Saturday, October 31, 2015

Frugal Saturday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I would say "Frugal Friday" but I didn't get to this yesterday due to being busy baking and then I ended up rereading the first Harry Potter book...because well I wanted to ;).

So, anyway Happy Halloween everyone!

This week's frugal accomplishments include:

1.  I realized the hard way as I'm doing more and more embroidery that my little cheap folding scissors I've had for years just were not cutting it (literally) anymore.  I realized I had a 60% off one item coupon in my Jo-Ann ad for last weekend so we went and I found embroidery scissors weren't on sale (score) so I was able to get a pair for about 5.00.  I want to take a 50% off coupon one of these days and get my daughter a pair before Christmas (I'm hoping to give her a mini sewing kit to start teaching her some of the basics).  I also got a couple of individual sized milk bottles and various shades of pink embroidery floss (because I needed it).  All totaled I spent less than 13.00 on everything.  Yay for sales and coupons!

2.  My step mom sent me another, what she calls a "pinata box" because she kind of randomly throws things into a box and I never know what I'm going to get.  It's awesome for me as it's like Christmas ;).  This time she threw in a skein of Red Heart team spirit colored yarn in the same colors as Gryffindor's colors (gold and maroon), so I'll be able to make my daughter a Hogwarts scarf for Christmas (she LOVES scarves...I think it's her favorite part of winter).  Thanks Rox :).

3.  A friend of mine gave me her freebies from the last couple of weeks from Fred Meyer and gave me a freebie she had at Carrs too.  It was really nice of her to do that and I really appreciated the free stuff, especially the food.  Thanks, Stephanie!

4.  I mended two pairs of my husband's jeans this week.  The other four pairs, unfortunately, were just beyond repair, but I cut up the jeans so I could reuse the zippers and every available good scrap of denim.  I even cut out interior on the pockets as you never know when you might need those.

5.  I fixed a couple of my sweaters that had snags in them when I pulled them out for the season.  They look a lot better now.

6.  We wanted to do something special for Halloween with the kids since we decided trick or treating was out.  On top of doing Harry Potter themed Halloween meals and treats, my husband found that the local pool was having a special Halloween event where the entire family could get in for 15.00.  By the time my daughter got done dragging her feet and whining we only had 1/2 an hour left to the event when we got there, but we all had a really good time.  We are trying to teach the kids to swim, so this was a good first step toward that.  On the way out we were able to get goodie bags for the kids and inside each bag was a ticket for another free admission for each child, so that will help save us a few bucks the next time we go (it's really not that pricey, but still every little bit helps).

7.  For our "Halloween feast" I only used things I had around the house already to make the meals.  This definitely saved us money.

And there you go.  Some ways I saved money this week.  How did you do?

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Harry Potter Halloween: The Decor/Snacks (With Links to Free Printables)

I know I might confuse people by putting The Decor/Snacks, but ahem...I kind of decided to make the snacks the decor for our Harry Potter Halloween, so that's why I combined them.

Seen above is the Harry Potter Honeydukes counter. I decided to turn my sideboard into the main attraction for this holiday (which is actually pretty typical of me as the sideboard holds so much that I love to use it for "spreads" like this.

I figured I'd break down how I did this all for you guys, as really I got this from some awesome sources on the internet and a little imagination on my part.

First, I'd recommend to everyone to get some sticker paper (affiliate link).  I love sticker paper and have it in with my regular printer papers constantly.  The stuff is tons of fun to mess with when you have a project like this one and you would be surprised how handy it comes in (for gift tags, printing your own labels for home made gifts, etc).  You can even print off sheets of stickers to give to kids as part of birthday and Christmas gifts.  Definitely worth the investment (Amazon didn't have the paper that I have anymore, which is sad, but I did find the above 100 pack of paper that seems like a good value).

The project I'm the most proud of, by far, is the Butter Beer.

One of my most guilty pleasures is GOOD cream soda.  It's been like that since I was a kid.  And, the IBC brand of cream soda has ALWAYS been my favorite.  I remember going down to the candy store, getting some penny candy and an ice cold IBC out of the cooler (boy did I just date myself) on a hot summer day.

So, about once a year (usually at Christmastime) I go into the store, REFUSE to look at the price attached and pick up a six pack of IBC for my sipping pleasure.  This year I bought it early for Halloween and went to town turning it into Butter Beer (I'll be adding home made butterscotch whipped cream as an option to put on top of the soda at the table).

I wrapped the six pack box in brown mailing paper I had, printed off labels from here for the bottles and got a label (among other labels for the Pumpkin Juice and such) here.  I just cut down the butter beer label to make an "all new" label for the six pack.  I then wrapped the tops of the bottles in brown mailing paper to cover the bottle cap and tied them with some brown cotton string.  I personally think it came out looking awesome :).

The water bottles/potion labels came from the same page as the Pumpkin Juice label and the big Butter Beer label.

The stand up candy printables I got from here. 

The candy/snack part isn't quite complete as I've still got pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes and the like to make, but you get the basic idea here.

 The Bertie Botts container I got from here.  It takes some construction, but is cool when done.

And the chocolate frog box (my chocolate frogs are currently setting up in my fridge) you can get from here.  She even has chocolate frog cards you can print off!

To finish off everything I got a cauldron and some brand new in the package napkins from the used store for .50 each.

Enjoy everyone and I hope you all have a great Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Creamy Shrimp Mushroom Pasta (Pantry Recipe)

I am really trying to expand my "pantry only ingredient" recipes as much as possible around here.  Because, let's face it, when money gets tight and you're living off your pantry...well things can get a bit boring.

This recipe came out so well that my husband and I both had seconds, which is rare for us.  I even beat him to the leftovers the next day for lunch *evil laugh*.

So, here you go folks.  One delicious pantry friendly recipe!

 Creamy Shrimp Mushroom Pasta

  • 1/2 box angel hair pasta (you can also use spaghetti or fettuccine...whatever you have around that likes to stick to sauce) cooked to package directions.
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • 1 can small shrimp
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup dehydrated mushrooms (depending how much mushroom flavor you like)
  • 1 tsp. dehydrated onion
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • 1 TBS cold water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
1.  While your pasta is cooking combine evaporated milk, mushrooms, onion, paprika, garlic powder and Italian seasoning in small saucepan.  Bring just to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Let simmer, stirring constantly (to avoid milk burning), for about 10 minutes or until mixture reduces by about 1/3.

2.  Drain shrimp lightly and add to mixture.  Add Parmesan cheese.  Bring to simmer and let simmer for about 2 minutes to let flavors meld.  Combine corn starch and water in a small bowl or glass and mix with your fingers until corn starch is incorporated into the water making a slurry.

3.  Pour cornstarch mixture into sauce and stir well to combine.  Raise heat to medium high (the cornstarch will thicken mixture as it heats up) and bring to boil briefly until mixture thickens up (IT should not take long).  If you don't mind a more "watery" consistency to your sauce you can omit this part...we prefer a thicker sauce, so I put it in.

4.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drain pasta and return to pan (if pasta is done before the sauce is, drain the pasta, return it to the pan and coat liberally with olive oil or oil of choice to avoid it sticking.  I've had to do that a time or two).  Add sauce to pasta and toss combine (be gentle so as not to abuse your shrimp).  
Serve.  Consume leftovers within 24 hours (shrimp doesn't keep well).

Additional Notes:  If you wish you could probably stretch this by making the whole pound of pasta and just using the sauce as is.  If you do that, however, might I suggest leaving the container of Parmesan cheese on the table in case plates need a bit of added something :).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Menu for Week of 10/26/15

Well, last week, I have to say was AWESOME on the trying new recipes front!  I'm thrilled as at least one of them is a pantry item recipe, so having that will definitely help when money gets tight and we're tired of the same old thing.  I'll share those recipes within the next couple of days (if all works out).

I've been so busy working on a monthly rotating menu for winter that I honestly kind of spaced doing a weekly menu plan yesterday.  Which showed when I ended up having to figure out dinner on the fly (I hate that).

So, here, a bit late, is the menu for this week.  I will, hopefully, have a menu plan for winter figured out here by next week and I'll be more than happy to share my "master plan" as it were *laugh*.

