Monday, May 30, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

First, I have good news to report (shocking I know!).  The new medication regime for my son appears to be working!  I have him up to three teaspoons of Zyrtec at night and two in the morning (I was actually supposed to do four at night, but I wanted to see how three would do and so far so good!) and we're on a higher steroid cream that really seems to take the itch out of the eczema on his feet and since we started him on the higher dose of Zyrtec at night, so FAR we haven't had to battle hives/welts once.  His skin is doing better (relatively speaking), he's sleeping better (four to five hours straight at night vs. two) and I'm relieved to see the nasty rash on his face finally starting to subside the longer he's on the Zyrtec.

My daughter has started a new summertime work schedule where she has to earn TV time by doing chores and things without complaining (that is a big one for her to learn).  She's up to earning her TV/computer/music (she really enjoys the background noise while she plays more than anything) to about 75%.  Not too shabby, although we have a lot of summer break left to go.  Bright side though is I'm finally getting help to do things like vacuum and other chores, which is wonderful as it's getting things done faster and is thus making me able to spend my time elsewhere on other chores that can get overlooked.

Anyway, onto how the goals went for last week.

Well, it's still a work in progress, but it is getting there.  The pantry is slowly coming together.  My goal, right now, is to empty both sets of wire shelves, resurface the wires surface with heavy cardboard (the grate on the shelves is so wide that jars will tip over on them without cardboard) and get as many commercially canned things OFF of said shelves as possible to give me extra room for home canned goods as I am hoping to need the space this year.

The shot of the one set of shelves is above.  Believe it or not ALL of those boxes in the den translated to what is on the shelves in the picture.  Kind of amazing how it doesn't look like much until it's all boxed up and spread out *laugh*.


I got the top shelf of the other set cleaned of commercially canned goods, but I still need to completely empty both of the shelves, resurface them with better cardboard and reset everything.  Like the canned grapes are just kind of floating on the bottom shelf right now.  I'm hoping to figure out that stuff this week.

I don't think that this was officially on my goals for last week, but I got it done anyway.  The trellis system I concocted is up and working.  I thought it came out looking pretty good myself.

My goals for this week are kind of all over the place.  First and foremost there's this little guy who needs to go into the ground...

There's cabbage to can (it's salt curing in the fridge right now), pantry work to do, sewing projects to get done, monthly plans to make for next month and other stuff.  So, let's get to it shall we?

Sewing Goals:
  • Get at least two projects accomplished.  

Gardening Goals:
  • Plant baby rhubarb plant.
  • Cut dead out of raspberry patch and try to control and save what raspberry plants are left (hoping to work on that tomorrow afternoon...here's hoping anyway).
  • Fertilize garden.

Pantry Goals:
  • Empty second set of shelves completely, reline shelves with better cardboard, reset shelves.
  • Stack commercially canned goods in pantry, probably in boxes by like type, so that everything is still accessible without use of wire shelves for commercially canned goods.

Canning Goals:
  • Can cabbage.

Freezer Goals:
  • Make lemon curd.  Freeze for future desserts.

Cleaning Goals:
  • Shampoo downstairs carpets.  
  • Empty part of pantry and start to scrub floor (more just to keep it as sanitary as possible in there).
  • Deep clean bathrooms.

General Goals:
  • Figure out monthly goals for June.
  • Figure out shopping plans for June.

And there you are folks.  What I was up to this last week and what I'm (hopefully) going to be up to this coming week.  You up to anything fun?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update


The above is the first Johnny Jump Ups to appear this year and they grew right through a crack in the concrete.   Good life lesson there.  If you have enough will, skill and faith, you can find ways through things people never thought possible.

This week has been busy, we got news and it's all across the board on good and bad.

The worst news is that I got a phone call from the Health Insurance Marketplace earlier in the week informing me that my daughter was still on Medicaid so I had to drop her off of her current insurance since she can't be on both at once.  News to me that she still had Medicaid, so I ended up having to drop her off of our insurance when we got officially approved for Medicaid (we were in a "wait to be approved or not" holding pattern until someone would look at the application and after a few phone calls and jumping down people's throats we got it done as I wanted her dropped or approved pronto so I knew she had insurance one way or the other).  Now being on Medicaid was okay I figured as at least more was covered on it than on our insurance.  Au contraire mon fraire!

Nope, Alaska decided, in all of its infinite wisdom to use people as political pawns to get the multitudes of taxes passed and to grab our PFD...their way.  They made an announcement yesterday morning that Alaska State Medicaid was "broke" and would no longer be paying providers any money until further notice due to the "financial crisis" in Alaska.  So, this announcement doesn't just mean that my son's therapists aren't being paid by my son's insurance (since TEFRA runs through the state first) and are going to have a hard time making it, but this also means my children's pediatrician won't be paid by our insurance, our pediatric dentist won't be paid by our insurance, our pharmacy won't be paid...the list goes on.  Our local hospitals are panicking as their NICU units are pretty much funded by Medicaid and they don't know how to keep them open.  I am FURIOUS about this.  I spent the entire day pretty much e-mailing and calling every state rep I could get my fingers on to tell them what I thought of them.  I would have dealt with them doing co-pays for therapy or other medical services.  I would have dealt with them not covering certain prescriptions.  But, nope, they do this instead.  Right after they force me to drop my other insurance for Medicaid for my daughter on top of everything else. 

This is just plain USING people's need and desperation to get things passed that people didn't want (citizens wanted the government to cut spending across the board, or cut out wasteful spending of which we have TONS, but they stop paying this instead).  I notice that the state reps are still being paid and their benefits are still rolling just fine.  Primal scream therapy isn't even enough right now.  Just....grrrrrrrr!!!!!

