Friday, April 29, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Starts

First, this is your last chance to enter the Invisible Glass Giveaway, so be sure to enter if you want to!  I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow!

Well, this week has been depressing on the money front.  The lack of work this month combined with my husband being sick with his teeth and foot and other things and our income was down by about half of what it normally would be if my husband was working.  Which means, we'll be able to make the mortgage and the care credit payment to get my husband's teeth done next week.  Past that money is going to be super tight till next pay period and even then I have to somehow start to make up ground to make the utilities, the insurance and then dig up money for residual bills that need to get paid like licensing fees and car registrations.  I know I'll make it work somehow, but I've been dealing with discouragement and "being broke burnout" this week for sure.

Anyway, due to money being non-existent (if you say that with a tinge of bitter sarcasm it somehow comes across as me I'm laughing in my own head) I quickly realized what few goals I had when it came to the garden were most definitely shot to the moon in a big ol' cannon.  Luckily, one of our awesome blog readers (really is there any other type?  I might be biased but you all are great :) reached out and offered me some seeds (thanks, Jeannie!)  and more important still advice and guidance from an experienced gardener (of which I still have a LOT to learn in that area).

The shot of the garden all worked over and about 3/4 planted is above.  Thanks to some of the really cool varieties of plant seeds that Jeannie sent me I got some neat "shake it up" fun seeds planted that I hope will bear fruit (or veggies in this case).

In the far bed (which you only get to see about 3/4 of here due to the camera angle) I planted peas (in the back so I can stake them later and grow them vertical), swiss chard in the center row and spinach up front.  This area of the garden tends to stay in shadow more than the other areas, so I'm HOPING the peas grow okay, but I'm pretty sure the chard and the spinach will do alright.

In the middle bed the garlic was already growing, so I stuck a couple of sprouting potatoes in the ground and then planted some bunching onions up front (think green onions).  In the third bed I have a couple rat tailed radishes (one of my "ooooo neat!" finds in Jeannie's seeds she sent), some carrots (a couple of small rows of them) and some Chinese varieties of cabbage (small varieties that don't take up much room).  I've still got a few feet of space left to plant some things in the actual garden, which I'm honestly hoping to just go and grab a four pack of lettuce at the green house and call it good for the time being.  I've also got some planters that I dug out of my shed that I'm hoping to plant some more cabbages in.  The front planters will house hopefully some herbs (basil I'll be growing inside this year after my disastrous failure growing it outside last year), some edible flowers and a few pansies (daughter's request as she REALLY wants flowers).

In the front bed (of which I was too tired to go in and get new batteries for the camera when the batteries died, so you'll have to wait for a few pictures of that *laugh*) the chocolate mint I feared to be a goner as it wasn't coming up at all, but I dug around a little bit yesterday and found some signs of life (yay!).  The chives are doing GREAT this year in that bed...they are already about 4 inches high or so.  I was thrilled.  The pineapple sage plant, of which I didn't like fresh for much and dried tasted like grass (grumble) ended up being a waste of money and it created such a tight and HUGE root system that I'm going to have to go down with my gardening tools and really do some work to get the soil ready to plant something there (I'm thinking rosemary as it will help scare away the MULTITUDES of bugs that accumulate in that area).    So, yeah, I'm probably looking at about maybe 8.00 in plants total for the garden and beds this year and the rest are going to be seeds.

And this also links into other ways I saved money this week, so let's get that show on the road!

1.  I went to Lowes last weekend and we picked up planters and dirt for the garden as well as the diatomaceous earth to spread around the house.  Well, we both had sticker shock at the total and when I got home I immediately started digging up ANYTHING that I could possibly use as a planter for the year (warning:  Some things I end up planting in this year you might find interesting *laugh*) and managed to return the planters to Lowes on Monday.  My husband insisted I keep the dirt as he was planning on renting a rototiller but in case he didn't he wanted me to have the dirt (I was thinking I'd dig up the yard with a spade if I had to, but we'll see how that goes).

So, due to money we realized the rototiller wasn't going to happen, so I was figuring I might as well plant the planters.  But, something told me to keep putting off planting and I'm glad I listened as today my husband and I ran to Home Depot to get parts for a job of his and I picked up the ad to find that dirt was on sale there WAY cheaper than what I had paid at Lowes!  We took the dirt back to Lowes and got a refund and ran over to Home Depot and were able to get double the amount of soil PLUS a bag of manure for the same price as I'd paid for that one bag of soil, which was doubly great because I realized that I was probably going to need more dirt and was trying to figure out where to find the money for it!  Glad I checked that ad :).

2.   I went to the Cooperative Extension Service this week and turned in my one All American (I was mistaken in the brand last time I posted) canner to get tested for free.

While there I ran into a cool find.  Well several as, like every time I run into the Cooperative Extension Service, I raided their publication wall *laugh* so I got a ton of cool papers with recipes and advice on different things on them.

I have kept putting off finishing the bag holder for the pantry and I kept going back and forth about just making some reusable shopping bags as I was just getting tired of the store bags falling apart all the time.  But, I didn't want to pay .99 a piece for the reusable ones at the store and while I love the idea of sewing some of my own totes for the store I wasn't really keen on using up my material right now to make some.  So, I just ended up in this weird holding pattern on what to do.

But, while I was at the Cooperative Extension Service (getting back to the story at hand now that you have a major plot point there ;) I saw that they had just BOXES of reusable green shopping bags.  I asked the gal at the desk how much they were, hoping they would be cheaper than the store ones and her reply was wonderful, "Oh they're free.  Take as many as you want!"  Those words made my day!  I grabbed six of them and I think I might grab a few more when I go to pick up my canner after testing (as I tend to lose at least two while grocery shopping just to milk and Coke right now).  It was great being able to fit all of my groceries in a few bags and haul them all in at once without worries of things breaking on me.

Also while having a conversation with a friend of mine I heard about a program through the department of agriculture that you could get a grant to build a hoop house (unheated green house).  My husband and I went and checked out the preliminaries while we were at the cooperative extension service, stopped by the USDA and got the paperwork started on getting one.  It's a reimbursement grant (they will repay you like 90% of the cost of the hoop house though), so I'm thinking it's kind of a hopeless dream for a few years, but at least we have a farm and tract number for future reference now.

3.  My son's new communication app came with a program to share the settings between I-Pad's, but I only had it for a week and it was going to cost me 50.00 to pay for a year of it.  I wanted the school and the new I-Pad to match, but I wasn't sure if the 50.00 would be worth it with how little of the school year was left and all.  I was blessed in that my son's teacher got the assistive technology person to come in and they got the I-Pad's matching today and they said that so long as school was in session I could bring the I-Pad in any time to update the two I-Pads so they matched.  So, that event definitely saved me money and made me feel better as LAMP is based on motor memory, so me messing with keys and things could really confuse my son.  So having the keys match was definitely a good thing.

4.  My daughter went to a free event at the school with my husband last night for a reading camp.  She got to see a great horned owl from the zoo and have the gal tell the kids the story of how the owl came to be homed there and everything.  My daughter, who is currently obsessed with all things animal, LOVED it!

5.   My friend gave me her Freebie Friday things from Fred Meyer, so I grabbed those this week (thanks, Stephanie!).

6.  I have spent a good portion of the week cleaning out things from the freezer that needed to be used up, which made me feel good to get those used up before they went bad.

7.  I decided, due to lack of money and me knowing we aren't going to able to do anything for Mother's Day (again *sigh*) that the best thing I can think of to do is that we're going to work on the yard.  It'll make me feel good getting something accomplished, my son will hopefully have his first dose of allergy shots down him so hopefully won't be breaking out in welts and he can play in the yard with my daughter and maybe we can start to reclaim some of the yard and make it bigger.  It would at least make me feel better knowing something got done for a change and all it will really take is time and effort to get it done...which THAT I can afford!

8.  I used up a lemon and made lemon blueberry cake (this recipe is easy.  Take a boxed cake mix.  First, zest a lemon and put the zest aside.  Whatever water your cake mix calls for, like mine called for 1 cup, juice one lemon into a measuring cup and then fill the rest of the way with water until you reach your liquid measure for your cake mix.  Once you've mixed up the cake mix according to package directions add the zest to the batter and mix again.  Now, if you want blueberries that are really tasty but don't turn your cake blue, take 1/3 to 1/2 cup dehydrated blueberries (depending on how many blueberries you like in your cake) and toss them lightly in flour for a few seconds and then mix into the cake batter (this stops them from sinking to the bottom of the cake).  Bake the rest of the way according to directions.

Then take one block of softened cream cheese and throw it into a mixer with some schnoz to it and add 4 cups powdered sugar.  Mix until combined.  This is the BEST cream cheese frosting (really!) and is really easy to remember how to make it *laugh*).  Put that on top of your cake and enjoy!  My husband and I keep resisting eating more and more cake ;).