Menu Plan for Week of 10/26/16

Monday:  Baked chicken, leftover Cheesy Garlic Biscuits ala Red Lobster (which were awesome by the way), leftover peaches.

Tuesday:  Noodle Bowl Night

Wednesday:  BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, baked beans

Thursday: Turkey pot pie

Friday:  Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup , grilled cheese sandwiches

Saturday:  Halloween Menu

Sunday:  Leftovers (as I am sure we will have some :)

Desserts:  Halloween Treats, jello, baked apples (maybe).

Baking List:  Bread, Halloween treats, blueberry muffins, porridge/steel cut oats (make big pot for breakfasts for rest of week).  Baking days:  Tuesday (bread and muffins and porridge), Wednesday and possibly Thursday (schedule this week is just crazy).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Well, this post is late this week.  Mainly because I got distracted working on my sewing space in my den and working on a couple other "side" projects (read:  distractions *laugh*).  So, I didn't get to this yesterday.

This week's goals were kind of all over the map and I did get a few things done.  Unfortunately I had to work around my son who has a loose tooth and isn't happy with the universe due to it, so I didn't get as much done as I was hoping to.

1.  I got a gift for my son done and began work on a gift for my husband.  Got a gift for my daughter partially completed as well.  I also got more "planning" out of the way when it came to other gifts for extended family.

2.  Got some mending done on my husband's socks.  The rest of my sewing got side tracked when I decided I needed to organize my sewing area a bit better, so some of those goals are getting transferred onto this week.

3.  I started going through my cabinets in my kitchen and was pleasantly surprised to find that they are still pretty organized.  I've got a few things to weed through, but overall things are looking good there.

4.  Got the Halloween decorations printed out and applied, so that's done (more on that in a later post as I want to be able to provide you all with some links).

5.  I started figuring out a kind of budget for winter.  I'm trying to come up with ideas and things to make month long menu plans to keep monotony to a minimum.  I'm still working on it, though.

6.  I ended up with a new goal for last week, which will be ongoing until it gets done which is "Get son used to medic alert bracelet" (seen up top).  I really liked the bracelet I picked as it's got Speed Racer on it and has a good clasp on it.  I also liked that it came with four lines so I was able to put "Peanut Allergy.  Penicillin Allergy.  Non-Verbal.  Autistic." all on one bracelet!  Takes a load off of my mind that he'll have that.  Now it's a matter of getting him used to wearing it.  So far he hates it, but the school is helping me work with him to get used to it.

And now onto this week's goals.
1.  Figure out Monthly Shopping Goals for November.
2.  Figure out Monthly Goals for November.
3.  Oil antique child's sewing machine as it needs to be done.
4.  Dig out vintage handkerchiefs and figure out a way to display them.
5.  Embroider gift for my niece.
6.  Finish gift for daughter.
7.  Start making Halloween treats for later in the week.
8.  Continue to work on monthly menu plan.
9.  Continue to work on mending.  Mend at least four items.
10.  Get clothes weeded out and transfer them to my new smaller dresser (I've been living out of laundry baskets and Rubbermaid for a bit here and really need to organize things).
I'm sure there will be other things added to my "list" but those are my major goals.  How about you?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, as money saving weeks went this was both good and bad.

The bad is that we ended up spending money this week on things like a water pick for my daughter's teeth and we had to pay for a chiropractor visit.  And my car might be starting to have problems (I can't complain too much as it's been a good car for the last 7 years).

The good is that we ended up only paying cost on the water pick by buying it through the orthodontist office (I price compared before I committed to buying it through them) which saved me about 10.00 to 15.00.  The chiropractor visit was a lot less than I was scared it would cost (I was figuring 300.00 and it only ended up costing 100.00 instead) and we got the good news that my husband's back is in okay shape, we just needed to pick up a rolling tube thing to help him relax his back at night (40.00 at Target) and he needs to swim more (which is 6.00 per hour, so he's going a couple of times a week).  The car might be having problems, but my husband is now on top of the situation (we're in "wait in see mode" for right now) and he has the skills to fix whatever might be wrong...and we have a good mechanic in case we need him to help my husband too, so both of those are bright points.

There was also good in the money saving front this week as well.

1.  I am SO glad I slapped the significant payment onto my husband's tooth bill before my daughter's braces charge got added in.  I got the bill for next month in the mail and it went from up about 60.00.  After the significant payment was taken into account.  If I hadn't done that and waited I would just be making higher payments and not getting any further ahead on the bill, I think, so I'm glad I did it when I did.

2.  This was a good week on the freebie front too and the best part is that it is things I'll use, not just "free"!  I got two Just 4 U freebies this week through Carrs (seen up top there).  I'm most excited about the black olives as those we eat a lot.  These were SPENDY olives normal price, so I was impressed I got a full sized can for free (they're about two times the price of the store generic olives).

The yogurt is a mix of yogurt and grains to help keep you feeling fuller longer.  I haven't tried it yet, but it intrigues me.  I'll probably eat it for lunch sometime next week.
3.  I had to go into the store today to pick up the two things I missed at the store earlier in the week and I picked up the last two weeks of my Freebie Friday things from Fred Meyer.  The Oreo thins, by the way, are still available to load onto your rewards card through the end of today.

I personally wanted to get the mint flavored ones, but my husband, being a purist wanted the original flavor.  Since I'm PROBABLY the only one in the family who would have eaten the mint flavored ones, I decided to humor him (still wish I could have gotten the mint ones, though *laugh*).

The cat treats will be devoured by my salmon loving cat, so they will definitely not go to waste.  She LOVES cat treats.

4.  I got my kid's school pictures in this last week.  I ordered the CD with the photos on it so that I can print off my own copies.  This not only saves me money (the CD costs 15.00), but these will be used to print off photos of the kids for the grand parents for Christmas.   They turned out cute, too, so bonus!

5.  I shopped sales hard (as you can see from the freebies I'm sure) and came in under my weekly grocery budget by 20.00.  I then used my stored up gas rewards to fill up my tank for less than 2.00 per gallon, so I filled my tank for little over 30.00 (and I was running on near empty at the time).  It felt GOOD to get cheap gas for sure.

6.  While shopping sales, I stumbled across some sour cream on reduced at Carrs and I knew I had a personalized price as well as an E-Coupon from them loaded on my card, so I decided to take a chance and see how cheap I could get the reduced sour cream after coupons.  Final price ended up being .39 for a 16 oz thing of sour cream.  That was a cheap purchase that will come in handy.

7.  I replaced one more light bulb in the house with an LED.  I've still got a ways to go on the globe bulbs on our bathroom vanities and the candelabra bulbs in our chandeliers, but overall I'm making progress.  I'm working on one light bulb a week and if money is too tight one a month.  It'll add up in the end.

8.  I mended my daughter's shoes this week.  Her elastic laces on her shoes were getting too loose, so I tightened them up for her by sewing the laces up a bit.  She now complains that she has to hold the tongue of the shoe to pull them on, but otherwise she seems quite happy with them, so I consider it a win.

9.  I found .30 on the ground this week.  Yes, not much money, but it goes into my "thrift store fun money" and believe it or not you can get some cool stuff for .30 if you keep looking, so I was happy.

10.  While researching new labeling practices at some of the companies I buy products from (just to be safe with my son's allergy) I actually stumbled across the fact that one of my favorite candies in the whole world (Andes mints!!!) are peanut free and are actually made by the same people who make Tootsie Rolls (which are proudly peanut free).  I just always assumed Andes mints were unsafe, so to find that out just kind of made my Christmas season already as I know what I'M getting in my stocking this year *laugh*.

11.  I mended three pairs of socks this week.  Which is just the tip of one major ice burg, but it's a start.

12.  I used one of my four oil changes a year at our dealership (lifetime oil changes on our vehicle) to get my oil changed for free.  It's been especially nice having those since the car got paid off two years ago as I feel like we're getting our money's worth out of the lifetime oil changes that way.

I had a 2 hour wait, but got some Christmas gifts worked on while I was waiting and took advantage of their free coffee and popcorn while I was there as well.  This is where they found my car problems (leak in oil and leak in coolant, supposedly), but I haven't seen any leaks (I check for those things religiously a couple of times a week as I've had beater cars in the past and it's become force of habit) and neither has my husband, so we're keeping an eye on things for now.