 Anyway, let's work out of the dark abyss.  My son's eye appointment went okay and he was REALLY good waiting, which I was impressed by.  The eye doctor said he's progressed into actually being near sighted now, but still isn't so bad that we have to force glasses on him yet, so we'll wait another year and see.  I am not looking forward to that fight when we get there, let me tell you.

My husband was feeling funny again earlier in the week, so I got him into see the doctor.  Turns out the doctor said basically he's getting older and just needs to eat on a more regular schedule from what he could see, but he also is like 99.9% sure my husband has sleep apnea and they want to do a sleep study on him.  I have no idea what our insurance will cover when it comes to all of that, but if it helps my husband sleep better (he's always slept rotten) I'm for it.  Our new doctor is going to see what they can get insurance to cover, so we'll see what they find out.  At least with insurance our doctor visit only cost 80.00 compared to the near 300.00 it would have cost without it, so yay for that.

And yeah...I think that brings us pretty  much up to speed for the week so far.  Let's get onto frugal things for this week (I need the upper *laugh*).

1.  My son's OT asked if I'd like a baby rhubarb plant she had sitting outside.  I said "Me want!!!" (picture waving arms and everything...yes...this is actually how it happened *laugh*).  I talked to my husband as my one friend is going to give me her rhubarb plants later in the year and we're working on where to put a nice rhubarb patch.  I'm so excited!  I love rhubarb and am really looking forward to having a bunch of it :).  And I might very well be the only Alaskan to ever say that *laugh*.

2.  I canned Taco Sauce this week using materials I already had on hand.

3.  While rearranging/organizing my pantry I pulled every single jar that I could find that was empty/not being used and washed them in the dishwasher.  I'll wash them again really well before I can in them, but I like to be careful.  I found quite a few though, which I was really thrilled with as those will definitely come in handy later.

4.  We took advantage of the nice weather the last couple of days to do something fun with the kids.  We ate out on our back deck last night.  My husband wanted to make sure we didn't have to worry about my son running up and down the stairs (the deck is on the second floor) so he screwed one of the free pallets he had to the opening at the top of the stairs on the deck.  It was the perfect "boy barrier" and allowed us all to sit and eat without worrying about a kid running loose, it can easily be taken down and it was easily made with materials we already had around the house.

5.  I spent a lot of time the last week watching things on You Tube (I started "Tudor Monastery Farm and then went back and started watching "Victorian Farm" again before I finished it.  Oops *laugh*).

6.  I have been searching a lot online and for a change actually had decent luck with Swagbucks as I searched, so I actually made some goals the last week on them.  Yay!!!

7.   Other than necessary appointments, we stayed home this week.  This conserved gas and stopped us from spending money we don't have.

8.  I took help that was offered this week.  It wasn't easy to do it, but sometimes you need to admit that you can't do it all by yourself.  I'm still learning that valuable life lesson.

9.  I woke up every morning this week and made a point to thank God that I had woken up that morning, that I have a roof over my head and that I had my husband and kids.  It really does help to root you down when you start out the day being thankful.

10.  I've been saving my coffee grounds and used them to compost the garden a bit earlier in the week. 

11.  I thinned my pea plants today and used the sprouts I had pulled to make myself a salad for lunch.  They were really tasty!

And here's an update on the garden, while I'm on the subject!

Things are finally starting to grow from sprouts to actual baby plants.  I'm am so thrilled each time I go out and check out what has grown up a bit overnight.  The only things that aren't really up to the point I'm comfortable as they are still looking straggly are the carrots and the bunching onions, but they are up and growing.just teeny still.
I am so so thrilled that the rat tailed radishes are growing so well and fast (the plants on the right...they are even bigger today).  I was nervous they weren't going to pop up and I was so looking forward to growing them once I read how many radish pods you could get per plant, which could mean a really good amount of pickles to can, so I am super happy to see them growing so well :).

The first bunch of lettuce is starting to really take off as well, so I was happy to see that growing as our salads this summer are dependent on that and the spinach growing as well.

Speaking of which the space saving hybrid spinach is doing great (seen up front there).  The swiss chard is finally starting to come up better (middle row, it's bigger now too) and the pea plants were ready to actually thin to the allocated four inches apart today.  I figured out some materials around here to make a trellis system for the peas out of and am planning on adding that in tomorrow (I'm just going to use some old vertical shelf brackets we don't use and some twine or yarn to make them...they'll be protected under the eaves of the roof so I won't have to worry about the rain rotting the yarn or anything, so I figure it'll be fine).

The herb planter.  The sage seeds I planted are finally coming up I hope, so that was a welcome site.

I fear that this is the last year for these good old wooden planters.  They have served me well and faithfully for eleven years now (and I inherited them, well used, when we moved into our last house so I have NO IDEA how old they actually are), but I noticed that not only have some carpenter ants started eating on the bottom of them, but once you move them you can see all the rotten wood come off the bottom of the planters.  They are just finally dying on me, but they have done their job many times over and so I will send them off with a grateful heart when they go.

I gave my daughter some flower seeds that were in with my given to me seeds and told her to plant some in this planter.  Well, she decided "some" meant "all" so I'm happy to see them coming up, although I might have some thinning to do later.

I didn't take pictures of the front bed, because the petunias are coated in cottonwood pollen right now and look like snow balls and past the chives growing well there's not a lot to report yet (the chocolate mint is still popping up here and there).

Some more planters.  One contains potatoes (which I'm figuring they won't really grow beyond new potato size since the container is smaller than I would normally plant a potato plant in), the green container contains a lettuce mix and the right container contains some kohlrabi, of which I've never tried before but am intrigued and a few Chinese cabbage seedlings (I plan for those to be salad fodder when they get big enough).

I have a couple of planters on my deck that I forgot to take pictures of.  One is a hanging basket that I planted more spinach and some basil in and the other is a old tree sized planter that I planted a couple of types of potatoes in and a couple of pea plants (I'm just going to let those trellis on my deck railing).  I'm hoping between the planters and the garden I can get a decent amount of potatoes and salad fixings.