9.  Now that the light is coming back big time, it's been really easy to keep the lights turned off during the day and instead of turning on the children's lights in the morning to get them up all I have to do is open their curtains.  This is also stopping my daughter to fight her natural instincts to cloister herself in her room like a vampire, which is a double benefit.

10.  I used a couple of tips on making printer ink last longer to get more ink out of my printer which allowed me to print the necessary ream of paperwork that I need to fill out to get a new case coordinator in the works for my son's insurance.  Now I have a fun thing to do while my husband is in having his root canals done next week.  Half hearted "yay" here.

11.  Instead of paying for at tire change over (of which we can't afford right now) I asked my husband to check my tires and see if there are even enough studs left to bother with getting said tires changed.  We think that there are so few left it's probably going to be best to pull the studs and just have to buy new winter tires this year.  Sucks, but with two winters of not a lot of snow and this winter had good amounts of ice...the studs did their job and just got shot doing it.

So, there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week (and I'm sure I'm missing some honestly).  How did you do?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

Well, when it came to shopping trips this week went well, I have to say.

I hit Carrs and Fred Meyer this week for different things and oddly enough Coke and Doritos weren't on my list this week again.  I managed to eek out the meager amounts of Coke we had around here to last the rest of the week and I found two bags of Doritos that had gotten shoved into the kitchen cabinets instead of into the pantry (I'm thinking I was tired, harried and not thinking straight when I did that...because I know that I DID that), so we were covered for the week with those things.

I hit both stores on Friday, mainly to take advantage of the fact that strawberries were still on sale at Fred Meyer for 3.99 for a two pound container.  So, I grabbed one of the only ones that wasn't really nasty looking (they were definitely getting down to the bottom of the proverbial barrel when it came to strawberries)  and I found that they had a bunch more apples being put out by the produce guy.  So, I grabbed the heaviest ones (you want to get odd looks?  Take clearance bags of apples over the scale and start weighing them one at a time to find the ones that are the heaviest out of all of the bags).  I also grabbed tortillas while I was there as they are about 2.00 cheaper there than buying them normal price at Carrs (and I had a coupon to make them even cheaper yet).

I found a bunch of things on reduced at Fred Meyer while I was there too, other than produce!  Boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch for 1.69 per box.  Corn flakes for 1.89 for a big box.  The only type of pop tarts that my son will eat (it was a treat for him as his allergies have been flaring pretty bad lately) for 1.69 for the box.  Tuna fish for .49 per can.  Boxed crushed tomatoes for .49 per box, a thing of crushed pineapple for .59.  Green beans for .39.  A thing of Cream of Mushroom Soup (that I used to top some pork chops for dinner that night) for .69 for the can.  I even managed to find a box of tissues (my son's classroom teacher sent home a list of things they had run out of and tissues was one of the requested items, so I picked those up and brought them in) for .99.  It was cool!

I then ran to Carrs for 5.00 Friday and got shredded mozzarella for 2.50 lb (this was for the manicotti I was scoping out to have for dinner this week) and some string cheese (2.50 personalized price).  Eggs for 2.49 for a dozen jumbo eggs (these things keep fresh WAY longer than the large or medium eggs I can get anywhere else...why I'm not sure, but I'm not complaining!) and two gallons of milk.  I also picked up tuna salad for my son (1.58 per container personalized price, so I stocked up) one more box of pasta being on sale for .75 and two gallons of milk for 2.99 each with the in-ad coupon (I got the last ad too to get the coupon!).  I hit the reduced carts and I managed to dig up another box of corn flakes this one for 1.25 after the discount was taken.  Corn flakes is a cereal that my daughter will eat, my husband and I both like and we're working on getting my son to eat in feeding therapy, so I was thrilled to get boxes of it so cheap.

Total spent between the two stores, once coupons were applied (of which I had a few) was 51.30 (including the 2.00 off 10.00 of produce coupon that Fred Meyer had sent me a couple of months ago before it expired on me and a personalized rewards coupon for 2.00/2 tortillas coupon, which made the packages of tortillas .69 per package).

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that Bushes and Bunches had strawberries cheap as well as cases of bananas for 10.00.  We ran over Saturday and I walked up to check out what they had left for strawberries.  They were priced at 9.00 per case, which I was happy to pay anyway, but the gal who was working up front was picking moldy strawberries out of the cases (which is why they were so cheap) and I offered to help (never been afraid to get my hands dirty).  She gladly accepted my help and I went through and picked out all the of moldy strawberries I could find for her.  We picked out the four cleanest containers and put them into a crate for me to buy.  I decided to forego a case of bananas (although I was tempted) as I knew that I wasn't going to use 40 lbs of bananas before they went bad on me and honestly every SINGLE time I save over ripe bananas in the freezer the only way they get used is if I have like four in the freezer and that's it.  Otherwise I start getting over run by them.  I probably could have bought it and dried them, but I'm the only one around here that will eat dried bananas, so that would be a lot of dried fruit to eat.

Anyway, tangent aside they did have bunches of bananas for .50 per lb (that's cheap up here) so I grabbed one of those and went up to the counter to pay.  The gal who was working the counter was flagged over by the gal I had helped with the moldy strawberries as they'd just sold the last of the strawberries.  Next thing I know the gal is ringing up my strawberries at 6.00 and I pointed out her mistake saying that the case should be 9.00.  She just smiled and said that the other gal had told her about me helping with the moldy strawberries and that had probably helped them to sell the rest of the strawberries before they went bad, so they had given me a discount.  I was thrilled :).

So all totaled this week I spent 57.89 on groceries for the week (I still haven't had to pull the other loaves of bread and things we got from the Franz outlet from the freezer yet, so I'm not counting that on this week's grocery shopping).  None too shabby especially considering I got 28 cups of cleaned and sliced strawberries from those strawberries (2 cups ended up being desserts and snacks while the other 24 cups went into 8 cup portions and put into the freezer for strawberry preserves later and 2 cups I froze in a separate freezer bag for future snack/dessert fodder).

Now I have to make apple pie filling (it's been a rough week and I haven't gotten to that yet) and maybe some more strawberry preserves.  As "putting up for winter" preparations go, I have to say that at least ONE thing is going well so far.  Here's hoping it continues!

How did you all do for grocery shopping this week?  Find any good deals?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Menu Plan for the Week of 4/25/16

Ugh.  I actually DID have the menu all planned out for this week.  On SATURDAY!  I was so proud.  I was going to post it up yesterday, but we had a family emergency (son had a really nasty allergic reaction to something at school and broke out in head to toe welts and his eyes started swelling.  Luckily we avoided the epi-pen, but we now have an appointment to start allergy shots for him come the beginning of May.  It needed to be done at this point).  So, I was kind of distracted worrying about a child and didn't get to post this up yesterday.  But, hey, this post will be fast as a result *laugh*.

This week I'm using up some things that I found when I finally got down to the depths of my refrigerator freezer.  I found another bag of pesto pucks from last year (I thought I was out), a lowly bag of tomato sauce I had frozen from the garden produce last year (once again, thought I was out) and I found a couple of really cool gems in the mix too that I'm hoping to use up over the next couple of weeks (like hamburger!).

Menu Plan for Week of 4/25/16
Monday:  Club sandwiches (we ate leftovers last week and I didn't get to make these until yesterday.  They were yummy!).

Tuesday:  Easy Manicotti (I'll share this recipe hopefully this week.  It's non-traditional, but really good.  Everyone I've ever shared the recipe with loves it :).

Wednesday:  Pork chops, easy potatoes gratin (didn't make this last week either due to a LOT of leftover baked potato soup.  I used this recipe, but used some of my box of potatoes to make it.  It turned out REALLY thin even after mashing potatoes into the broth, so I took a corn starch slurry to thicken it.  I also used ham instead of bacon to flavor it with.  It came out tasty although the left overs were pretty salty tasting), green beans.

Thursday:  Chicken Pesto Pasta (use pesto pucks in freezer).

Friday:  Pancakes with cinnamon syrup, bacon, eggs
Saturday:  Meatballs in white sauce over pasta (use ground beef and ground turkey for meat).  Salad.

Sunday:  Hamburgers, french fries, fruit cocktail.
 Desserts:  Winging that one this week!  Maybe cake...still up in the air.

To make/prepare:  Canning stuff takes precedence this week.

There you go folks.  My menu plan for the week.   How about you?  Anything cool going on in your kitchen this week?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

This week has been busy, so let's get to some of the things I managed to accomplish.

I finished mending the quilt I got a while back.  About 1/2 way through mending the quilt I went from calling her, "old gal" to "Stitches" as she really is a good portion of mending stitches at this point.  I gave up on the embroidery for now as some of the quilt is kind of weak in the material, so I am going to concern myself more with finding material that would work as a mending fabric should said fabric give finally instead of embroidering the quilt.