So, there you are.  Some of the ways I've saved money this week.  How did you do?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thrifty Thursday (Thrift Store Finds)

Well, this was a week of some good finds on the thrift store front!

I had to drop off some stuff at the thrift store earlier in the week so I stopped in really fast to see if there was anything to see.  And I hit some pay dirt!

First up is what is seen above.  It's a chocolate mold (limited edition yada yada) and came with a block of white Baker's Chocolate in it (which is safe with my son's peanut allergy!).  The entire box was still sealed tight and the expiration date wasn't until like last month, so I knew the chocolate would still be fine (old chocolate tends to be fine anyway, but I didn't want off colored chocolate for the molds).

The little chocolate "garnish" is going to be used as chocolate candies to send it with my daughter for her Halloween party at school (no fuss, no muss).  Since she's got 27 kids in her class, trying to come up with a treat that would go far enough but not tax my budget was vexing me.  1.00 and I'm set for Halloween party treats (and I'll reuse the mold for other Halloween things later with some other chocolate too!).

Next up are a couple of panel projects I found for 18" doll clothes.  I'm hoping to use one to lure my daughter into wanting to learn to sew a bit more, but the other one I MIGHT have plans for, but we shall see :).  These were 2.50 a piece.  Not the cheapest things in the world, but both panels make multiple outfits and might get my daughter sewing more, so I think they are worth it.

And now, I present to you my "Holy Grail" find for the day!  I have a somewhat short list of Tupperware items I'm looking for now to make my "base collection" complete.  A matching salt and pepper shaker set, preferably vintage, was definitely on that list.  And I found a set!!!  For 1.00!!!  For BOTH of them!!!  And they match my brown 70's era Tupperware!  Life is awesome! Ahem...I think about two states over heard my squeel of excitement when I found those *laugh*.

Next up is actually an item that I debated getting at all.  Yes, they are Tupperware.  Tupperware shot glasses to be precise.  And they are old Tupperware (probably 50's era).  And they were .25 a piece.  But, I didn't really NEED shot glasses...I'm not exactly a heavy drinker (I'm more of a glass of eggnog come the holidays or an occasional glass of wine with dinner type) and I couldn't see myself using the cups for much and I abhor spending money on something I know I'm not going to use.  But my daughter of all people fell in love with them and wanted me to get them so she could use them as reusable water cups in the bathroom at night.  Mind you, she already has a child's size Tupperware cup in the bathroom for the occasional late night water run, but she really wanted these.  So, I bought them *laugh*.  I do like how they are so small they fit on the like 3/4" lip around the bathroom vanity, so they are off the actual counter.

And next up are a couple of molds I bought at the used store as well for molding jello (I don't really know if you could use these for molds for steaming puddings or not, but I would hate to mar the finish on these as they are actually really shiny right now).  My daughter was getting tired of eating jello in the shape of a fish (I can't fathom that *laugh*), so I'm figuring these will fit the bill.  And it will be easier to do layered effects in these for sure.  One is a 2 1/2 cup mold and the other is a three and a half cup mold.  They were 1.50 a piece.  Since we're eating Jello for dessert even more than we used to (braces are fun), these will definitely come in handy.

And last up are, of all things, fondue forks.  I was hoping to find some for Halloween since I want to make a brie cheese fondue type of dish, but I didn't want to pay out a lot for fondue forks, so I was trying to think of ways around it.  And the same day I stumbled on these.  Fifty cents for a package of World Market fondue forks.  Works for me!

So, there you are folks.  My finds for the week.  How did you do?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Harry Potter Halloween Part 1: The Menu

So, after much consideration and a lot happening this last week we finally came to the conclusion around here that trick or treating is out (for one) and running a Halloween party is probably out too since we'd have to have said party ON Halloween and we know that not many people would show up for that.

But, despite peanut allergies and braces I really wanted the kids to have a fun Halloween.  I'd already started messing with some Harry Potter decor for some Halloween fun for my daughter so, after talking to said daughter, I decided to expand on that idea.  Since Halloween falls on a Saturday this year I thought it'd be fun to have a Harry Potter themed Halloween all day long. 

My daughter, needless to say is so thrilled she's ready to pop a vein *laugh*.

So, first and foremost, planning a Harry Potter themed day, I realized meant that we had this thing called "meals" to worry about.  But, I really needed to make choices that were budget friendly (basically, things I had around here). 

I wasn't really sure what to expect on things that would be considered Harry Potter friendly.  So, I went online and started researching what other people did when throwing Harry Potter themed parties.  I ended up kind of disheartened as I quickly realized that for the most part people revolved menus around desserts.  Which, of course, makes sense, BUT I wanted the family to eat more than sweets during the day (go figure).  The other thing people did was throw ELABORATE Harry Potter parties with tons of decorations with one hefty price tag attached in some cases (one woman wallpapered her dining room in rock wallpaper.  75.00 in wallpaper for one party!).  So, I started figuring out low budget options for decor and using my imagination, which so far has worked quite well.  So, it was onto the food!

I decided to look up "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" online (man I'd love to go there someday!) to see what the restaurants in the park offered for food.  I found very quickly that for the most part the restaurants offered typical English fare for dinners (Cornish pasties, bangers and mash/sausages and mashed potatoes, toad in a hole, etc).  So, I decided that simple was the best way to go for lunch and dinner.  And, of course, there will be desserts and snacks too!

Now note:  This menu might seem ridiculously long, but I really worked hard to come up with desserts that I could freeze until Thanksgiving (pumpkin pasties for instance) or that could be grazed upon should family show up during the day, so I figure I'm killing two birds with one stone.  I'll get more into the ease of use factor on this stuff in later posts for some things (like the drinks), but for the most part I think this is going to work really well.

So, here's the menu I decided on for the day.

  • Scotch eggs
  • Toast
  • Fruit cups (fruit cocktail in fancy serving dishes)
  • Porridge (for me as I'm not a big breakfast person)
  • Pan fried Chicken drumsticks (my daughter's request as that's what Ron is eating during the feast on their first night at Hogwarts in the movies)
  • Steamed mixed vegetables
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Pumpkin pasties (pocket pies to us Yanks ;).
  • Treacle Tart
  • Cauldron Cakes
  • Treacle Fudge
  • Sorting Hat cookies (if they turn out  as this is my bright idea*laugh*)
Special Drinks:
  • Pumpkin Juice
  • Butter Beer
  • Fire Whiskey (non alcoholic)
  • Various potions (more on this stuff later)
Candies/Honeydukes counter (with the exception of chocolate and some taffy the candy counter will be for those in the family who come by to fill goody bags as my daughter can't have anything chewy or too crunchy with her braces and my son doesn't like many different types of candy.  I already had said candy from picking up a thing of candy here and there throughout the year):
  • Jelly slugs
  • Sugar Quill Lolipops
  • Chocolate Wands
  • Chocolate Frogs
  • Bertie Bots every flavor beans
  • Others if I think of things
So, there you are folks. My menu for Halloween. Anyone else doing anything weird...err...special this year?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Menu Plan Monday (Late): Menu for Week of 10/19/15

Yup.  Menu plan for the week is getting posted late.  I was juggling a daughter who was utterly traumatized about getting four braces on her front teeth and she's been complaining for nearly 24 hours straight (with a break for sleep, thank goodness).  My daughter is definitely the "drama loving" kid in the family and she's competing with an autistic brother, so I think she feels like she needs to live up to the challenge *sigh*.

Don't get me wrong.  I feel for her.  It's hard enough not fitting in when younger due to food allergies (she used to be allergic to corn, which really restricted what she could eat) and now she's got to stick out again because of her braces and having to be careful with what she chews on for the next eight months.  But she really outdid herself on the drama the last 24 hours to the point mama nearly cheered when she walked into the school this morning.  I know, I'm an awful parent.  I'll feel guilty later ;).

So, I am finally able to sit down and work on the menu plan for the week.  So, here we go!

Menu Plan for the Week of 10/19/15
Monday:  Easy baked fish (I need to blog this recipe soon for you all.  It really is easy and tasty!), seasoned rice, peaches.

Tuesday:  Baked lemon Parmesan chicken on pasta (new recipe I'm messing with), green beans.

Wednesday:  Crock post roast pork, apple sauce, sliced fried potatoes.