So, there you are folks.  My frugal adventures and gardening adventures for the week.  How did you do?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

Okay, so I went over on groceries this period.  I'll admit it.  The call of cheap produce, when I went to buy milk today, called my name.  I went over by about 30.00, five dollars of which was the pickle crisp I bought when I found that Carrs had given me a .99 price on cabbage so I could make some cabbage to can.  I KNOW I have pickle crisp around here somewhere, but haven't been able to find it, so I bought some new so I could...you know...find it *laugh*.

When I was at Fred Meyer today I stopped by the reduced produce and hit paydirt.  I got a 1.00 cantaloupe, some mangoes, some pears (2 types between the bags), citrus (an orange and a lemon) and some apples.  I also got some corn on the cob (on sale for .75 an ear right now...yes...that's cheap up here) and some watermelon (3.00 on sale this week).  And I got the milk I walked into the store for *laugh*.

I then went to Carrs to pick up my son's prescription and got the red cabbage while I was there.

So, yeah, all totaled I went over my budget (I'm subtracting off the milk as it was part of my original grocery budget) by 26.99.  I'm honestly okay with this as we were down to one banana and an orange in the house because of my fruit loving daughter so the produce was kind of needed :).

So, how did you do on groceries this week?  Did you manage to stick to your budget (better than me ;)?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Taco Sauce

Here's a pretty easy recipe to try your hand at, although you do have to have a few ingredients on hand, most notably tomato paste. 

I'm one of those people who actually do keep a good amount of tomato paste around the house.  Why?  Because you can use it to make tomato sauce and a lot of other tomato based products with and it takes up a lot less room.  Something to consider the next time you want to build up your pantry :).

Taco Sauce 
(adapted from freshpreserving.com/Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving with abridged instructions)

Ingredients:
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 cups tomato paste (about 2 12-oz cans...I ended up using 5 6-oz cans to get three cups)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (I used sriracha sauce)
Procedure:

1.  Prepare canner, jars and lids in a safe and approved manner.

2.  Combine water, tomato paste, vinegar, corn syrup, chili powder, salt, cayenne pepper and hot pepper sauce in a large non-reactive saucepan (I use my 8 quart stock pot for these types of things). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently while stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened to the consistency of a thin commercial barbecue sauce, about 30 minutes (mine came together in about 20 minutes.  I might have gone a bit thin on mine since I got a much higher yield than the recipe said it made, but I stopped at what I considered to be a thin BBQ sauce consistency and what I was happy with for a taco sauce consistency).

3.  Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

4.  Process in a hot water bath canner for 30 minutes (since I made pints as well as 1/2 pints, I went for 35 minutes just to be safe).  Remove lid on canner and let sit five more minutes.  Remove jars to a tea towel and let sit for 24 hours.  Check seal (it should not flex up and down when pressed).  Store.

This supposedly makes 6 8-ounce jars, which would have been three pints.  I got 5 pints out of the recipe.  Not unhappy with the results, but I wanted to give people a head's up anyway :).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Right, when it comes to clearing part of the yard this month is a total loss, I can tell already.  With how little sleep my son has been allowing me and the sheer amount of rain (I'm not complaining about the rain, truly as the last two years have been so dry we could use a more "normal" Alaska summer this year, which so far it is shaping up to be) and then appointments and things on top of everything, it's just not getting done.

I thought I'd be able to get some yard work done, but nope, it didn't happen.  It started out with the one really nice day we had early in the week, my husband shot a tool cart in my general direction as he was running out the door for work and asked me to put it away in the garage for him.  Well, with all the stuff in the garage I just plain couldn't FIND any room that didn't involve the thing being right up against my car and that wasn't going to happen because then I wouldn't be able to open my car door. 

So, I looked around and saw a rocking chair that had needed repair and has been sitting in the garage for AGES and decided it needed to go into storage for the time being.  So, I go out to the forty foot van only to find that my husband had parked a bunch of stuff right in the road and I wasn't going to be able to get into the van with the chair until I cleaned up that mess.  And so a domino effect started which toasted my day, led to a bunch of things getting reorganized and I was finally able to put the tool cart away.  Not how I would have liked to have spent my day, but that's what ended up happening.

My husband didn't feel well over the weekend, but managed to mow the lawn and that's about as far as doing anything to the lawn went.  Actually, since my husband wasn't feeling good and was kind of demanding my time on top of the kids I didn't get anything done either.  At least my daughter was finally not awful about doing chores, so she ended up being a help to me as I juggled one very demanding son.

Today was shot pretty much from the get go.  I had planned on canning taco sauce (I still haven't gotten that done yet), but called the allergist this morning to give them an update on the hives/welts situation and she wanted to see my son ASAP, so we spent most of the afternoon at the allergist.  So, we're on a stronger steroid cream for the eczema (I have tried not to use those over the years unless absolutely necessary) and a yet higher dose of Zyrtec to try and get the hives to go away.  Hopefully it works and we can start allergy shots next month.  Prayers would be appreciated.

I did manage to get the house cleaned last week and I've been trying really hard to maintain it so it's not awful.  I also got some things canned.  And I managed to get spinach (it's a space saving hybrid seed so you can plant it every two inches) and some basil seeds in my one hanging planter.  Now I'm just waiting for seeds to germinate there.

This week I'm not even going to plan on getting yard work done at all.  My son hasn't been sleeping well at all and isn't going to bed until super late, so I'm in bed about midnight and up about 2 am to give him Benadryl and waiting for it to take effect, so I really can't see myself being able to get up at five am to work on the yard.  At all.

Since we have two more appointments this week for my son (eye doctor and OT), I am going to keep goals to somewhat of a minimum so I don't stress myself out too badly.