The shot above is one of the average panels on Stitches about 1/2 way through mending the panel.  This was a pretty big mending job!  Even the edges had seams that gave way over time.  Whoever made the quilt didn't really allow themselves too big of a seam allowance and they just weakened over time and gave from the looks of it.  Someone before me had done a lot of mending to the quilt as well, but at some point had given up mending the quilt and just let it go South.

And now here is Stitches in her new home on the back of the couch.  I think she looks really nice there :).

2.  I got the pantry part of the way rearranged so I will be able to fit more home canned goods in it, which is just in time as I got some more canning to do this week.  And I got the applesauce put away neat and tidy in the pantry as well.

3.  I tore my son's bed completely apart, vacuumed his mattress well and scrubbed it down with some heavy duty cleaning agents to kill any wayward spores or anything that might be on it anywhere (son is really allergic to mold right now).  I also moved the bed around temporarily so that I could shampoo where he bed had a couple of times to get ground in things out of his carpet.  Moving the room back is on the goals for this week.

4.  I got my husband through his dental appointment, which has led to a lot of monetary anxiety on my part the last little bit as I'm trying to figure out how to suck blood from a rock right now with how many reduced hours my husband has been working.  But, I am glad that they managed to save his tooth instead of having to pull it, so I'm definitely looking at the bright side on that one.

Other than finishing mending the quilt, I honestly didn't get any of my sewing goals done, although I did darn a few socks at the dentist office.

So, onto the goals for this week.

Cleaning Goals:
  • Scrub walls in son's room and clean ceiling fan well.
  • Try and scrub walls in daughter's room and organize toys better (weed).
  • Shampoo downstairs carpets.
  • Vacuum master bedroom mattress.

Canning Goals:
  • Make and can apple pie filling
  • Make orange marmalade and can.
  • Can other things if I find time.
 Garden Goals:
  • Get soil out of yard to fill planters.
  • Plant seeds that need to be started indoors.
  • Plant seeds that can be directly sewed into soil that are rated for decently cold weather (as it's still frosting at night pretty regularly still).
  • If it can be swung, plant seeds in planters and figure out where to place them on the back deck this summer (as the spider mites are officially back...found them crawling up the side of the house already and had to spread Diatomaceous Earth around the perimeter of the house and I'm figuring up on the second floor is hopefully going to be safer for the planters then sitting in the yard).
General Goals:
  • Take first pressure canner to Cooperative Extension Service for testing (I have an American Standard pressure cooker that my husband found in an abandoned building that was left over from a yard sale at some point in time, so I want to see if they can test it to see if I can use it as an actual pressure cooker without buying a bunch of parts for it).  Talk to cooperative extension service about grants or other things that might help us out in expanding our garden.
  • Make trip to home improvement store to make returns.
  • Work on system for mending husband's recliner.
  • Work on sewing goals if I can find time (I'm really thinking I'm going to be busy with other things this week, though).
  • Work on Goals and Shopping Goals (of which there will be extreme minimum of those) for May.
So there you are.  My goals, as they stand, for the week.  How about you?  Up to anything this week?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Thank goodness, as money saving weeks go this one went better than last week.  No eating out, grocery shopping went well and overall it went alright.

Ways I saved money this week?

1.  I turned up the garden this week to help to condition the soil for planting and I discovered a neat find I wasn't expecting.  Three garlic plants that survived me harvesting the garlic last year (the above is actually one plant, but has three offshoots...I'm going to be interested in how that plays out)!  I discovered them, unfortunately, when I dug up the garden thinking they were grass, but I immediately transplanted the ones I found and hoped they would survive.  So far two out of the three are doing pretty well (hard to tell how the other one is doing so far as it was still just coming out of the ground when I accidentally pulled it up), so here's hoping they stay that way.  If not, I didn't lose anything so I won't be too upset either way.  But if they survive, yay unexpected garlic!

2.  Speaking of the garden...I had a plan which has kind of gotten derailed the last bit when I found out how much dental bills were going to cost, so I'm having to rethink my strategy.  Normally I plan on about 50.00 between soil and seedlings, but I'm going to be looking at less than that this year to save money (we'll see how it goes).  So, I'm going to be starting some seeds this week inside (as it's still frosting outside at night) in...some type of planter as I don't have seed starting kits or anything, so I am going to get creative and see how it goes.  I'm going to use the old soil from some of my planters to start the seeds, so that will save me a bit of money at the start as well.  The only plants I'm figuring on getting right now are a few cabbage plants and that's an "iffy" type of deal and maybe a few herb plants.  Otherwise I'm going to be gambling on seeds, which I pray grow well and are plentiful.  I'm going to attempt to dig up things that will work as planters around here where I can and otherwise it'll be a matter of hitting the home improvement stores trying to find good deals on planters and soil.  I have faith that I can do this cheap and actually expand my garden beyond what it has been in past years as I really do want to put up as much as I can for winter and enjoy as many fresh vegetables and things as we can this summer.
3.  I got strawberries cheap this week and had planned to make strawberry jam out of them, but couldn't find the one box of pectin that I was sure I had somewhere, so instead I decided to make strawberry preserves out of the strawberries instead.  Strawberry preserves are like jam, except a bit more chunky and you make them the old fashioned way...with strawberries and sugar and that is it with lots of cooking down until the mixture reaches the gel stage.  I was kind of worried about doing this as in the past I've always either overcooked jam into a kind of solid brick by double guessing myself on the gel test or I'd end up with strawberry sauce because I didn't do it long enough.  I studied my Ball book to get a better idea of how the sheeting from a spoon test should look and by following the directions to the letter I was able to, for the first time, achieve a good gel on my preserves! I was proud I'll admit it.

4.  I shopped sales and used coupons to get the most out of my money.

5.  I requested some free samples this week, which if I get half of them I'll be happy as there are things like free cat food, free magazine subscriptions and other things I could use or would enjoy (thanks for the tip offs on some of those, Stephanie!!!).

6.  Instead of running out and buying wide mouth mason jar lids when I was running low, I quickly hit my kitchen and pantry cabinets and found any jar that was getting empty and had a wide mouthed lid that was still good (never sealed before) and I used up the contents or switched them to Tupperware and grabbed the jar lids to use for canning.  I managed to dig up an additional 12 lids this way, which will definitely come in handy.  And it saved me 4.00 or more by not having to buy them at the store, so yay!!!

7.  I darned some socks this week. 

8.  I sat down while my husband was in the dentist chair and not only showed a younger woman how to darn socks (she was fascinated at what I was doing, so I showed her how to do it), but I also sat down with some cookbooks and bookmarked things that looked interesting for upcoming menus.  I find this really saves me money in the long run, as when I do it I also mark on a pad of paper what recipes I liked and what book and page of said book they were on.  This allows me to quickly peruse my list for upcoming menus so that things don't get too boring (at least I hope).

9.  I was reading on Blue House Journal where Terri used empty bread bags to store meat in when she froze it instead of using freezer bags.  I really liked the idea, since with my son I end up with a lot of hot dog bun  bags, so I've started using bread bags in the same way.  Although since I tend to store like types of meat together in a freezer bag (I'll put them into one freezer bag and then put those freezer bags into an outer freezer bag to keep them a bit more organized),  I wrap the meat in the bread bag and then put those into a freezer bag marked with the type of meat they are.  It's been working really well and I plan on keeping up with this habit!

10.  I won a contest this week on the Ball Facebook page.  I was one of fifty winners to get some dissolvable labels from the contest.  It was a small thing to win, but I was still really thrilled as I don't win things, so it was neat to finally win something :).  And it'll help make my jars just a little prettier, so hey I'm happy about it!

11.  We ended up eating a lot of leftovers for lunch this week to not only save money, but also to make sure things don't go to waste.

And there you go folks.  Some of my frugal adventures for the week.  How did you do?

Oh and hey, speaking of potentially frugal things you can do, have you entered the Invisible Glass Giveaway yet?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

 Well as shopping went this week actually went pretty well!

I went to several stores this week, so let me break it down a bit.

First off, I hit Fred Meyer on Sunday as we were in the area getting my son some french fries.  I wanted to hit Fred Meyer because as part of their Customer Appreciation sale they had two pounds of strawberries for 3.99 each.  I grabbed two to make strawberry jam with.  When I got home I looked everywhere and couldn't find the one thing of pectin I swear I have somewhere (I really need to get some more anyway, but I figured I could get by for now).  To save the strawberries I cleaned and sliced them and stuck them in the freezer temporarily.

After doing some research I figure I'll just make the strawberries into strawberry preserves instead.  I can do that with just strawberries and sugar, it saves me from having to purchase a 3.00 thing of pectin, so therefore cheaper.  I'm hoping to do that tomorrow.

Total spent for the strawberries 7.98

I also found a bag of Purina One cat food marked down to 3.96.  I had a 2.00/1 E-Coupon loaded and desperately needed dry cat food so for a 3 lb bag I paid 1.96. 

The rest of my shopping for the week occurred yesterday.

