things like bread baking done early and start the housework before the kids get up and demand my attention (it also gives me a good opportunity to call my step-mom for our morning chat session and get a couple of cups of tea in me before I have to function as a human being in any great capacity).

4.  I came to the conclusion that I did need to get some groceries today as things like lunch items for my son (never cheap) were gone in the pantry and the chicken deal at Carrs today was a sale I knew I'd regret if I did not get in on it.  I also needed satellite things like dish soap, so I went shopping armed with coupons and spent about 80.00 for a trunk full of groceries, including two huge packs of chicken for 5.00 for each pack.  It was worth the money spent, even though it did make me sweat a bit doing it as I hate to spend money at all right now.

5.  I mended two pairs of my daughter's underwear (darning underwear was a new one on my sewing skills, but I did it), two pairs of my husband's socks and a skirt of my daughter's that was losing it's gathered bottom.  I still have a lot of mending to do, but it was a good start.

6.  I found some hamburger deep in the recesses of my freezer that I forgot existed and while it was freezer burned badly, I didn't want to let it go to waste.  So, I cooked it, adding water as I did so to help rehydrate the meat and made it into different batches of taco meat.  I got about three meals worth of taco meat out of the hamburger, put them into freezer bags and froze the cooked meat.  This will see us through taco nights over the next month (I put the freezer bags inside another freezer bag just to add another layer of protection).

7.  When I found the hamburger, I also found a freezer bag full of raspberries in my freezer that was left from picking my raspberries last year.  They were also freezer burned, but I was still able to use them and some leftovers that were going to go bad and made a new type of dessert (recipe coming up in the next few days).

8.  I, per usual, made all of our meals at home, which saved us money.  I also baked a few loaves of bread to see us through this week as well (I've been eating jam and butter sandwiches a lot for lunch).

9.  We've been watching a lot of free movies on You Tube at night, which has been kind of neat. 

And that's about it in the way of money saving things this week, so here's an update on the garden.

Garden Update:

We have had some wet and rainy, windy and kind of cool temperatures this week.  I've actually had my heat on a few times the last few days to take the chill and humidity out of the air inside the house.

I stepped outside today to check the garden.  I was worried my tomato plants were growing high enough that they could potentially fall over and that fear turned out to be a reality today.  Luckily the tomato plant lied itself onto the ground instead of breaking, so I ran into my garage, dug out the wooden dowel I use as a tomato stake and quickly staked the tomato upright today with some cotton yarn.  I then picked off the aphids that had crawled onto the plant while it was on the ground (I've got to get some insecticidal soap made) and did a double check to make sure slugs weren't getting to the tomato plants.  I've got to get a tomato stake for my other plant this weekend as it's getting pretty big too.

The slugs HAVE been at my onion plants, which luckily so far the damage is minimal, but seeing the damage really irritated me.  It seems like bugs are attacking from all angles right now.

The front bed is being attacked by ants that have, once again, infested a dead stump that is under the birch tree.  I've got to get yet another kettle of boiling water and pour it into the stump to help manage the little pains as they are chiseling away at my mint plant.

I was in my back yard going to and from the 40' van and happened to look down at my white sneakers I was wearing to see crawling red things on them.  Seeing the spider mites, I leaned down and checked the grass and sure enough EVERY SINGLE blade of grass had about five to six spider mites on it.

I immediately panicked as the back yard is right below where my garden is and I ran up the hill, killed the spider mites on my shoes and checked my garden.  I found one spider mite on my oregano plant, but that was enough for me.  I went into my shed and quickly grabbed the 1/2 bag I had left of diatomaceous earth and spread it around the parameters of my garden beds (the white powder you'll see in the pictures).  We then got rain the last four days, of course, but I'm hoping that between the rain and the earth that it'll be enough to keep the spider mites from doing serious damage to my garden.  I just can't believe the spider mite infestation we get every year.  It really gets to me.

The parsley, kale and especially the lettuce have been LOVING the weather the last four days.  Instead of a few weeks until I can harvest the lettuce, now I'm thinking I'll be able to start picking it as soon as the rain dissipates so that it'll have good flavor (instead of tasting like water).  The lettuce went through that much of a growth spurt the last four days.

The potato plant (seen wayyyy up top) also went through a major growth spurt the last couple of days, which was nice to see.