Thursday:  Pancakes, bacon, eggs.

Friday:  Creamy shrimp pasta with mushrooms (a pantry friendly recipe I'm messing with), Cheesy Garlic Biscuits Ala Red Lobster

Saturday:  Baked Balsamic Pork Steaks, rice, fruit cocktail.

Sunday:  Leftovers or Tacos (if no left overs are to be had).
To Bake:  Bread, cheesy garlic biscuits.  Baking day, Friday (well the bread might have to get made earlier than that, but we shall see).

Desserts:  Jello with Whipped Topping, pudding, white hot chocolate (daughter wants to try it).

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

What a week this has been.  A failed peanut allergy test for my son and the poor guy's eczema is showing the results of it as the residuals come out in his skin.  Due to the stress my husband who has back problems when he tenses up has been miserable all weekend to the point we have come to realize he needs to see a chiropractor so I made him an appointment for one tomorrow.  My stomach that handles stress by trying to kill me, I swear, has been giving me fits all weekend.  I think the only one who was relatively normal this weekend was my daughter until she realized she gets braces on tomorrow and then she's been dealing with her own stress.  So, yeah, fun weekend *laugh*.

I did manage to get a few, although not many, of my goals from last week accomplished and got some things on my monthly list worked on.

1.  I got the downstairs carpets shampooed.

Still have to go over the carpets a few more times to get them where I'd like them to be, but overall I'm pleased with them. 

2.  I got some presents for extended family done this week (more on those later...I have a knee jerk reaction to sharing Christmas related things before November 1st, so I'm really trying to save "holiday" types of things until after Halloween *laugh*). 

3.  I got some projects pulled out, some planned out, some cut out and ready to go as well (seen above).

4.  I got some more of the pantry organized and a few things marked down on my pantry inventory list.  Still working on it, though as I've barely begun.

5.  Laundry is no where near caught up right now.  My son went through an exorbitant amount of bedding over the weekend, so I've got a lot of laundry to catch up on in the next couple of days.

6.  I did manage to pretty much get over my cold this week.  Still making sure to take care of my residual symptoms, but overall I'm feeling a lot better.

7.  I got the canner put away and took an inventory of basics that I need for canning season next year.

And now onto the goals for this week.

This Week's Goals:
1.  Breathe.  Money going out with doctor's appointments, potential money going out with the orthodontist tomorrow (I'm not sure if monthly visits are covered in the base price we paid) and such has me a bit panicky.  So, breathing is always a good first step.

2.  Continue to work on Christmas gifts for extended family.

3.  Finish one Christmas gift for son and one for daughter.

4.  Fix husband's recliner. I got kind of foiled in my want to fix this last week as I'm not sure what to use instead of upholstery tacks on the "new" arms for the chair.

5.  Empty kitchen cabinets.  Clean them and reorganize.  Wipe down fronts with Murphy's Oil Soap.

6.  Mend two new holes I found in comforters.

7.  Start working on mending giant pile of husband's socks.

8.  Mend at least two pairs of husband's jeans.

9.  Print out a couple more Halloween decorations.

10.  Work on budget for winter.  Our gas and especially our electric bill has gone up a LOT on base rates this last year (our electric company is ridiculous on upping the base's gone up like four times in the last eight months) so I really need to figure out if there is any way to cut back on utilities before the really cold weather sets in.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Man, I feel beat on right now.  I ache, I'm exhausted and I have to fight wanting to cry on and off.

And I'm not the one who suffered the allergic reaction.

We went into the allergist this morning to get my son a peanut tolerance test.  We've asked about one for the last three years when we'd go in as when he got diagnosed with a life threatening peanut allergy the kiddo ate peanuts all the time and never had a problem, but the allergist told us to continue to avoid them and we had.  But, with so many environmental allergies to his credit (grass, trees, animals...he might be allergic to oxygen for all we know...and man I WISH I was kidding) we kept wanting to test him just to make sure the peanut wasn't a false positive due to a environmental cross reactive.

And we finally found an allergist who was willing to listen and was more than willing to try with us to see what would happen.  She warned me going in that since he hadn't had peanuts in four years there was a chance that he would have developed a peanut allergy as that has proven to be the case in a lot of people, but we went into the office this morning hopeful for an uneventful and boring morning.

Well, I sure didn't get that.

We started with barely a sliver of a peanut butter cup.  I mean I was worried he hadn't gotten more than a dust particle but the time I shoved the now-unfamiliar food into this mouth.

And that's all it took.  Within five minutes his face started to swell. 

It was terrifying.  The allergist asked me to give him the epi-pen if I was able as it was a good practice run for me as I'd never actually had to GIVE him one before and my husband agreed.  I'm glad they did that as it had been so long since I ran the trainer (four years) that I would have tried to put it into his thigh upside down and stabbed it into my own thumb.  They quickly explained to me what to do, I stabbed the thing into his thigh and waited with my heart in my throat as I counted slowly to ten.

Luckily the epi pen worked pretty much immediately.  My poor son was nauseous at first and we were worried he might be having problems breathing (hard to tell when someone can't talk) but luckily that cleared within a few minutes.

An hour and a very slow dosage of Benadryl later (unfamiliar flavor so I had to get two teaspoons down him one half a milliliter at a time) and we were able to leave with a script for refills for his epi-pens for the school and me making darned sure I was loaded for bear when it came to having extras so I could have them in every coat, in my purse and one for my husband to carry on him as well.

Instead of being relieved about his peanut allergy, I'm more paranoid than ever.  My stomach is a big knot of worry over my son's future.  Being autistic, what happens when I'm gone with a life threatening peanut allergy that might never go away now?  Will others be as careful as I am?  What, if when he's an adult he doesn't get what his peanut allergy entails?  I am so scared for him right now and he's still a young child.  I'll be grey by the time I'm 40 the way I'm going.

And I feel so terribly guilty for keeping him off of peanuts for so long that his allergy is so severe now.  My husband kept saying when he was first diagnosed that he didn't think he was allergic to peanuts and was wondering if there was anything we could do to test that (I mean the kid ate peanut butter cups ALL THE TIME back then), but I listened to the doctor and just kept him away from peanuts.  Now to see how severe his allergy has become it doesn't make you feel like a stellar parent let's put it that way :(.

Anyway, it was a long day, let's put it that way, but there was some good points to the week as well and I was able to save some money.

1.  I started getting some of the Harry Potter decorations done for Halloween (seen up top).  I used the good old internet, a printer and some glass containers that were floating around here and there in the house to make some candy jars for some "chocolate wands" (chocolate Twizzlers), "jelly slugs" (sour filled Twizzlers cut into pieces) and some "sugar pops" (which in the container I just put some Starbursts as they are my son's favorite candy and some Tootsie Pops...I kind of ran out of containers for now).  I also poured some Starburst Jelly Beans into the "Bertie Bots Every Flavor Beans" container I printed off and made, which my daughter LOVES.  I've got a few more things of candy to buy (to Target I will go) and put into jars and some other little cool touches to get done to finish up my "Honeydukes counter" as I'm liking to call it (thus the scale, which I need to find a decent tray for) and I think my daughter will be happy with the effect for Halloween (and pre-Halloween.  I tend to let the kids eat a piece of candy a day for a bit before Halloween and that way they don't feel jipped when they don't get to go Trick or Treating with my son's allergies and all.  They love it and it has worked well so far).

2.  I avoided going to the store as much as I could this week to avoid spending money.  I had planned on shopping today to get the 5.00 cat litter that was on sale for 5.00 Friday but after the events of this morning I figure I'll just pay more for the cat litter tomorrow.  I'm not going to drag my son around grocery shopping today if I can help it and the kids are off school today, so that's what I would have had to do).

3.  I bit the bullet, swallowed the lump of worry in my throat and slapped a hefty payment onto my husband's Care Credit bill to try and pay down his outstanding balance enough that when my daughter's braces bill gets kicked onto it that HOPEFULLY it won't equal out to a car payment in heft (my daughter's teeth are just a set amount a month instead of a promotional period to pay off the bill, so we're going to have 122.00 a month added onto my husband's tooth bill which is standing at about 220.00 a month right now).  I only have till April to pay off my husband's tooth balance on his card or we're going to get nailed with deferred interest charges of 3000.00 and counting right now, so I'm really trying hard to pay that portion of the bill off by then.