My husband and I hit the Franz outlet to get bread and goodies for my son.  We got two big loaves of whole wheat bread, two loaves of white bread, some brown and serve bread sticks, two things of hot dog buns and one thing of English muffins.  We also got a thing of hamburger buns as well.  Total spent was 12.25, but that was two week's worth of bread (at least) so I'm only counting 6.00 on this week's grocery shopping from that trip.

The rest of my shopping can be seen above.  I hit Fred Meyer looking for a product they ended up being out of, but I found a bunch of stuff on reduced cheap.  I got cans of beans for .39 per can, cans of cat food for .29 per can, cans of spinach (not my favorite veggie canned, but it works okay in soups and things) for .49 per can and a thing of stuffing marked down to 1.12.  I also needed dish washing rinse aid and found that they had Cascade rinse aid on mark down on the shelf for 1.55 a piece.  That's CHEAP, so I grabbed 4 of them (well honestly that was all I could reach while climbing the shelf safely or I would have grabbed a few more...short people...the struggle is real).  The only thing regular price I got at Fred Meyer was the Cameo cleaner that I needed and shampoo.  We were running low and 4 bottles will last us quite a while.  The Dipitizers were free from Freebie Friday last week.

I then ran to Carrs to get the rest of the shopping for the week done.  Highlights included milk for 2.99 a gallon with the in-ad coupon this week (limit of 2 per coupon), Hunts BBQ sauce for 1.25 per bottle on sale (no coupon needed) and pasta for .75 per box on sale (once again, no coupon needed).  I was thrilled to hit these sales as we were starting to run low on BBQ sauce and we can always use pasta with how much of it we end up going through around here.  I also got a free thing of Chobani yogurt with an E-Coupon, but it's not shown because I had left it in the bag and didn't realize it until after I was putting the groceries away.  The Chobani yogurt was cool because the computer not only gave it to me for free, but it took off the regular price of the yogurt, vs the sale price, so I got .34 of overage that I wasn't expecting.

So, all totaled for those shopping trips I spent 34.50.

Final price for the week's shopping:  50.44

 Not too bad, really.  Tomorrow, since we'll be on a new week, I have to go and get things like Doritos for my son, which always makes the grocery bill go up quickly, but I feel like I did decent this week.

How is your shopping going lately?  Any cool finds?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Invisible Glass: A Review and a Giveaway

First, a disclaimer:  The makers of Invisible Glass were nice enough to send me a package of products to test out in exchange for this review.  The opinions of said products in this review, however, are 100% mine.

Right, now that the legal stuff is out of the way, as you all know I've been trying really hard to get Spring cleaning done around here.  I've been having mixed success with it, although I am happy to say that shampooing the carpets about fifteen times does seem to actually be helping my son's eczema for a change, so yay!

One of my least favorite, yet most rewarding, tasks this time of year is cleaning all the glass in the house.  You know, windows, doors, deep cleaning with a Q-tip around the frames of mirrored cabinets in the bathroom (seriously if I'm the only one who is anal retentive enough to do this, please don't tell me...the shmutz that builds up just drives me nuts, what can I say?).   So, when Invisible Glass contacted me and asked if I'd like to review their products I jumped at the chance to try out ANY glass cleaning product, let alone one that would supposedly clean up streak free.

I'm taking the following from some of the cleaning tip sheets/attachments they sent me in my e-mail to give you an idea of what Invisible Glass is all about...
"It’s getting warmer and for many of us that means spring cleaning. 80% of people who spring clean will be focused on cleaning windows (, but that often means a tedious task involving squeegees, newspapers, vinegar, or unreliable soapy cleaners that leave streaky residues and more attract dust and dirt. Invisible Glass® is working hard to making glass cleaning easier!

An independent study from the Advanced Materials Research Center – the same organization that has tested Corning Glass for the past 30 years – has shown the new Invisible Glass® EZ Grip glass cleaner was the only glass cleaner tested to clean completely streak free!

Many other products clean but can’t leave glass clear. Common cleaners deposit microscopic solids from soaps, scents, and dyes that leave residues on the surface causing streaks. And what’s worse, these residues attract dust and dirt to your glass.

Invisible Glass® is designed specifically for glass surfaces. The ClearDry™ formula is free from soaps, scents, and dyes so it evaporates quickly and completely leaving your windows, doors, tables, mirrors, and other glass surfaces streak-free and clean. "
 When I finally got the products in the mail and opened up my package I looked at the can of spray and knew IMMEDIATELY what I could acid test this product on.

This, my friends, is my son's mirrored closet and it looks like this a lot because he LOVES to smear anything glass, but especially mirrors (and I honestly encourage it as at least it's making him interact with himself in the mirror, thus getting some body recognition practice in).

 I have to say that I was a bit skeptical of the product after reading the directions.  Don't use paper towels because of streaking agents, be sure to use a lint free cloth, etc.  After reading the directions and all I was wondering if perhaps this was just another glass cleaner with a new spin on it to seem more impressive by adding extra directions (okay, so I'm skeptical by nature, what can I say).  But I wanted to give the product a true test so I grabbed one of the home made dish towels I had that I knew was lint free and hadn't been washed in anything that would create streaks (we don't use fabric softener, etc) and got to cleaning.

So what were my reactions to this product?

Well first I noticed a HUGE pro with the EZ Grip Spray.  I know, I know, you can't refill it like you can a traditional spray bottle.  But, I have small hands, like teeny tiny and my pinkies in particular suffer from lack of fluid in my joints, so spray bottles can quickly become like torture devices to me as I'm cleaning.  Even aerosol spray bottles start to hurt my hands pretty quickly as I'm using them.  This bottle was a BREEZE to use, was easy to spray the trigger, wasn't hard to hold said trigger down and because it was basically an aerosol spray you got really good coverage right away when you sprayed it.  I fell in love with the bottle right away when my hands weren't immediately screaming protests to me as I was spraying.

Next I noticed that where I sprayed the spray didn't immediately start running down the closet doors so you're doing that one man race with your cleaning rag to stop it from running down the door and onto your carpet before you can get the spray to stay on your cleaning surface and go where you needed it to go.  Actually I was able to start at the top of the door and work my way down as I went and the spray was waiting for me and not the other way around, which was a really nice change of pace.    And there wasn't the noxious smell of ammonia that is so prevalent with window cleaners and I wasn't smelling that really pungent smell of vinegar either.  This spray, to me, didn't seem to have much of a scent.

The best perk I found was how the spray actually worked on greasy finger prints.  Normally with glass cleaners I'm sitting there scrubbing for what seems to be hours and getting hand cramps spraying the towel, the door/window/mirror and whatever I can so that I might get the majority of the finger prints off the surface I'm working on.  This spray, for lack of a better explanation, seemed to stick to the greasy finger prints and really cut through the grease, so cleaning them off was SO much easier than other cleaning sprays.

Check out the door after cleaning (I actually had to angle so that the panels in the door were completely visible otherwise it really did look like I was just taking a picture of the room...the door came out THAT clean).

I did have to put about three applications of the spray on the door (my son had smeared Vaseline on the door after he'd gotten moisturized a couple of makes for wonderful cleaning duties when I do his closet every week I'll tell you what), but I was able to get the door cleaned and streak free (at least to my discerning eye I couldn't find any) within ten minutes.  THAT to me was the best part.  I've never not been sitting there scrubbing at my son's closet door for less than 20 minutes, so this stuff cut my cleaning time in half!

My husband assures me the cleaning tool works fine as he immediately claimed it to clean the glass in his car  *laugh* and I've used the lens cleaner wipes they sent on my son's I-Pad screen, our TV screen and my glasses and I have to say that I have no complaints on the lens wipes.  They seem to work well, although I don't really have a lot of products to compare the product to as I don't buy lens cleaner wipes, but the product did what it said it would do.

The only cons I can really name with the Invisible Glass is the inability to refill the spray bottle with the EZ Grip bottle (but for me the pros outweigh on the cons on that, especially if you have arthritis or other conditions going on)  and also the cost as I didn't really look to see how much this stuff would normally cost to buy.  But, overall, if the cost is anywhere close to normal window cleaners (honestly, I'd pay a couple of bucks extra to get this stuff for the sake of my poor hands and really I don't see myself having to use as much of this spray as normal window cleaner, so I'm thinking one bottle will last quite a while), I'd definitely buy this as the spray does its job and does it well!

Here's a bit more information about Invisible Glass, once again taken from the attachments the company sent me for the curious :).
"About Invisible Glass:   Invisible Glass® is available at Wal-Mart in a 19oz EZ Grip spray aerosol can. Invisible Glass® is a division of Stoner Inc., a family owned company providing time-saving solutions since 1942 and proudly manufactured in the U.S.A. For more information visit"
 So, there you are folks.  My test drive of "Invisible Glass".