So, this week I'm pretty much going to be focusing on the pantry and trying to reorganize so it works better and while I'm at it taking an inventory and trying to figure out what I need and how to remedy the situation with what I have on hand.  Reorganizing is really important, especially the home canned goods.  I have a hard time reading the lids in the really dim light in there (we only have one lightbulb that's right by the door and then I have a small LED motion detecting nightlight and that's the only light I have total in there), so things quickly get disorganized and it just doesn't work great and the box system works great until the boxes get the least bit worn and start to cave in on you.  So, I'm going to see about finding some materials around here to put some type of fronts on my shelves by the door to protect jars from an earthquake and see about maybe putting the home canned goods (or a good portion of them anyway) there where I can read everything easily (some of the jars are seen up top).

So, yeah, here are my goals for this week.

Sewing Goals:
  • Try and get some of the previous goals done if possible.

General Goals:
  • Work on pantry and make list of needs and brainstorm ways to fill in gaps.
  •  Reorganize the pantry to work better if possible.

Cleaning Goals:
  • Get caught up on laundry
  • Keep on top of "Alvah God of Destruction" (I'm kidding...kind of *laugh*)

And there you are folks.  My goals for this week.  How about you?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Lately, life has been trying.  Money, as you know, is tight (understatement of the year).  With this being the last week of school my daughter's stomach has been all over the place (read, cycling) so she had to take probably more Zophran the last week than she has all school year.  My husband has not been feeling great between his back, the tendon in his foot still swelling up and hurting him on and off (can't really let one of those heal when you're on your feet all day) and stress is getting to him big time (getting spells of feeling weak and shaky, but blood pressure and sugar are fine, etc).

The worst one out of the lot, though, is my son.  I'm baffled.  Completely baffled.  The poor kid is on MASSIVE doses of antihistamines right now.  Like four times the recommended dosage of those medicines.  This is SUPPOSED to get rid of his hives so we can start allergy shots. Instead the last week has been utterly MISERABLE!!!  The poor guy will suddenly go head to toe hives in five to ten minutes, develop welts randomly on his body and face and scare us to utter death.  We were supposed to be giving him Adorax to help with the hives and itching on top of the Zyrtec, but I switched to Benadryl, because no matter the way the medicine is supposed to work and help him, Adorax does 100% nada for him.  So really my son is one big walking, hivey and welty, cauldron of Benadryl and Zyrtec right now.  And it doesn't seem to be doing much for the hives.  Although, odd bright side is that his eczema is the best it's been in YEARS.  I feel so bad sometimes and feel like I've failed him.  I can't seem to fix anything wrong with him no matter what and how I try.  Sigh.

Anyway, hey, bright side is physically I'm doing okay all things considered.  My TMJ is flaring on and off and I'm depressed (and I've found myself kind of snippy with my husband from time to time, but it's only about work and he understands, thank goodness...I'm trying to watch my tongue, but I'm so tired from lack of sleep and just plain worry about everyone in the family that it just kind of pops out without me thinking about it.  Not fun, but honest I guess), but  compared to everyone else, I'm not complaining.

I haven't taken pictures of the garden progress yet as the weather hasn't been accommodating to picture taking the last few days due to rain, but I'm not complaining as we need the rain!  I'll try to do a quick separate post on the garden in the next few days :).

Some anyway, let's get onto money saving things that happened this week!

1.  I did my math and checked my receipts from Carrs and due to saving up my gas rewards (and taking advantage of the 4x gas rewards if you spent 100.00 they have going on right now) I was able to get .70 off per gallon of gas yesterday.  Since I was running on next to no gas when I went and got gas and they only allow you so much gas on your rewards, I didn't get to fill up a jerry can with gas the way I wanted on that price, but I was still able to fill my tank for 28.00, which was awesome!

2.  I went to Fred Meyer and got the free Myst Twyst (or whatever the soda freebie was) from yesterday while I was in town as that will give us free treats this summer.  I let the curate bar go for now as the nuts in it...I don't like to keep stuff like that around the house with my son's want to chew on things in wrappers.

3.  I canned a few more things this week. 

Monday I canned some dilly beans (seen up top).  I looked at stores close by and had my husband check other stores he was near when he was working (since he was in the area and I was conserving gas as much as I could) and neither of us could find dill seeds ANYWHERE and the fresh dill just looked sad at the stores, so I ended up using dill weed instead of dill seed in the pickles.  I have no idea if they'll come out tasting anything like dill pickles doing it that way, but that's what I had so that's what I used.  We shall see how it goes when we open them.  I figure if they don't taste like dill out of the jar when I open them (here's a good "hack" for you), I'll just pour out some of the brine and add some pickle juice from some other dill pickles to help them along a bit.

I did end up picking up my canner from the Cooperative Extension Service.  The gal called and said my canner was done.  I do, indeed, need to replace the dial as it has a dent from heat warping over time and the temperature doesn't read accurately due to it.  Which is fine.  I can pick up a dial at a store about two minutes from my house, so I figure as soon as I can get ANY money to mess with in my budget I'll stop down there and pick one up and my husband can install it for me.