4.  My son needed new shoes this week as his other sneakers were really bothering him and falling apart (last time I buy shoes at Target) and so we went to Payless Shoes and got him some new sneakers and gym shoes.  One brand of shoes was on sale as well as the socks, so I was able to get him some new sneakers, gym shoes (he grew 1/2 a size in shoes which is probably one of the reasons why shoes were bugging him at school) and socks for a little less than 50.00 for all.  I hated to pay that much out at once (which is sad because normal price the sneakers we bought him cost nearly that much...I'm such a cheap skate ;), but he needed them, so I was glad we did it.

5.  I cooked all of our meals at home which saved us money.  We actually ate quite a lot of left over chicken salad for dinner this week as my husband worked weird hours and I was detail cleaning the house because it needed it.

6.  I really worked hard to figure out ways to use things I had around here for projects instead of having to go out and buy something.  Like I was trying to figure out Christmas gifts for my one niece that loves My Little Pony (my daughter does too).  I was going to try and figure out a way to buy her some toys, but than I started thinking about it, asked my daughter who my niece's favorite pony is (they play ponies when they get together, go figure) and started looking through the things I have and I think I can make her an embroidered pillow for Christmas instead.  At least I won't have to worry about her getting a duplicate Christmas gift that way and while it will take my time to do it, it won't cost much to make.

7.  I mended two comforters this week.  Found two with holes I didn't realize existed as I was folding them, but I'm getting closer to getting caught up on mending the bedding anyway!  Then I can start on the mountain of my husband's socks.

8.  I took my daughter to Target early this week to learn a valuable lesson in money management.  She got some money from the tooth fairy for her two teeth she had pulled and I told her she was going to have to use that and the money she'd saved in her coin bank all of these years to pay for a Christmas gift for her brother this year.  She looked through Target carefully and found him a mini soccer ball (he loves to spin balls and slap them) and then she found herself a small toy to buy for herself as well.  She did the math herself and figured out she would get about 1.00 in change and she was right.  I was really proud of her and she was really proud of herself too.  We didn't get anything else while we were there, which I count as a frugal accomplishment for me.  I didn't even CHECK the clearance racks.  And yes, I did pat myself on the back for that one.

9.  And a definite bright point to my week was that my son finally got the results of his assisted technology evals back at school and his teacher and speech therapist were preparing the device today in preparation for Monday and they want to up him to speech therapy three times a week to help to accelerate attempts to help him communicate.  My husband and I are so relieved that something is finally getting done when it comes to helping my son to communicate that I wanted to hug his teacher when she told me the news.

And I'm sure there's more that I got accomplished this week, but that's all my exhausted mind is remembering.

How did you do?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Thrift Store Finds

Yesterday I decided after being so sick for the last week and then having so much going on around here on top of it, I needed to get out of the house.  So, I went to the thrift store and found some awesome finds!

1.  The biggest find of the day, for sure, was a spare pair of frames (seen up top).  I looked down at the jewelry display and was surprised to have a pair of glasses that looked nearly identical to the pair I've been wearing forever (no, seriously, I've had the same frames since my freshmen year of college!) staring up at me.  I have been desperately wanting to go in and get a new pair of lenses put in my glasses as after six and some odd years my lenses are pretty scratched on my current pair, but my spare pair of glasses is currently held together by surgical tape and I wasn't relishing having to wear them while my good pair was in the shop getting new lenses put in, or worse, having to buy a new pair of glasses.

The frames, after discount (they were on sale 25% off), were 2.25 and are high quality (I did try them on and no, the prescription is no where near was worth a shot though).  I'm very very happy with them :).  Now I just need to save up a little money, go in and get an eye exam and get new lenses put into the new pair of glasses.  Then I can finally replace my old lenses in these glasses AND have a good pair of back of glasses in case I need them.  Life is good!

2.  Next up is a vintage solid brass with chrome plating Italian made corkscrew.  Really nice high quality corkscrew for .50 with a built in bottle opener as well.  Always nice to have around.

3.  A really nice 100% cotton duvet of which I have no idea how old it is.  It was 3.00 and honestly around here we can always use more blankets (finding room to store them is hard, but my son goes through a LOT of bedding on a regular basis, so it's good to be prepared).  I bought it, got it home and realized there was a rough patch on it where the cotton yarn had shredded a bit on one corner (someone had a cat as I had a lot of snags to fix), so I just took some 100% cotton terry material I had with a tight nap to it and made a patch on either side of the duvet, sewed through both patches to "sandwich" in the rough patch and voila!  A really nice blanket for 3.00 that is heavy enough my son will love to roll himself up in.  And with the cotton terry on there if I need to bleach said blanket it won't be a big deal.

4.  I also found a 100% white cotton tablecloth. I have no idea how old it is, but I love the "vintage linen" type of feel to it.  And for 2.00 it was definitely worth getting just to have an extra white tablecloth anyway :).

I also found some various things for my daughter for Christmas.  Some "fancy" hair clips and a leotard for ballet in her size with the tags still on it on sale for 1.50.  Still on the hunt for a tutu in her size (I don't have materials to make one, so I'm KIND of hoping I'll stumble into one cheap so I don't have to worry about it), but feeling good about what I've found so far.

All said and done I got out of the store for under 20.00 and felt great about my finds for the day.

Have you found anything neat lately?

And EDIT:  Apparently my daughter actually has a tutu.  I completely forgot she had one *laugh*.  My sister-in-law had bought her one that was way too big years ago and I'd put it in her dresser drawer with other "too big for you" clothes in it figuring we'd pull it out at a later date.  She found it in her dresser about, oh, ten minutes after I posted this and came dancing out in it and some other clothing that made quite an ensemble.  But, yeah, she actually has a tutu.  That saves me time and money, so woohoo for that :).

Monday, October 12, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Menu for Week of 10/12/15

This is one of those, "Hey I'm busy later in the week and also getting over a cold that is wholloping me with fatigue" types of weeks. 

So, how did I tackle this?  Heh.  I kind of threw a bunch of chicken into the crock pot this morning with some basic seasonings and I went back to bed for most of the day until it was time to go and pick up my kids from school.  And I wish I was joking there.

Basically this is going to be a week with a lot of chicken in the menu, but I'm not planning on it being boring!

Menu Plan for Week of 10/12/15
Monday:  Crock pot chicken, garlic toast, canned peaches

Tuesday:  Chicken salad sandwiches, potato chips

Wednesday:  Pork steaks, potato salad, baked beans

Thursday:  Cheesy Chicken Casserole (use last of crock pot chicken)

Friday:  Turkey Burgers with Spiced Cranberry Sauce, leftover potato salad and baked beans.

Saturday:  Yankee style pot roast with roasted root vegetables

Sunday:  Noodle Bowl Night (tear up any leftover turkey burgers into bite sized pieces to use as "meatballs" in pasta).
 To Bake:  Blueberry muffins, sweet rolls, oatmeal (for breakfasts later in the week).  Baking day:  Tuesday.

Desserts:  Apple crisp, custard.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

What?  Why yes, that is a soda bottle top you see in the picture.  My son likes to spin soda bottles as one of his stims, so I wasn't fast enough getting the shot I wanted to get of the table runner.  So, just think of it as him helping me take the picture *laugh*.

Despite being sick this week with a cold that seems to have gone off like a bomb in my local area (EVERYONE I've talked to has it or is on antibiotics because of it) I did manage to get some things accomplished.  Didn't get as much done this weekend as I would have liked because my husband and I took turns sleeping most of the weekend, but I did manage to get some of my goals list done.

1.  I finally finished my fall themed table runner (seen up top).  It felt good to get that marked off my list.

2.  I was able to finish a few Christmas gifts for extended family this week.  I got some cut out and not done yet, but managed to finish a few gifts for some of my many nephews this week.  I'll post more on those later.

3.  I got my master bedroom pretty much rearranged for now.  I still need to clean it all and put things away in their final spots, however, so I'm not taking pictures of anything yet.  I got sick the night I rearranged the bedroom and have been fielding sick kiddos and sick me since then, so I'm hoping to get that all cleaned up and ready to go this week.