Would you like to test drive Invisible Glass for yourselves?  The makers of Invisible Glass were also nice enough to offer to sponsor a giveaway of the new Invisible Glass EZ Grip Spray and the Cleaning and Reaching Tool.

Contest Rules:
To enter said contest, all you have to do is leave a comment on the blog here about how you are doing on your Spring Cleaning endeavors.  If you can't make the blog work (common complaint with Blogger, unfortunately) you can enter on Facebook (you can comment after the link to this post or private message me...this contest is in no way sponsored by Facebook just as an additional disclaimer), or if you can't make any other form work, feel free to e-mail me (you can find the e-mail under the "contact" tab up top there).

Open to US residents only.   This contest will run from today 4/20/16 till  4/29/16 when I'll use to pick a winner.  The winner will then have forty eight hours in which to get back to me with their address or I will pick a new winner.  This product can not be shipped to P.O. Boxes so please keep that in mind when entering.
Good luck!

Thanks to all who participated!  This giveaway is now over!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Menu Plan For Week of 4/18/16

I can't believe I was just on Pinterest for oh...two hours now...and I'm still kind of winging the menu plan for the week. 

I'm having a hard time staying focused.  I'm feeling more than a little discouraged, depressed and more than a little overwhelmed.  My husband went to the dentist today.  Good news:  They were able to save his tooth.

Bad news:  We are looking at two more root canals and other dental work that they feel needs to be done on my husband's remaining teeth.  Basically, every bit of money we've paid off on dental bills is going to be put right back onto the care credit and we're looking at even more than that. By a decent margin.  So much for that lovely "do not exceed" number we originally got.  That got blown out of the water by a huge margin *sigh*.  Times like this I really wish my husband had just gotten dentures like I suggested, but by this point we're committed to the course of action he decided on, so I just need to suck it up and deal with it.

I spent most of lunch staring into space just feeling soul deep tired. 

I'll feel better tomorrow and hopefully get a better handle on the budget somehow to start putting a lot of money away, somehow...I know I can do it.  I have faith.  Right now I honestly just want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, suck my thumb and pretend I'm five *laugh*. 

We do, however, have to eat this week, so the menu plan is as follows for now...

Menu for Week of 4/18/16

Monday:  Loaded Baked Potato Soup (use up some leftover ham in soup).  This turned out pretty good.  Not great, but pretty good.

Tuesday:  Do for yourself night (husband ate random leftovers, I ate leftover soup, my daughter had a cheese quesadilla, and my son had popcorn and tuna salad).

Wednesday:  Pancakes, eggs, bacon.

Thursday:  Pork steaks, applesauce, rice

Friday:  Baked chicken, cranberry sauce, rustic potatoes gratin, stuffing

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Club sandwiches (use leftover chicken, pull a little ham from freezer), oven fries.

To Bake/prepare:  Bread, pancakes (make triple batch on pancake night), desserts.  Baking day(s):  Various.

Desserts:  Cake with chocolate frosting, lemon blueberry cake

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

I just checked my list for this week and you know, overall, especially with how tired I am, I got a lot accomplished off of my list!

1.  I got the couch repaired (seen above), got the nasty peeling cushions covered by making a new slipcover for them (seen above) and got pillow shams made (seen above). 

The couch has been terrible for quite some time.  I kept adding quilts or throws to it to try and cover up the damage, but here's a quick look at the "before" state of the couch...

Between age, a son who liked to pluck any leather that was peeling in the least bit and two cats who thought the couch downstairs was their personal scratching was awful.

I bought a length of really heavy dark brown corduroy at the used store a couple of months ago and thought that the colors might match.  I have to say I was GOOD at matching the colors in my head (probably from all of the repairs I've made to the love seat *laugh*).  I stretched the cloth over the existing leather (doubled up) and used nail tacks to basically reupholster the damaged parts.  I was a bit short on tacks, so I didn't get to flip the couch over and tack it all over the bottom, but it's tacked enough that it's not going anywhere until I can get to a home improvement store and get some more tacks.  And I only smacked my thumb once with the hammer!

I really like how the couch turned out (not so much the pictures as they don't really do the couch justice).  The corduroy looks like a suede type of leather from a distance and it's not until you are really on top of it that you can tell what the material actually is, so it blends with the couch really well and adds a bit of a texture variance to the couch. 

The cushion covers ended up taking a turn down a different path from my original intent.  I had a plan set in mind for some pretty embroidery to do and then I ran across the cushion cover in the center at the thrift store for 1.00.  I fell in love with the embroidery and thought it was a table runner, so I immediately bought it only to find it was a cushion cover.  Well, my son's speech therapist had given us a child's room pillow to use when he has speech therapy (hit the pillow, not the human being next to you), but it really did not go with the room decor at all.  Since it was a really soft and not well stuffed pillow, I shoved it into the pillow case and used a safety pin to close it completely.
I had muslin all cut out to make some embroidered throw pillow covers for the side cushions, but I found the prettiest crocheted doily type of cushion covers at the used store that someone had made.  I didn't like the material that was underneath the doily upper though (it was an orange color I just didn't jive on), so I plucked the covers apart and cut out a new pattern for the top using the old one as a guide.  I then made a new top out of unbleached muslin and sewed them all back together (without having to mess with the invisible zippers the other person was kind enough to install for me on the back ;). 

The slip cover for the couch cushions was super easy.  I measured out how wide my unbleached muslin was and realized that all I had to do was sew two lengths together and it would encompass the cushions nearly perfect.  So, basically I made a GIANT pillow case and just shoved the cushions inside.  I might add a bit of length to the end of the pillow case and put some velcro in to keep the end of the cover closed, but that's only if it starts slipping off all the time.  So far it's been working just fine.  I picked the muslin not only for it's width, but also because it matches the tablecloth I made of unbleached muslin for the coffee table (seen) and the undertones in the couch cushions...and it's easy to clean (which for me is an important factor).  I think it ties together pretty well considering I made a two toned couch *laugh*.
The crocheted throw was actually a nearly finished project that someone had dropped off at the thrift store a bit ago.  I got it for 1.50 (craft stuff was on sale 50% off).  It was in a bag and I was thrilled to find it came with the proper size of crochet hook in the yarn and it had the pattern written on a little piece of paper (neat trick that...I must remember it).  I messed around, ripped out a couple of squares until I figured out the ins and outs of it and finished it (which honestly don't give me much credit as the thing was about 95% done for me).  I threw it into the photo mainly to show my step mom as I'm super proud when I can crochet something the least bit fancy (not a natural crochet person am I).

I actually REALLY can't wait until I can get the mending done on the one quilt I found (making progress on that!) as I think it will look really really pretty on the back of the couch.

So, there's some of the things I got accomplished this week (well yesterday and today). 

Next up is...

2.  Applesauce!

I finally decided now was the time to make the applesauce out of the reduced apples I bought or I was going to end up with applesauce whether I liked it or not (translation:  I was going to find a science experiment in my vegetable drawer).  So, Friday, once my husband was home to help field the kiddos, I got to work and got the applesauce done and canned.

I got ten pints out of twelve pounds of apples.  Yes, I said ten and I know there are only nine in the photo.  For the first time in my canning career (or whatever you would call it) I had a jar break in the canner.  The bottom snapped clean across, so I'm thinking that it was some type of fault in the jar.  With the way the rest of my week had gone boy I had some choice words and felt discouraged when that happened.  Luckily it was the first batch of applesauce so there was only 4 pints of applesauce in the canner, so I didn't have a ton of jars to clean off after the canning was done, only three of them (luckily the majority of the applesauce actually stayed in the jar until I moved it to remove it...what a mess that was).  Made me really nervous about the rest of the jars, though, until everything was canned, sealed and happy. 

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to getting more discount apples at some point and making more applesauce and other related things out of them.  We LOVE home made applesauce and stuff around here, so if I can get the means to make it cheap it is a wonderful windfall for us :).

3.  I got all of the carpets upstairs shampooed (a LOT), got the upstairs windows washed and got one of three ceiling fans dusted super well.  I'm hoping to get more done tomorrow while the kids are in school since I lost two days with my son home sick both days and such.

4.  I spent a good portion of the week on the phone trying to find a new care coordinator for TEFRA (my son's Medicaid insurance) as our care coordinator is shutting her business down.  I was starting to panic as everyone I called was either not returning my calls or was telling me that they were booked solid with other clients due to my care coordinator quitting and I was starting to worry that I was going to have to learn how to be a care coordinator.  Luckily, one lady called me back and gave me the number of a gal in Soldotna who takes care of TEFRA, so I called her and am hopefully getting set up to use her services toward the end of the year for my son's TEFRA renewal (fingers and toes crossed on that one).

5.  I cleaned off and moved my son's small bookcase out into the living room area.  I put my rice cooker, my slow cooker and some of my books on it, which got a bunch of stuff off the floor (sadly that's where my rice cooker and slow cooker have been the last little bit) and it looks a lot better. 

Overall, considering how wiped out I've been and such, I was quite proud of myself for getting so much done.