Tuesday I canned a couple of jars of cranberry sauce from a bag of frozen cranberries I found in the freezer.  I always buy extra cranberries and use them usually in recipes and things, but my family doesn't really "get into" fresh cranberries much and I have a bunch of dried that I still need to go through, so I just decided to make the cranberries into sauce instead.  I will try to post up a recipe for cranberry sauce here as not only is it super easy to make it is also a REALLY good thing to make if you're confused where the "sheeting" point on jam making is as cranberries have so much natural pectin the sheeting stage happens a LOT quicker so you don't second guess yourself so much like you would making strawberry preserves or something and you end up with sauce.   Just for the record, I've noticed a lot of descriptions on the sheeting stage are just plain confusing.  Here's how I figured it out.  Take a cold spoon and dip it into your jam mixture and then hold it up to let the jam/whatever run off the spoon.  If it LOOKS like jam and kind of falls off in blobs you're good to go.  If it flows off the cold spoon, even if it's thick looking, you've got a bit longer to go or an alternative if you are making jams with tart things (like rose hips or something) you can add 1/2 cup more sugar and then bring it back to boiling and test again.
I figured all I had left to do this week was taco sauce (which I'm hoping to make today), but then I got a text from a friend of mine.  Her big block freezer had died and she wanted to know if I wanted some cherries as she remembered me saying that I was looking to get some cheap.  I didn't really want to take food from her as I know her family is tight in the money department like mine and even offered to can them for her, but she said I'd be doing her a favor as she and her mom and sisters were working on canning and dehydrating all of the meat from the freezer that they couldn't fit in all the freezers between them so she didn't loose anything and she was going to be tight on room in her pantry due to all the canned meat (they pretty much live on game meat her husband hunts).

So, put that way, I said sure and quickly met up with her one day to give her a hug (my week looked like roses compared to hers) and her to give me 5 pounds of  not quite frozen cherries.  I took them home and put them into a bowl to defrost and then Thursday I made them into pints of cherry pie filling (yay!!!).  I now just have to make up my rhubarb recipes come harvesting time and whatever produce I can score cheap or whatever grows in the garden that I can process for winter.  I'm happy!!!  Winter preparations are going well so far for a change =D. 

4.  I knew I needed to start fertilizing the garden this week since the seedlings are finally starting to pop up with a vengance, but I thought for sure I was out of fertilizer and was trying to figure out if I could make enough compost to fertilize the garden (I've found you have to fertilize up here.  Plants are forced to grow so much faster than they would like due to the short growing season and near constant sunlight that they'll just not grow very well without heavy fertilizing), but luckily while tearing apart the shed looking for something I found a box of fertilizer that was 3/4 of the way full!  I had bought it when we first moved here and had forgotten we had it, so yay!

5.  One big way I saved money this week was with the exception of running errands yesterday I didn't go anywhere or do anything much at all, so I kept spending to an absolute minimum.

6.  When we had to go to the dump last weekend, I gave my husband our free dump coupon to use (the Borough gives every household one per year).  It gave us an 8.00 credit to use, so my husband threw out some heavier items that he'd been putting off throwing away.  All totaled a month's worth of garbage (we normally go to the dump once a month and go through a big garbage can a week) and heavier items that my husband threw away cost us 4.00 to get rid of.

7.  I mended a few items this week, including a hole in a pair of jeans I had.

8.  I weeded the garden a lot this week as invasive weeds are AWFUL this year all over the place...it's annoying for sure.  This doesn't seem like a money saving "thing" to some folks, but it really is as it helps your actual plants to grow, is free except your time and it pays off in the end for sure.

9.  I knew I would have to trellis my peas sometime relatively soon so I started looking at materials to build a trellis system instead of worrying about buying one.

10.  Yesterday was the last day of school before summer break and I was surprised and delighted when my son's teacher gave us a packet of photos along with his progress notes that were taken during his ski trip earlier in the year.  There are some great photos in there that I want to frame :).

On a sad note, this was the first year where at the end of school I wanted to hug teachers and cry.  We found out recently that my son's ABA program is moving to our boundary school, which will be a lot more convenient for me (no more double pick ups and drop offs), but then the bad things started coming through about it.  One is that our new principal in our boundary school doesn't seem to get how many accommodations she's going to have to make for a good even dozen special needs kids coming into her school and that makes me nervous (their parking system and pick up procedures are ridiculous and you almost need a flow chart to follow them).  Our boundary school doesn't have the nice fenced in playground like my son's old school did (another thing making me nervous).  And the worst part is that his teacher, who I adore and is spectacular at behavioral teaching and things isn't going to be at the ABA program next year and they are bringing in an entirely new teacher.  This upset me as his teacher is awesome, for one, and most of the kids in my son's class hate change, so I can imagine how productive of a year they are going to have next year at a brand new school with a brand new teacher.  And this is IF the aides get transferred over and they still don't know if they are yet.  Upsetting to say the least.

So, I'm going to really miss my son's teacher.  And then my daughter's teacher was just awesome this last year as well and she really helped my daughter to develop more of a sense of self confidence and things.  And she really helped to push her in all the right ways.  There are some teachers you want to grab and just transfer from grade to grade, this was one of them.  I am going to miss her and pray that my daughter's teacher next year is nearly as good as her.

And there you are folks.  Some of my frugal ways this last week.  How did you do?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

 First, the above photo was actually taken by my son when he grabbed my camera and snapped a picture.  I was impressed.  He's a better photographer than I am *laugh*.

This week's shopping trips are combined with next week's too as I covered in a previous post (I wanted the fuel rewards if I went over 100.00 in one shopping trip at Carrs...it netted me 4x the fuel rewards doing that.  The coupon has renewed itself too, so check your Just 4 U coupons to see if you can load it if you want it). 

So anyway, all totaled I went to three stores the last week.  One was Carrs, of course last Friday, where I picked up things like flavored water (for daughter's lunches this week), Gatorade, Cheetos, some chips and other "boy food".  I didn't really get anything "wow" worthy, so I didn't bother to take a picture (that and most of it was shelf stable and was going to be down in the pantry or the laundry room (like the 3.00 things of cat litter I bought) so I REALLY didn't want to try and stack two weeks worth of groceries on our stairs to take a picture).  All totaled I spent 103.00 after coupons and got my fuel rewards.  Part of that was 10.00 my husband and I spent on lunch, which I don't count in the grocery budget, so that left me with about 30.00 for the rest of the two week period.
The other trip is above when we went to Bushes Bunches on Saturday last week in the hopes of getting corn on the cob super cheap (I was willing to go over budget to stock up on it).  I saw the post on them having it Friday night after I had gotten my shopping done, so we ran in about a half an hour after they opened on Saturday to try and get some.  I was right behind the woman who had gotten the very last ears.  I was kind of bummed, but I grabbed two big bags of cole slaw mix (all locally grown).