4.  I shampooed the upstairs carpets.

5.  Halloween plans are kind of shot at this point.

I was going to have a small party for my daughter here, but she got invited to a friend's of hers party the same night I was going to have her party here, so I think I'm just going to go with some Harry Potter decorations for some Halloween decor around here.  Then I'll send an open invite out to some family members who I know are Harry Potter fans to come over, have some butter beer and fill up some treat bags really fast on Halloween night while they are out trick-or-treating and call it good.  My daughter will still get some company out of it (if anyone shows up) and I can still have some fun decorating and making some fun Harry Potter themed things for around here.

6.  We called on the possible overcharge with a bill we had and found that it was indeed our final payment, not an overcharge on the credit card.  It felt good getting that bill paid off, even if their billing system had one heck of a lag to it (the charge was supposed to go through on the 15th of the month and instead was rolling onto the second of the following month by the time everything processed, so I thought we were a payment ahead of where we actually were.  Luckily once I heard about that I went back through, did the math and it worked out).

So, onto my goals for this week!  I'm not going by category this week, just doing a general list because I'm tired and in kind of a hurry (have to get kids in bath tub here).

Goals for the Week:
1.  Continue to work on Christmas gifts for extended family.
2.  Work on some Christmas gifts for son.
3.  Clean wooden furniture.
4.  Get caught up on laundry (with me sick this last week this got behind.  Again *sigh*).
5.  Start working on pantry inventory.  Figure out holes and satellite items to add to long term grocery goals.
6.  Fix husband's recliner (my daughter is getting scratched on the cracking leather.  It's time to try and do something about that).
7.  Get well.  This is actually at the top of my list because I can't really afford a doctor's visit right now for one and I sure don't want to be down and out sick either, for two.
 8.  Finish one Christmas gift for daughter.
And there you are folks.  Some of my goals for this week.  What are yours?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

You know, the thing I hate most about public school isn't the homework or the having two kids in two schools thing.  Nope, what I hate most is that public school is one big germ factory.  And my son sticks things in his mouth all the time and sneezes in my face.  Thus, I'm sick again.  The life of mom.  So, so glamorous ;).

Despite having a sore throat and runny nose this week I did manage to get some money saving things accomplished.

1.  I cleaned my computer screen.

Yup, totally stupid I know, but I haven't actually cleaned my laptop screen in a long time and didn't really think much of it.  Then my son spit around my computer this afternoon and got something on my screen so I cleaned it.  And yeah, it's like I got a new screen!  I had no idea how much just plain dust was built up on it.  I'm really happy I did that *laugh*.

2.  I fixed my bathroom sink drain.

I should say "we" as I started fixing said drain, got into a mess and my husband helped to get it fixed the rest of the way (with imput from me I'm happy to say).

Since we moved here we've had nothing but problems with one drain or another and one of the major ones was our bathroom sink drain.  I clean it out weekly, but it just would get slower and slower and have standing water in it and then my husband would snake it and it'd be alright for a while and then the problems would start up again.

I was cleaning the bathroom, hoping to do it quickly and was trying to clean the sink and getting frustrated as it's hard to clean a sink where nothing will drain in it, so I decided to take the plumber's helper to the drain and see what would come out of it.  Um.  "Yuck" describes it in spades.  And unfortunately  the multitudes of crud that I kicked loose with the plumbers helper blocked up the drain so it wouldn't drain at all (go me!).  My husband came in and helped plunge it for a while and then we both mutually decided to try Liquid Plumber on the drain to see if we could kick whatever was stuck in the drain loose.

And it worked great!  The drain has been working perfectly ever since (which is a record for that drain!).  So, we're hoping that we managed to kick the things coating the drain loose so it'll be good for a while.

3.  I fixed my kitchen sink drain.

It was a week of my plumbing hating me, I swear.  I went to do my dishes and my sink drain was completely stopped up as well (another drain we've had problems with).  I tried the plumber's helper on it, but it didn't work because it's a double sink so the water would just back up the other drain instead of trying to force whatever was clogging it down.  So, I started boiling water on the stovetop and between a nearly full bottle of Liquid Plumber and lots of boiling water to chase it the drain is finally working well.  I managed to break two glasses (plumber's helper hitting drain plug for sing and sending it flying was a weird bending of physics that made it work, I swear) and give myself three splinters that day, but it worked!

4.  The final tomatoes from my garden ripened, so I took all of the tomatoes I had and made them into a batch of tomato sauce. 

I am so, so happy with my tomato plants and how they did this year!  I was able to get a big batch of green tomato relish canned, two batches of tomato sauce, give tomatoes away to friends and family and ate my fair share of fresh tomatoes.  All from two plants.  It was a good tomato year!

5.  I made a tea cozy with what was left over from the quilt I used to make my daughter a fancy pillow for Christmas.  You can see it up top. 

I also used scraps to make some quilted coasters out of the pieces of fabric I could find with embroidery on them so they wouldn't go to waste (also seen).  I still have some scrap material and keep trying to figure out something small to make with it, but I'm going to think on it for a while.

And by the way I loved the excuse to pull down my one good set of English china to stage the photo with the tea cozy :).  It was fun.

6.   My husband managed to fix the 12.00 recliner we bought and we put it up in our living room. 

My son LOVES it and rocks in it constantly and with the metal brackets my husband put on the recliner I'm sure the chair is going to have a lot more life to it.

7.  We went in for my daughter's orthodontist appointment early in the week and got a diagnosis of partial braces being needed because her cross bite was so bad. 

I requested a copy of her X-rays and her photos and went to four different offices for opinions and got the same answer back as the orthodontist we are going through and got quotes for what they would charge.  Our orthodontist was the cheapest.  I had to put the money I'd paid off on our Care Credit for my husband's teeth back onto his card, but at least I know we're getting the best price on my daughter's braces.

8.  We paid off a debt this week. 

 Our last credit card outside of Care Credit and a Sears card with a small limit on it.  I pray that I roll that money from the usual monthly payment right onto the Care Credit as we are going to need all the help we can get paying that bill down again.

9.  I shopped sales and used coupons and managed to come under my weekly grocery budget by 50.00. 

I'm hoping to save that money and roll it onto the debt we have.  I figure if I can do that every week it'll be a significant savings from month to month.

And there you go.  Some of the ways I saved money this week.  How did you do.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Menu for Week of 10/5/15

It is going to be another busy week around here.  We have an orthodontist consultation for my daughter this week and an appointment to the doctor's office as well as regularly scheduled therapies.  So, if I can get a few bits of scorched tomatoes off of my crock pot (note:  Never leave tomatoes to just stew without checking them upon occasion.  Luckily I didn't wreck what was left of my garden tomatoes and was able to still make sauce, but if I had waited another could have been ugly!).   I'm really going to have to utilize it this week to make my life easier.

Menu Plan for Week of 10/5/15
Monday:  Baked Chicken, bread and butter, peaches
Tuesday:  Chicken enchiladas (make filling in crock pot), Spanish rice w/ beans
Wednesday:  Pork steaks, baked potatoes, apple sauce (pork steaks and potatoes in crock pot)
Thursday:  Crock pot chicken, rice, green beans
Friday:  Pizza
Saturday:  Oktoberfest dinner (knockwurst, home made soft pretzels)
Sunday:  Leftovers
To bake:  Bread (Monday), orange rolls and muffins (Wednesday)

Desserts:  Raspberry Snow (if I can dial this in to American measurements and methods, I'll post the recipe), Jello w/dream whip topping, apple crisp.

Monthly Goals: October 2015

October is normally a time of year where I am preparing like mad for winter.  Making sure the rest of the canning is done that I have the furnace prepped for a winter of use, tire change overs on the cars and making sure we have good windshield wiper blades to scrape that snow off the windshield.

Well, it got cold earlier than it has the past couple of years, so the furnace got done early.  Canning was buttoned up, for now, in September.  Tire change overs and windshield wiper blades still need to be replaced, but I'm hoping to get to that soon.  Overall, though, I feel pretty good about where I'm sitting for winter preparations.

This month is also the month where I really start kicking Christmas gift making into high gear.  I try to get extended family done first so that in November and December I can concentrate on my husband and kids with gift making without worrying about being rushed (since I can only work on kid's gifts while they are in school or wreck the surprise).

So, onto the goals for this month!