So, here are my goals for this week.

General Goals:
  • Get husband through dental appointment.  No matter how much it ends up being I am determined to stay positive about it as the more money it costs that means they save the tooth.  Here's hoping it works out.
  • Organize pantry better to accommodate more home canned goods as produce seems to actually be going for cheaper prices this year compared to last, which means I might actually get more canning done this year.  
  • Put applesauce in pantry (organizing the shelves better is step one to this *laugh*).

Cleaning Goals:
  • Clean children's rooms and scrub down walls.
  • Move son's bed and shampoo under it, wash it down with bleach water to kill any germs on it (it's plastic so this is definitely something that I do) and reassemble.
  • Vacuum mattresses. 
  • Continue to clean and organize kitchen.

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on dress for self
  • Work on gift for new niece
  • Finish bag holder (no, I haven't gotten to this yet.  Yes I know I'm sad *laugh*).
  • Continue to work on mending quilt.

And there you are folks.  My goals for this week.  Do you have any plans?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Okay, so it's Saturday, not Friday.  I was super busy and super tired yesterday and just didn't get to this.  Still tired and busy, but hey here I am ;).

This week was kind of a frugal fail around here.  We ate out too much due to dental emergencies and a sick son who only wanted to eat french fries.  One good thing did come out of my son not feeling good is that I forgot to give him Zyrtec one night and the next day he just kind of crashed.  My husband and I talked about it and we decided it's time to detox the son off of Zyrtec for a while and see how he does as he's been on Zyrtec for seven years and we just don't think it's doing much for him anymore.  So far we're not seeing hives or anything, although we are seeing a ressurgance of hay fever symptoms in him, so we're thinking of switching him to Claritin for a while and seeing how he does on a new medicine.  For the time being I'm just giving him Benadryl as needed to help cope with the eczema itching.

I filled up my gas tank last Friday.  Normally this would last me at least two weeks between grocery shopping and taking the kids to school, but with how life went this week my husband ended up emptying one of our reserve Jerry cans of gas into my car's tank on Thursday so that I had enough gas to get through the rest of the week.

Despite this week trying it's best to drive me nuts with stress and lack of sleep, we did manage to save some money around here.

1.  Like I mentioned above, my husband used a Jerry can of gas to fill my tank with five gallons.  This not only saves me from having to use my fuel rewards to get just enough gas to get by on the cheap, but it also saved me from having to get gas period till I can get my husband's paycheck in the bank today. 

2.  We went to Sears last Sunday to get my son socks and underwear.  It was expensive for sure, but we do have a Sear's card so we figured we'd purchase the socks and underwear on that to save what cash we have in checking for bills until we can more evened out after the few short weeks we're going to have pay-wise.  Bright side is that the socks and underwear were a lot better quality than the ones at say, Target or something, so I was happy with that anyway.

While there I found out that green tag clearance was an additional 60% off.  I looked around and found shirts for my son for next winter and I found three pairs of pants for my daughter (two sizes too big, but I know the styles I got aren't going out of style anytime soon).  I was able to get all of them for 1.99 or less due to the additional clearance savings.  This is as cheap, for me, as going to the used store and getting clothes for them, so I was happy (seen up top).

3.   We took a trip out to a local discount center while we were running around last weekend as well (it's kind of a long drive, but my son wanted to go on a long drive, so we decided to go there).  Sometimes they have awesome deals on produce, which is what I was hoping for.  We didn't find any produce, but I was able to get a case of 24 bottles of ginger ale for 5.00 (20 oz bottles).  I was able to use pocket change to pay for it.  I love having ginger ale around in case of stomach bugs, to use as a mixer to make things like fruit punch go further, in case of guests coming over, etc, so this was a neat find.  It is an all natural ginger ale, so my daughter doesn't like it as it doesn't have the super carbonation of most ginger ales and it actually tastes know...ginger, but I know she'll get used to it and I think it will be a LOT better for her stomach flairs than say 7-Up or something.  I really like all natural ginger ale as I love ginger, so at least I was happy with it *laugh*.

4.  I mended a few more holes in socks this week.  My darns are holding well in my husband's socks but I find myself darning around my darns now as the socks are getting thread bare and tearing in different spots.  I'm starting to kid my husband that I'm going to have to learn how to weave socks here soon *laugh*.

5.  I've found by using my coffee in my filter to make two cups of coffee instead of one, that this is significantly reducing the amount of coffee I'm using and the amount of filters I'm using.  I was able to completely skip buying coffee this month and the way the coffee is lasting I'm thinking I might be able to skip next month as well.  Not too much of a savings (9.00 a month for the coffee), but a savings none-the-less.

6.  I'm continuing to weed out what I don't need around here and was able to give some tall glasses away to my mother-in-law (my son couldn't grasp them properly and was constantly spilling things as a result) and gave away some other things to a friend of mine that I wasn't going to use who is going through tough times.  I really felt good giving the items to people who could use them right away without having to donate them as I know the items went to good homes :).

7.  I requested a few free samples this week.  I'm lucky enough to have a friend how is keeping on top of coupon sites where I don't have time and she let's me know when there are samples I might want/need to request (thanks for the tips, Stephanie!).  I even found Seventh Generation has started their own product testing type site, kind of like Smiley 360, so I joined up with them.  The only mission I have thus far is to get a coupon booklet, but coupons are always good.  I'm kind of glad as I've given that company a LOT of money over the years buying their products due to allergies, so I'm hoping to get some perks back this way :).

8.  I wrote to three companies this week expressing either happiness with their products or displeasure.  I like to do this a couple of times a year.  Not really as a means to get coupons, although sometimes that is a perk, but more as a way to keep companies informed as to how they are doing.  Remember, without feedback they really don't know when their products aren't meeting (or are exceeding) our expectations as consumers.  I kind of consider this part of my duty as a consumer to hopefully keep products I love on the shelves (or try to bring back the quality in products that I used to love, but am now disappointed in) for a long, long time.

9.  We made a diorama for my daughter's class this week (they're studying dinosaurs).  We had bought the clay as part of the school supplies, but we used a shoe box (I never throw those away) for the box and then we used paint, construction paper and other supplies we had around the house to make the diorama (including dead grass from the yard to help make a nest).  I was quite proud how it turned out actually (parents were expected to help their children make said diorama) as sculpture has NEVER been my strong suit  I tried through many years to get it, but clay just vexes me every single time.  So, with some help from my husband shaping the dinosaur parts individually (he's a better 3D thinker than I am) we were able to make a pretty decent looking dinosaur.  My daughter helped with the background, came up with the overall design for the diorama and she painted a bunch of eggs to go into a nest (she wanted a mama dinosaur in her diorama).  I then painted the dinosaur and the surroundings to make it look better (added some depth shading and such).  Overall, it was a busy weekend last weekend, but I call it a successful one on the diorama front. 

10.  The electric company stopped by and put on a new meter on the house.  I'm hoping this allows us to track our electric consumption better as our bill still seems awfully high to me.  My husband stood while they put it in and learned quickly what the different sensors did and said he really liked it and it would make reading how the electric was performing a lot easier.  So, yay for that!

And there you are go folks.  Some of my frugal adventures for the week.  How did you do?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

This has been a week.  My husband has been having problems with his sinuses the last couple of weeks, which led me to being paranoid and asking him repeatedly if he was sure it wasn't his teeth.  He kept assuring me that his last six teeth that haven't been capped yet were fine.  Well, unfortunately, the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ended up being right.  We ended up at the dentist on Tuesday, which thank goodness my husband followed his instincts because his tooth wasn't hurting very bad, so he kept thinking maybe it was just a pinched nerve in his back or something.  Nope.  Turned out he needed a root canal by the X-rays, but they were hopeful they could save the tooth (which is good since he's already missing a couple of molars on that side).  They went in only to find that the tooth was infected, so they had to pack it full of antibiotics and my husband goes back next week to see if they can save the tooth by the root canal or if it is too far gone and have to extract it.  I'm praying, even though it will cost a lot more, that they can save the tooth at this point for the sake of my husband's bite, but it's up to God at this point.

So started the week.  We had to run around to find pain killers for him as a couple of pharmacies were out of stock.  We finally found one, but we had to drop the prescription off and wait for it, so we ended up eating out that night so the kids didn't have a meltdown.  And we had to eat out for lunch the day my husband went to the dentist because he was so tense his muscles started to spasm and the dentist was worried low blood sugar might have been part of the problem. 

And this is going to be a low paycheck this week.  My son outgrew all socks and underwear in a couple of days, so we had to go on a sudden excursion to get those.   My son was sick today from school because he just wasn't acting like he was feeling well.  And something happened to my husband's foot where he woke up with it so sore he can barely put weight on it and the muscle is just stiff as a board in his foot, so he's been hobbling around this week trying to work on paperwork or anything he can to get some much needed hours in, but there just isn't a lot of work to be had right now.