I then ran to the Franz outlet to see about what I could get for bread cheap.  All of the bread I bought was on the 4/5.00 rack, so I got all of the above bread for 11.66 (the one Rustic Seeds loaf was free.  If you spend five dollars or more there you get a free loaf of bread.  I spent 11.66 because if you buy an odd amount you pay 1.66 instead of 1.25 for the item.  :).  This should be enough bread to last us about a month, so I was happy (and it will even meet some of the goals for feeding therapy like the bread sticks, so yay!).  I like the buy the pre-sliced bread for toast as the kids definitely prefer it and also for quick dinners when I run out of home made bread (which does, occasionally happen).

So all totaled I spent 112.66 on groceries for two weeks, which leaves me about 8.00 or so for milk (luckily milk was part of the shopping trip so I think I will make it...if not I'll be close).

So, how did you do?  Find anything neat the stores this week?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Menu Plan for Week of 5/16/16

 Whew!  I'm exhausted today.  Not only did my son not want to sleep last night, at ALL (he took a nap yesterday afternoon so I knew I was in trouble), but then yesterday I spent starting to catch up on cleaning the house and today I spent the morning running around more than I wanted to and canning dilly beans.  So, yeah, it's 2:10 and I can officially start my day now.  Catching up on cleaning is going to go well today *sigh*.

At least I'm not missing out too much on getting yard work done today as it's raining out, so I am not too motivated to go out and get my yard tools wet chopping up bushes.  The way this is going, I think I might try really hard to get up a couple of hours before the kids (5:00 am or so) every day during summer break and just go and hit the yard for at least an hour since my husband will be home sleeping (theoretically) and I won't have to worry about the kids too much and since we have 24 hours of daylight coming up really soon here I will be able to get a lot done if I can do it.  IF being the operative word with my son's sleep habits, but it's definitely worth a shot.

When it comes to the menu plan this week...the only thing that shouted out to me when I was looking at recipes online this week was salads and sweets *laugh*.  I am watching my lettuce in the garden like a hawk and have been eating salads on and off for lunch, so I'm THINKING I might need some nutrients from those items.  I haven't even made a starch to go with dinner the last few nights (much to my daughter's ire) as I really just didn't want to eat one. 

So, here we go.  The menu plan for this week!

Menu Plan for Week of 5/16/16
Monday:  Fried chicken, coleslaw (this was WAY too sweet.  My husband didn't even want to eat it.  I'm going to mix some mustard in with the leftovers and see if it improves the problem).

Tuesday:  BBQ ribs, leftover coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy

Wednesday:  Rosemary Mustard Chicken, Salad, Rice

Thursday:  Chicken Queso Casserole, tortillas or garlic toast (depending on family preference), salad.

Friday:  Sausage and Biscuits Breakfast Casserole

Saturday:  Noodle Bowl Night

Sunday:  Baked Chicken with Spiced Cranberry Sauce, stuffing, green beans.

Desserts:  Cranberry Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce, Coconut Pudding (Thursday)

And there you have it folks.  My menu plan for the week.  You having anything interesting this week?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Well, where last week was super productive despite depressing events on the home front, this week was...well not productive I guess is the best way to put it.

With having various appointments that just blew the day (orthodontist for daughter, allergist for son and dental visit for my husband on top of therapies) and then having to deal with a son who keeps breaking out in welts and hives on top of it, it would have been a lesson in frustration to try and get anything done.  So, the housework piled up because I wasn't home and I sure didn't get to work on the yard work I want to get done at all.

I'm hoping this week will be more productive as while I have my son home tomorrow (his class has a field trip, but it's all outdoors and the way his allergies have been going lately...um...no) and he has speech therapy tomorrow, the rest of the week we are free from appointments and therapies.  So I'm hoping I can get a FEW things done in the next five days.  Especially clearing some of the yard where the weeds will start to take over immediately if we get any rain (and I'm honestly hoping for rain...we've had a dry spring and summer so far).  I really need to clear the raspberry bank of dead wood as between the raspberry bushes the moose, heat and blight killed and the dead rose bushes...it's awful looking and really just needs to be tended to.

I measured out my All American canner.  It's going to be a kind of tight fit for a hot water bath canner for my pint jars (you have to fill it about 80% of the way up to go over the tops of the jars, but it does work), quart jars are out until I get my 27 quart canner back (although I was happy to note that the quart jars do fit if you use it as a pressure canner...I just couldn't get the jars covered with at least an inch of water in that sucker to save my life though to do hot water bath canning).  I'm missing my Presto already and I'm really praying the cooperative extension gal comes in quickly to check it.  If not I might be stopping by and grabbing it back from them at some point this week just to get some canning done and then dropping it off again.  My husband has even suggested just going and getting a new pressure gauge and installing it as that's the only thing on the canner that would be the least bit bad on it.  I know it still seals up fine.  I'd prefer not to have to replace it unless I have to though.  We'll see how it goes this week.

One of the things I didn't get to this week was canning dilly beans due to my schedule, so I went through the beans tonight and picked out the few that were turning brown and not looking like they were good canning fodder anymore.  I washed them well, dried them and put them in a bowl and will store them in the fridge tonight (seen above in process).  Tomorrow I'll attempt to can them in my All American canner and pray that it gets the job done as a hot water bath canner.  Fingers crossed!

I did, however, get all of the reams of paperwork filled out and to the proper people involved, so I feel good getting that off of my plate!

So, onto my goals for this week.

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on gift for new niece.  I really got to get working on this or she'll be here before I get a chance to start on it.
  • Work on mending husband's work jacket.