Monthly Goals:  October 2015

Sewing Goals:
1.  Try to finish at least 1/2 of Christmas gifts for extended family.
2.  Mend two more comforters (my son is hard on things).
3.  Work on beginning quilt project for husband's Christmas gift.
4.  Finish fall themed table runner for kitchen table.
5.  Finish table cloth for coffee table.
6.  Make cloth napkins with leftover fall material.
7.  Embroider handkerchiefs for husband's Christmas gifts.
8.  Plan out embroidery for son's throw pillow for Christmas.

Cleaning Goals:
1.  Deep clean fridge.
2.  Empty kitchen cabinets.  Wipe down entire cabinets with Murphy's Oil Soap.
3.  Shampoo carpets, all.
4.  Clean wood furniture with Murphy's Oil Soap.

Household Goals: 
1.  Rearrange master bedroom. 
2.  Fix husband's recliner (cracking leather problems).
3.  Fix desk chair (needing to be rebuilt due to fake leather being shot, problems)
4.  Recaulk tubs.

Pantry Goals:
1.  Take detailed inventory of pantry.  Figure out any holes left in pantry goods.  Post list where I can easily update it as things are used to fill in holes as they appear.
2.  Put canner away.  Make list of canning needs for next year (inventory lids and pectin).

General Goals:
1.  Get Halloween more finalized plan-wise (a lot of this is hinging on whether my son passes his peanut tolerance test or not because for the first time my daughter might be able to go trick-or-treating and actually keep some candy!).
2.  Call on possible overcharge on bill.
And there you are folks.  My mostly complete list for this month (I have this nagging feeling I'm forgetting some things).  What's on your list this month?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Weekly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

So, I would have put "Monthly Goals Update" on the top of this post, buuuuutt I haven't exactly finished my goals for this month yet, so I figured I'd give a brief update on my weekly goals from last week and set my goals for this week.

I had a mixed bag when it came to getting goals done this week.  We got our PFD's earlier than I thought we would this year (normally it's about October 6th when we receive them), so my goals for last week took a back seat to getting a lot of back logged things done, such as vehicle registration renewals, going stock up grocery shopping, and other errands.  After being gone for the last week running around and then my husband having worked weekends for the last month and me having to field the kids...well my house looked like a Blitzkrieg hit it.  Not good to say the least.

So, yesterday I spent cleaning the house as much as I could handle with my husband at work and my kids in busy moods.  Today we spent doing yet more cleaning and I put up Halloween decorations with the kids, so sewing and other goals kind of took a back seat.

However, I did get some things done.  I got my counter tops cleaned off, deep cleaned and reorganized (one corner of which is seen above).

I found myself constantly a bit frustrated as I was always trying to coordinate my flour containers to be the same color and design.  You know, the way the "experts" tell you to to make your kitchen look glorious.  I have one complete set of Tupperware containers for your counter, but I kept finding myself needing to refill everything but the largest size of Tupperware a LOT and it just wasn't working for me.

So, I finally got fed up with it and decided going colorful was the way to go when it came to the kitchen.  I pulled out all of the large sized Tupperware I had and poured my flour, bread flour, sugar and rice into them and put them on my counter top.  Then, instead of small baskets to house my garlic and occasional onion, I decided to go with some Tupperware bowls I had instead.  I even placed my salt and coarse ground pepper into a couple of more colorful Tupperware mini-storage containers (not seen) that didn't have lids.  The kitchen is very cheerful looking now and I know exactly what container houses what by color, so it makes it easy when I'm reaching for say flour for something.  I was even able to fit a couple of pantry Tupperware containers in the corner that house different types of pasta (one houses angel hair/thin spaghetti/long noodles and the other one contains whatever shape I opened last and didn't use all of).

I completely gutted the pantry, again, and reorganized everything.  I got all of my non-food items out of the pantry in preparation of a lot of groceries getting bought and put back into it.  The new system works great and I was very happy with the results.

I got my table runner cut out and pinned, but haven't sewed it yet.  I'm hoping to get to that tomorrow, along with baking that desperately needs to get done.

I got some reorganizing done on my bedroom, but still have a lot to do there.  Once again, that's on the list this week as well.

I figured out where I was going to put the top of my desk that I have in preparation of moving the bottom downstairs.  I think it will work out okay in the new spot and it'll work out better as the top to my desk is, we think, meant more as a travel desk than an actual desk top (my great grandfather apprenticed at a furniture maker when he was a teen and made the desk out of two apprentice pieces that had been abandoned by other apprentices for his house.  The results were mixed, but is a neat back history to the piece :).

I did oil the sewing machine and replace the needle.  I'm hoping to get it in for servicing and deep cleaning sometime soon as well, but we'll see how it goes.

And I got the rest of the boxes in the corner of my bedroom emptied and taken to the used store.  It felt good getting rid of all of that clutter.

So, now onto this week's goals!

Sewing Goals:
1.  Finish table runner.  
2.  Work on small tablecloth for coffee table. 
3.  Make cloth napkins with leftover material from table runner.
4.  Make tea cozy out of leftover quilt material.  Make cloth coasters out of the rest.
5.  Mend three pairs of husband's jeans.
6.  Darn at least four pairs of socks.
Other Goals:
1.  Finish monthly goals list.
2.  Move desk pieces to their final resting places for now.
3.  Reorganize bedroom.
4.  Bake bread, orange rolls, muffins and make pot of oatmeal for breakfasts for the rest of the week.
5.  Strain oil from making fried chicken (tonight's impromptu dinner as I was out of leftovers to eat for said dinner) in preparation of making corn dogs for dinner later in the week.
6.  Dig out pretzel recipe to make husband's "Octoberfest" dinner later in the week.
7.  Organize printing papers so they are easier to get to.
And there you go.  My goals for this week.  Hopefully I'll have the monthly goals posted up within a couple of days.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Day before yesterday, we awoke here in Alaska to a very unwelcome sight.  Snow!  Winter, it seemed, decided to show it's ugly head early this year.  Okay, so there are those up here who actually, you know, "like" winter.  Me, not so much.  I think snow is lovely so long as I don't have to drive in it and unfortunately with my schedule I'm always driving in it.  And I don't like what the white stuff does to my utility bills either.  So, it was a somewhat depressing sight.  My husband jokingly said, "It never snows in September!"  (a WWII reference), but I wasn't as amused as I should have been.

Luckily, some money saving things are helping to offset the onset of winter for me.

1.  I have been turning down the heat at night.  Yup, the house gets cold, but the kids have their own baseboard heaters in their rooms that run all night and both like to sleep with their doors closed, so I didn't see the point in keeping an empty center of the house warm during the night.  The thermostat kicks the heat back up around 5:30 in the morning (thank goodness for programmable thermostats), so by the time the kids get up in the morning (most mornings) the house is once again warm.  I've noticed a definite drop in our gas consumption on our bill doing this, so "so far so good"!

2.  We went to a new allergist for a consultation on my son this week.  I talked to her at length about my son's peanut allergy and how it baffles me as I know that he ate peanuts ALL THE TIME before he was diagnosed three years ago and he's been accidentally exposed more than a few times throughout the years (usually at school...he grabs things and while they try to be careful things happen).  And taking peanuts out of his diet, or anything else for that matter, didn't help his skin one iota.  The doctor looked at his records and tended to agree with me that his main problem is probably environmental allergies the way his eczema is so bad, gave me some good tips and a new medication to try to alleviate his itching and we're going to be going in for a peanut tolerance test later in the month.  I pray he passes that test as well as I feel he will because that would end our dietary restrictions (at least allergy related ones) when it comes to him, which would be wonderful.  I'd love to be able to let him eat peanut butter again (which he loved) and get some protein back in his diet.  We'll be talking about allergy shots after we have the results of that test, so fingers are crossed on this one and prayers are sent in the hopes that this is meant to be.

3.  My husband needed to pick up some parts for his truck today, so we went to our local Chevy dealership to get them.  Usually this isn't exactly cost effective as dealerships are on average more expensive, but we were a part of a class action lawsuit against the dealership for fixing loan rates (which we bought our car right in the middle of the time period) whether we liked it or not (it was one of those "we're adding your name to this list" types of deals).  We ended up getting a check and a giftcard for services or parts along with it for 350.00 as part of their settlement.  This was years ago that the lawsuit occurred and my husband has used the giftcard very frugally throughout the last couple of years to get parts for the vehicles.  The giftcard is set to expire in a couple more months, so my husband went and got a few parts for his truck he needed.  We only have 35.00 left on the card now, but my husband figures he'll be able to get a few small things with what is left or a significant discount on some other parts he needs, so it'll work out.