So, in short, my appetite has been kind of shot this week.  I'm exhausted already because my son hasn't been liking sleep much, but then the worry for my husband with his tooth and foot, the worry over if my son is coming down with something again and just general worries over money and trying to figure out how to make the rest of this year not turn out as badly as last year monetarily and paying bills with no money in's just making me feel more tired which I didn't have any energy to begin with due to lack of sleep and the darned cough (allergies are making it flair with me) that is still making me miserable. 

So, really, I had to send up a big "thank you" to the Lord above for making me be with it enough to go through the ads today, figure out grocery shopping and hit two stores within an hour while my son was at therapy (when we picked him up is when he really started looking like he wasn't feeling good).  And hey, I did good overall!

The photos are going to seem odd as I conglomerated both shopping trips into the photos, but they are still split up into two photos.  This is because I didn't feel like hauling Coke bottles upstairs that would go back downstairs into the pantry, the same with the cereal and the other stuff on the stairs.  So, yeah, sorry if it gets confusing here.

I went to Fred Meyer and Carrs today.  At Fred Meyer I got Doritos (3.50 per bag on sale), Goldfish whole grain crackers (my son's newest obsession, which is definitely preferable to Cheetos), wet cat food, limes (.33 a piece on sale right now), celery (because I needed it and it was cheaper per lb than Carrs) and cabbage (for a corned beef dinner next week as it was a nice GREEN looking cabbage, which was a great change of pace :).  My friend gave me a couple of her Friday freebies, so I picked those up while I was there (thanks for the freebies, Stephanie!).  I missed the Tum-E Yummy freebie last Friday, which was okay with me as I knew my kids wouldn't drink it, but after looking at the color and everything I'm thinking it might work well to flavor some snow cones this summer as a treat for the daughter.  The Doritos mix I'm going to try at therapy on my son (we tried a previous flavor that went over so-so with him) to see if I can get him engrossed with new shapes of chip, thus hopefully leading to things like eating home made crackers with cheddar powder on them or something.  I also picked up cat litter (seen in the photo below) as there was a 2.00/1 peelie on it and after I checked out I realized I had a 2.00/1 E-Coupon loaded as well so I got the container for 6.99.  I really like this brand of cat litter (and I've tried many through the years), so I was happy to get it cheap.  And I bought a container of Seventh Generation laundry soap as it does seem to be helping my son's skin (in combination with other things I'm sure) and doesn't make him itch when it's on his blankets.  It was on sale and I was running low, so I grabbed it.  I also grabbed a gallon of milk as it was cheaper than regular price at Carrs (seems weird that I got milk at two different stores?  Read on).
I then ran to Carrs and got Coke for my son for the week (1.49 per 2 liter bottle when you buy 5 this week) and cereal (buy 4 for 12.00 and you get a free gallon of milk).  Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the ONLY flavor of cereal he'll eat to date, so I'm really working on getting him to eat it so hopefully we can get him to eat more things (like apple slices) with cinnamon sugar on them.  I would normally have bought the big family sized boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and just bought the milk separate, but they raised the price of the family sized boxes by 3.00, so it was more cost effective to buy the cereal and get the milk for free this time around.

So, all totaled for the week after coupons (I had a 1.50/3 coupon for the cereal and things) I spent a total of 63.40.  I went over by a few dollars, but I stocked up on Coke (we really didn't need it yet, but the price was right), so I'm not complaining.

How did you do this week?  Find any good deals?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Menu Plan For The Week: Menu for Week of 4/11/16

Well, today was no better than yesterday, actually worse, on the sleep front and high on the stress front, so I'm just going to sit down, work on the menu and pray that I can come close this week.  It's shaping up to be a doozy so far.

Menu for Week of 4/11/16
Monday:  Ham, salad (I didn't feel like a starch, so I didn't serve one)

Tuesday:  Take out (sad, but true.  It's a long story and I'll get into that later)

Wednesday:  Baked Potato Soup, grilled cheese sandwiches

Thursday:  Leftover ham, mixed veggies, salad

Friday:  Ribs, salad, green beans

Saturday:  Chicken salad sandwiches (home made bread), chips

Sunday:  Steak, baked beans, salad (or leftovers if needed)

To Bake:  Bread.  Baking Day:  Um...I'll figure that one out.

To Do:  Can applesauce (I'm praying I have time to do this tomorrow).  Make creamy limeade (Fred Meyer had limes on sale 3 for 1.00 last week so I used some pocket change to get 4 limes to make limeade :).

Desserts:  Blueberry Lemon cupcakes and chocolate frosted cupcakes (this is one of those recipes that I'm praying I can do double duty with one cake won't eat anything but chocolate frosted vanilla cake, so I'm working on double duty recipe here *laugh*).

So, how about you?  Have anything good baking at your place this week?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Codfish Casserole

Okay, so I was working on my menu plan for the week, but frankly I'm exhausted and worse comes to worse we had ham for dinner tonight so we can have ham sandwiches for dinner tomorrow night if I'm still wasted (I spent all day cleaning after very little sleep and my brain is kind of shutting down).  So, instead of posting up my "hey, we can have sandwiches if worse comes to worse" menu plan, I thought I'd instead share a recipe that I came up with a while back.

This recipe was actually loosely based on a WWII recipe which called for boiled egg slices to be added to the mix as well as like three eggs to make the sauce extra rich (among a few other add ins), but I kind of wanted to take it a BIT easier on our cholesterol around here (we don't have high cholesterol that I know of, but I also don't need to encourage that issue either *laugh*).  I did like the sound of the seasonings that went into the original white sauce, though, so I figured I could make it more to what I wanted.  I messed with the recipe a bit and came up with this.  It makes a really yummy and rich casserole without needing to add eggs. 

You can also add some frozen mixed vegetables to the sauce when you are making it and then you can just make a one dish meal out of it.  I found I like it better by making the vegetables separate just because it doesn't look like such a creamy lumpy mass on the plate, but that's a purely personal decision :).

Codfish Casserole
  • 1 pound cod or other mild tasting white fish
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 TBS AP flour
  • 1 TBS pickle relish (NOT sweet relish!  I use home canned green tomato relish in mine and it lends a wonderful flavor!).  
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBS dehydrated onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TBS butter or margarine, melted
  • 3/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

2.  Spray a baking dish (I use a 7 by 11 baking dish usually) that will fit your fish with non-stick cooking spray or grease it in some other fashion.  This will make clean up afterwards a LOT easier, so trust me on this.

3.  In a small saucepan, whisk together milk (cold), flour, relish, Worcestershire sauce and onion until everything is WELL combined.  Switch to a wooden spoon and heat over medium high heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Be sure to whisk the flour in when the milk is cold and whisk it in well and then stir constantly while it is heating and you won't get lumps and the milk will be way less likely to burn that way.  Once thickened, turn off heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Arrange cod in baking dish and then pour white sauce over cod. 

5.  Combine the melted butter or margarine with the bread crumbs and use your hands to toss the bread crumbs until the butter/margarine is well incorporated.  Spread bread crumb mixture over fish.

6.  Bake in 375 degree oven 30 to 35 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.   
Notes:  One, you can use evaporated milk instead of fresh milk in this recipe (use a 12 oz can).  It might take longer to reduce to a sauce like consistency, but it comes out tasting nice and rich when done (ask me about the time I realized we were nearly out of milk and figured this one out...ahem).  

Two, feel free to add slices of boiled egg to the top of the fish before adding the cream sauce over the top if you want to stick more to the traditional recipe.  Personally, the idea of having boiled eggs with fish was a bit repulsive to me, so I left them out.  And like I stated before you can add some frozen veggies to the sauce when you are heating it to thicken and then pour it over the fish with the sauce if you wish.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

First, if you are wondering where the pictures of my shopping are for last week as well as a recap of what I made in the way of food...wellllll that didn't work out last week.  My son, because grass season is upon us, has started breaking out in hives on top of his usual eczema, so sleep was a long lost dream last week.  On top of no sleep the cough I acquired from that cold I caught is still clinging on, probably due to all the dust in the air outside (and the dust I'm kicking up Spring cleaning in the house) so I have been going between feeling exhausted and trying to forcefully expel my lungs from my chest via coughing.  So, the last possible thing I could think to do last week was track my menu plan (I just checked...I hit two out of seven meals.  Rock on me!) and we ended up with me making meals like meatloaf and just plain eating left overs a LOT last week.  I didn't have the energy or the appetite for anything else.  At least in the way of grocery shopping I was able to stock up on meat and was able to get some produce (got four limes as they were on sale at Fred Meyer for 3 for 1.00!  I got four to make more creamy limeade and I also got some lettuce for salads this week).

I do have a few recipes to share, though, that I made last week and realized I hadn't shared yet, so hopefully I'll be able to get to that this week and get back on track with everything else.  At least my family didn't starve last week.  So, I suppose I did my job *laugh*.