Canning Goals:
  • Can dilly beans.  IF the new canner works well as a hot water bath canner, can taco sauce.  If not, maybe go and get Presto canner to get the job done.

Cleaning Goals:
  • Clean house (after last week this needs to be done BAD!).  
  • Scrub bathrooms.
  • Scrub laundry room.
  • Sort and put away laundry.
  • Clean path to master bedroom closet (husband decided to pull stuff out of the closet one day and then didn't put it all back in so there's kind of a mess to clean up) and put up winter clothing I bought for kids earlier and their winter boots for next winter.
  • Wash and put up winter gear for year (I can't BELIEVE I'm still working on that.  It's sad really).
  • Scrub down kid's rooms (this is a priority item as I want to make sure this gets done by the time the kids are out of school and thus makes it harder for me to do at that point).
  • Shampoo Carpets

Yard/Garden Goals:
  • Work on yard.  Any area of the yard.  Just WORK ON IT!
  • Plant more lettuce seeds and some basil seeds in the hanging planter.  Also plant some more seeds in the bare area of the garden to fill in holes where seeds didn't germinate and also in the one bare area that was saved to rotate planting.
  • Start working on trellis for peas as they are taking off already and I want to make sure that's up before I'm caught with my proverbial pants down.
  • Compost around rhubarb plant to see if it will help it grow better.

General Goals:
  • Get kids through last week of school.
  • Sit down and work out schedule for summer break (my daughter's stomach does better when the day and meal times are structured, so I'm hoping to stick with that for the summertime to help her stomach from cycling).
  • Start doing a "write down goal" list every day (Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert asserts that writing goals down 14 times in a day will help to reshape reality for you to meet those goals.  Heck, I figure it's worth a shot :).
  • Get den cleaned out and put things in donation pile or out in storage (this goes for the master bedroom closet as well, but I'm thinking that one is waiting till next week for me to start).

And there you go folks.  My goals for this week.  How about you?  Got anything planned?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 What a week!  You know, I say that so often sometimes I think I need to copyright the phrase *laugh*.

I will break this down but put the bright side I found to the situations in as well as I did find bright sides as I went along.

We went to my husband's dental appointment early in the week.  He was supposed to get two root canals.  Well he talked to the dentist and said no on any bridge work they might want to do, which took out one root canal as they would need to remove the cap they put on, do a root canal (as there wasn't enough tooth left after the cap was removed) to do a build up for a crown....or something like that.  So one root canal got nixed right away.  Then they went to work on the other tooth, but the dentist kaboshed it after looking at the tooth more closely realizing that it was broken down below the gum line and there wasn't enough tooth to save (down side).  So, we figured it was going to be an extraction, but since the tooth isn't bothering my husband at all right now the dentist just left it and just told him to keep the tooth in his head as long as he could so he had...well you know...another tooth.

He then sat my husband down and made a proposal.   Since we'd already gone in to get work done and since he did need more dental work done, he offered to do two more of my husband's teeth that needed to be capped that day.  And by doing that it would come out to be about the same amount of money as the one root canal and cap would have been.  My husband and I both agreed once we found out what the bottom line for the last root canal, the final crown for that root canal and the two caps would cost.

So for the one root canal he got done last time and the crown to go with it, as well as the two caps we got done that day we paid about 4000.00 (I think it was like 4200.00, but can't find my sheet of paper with the amount on it at the moment).  I was happy with the price as I paid 1/2 of that just for one cap with another dentist for myself.  And now, the super bright side.  We only have the one future extraction to worry about and then two more teeth to cap and all of his teeth are done!  Yay!!!

Which, of course the downside on that is wondering what our payments are going to be as my daughter's braces payment is like 120.00 a month, so I have no idea what the 4000.00 will add to the monthly payment amount.  And we only have 18 months to pay it off or deferred interest and the usual head aches that come with that.  But at least we are finally seeing some light at the end of a very long tunnel when it comes to dental work and at about the same time the bill has to be paid off my daughter's braces will be about due to be paid off too (bright side!).

The day before the dental appointment I looked at the spot in the garage where my car normally parked (I was thinking of washing the car) and found a couple of oil drips.  I quickly examined under my car, which I tend to do quite a bit actually, and much to my dismay found oil dripping from somewhere.  I checked the dip stick to make sure I still had oil and sent a bunch of panicked texts to my husband.  I kind of freaked out.  I mean I don't have money to spend repairing my car right now and if a pump or something major went I had no idea how I was going to pay for it and I can't be without a car with my son's therapies and the kids in school and all the other things I have to do in a day.  Which led to a mini emotional break down while waiting for my husband to get home, I won't lie.

My husband tracked down the problem and it turns out the crank seal on my car is leaking (which the dealership had told us that on our next to last oil change, but my husband hadn't found any evidence to back it up, so had disregarded it...turns out the dealership was right in this case).  To repair it my husband is pretty sure that we are going to have to pull the engine and it is going to be terribly expensive to do.  Bright side at least it's something that is maintainable until we can get the money saved up to repair it, so I'm going to be one of "those" cars in the parking lot that leaves a tiny oil spot when I park and I have to get into the habit of checking my oil every couple of days to see if I need to add some.  But, I definitely found the bright side to that problem with the fact that at least my car isn't belching oil all over the highway.

Then there was a big accident right in front of my daughter's school yesterday right at the point where I had to pick her up.  Nothing like seeing an entire road blocked off by emergency vehicles to give you a small heart attack with school violence and things.  Once I was assured it wasn't anything happening at the school I ended up having to take my son all the way around town to get around to the other side of the same road where there were some back roads I could take to get into the school.   My poor daughter was in a panic and crying by the time I got there, worried that I'd been hurt or something, even though I called and asked the school to give her the message that we were fine.  I swear most people don't know how to deal with a sensitive kid anymore.  We were only about 10 minutes late, but it was a nerve racking experience as I was worried about my daughter over reacting and I have no natural sense of direction at all.  I only got lost twice, but I finally made it where I was going (bright side!).  My husband would have been rolling his eyes at me as he's like a natural map, but I felt proud that I remembered the back way into the school area anyway.