4.  When our PFD's came in yesterday we knew some things we wanted to get done with it.  I went into the stores armed with a clipboard the last few days to make sure we got the items we needed without a lot of satellite items to eat up money that we didn't need to spend.  We went and got permanent registration on another one of our vehicles, which will save us a lot of money in the long run.   I had carefully picked out Christmas gifts for the kids months ago and was careful to make sure to watch the prices to make sure that we were getting the best deal possible when our PFD's came in to get the gifts ordered.  A couple of the gifts are sitting kind of high price-wise right now compared to how low they've gone before, so I'm going to sit on them in my cart for a while and see if they go back down in price.

5.  I just realized today that I've been wearing the same winter jacket since my first year of junior high (which was, to say the least a long time ago).  I have tried other jackets to replace my ski jacket, but they just don't work as well.  I felt the wind through the inner shell of the jacket today, but instead of worrying about getting a new jacket, I put the outer shell of the jacket on and got a can of tent water proofing spray at the store which I'm going to use on the children's and my winter jackets.  This not only will help to help with water repelling on the jackets, but will also help to seal up my jacket's seams and make it less likely to let the wind make me cold.  I'm really hoping to get a few more years out of that jacket as I do love the jacket.  With the outer shell on it seems to be working just fine, so that was a relief.

6.  Carrs was having value packs of chicken on sale today for 5.00.  They didn't have a weight limit imposed on the sale, so my husband and I dug through all of the value packs and picked out the five biggest packages of chicken drumsticks and thighs (we're dark meat people).  I'm going to split the packages (which are currently taking up about 90% of my fridge tonight *laugh*) tomorrow.  This will see us through a lot of meals.  For a 25.00 investment, it was totally worth it.

7. My husband and I went out for a date lunch yesterday as we were in the middle of running some our errands.  It has been years since my husband and I actually had a sit down lunch or dinner together so I really enjoyed it.  Maybe not the most frugal thing, but it did nourish our relationship, so I consider it worth the cost.  Course, we won't be doing that again anytime soon, but we enjoyed it anyway *laugh*.

8.  I fixed my daughter's shoe and my husband mended his boots.  "Shoe Goo" is such a wonderful invention!  It has saved me so much money over the years!

9.  By going through my pantry and cupboards carefully while making my shopping goals list, I found things I forgot I had while doing it, which helped me to cross things off of my list because I already had them.  It saved me from over-buying when we went out shopping so I was very glad I did it.

10.  I have been enjoying watching the series, "Coal House at War" on You Tube the last week.  I haven't gotten as far as I would like in the series, but so far I'm finding it very entertaining to watch.

11.  I took inventory of Christmas gifts I had while my kids were at school this last week and found a few things I forgot I had gotten.  This will save me work when it comes to making Christmas gifts in the coming months, so I was definitely thrilled to mark some people off of my list.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Monthly Shopping Goals: October 2015

Ah, October.  A month of Halloween preparation and enjoying the fall colors autumn presents.

Well, unless you are in Alaska.  Then you are working your tushie off preparing for winter (or in this case watching winter come early with snow falling yesterday).  And most importantly you are looking forward to PFD time (permanent fund dividend time).

We, as Alaskans get a chunk of change every year from the state of Alaska.  The amount is variable on how oil has done in the stock market over the last five years.  This year the amount of the PFD was a wonderful windfall for us as the monetary influx was desperately needed.  I quickly decided when I found out how much it was going to be that we were going to pump up savings as much as we could.  But, also equally important I was going to make a list of things to get on the shopping front to shore back up our pantry.  It has slowly been building over the last year, despite being so tight on money I felt like we were choking a lot of the time, but there was still so much left to do.  So, I decided that the PFD would be a good opportunity to make sure we shored up our pantry in a prudent manner.

So, in short, be prepared for one heck of a shopping list for this month.

I felt really blessed that I was able to check a bunch off of my shopping list before PFD's came in just by watching carefully and shopping sales.  I got green beans checked off of my list, for instance, in the last three weeks just by shopping sales at the stores.  I was able to get batteries on sale at Carrs (I got their generic brand which I'm hoping works okay...we shall see) and I was able to get some good  prices on things from to help get off cheaper for things than at the stores as well (such as Jello).

This shopping trip isn't to fill in the holes in my pantry, so much, but more like trying to plow some holes in for a while.  I'll still have some minor holes to fill later (such as I'd like to get more tomato bouillon and beef bouillon) but for the most part this should definitely help cut down my shopping bills from week to week as all I'll have to do is fill in holes created as we use things instead of trying to fill in huge gaps from living off the pantry from week to week (or in our case for nearly a year).  And I'll breath a sigh of relief that we have a decent amount of food in the pantry to last us for a while for when cash flow problems occur.

Shopping Goals for October 2015

Bulk Store:
  • AP flour (25 lb)
  • Sugar (25 lb)
  • Rice (50 lb)
  • Lemonade mix (1 big container)
  • Tang (1 big container)
  • Dehydrated Milk (1 box as I already have some cans sitting in the pantry)
  • Canned chicken (2 flats of six cans)
  • Canned Pork (1 flat of 4 cans, already got one in pantry)
  • Canned Beef (1 flat of 4 cans)
  • Corned Beef (1 flat of 3 cans)
  • Vienna Sausages (1 flat of 10 cans.  My husband loves these not so much, but it is meat if we need it).
  • Lemon Juice (2 large bottles)
  • Fruit Cocktail (2 flats)
  • Canned Pears (2 flats)
  • Canned Peaches (2 flats)
  • Evaporated milk (2 flats.  Already have two in pantry)
  • Shelf Stable Boxed milk (1 flat)
  • Diced Tomatoes (1 flat)
  • Tomato Paste (1 flat.  You can use tomato paste to make tomato sauce, so I figured it will save room in the pantry).
  • Black olives (2 flats)
  • Butter (1 package of 4 lbs)
  • Freezer Bags (1 bulk box of gallon freezer bags)
  • POM toilet paper (1 box)
  • Shortening (2 large tubs)
  • Hershey Bars (36 bars.  These help my husband's acid reflux, so I am going to buy in bulk for hopefully enough to last him most of the year).
  • Popcorn 
  • Honey
Regular Stores
  • Enchilada Sauce (4 cans, add four more later)
  • Chicken Bouillon (2 large containers) 
  • Beef bouillon (1 container.  One in pantry)
  • Tomato bouillon (1 container)
  • Potatoes (10 lbs)
  • Carrots (2 lbs)
  • Turnips (4 lbs.  Blanch and freeze.)
  • Deodorant (2 containers of husband's and my deodorant)
  • Benadryl (for both children and adults)
  • Shampoo (at least 1 container ahead)
  • Soap (40 bars of soap at least, planning mainly on getting Ivory as that's our day to day soap.  I am officially stockpiling soap after reading all the accounts of Britain in WWI and WWII and how hard soap was to come by.  In case of economic downturn bar soap can be shaved to make laundry soap and can be used to do dishes as well as washing you.  It's worth stockpiling.  It also doesn't go bad and the longer it sits the harder it gets.  Totally worth it).
  • Corn Starch (2 large containers.  Our bulk store hasn't carried this the last few times I've been there, so I'm planning on getting it at the regular store).
  • Mixed vegetables, canned (12 cans.  Wait for sale).
  • 4 value packs of chicken (5.00 Friday this week at Carrs) 
  • Paper towels (wait for sale)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Coffee
  • Canned Brown Bread
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Jello (Raspberry and Berry flavors)
  • Thyme (bulk container)
  • Christmas presents for kids from the "S" man (I love shopping online for my son as there are so many more sensory toys online than at like Target). 
Other Stores:
  • Parts for husband's truck.
  • Recharge cell phone minutes (I have like 30 left right now)
  • Service sewing machine (basic maintenance.  Taking it in and getting it cleaned and serviced by a professional.  Not cheap, but it's a necessary tool to keep in good working order, so it's worth the investment).