On them monthly goal front, though, I did get some things done.  As I put in my Frugal Friday post, I did get my glasses cabinet all emptied, the inside shelves washed and contact paper put down.  I also started going through other cabinets and figuring out what needed to be weeded or what plain needed to be tossed (a lot of empty boxes and things were hiding in the back of the cabinets). 

I started to figure out what could plain get tossed and/or donated around here as well.  I even found a few things, like my mug tree that I like a lot, but it is just plain taking too much room on my counters right now, that could go into storage until a new chapter of life starts later on.

With my husband's help I got the coffee table we had in storage and put it in our living room and then rearranged the living room coffee table to the den where my son can sit at it more easily when he's doing feeding therapy.  The trunk I moved to the end of my bed so it's better protected from my son's abuse.  I also put a new table cloth on the coffee table when I moved it downstairs into the den as the other one just didn't go with the color scheme down there, but it seriously needs some work as I just kind of threw some cloth over it that looked okay to my eye.

I got some more windows washed and some of the glass surfaces in the house deep cleaned, which felt good.

I also got one star out of nine mended/resewn on the quilt I got a while back.  Feels good to at least have gotten part of it done this last week.

So, onto this week's goals!

Cleaning Goals:
  • Wash children's winter gear a few times and hang it up (basically preparing to put it into storage, but I'm not convinced winter is over yet).
  • Wash walls down in children's rooms.
  • Clean ceiling fans.
  • Shampoo upstairs carpets
  • Vacuum mattresses and wash and put away flannel bedding for year
General Goals:
  • Continue to weed through things and figure out what needs to be donated or culled.
  • Haul stuff in den that was emptied from furnace room and other parts of the house and put it out into storage or add to donation pile. 
  • Can applesauce.
Sewing/Mending Goals:
  • Repair couch in den (this is a pretty big job, so I'm figuring it might take more than one week to do).
  • Work on pillow shams for couch in den (like I said...big job that couch).
  • Continue to work on mending quilt.
  • Finish bag holder (I really need to get some sewing done).
And there you go folks.  Some of my goals for the week.  How about you?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, I have to say as weeks go, this one went OKAY.  Not great, not terrible, but okay.

1.  I had been trying to find shelf paper at the stores I normally shop at to line the cabinets in my kitchen as I did Spring cleaning.  My kitchen cabinets are cheapy ones that have particle board shelves that are adjustable and one of the problems I found with them was not only that I had to flip them about once a year to keep them from bowing, but I also found that ANY little bit of moisture on a glass or plate (which happens with a dish washer as we all know) would cause the cheapy laminate finish on the shelves to bubble, which not only looked bad, but also was malforming the shelves where the liquid touched and I was worried about wrecking them.  So, shelf paper was the best solution I could think of.

My grandmother turned me onto shelf paper.  She replaced shelf paper in her cabinets once a year during Spring cleaning to protect them throughout the year.  I immediately thought this was a really cool idea as not only did it protect your cabinets from damage, but it also gave you an opportunity to kind of spiffy up your kitchen a bit and change just one little thing to make it prettier every year.  Grandma took her shelf paper seriously and took me out shopping for it a few times when I was younger and I helped her pick out the new pattern for her cabinets.

I hadn't thought of shelf paper in years, but when I saw my shelves staring at me I knew what my grandma would tell me to do.  So, I looked at the box stores I normally shop at, but didn't find anything.  I don't really shop at Wal-Mart, but thought for sure I would end up having to look there for shelf paper when I came up empty handed.

And then I was at the used store this week and found shelf paper!  Three rolls of it still in the package!  For 5.00!!!!  I even liked the pattern, so I grabbed it and have gotten the worst of the shelves emptied out, flipped and lined to help protect them from water damage for the year.  I still have a lot to go, but I am happy that I got some done already (glasses cabinet in process seen above).  And I have enough shelf paper to line the shelves for at least a couple of years.  I was thrilled!

2.  Rhonda, one of our blog readers, was awesome enough to suggest to me to shout out to friends and family asking for mason jars.  I was dubious as to whether anyone would have any to spare, but I did it as I figured it never hurt to ask.  As a result of asking I got jars from my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, a friend of mine offered a few quart jars and even my step-sister offered to send me some.  I'm feeling the mason jar love right about now and it saved me so much money just by asking and hopefully between that and what I could cobble together myself it will see me through the extra things I want to can this Spring!  Thanks so much for the jars, everyone!  And thanks for the advice, Rhonda :).

3.  I did a hack test this week on a home made cleaning product as I was out of scrubbing bubbles for my bathroom.  Be prepared for that post and review here, hopefully tomorrow.  Not buying scrubbing bubbles saved me a LOT as I couldn't believe how much cleaning products had gotten up to!

4.  I finally received the cleaning product that I was asked to try out and review (different type of cleaning product from the one I made) and I have been putting it through it's paces this week.  So, be prepared for a review here in the next little bit as well :).

5.  My husband and I went shopping yesterday and we went and checked out the meat reductions as I have found that Thursdays is the day that this particular store tends to put beef down to 50% off.  We found some awesome deals and ended up pretty much wiping out their clearance meat, especially their beef.  I spent more than I wanted to on groceries this week as a result, about what my normal grocery budget would have run, but we ended up with 2 roasts, packages and packages of steak, sausage, ground turkey for 1.50 for one pound containers (I'll use that to stretch ground beef in recipes or for turkey burgers) and lots of ribs, both beef and pork.  I would have felt bad about what we spent, but our freezer is now officially packed with meat, so, yeeahhhh, if I felt guilty about the grocery budget I got over it quickly ;).

I do give myself an allotment of 100.00 a month for extras (which normally gets eaten up by medicine and things) but I stocked up on medicines last month due to a 2.00 per bottle sale on Benadryl at Carrs, so I'm not seeing needing much medicine this month.  So, hopefully that 100.00 can go toward my meat purchase, at which point that would make me even.  If it doesn't work out that way, I know I can make it up some other way in the overall budget.

6.  While at the store I also found about two carts full of reduced items that my husband and I pawed through (so much Hamburger Helper...too bad we ate it so much when I was a young teen that I can't stand the stuff anymore).  I got some boxes of microwave popcorn that my son likes to bring to school for his class and he to share on special occasions (popcorn loving kids abound in his class) for 1.69 per box.  I also got half and half for .76 for a pint, which I have plans for (if I can first find room in my freezer for my ice cream maker bowl *laugh*) and milk on mark down for 2.39 a gallon.  We got three gallons and stuffed the half gallons into our fridge.  It really was a great day on the mark down front.

7.  I canned the grapes that I got at such a great deal, because I found that I had so many of them I knew I wasn't going to be able to use before they went bad (and that was after eating some). I am looking forward to having those as grapes go up in price later in the year.

8.   I mended some holes in blankets and renewed the water proofing on my winter jacket this week (I got tent waterproofing on clearance last year and I use that to waterproof jackets, shoes and the like) before separating out the spring jacket from the inner lining.  This way I'll have a nice water proof wind breaker to wear during the summer should I need it.  I get numerous water proofing treatments out of one can of spray and the spray cost me 5.00 when I bought it...I'd say it more than has paid for itself and it's still going strong.

9.  My husband and I were out running around this week and decided to stop by our local Franz outlet to see if the bread was really THAT much cheaper than the store.  And man am I ever going back there!  They have the light and fluffy whole wheat bread my son likes for super cheap (the only whole grain bread he'll eat is the full of air whole wheat breads and I have to be careful which ones I choose because of nuts), hot dog buns (another favorite of my son's) are way cheaper there as well and if you spent 5.00 you got a free loaf of bread.  My husband chose sourdough to use for work sandwiches as we went over 5.00 by like .50 (and we bought like five loaves of bread)!  The extra went into the freezer to pull out as I need it over the month for the kids for toast.  I will definitely be going back there!

10.  I got another Pinata box from my step-mom in the mail this week.  The best part of this box, to me, was family records and some old family photos of my grandmother (who I never got to meet as she died before I was born) and pictures of my dad as a child.  My dad's side of the family never considered things like photos or records to be of much importance, but my dad had dubbed me the family historian years ago and so I have the photo albums from when I was a child and things, but didn't have any records of my dad's family past my siblings and I.  So, it feels good being able to add the old report cards, the photos and other things to what I possess.  I am going to find a nice frame out of my frame stash and frame the picture of my dad as a youth as I see a lot of him in my son.  I also received a bunch of embroidery floss, some sewing notions and some books on crochet and other things in the box.  Thanks so much for everything, Rox!!!

11.  My husband has started to read to my daughter at night and is reading, "The Book of Three" (the first book in "The Black Cauldron" series).  I have found I really enjoy listening in as he reads to her and am enjoying the book the most out of the three of us I think *laugh*.  I've been working on mending while he reads and I find it's a lot of fun.

And there you are folks.  Some frugal things that happened to me this week.  How did you do?