It seems like right now my biggest goal with the garden is going to be keeping up on top of the fertilizing and to find something, anything, that will keep all of the different insects at bay so that my plants have a chance to produce their bounty.  That and weeding as the weeds loved the rain the last couple of days too (and picking up plastic makers now that everything is big enough to not worry about pulling it up).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Carrs/Safeway Deals for the Week 6/3/15

There are several things that are making this week look up for me.  This ad is one of those things.  There are some great deals to be had this week at Carrs, so let's get going shall we?

Carrs/Safeway Deals for the Week (Prices reflect Alaska Pricing)

 The first two coupons that I'm the most excited about are...

2.99 per gallon of Lucerne Milk with in-ad coupon (limit 2)

10.00 off your 50.00 or more shopping order (exclusions apply.  Excludes liquid dairy items, gift cards, tobacco and know the usual.  50.00 must be met AFTER coupons are deducted for the coupon to apply.  You also, sadly, have to get the physical ad to get this coupon, you can't load it onto your Carrs card).

Refreshe water 24 pack on sale 4.99

Ritz crackers or Chips ahoy cookies on sale B1G1

Tillamook or Yoplait yogurt on sale .60 each

Lucerne Ice Cream party 4 qt. bucket on sale 5.99

Palmolive dish soap 2.49 with in-ad coupon (limit 2)

Coca Cola 2 liter bottles on sale 2.00

Mt. Olive pickles on sale B1G1

Safeway Select Pasta Sauce 1.77 per jar

Buy 4, Save 4.00 Sale
Nature Valley Granola Bars 2.99
Save 1.00 When you buy 4 participating products
Use 4 (requires 2 computers)  .50/1 Nature Valley Granola Bars
Final Price:  1.49 per box when you buy 4

Fruit Gusher Fruit Snacks 2.99
Save 1.00 When you buy 4 participating products
Use 2 .50/2 Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks
Final Price:  1.49 each when you buy 4

There is an in-ad coupon for 3.00/1 Huggies or Pampers Giant Pack of diapers.  Nice high value coupon and it has a limit of 4!

5.00 Friday Deals:

There are some good sales on 5.00 Friday this week!
Value packs of chicken drumsticks, thighs and leg quarters are on sale 5.00 each!  I love this sale!

Lucerne Cheese on sale 2.50 each (6 to 8 oz chunk or shredded)

Foster Farms Chicken selections are on sale 5.00 (this has, to date, included the gluten free chicken nuggets)

Farmer John Family Pack meat franks on sale 5.00

Bird's Eye Steamfresh or Green Giant box vegetables 1.66 each

16 oz. Sweet Strawberries on sale 2.50

Fresh Express Coleslaw or Garden Salad 1.66 each

Seattle's Best Coffee on sale (12 oz bag or 10 ct K-Cup) 5.00
Use 2.00/1 Coupon
Final Price:  3.00

Crisco Cooking Oil (64 oz!) on sale 5.00

Coke products (16.9 oz bottles or 8 pack 7.5 oz cans) on sale 2.50 each (limit 6)

Safeway Home bath Tissue (9 Giant or 12 rolls) or Paper Towels (6 to 8 rolls) 5.00 each

Simply Orange Juice (89 oz Original or Pulp Free) on sale 5.00

Spam on sale 2.50 each

Planter's Peanuts (16 oz) selected varieties on sale 2.50

Smartwater (6 pack of 1 liter bottles) or Nabisco Snack Tray (20 ct) on sale 5.00 each

And there you are folks.

I have to say I'm most excited about the 10.00 off 50.00 coupon, the milk coupon and the chicken sale on Friday.  There are definitely some good deals to be had this week.

Hope you have great luck in your shopping adventures this week!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monthly Goals: A New Approach To Financial Goals

After much thought, I finally decided to completely redo how I approach goal setting on a month to month basis.

See, the reason I didn't have any financial goals for last month was that I had no money to set financial goals WITH.  Which, the more and more I thought about that the more and more depressed I got.

So, this month rolls around and I asked my husband last night if we should have any financial goals.  We both gave each other a somewhat sad and resigned grin and stated at the same time, "Make bills."  And so, that is the ONE financial goal I have at this point until finances can somehow go on the upswing.

Which, so far, hasn't happened.  My husband had to get his entire top front of his mouth capped today so that we didn't lose the tooth that he got the root canal done on, so for the first time in 5 years I went and applied myself for a credit card.  In this case a Care Credit card, which having no credit anymore I got approved for right away.  I broke out in hives over it, but my husband needed the dental work done badly and he's so happy having a regular looking smile again for the first time in years.  Either way we are 4,000.00 further into the hole now, so I've got more digging out to do.

In the meantime, I decided to redo my mindset and give myself goals that I could actually, you know, achieve around here.  So, instead of doing financial goals I'm just going to sit down and make a list of achievable goals for the month, apart from shopping goals as those are dependent fully on if we get enough money coming in to make them.  Each week I'll try and do an update as I, hopefully, achieve these goals, but in the meantime, here's my list for this month.

Monthly Goals for June:

1.  Shampoo Carpets, all
My son is very hard on carpeting, and I do try to do one room at a time normally, but right now all of the carpets have suffered a bit, so it is time to get an all out shampooing done on the carpets.

2.  Work on fall canning and preserving list
This is an important goal that I do every year about this time.  Mainly I start planning on how well the plants are doing and figuring out if I do end up having to buy supplemental materials from the store to achieve the goals I've set that I need to start budgeting out for them now.

3.  Continue to clean out storage space and get things organized for future yard sale.
We have a 40 ft. cargo van that we bought years ago and we used it to move all of our things when we moved into our house three years ago.  The result of this is that oh, about 1/2 of the things IN said 40 ft. van haven't been gone through yet and we've been meaning to do a yard sale for the last few years.  So far I've unearthed a few things we were looking for that we weren't sure where they had disappeared to, but I've also unearthed so much stuff we can get rid of, mostly baby clothes and baby things that we had put into storage and lost track of.  I've gotten some done, but still have a ways to go.  My goal is 2 rubbermaid boxes per day to go through.
4.  Organize pantry space and work on making hallway closet more organized.
I'm trying to rearrange things to be more functional around here and that means I really need to make my hallway closet into a linen closet if possible and that means making my downstairs pantry that much more functional.  So, it's back into my space under the staircase to see what I can do with my pantry to make it work that much better.

5.  Get son's room organized.
I'm hoping to somehow rearrange things from my master bathroom to steal the Closetmaid unit that we currently use to house our towels and other things in said bathroom, to put in my son's closet.  He desperately needs more space to organize his toys and things like blankets, so this would help greatly if I can make it happen.  Then we have an old entertainment center in our storage van that my husband and I want to move into his room as well to store toys and blankets in as well (my son goes through a LOT of bedding around here).  This is a big one on my "to do" list this month.

6.  Rearrange kitchen to be more user friendly/get more room.
My kitchen is an ever evolving space and I need to go through it again, see if there is anything that I need to part with, figure out my canning jars and other things to get ready for canning season coming up in a few months.  Yes, this job COULD potentially take me a few months, so it's on my list now.

7.  Donate items to used store that might not sell at a yard sale quickly.
There are some things, being a hard core yard sale fan at this point, that I see sitting and not selling at EVERY yard sale I go to.  These items, instead of putting them out to sell, I'm just going to drop off at the used store so they can get the money from selling them.

8.  Work on getting insurance sorted for my daughter.
We're having insurance renewal delay issues for my daughter that are driving me up a tree.  Three weeks on hold, numerous people sending e-mails to supervisors and still no renewal has gone through.  I'm going to keep trying because if the insurance doesn't go through soon I'm going to have to pay full price for my daughter's meds and those are 200.00.  I don't really have that money to spend right now, but she needs the medicine (thank goodness I have some left from previous months), so I've got to get something figured out on that mess soon.
9.  Go back to using checks as much as possible.
With the exception of some things that we can only pay online, I'm going to go back to paying utilities and such with checks as much as I can and pay groceries in cash or by check.  This makes money easier to track, which I need to help me feel a bit more in control of our finances.

Other than general goals I also have specific sewing/mending goals.

Sewing/Mending Goals

1.  Start to cut out future Christmas presents and set aside to sew later.
2.  Mend husband's jeans
3.  Mend holes in comforters from washing machine or general wear and tear
4.  Make coupon holder
5.  Finish current embroidery project
6.  Work on making table cloth for kitchen table to replace badly stained ones (haven't had a lot of luck finding replacement ones at the used store)
7.  Make new dish towels.
8.  Make son some sleep shorts/pants

And there you have it.  My goals, overall, for this month.  Hopefully I can get it all accomplished as it all needs to be done.  Fingers crossed!