My husband ended up with various troubles at work including his work truck throwing a belt and a power steering pump while he was traveling home on the highway.  And while he was going through that my son's face broke out in welts again.  But, I quickly realized what was going on, got some Benadryl down him and got him into a tub and it worked to control the outbreak (bright side!).

Then my air craft carrier cat decided to jam her very large derriere into my den window sill and knocked my basil seedlings that were doing super well all over the floor (and I even had said planter barricaded to try and make it more "cat proof").  I was NOT happy, but I can plant more seeds in a hanging planter I have with some other herb seeds and hopefully I'll get some basil from it and at least my ceramic planter didn't break (bright side).

And another bright point is that my daughter got the confirmation that she gets to have her braces removed next month.  An entire month early!  She's thrilled and so am I.  Then it's just prayers that her dental visit after that will go well with no cavities *fingers crossed*.

It's just been a long week and I'm very glad tomorrow is the beginning of the weekend to be sure.

But, yeah, on top of all of that I did manage to save some money this week, so let's get to that shall we?
1.  I got a call from the Cooperative Extension Service that my All American Canner was ready to be picked up.  I was surprised after their last call, but when I found out that all it would need was a new pressure gauge, everything else was fine on it, I packed up my huge Presto canner (otherwise known as my third child *laugh*) and dropped it off to get tested next.  My husband picked up a gauge while he was in Anchorage, saving us a trip and the gas that went with it to get one, and brought it home and installed it.   Since the canner was free originally for less than 20.00 I now have a perfectly serviceable smaller pressure canner and/or pressure cooker.  I am happy because at least with the All American now workable I can use it as a canner for smaller jars (it seems to me that only pint jars will fit height wise in it but I haven't tested it yet) while waiting for my Presto canner to get tested at the Extension Service.

Also while there I asked about 4-H as I would like to get my daughter involved in things that don't revolve around her sitting in her room playing all summer when we aren't at therapy or something and they gave me a list of activities that you don't have to be a member to do and a lot of them are actually family friendly, like berry foraging and how to identify and use them, an activity all about gardening geared toward younger kids and other things.  And those activities tend to go for about 10.00 per person, so if I or my husband took her to a couple of them it wouldn't cost us a fortune to go and I would be happy that she's around other kids and she's learning something.

2.  I received several gifts this week.  One was some Amazon giftcards from various sources (including a couple of gifts of which I'm super thankful!) and one was some coupons from a blog reader and my mom.  I went and applied all of the Amazon giftcards from all the different sources and I used the giftcards CAREFULLY to make sure I could get them to stretch as far as they could go.  Highlights included winter boots for the kids in the next size up for this coming winter for 10.00 or less per pair, sneakers for myself that I've been desperately needing for 14.00 and an Otterbox Defender case for my son's I-Pad (his was falling APART and wasn't really even working well anymore) for 30.00 (I bought it from AT&T vs. Otterbox and saved myself over half the purchase price doing it that way). 

I also stocked up on some food items like bulk chili powder (so cheap to get things like that on Amazon and chili powder is the base for a BUNCH of different spice blends...trust me from someone who had to deal with a garlic allergy I know these things ;).  I figure if things go badly with my husband and work at least between the chili powder and the beans and rice I have in the pantry we can have red beans and rice for dinner for a bit.

I was able to utilize the coupons I got sent (of which I'm super thankful for as well!) to get things really cheap this week including cat litter.  Tidy Cat cat litter was on sale for 5.00 today, so I used some 2.00/1 coupons I received to get a couple things of cat litter for 3.00 each.  DEFINITELY a good thing to have stocked up on :).

3.  Speaking of shopping I decided to pool resources and do two weeks of shopping at once today.  This was for various reasons.  One was the sales Carrs was having today on things like Gatorade (my daughter gets dehydrated so easy when I found recently that she liked Gatorade I wanted to get some for her to help combat the situation), the cat litter and a few other items and I wanted to make sure I had the resources to pool.

Two was that the kids are off for summer break as of Friday this week and I wanted to make sure I was stocked up on things like drinks and such to avoid having to drag the kids all over the store...I figure big shopping trips are going to be once every two weeks or even once a month over the summer and then the shopping trips to the store can just be super quick for milk or whatever and keep stress to a minimum.

The other reason was that I had an E-Coupon loaded that would give me 4 times the gas rewards if I spent 100.00 in one shopping trip.  So, I made the limit, got the gas rewards and now I have about 30.00 to spend on residual groceries the next couple of weeks (part of the 100.00 was lunch for my husband and I as we had a ton of errands to run and my husband had to take some pills for his back).  So all totaled I now have .50 per gallon for gas the next time I fill up, which will be very welcome indeed.

4.  I got my electric bill in the mail and was really happy to see our electric bill has gone down by 100.00 from last month.  This time last year the electric company was estimating our bill, and badly at that, so we were paying nearly 400.00 a month in electric.  Now we're down below 200.00 a month and now that the electric heat is turned off for the summer we should hopefully see a reduction further than that.  I am really wondering how much of this sudden drop is due to the new meter they installed, but only time will tell.

5.  I posted on Facebook asking if anyone had any of a list of things (like fruit trees, raspberry bushes, etc) that someone might not want.  Since I was asking and I hate to ask for things due to embarrassment issues (it's a knee jerk reaction type of deal), I included just from more of a whim than anything, a rabbit hutch.   I knew that if I can get up some money at some point I want to start a small rabbit concern for meat and such and figured why not ask for one while asking for everything else.   Oddly enough the one thing I thought for sure no one would have would be a rabbit hutch, but my mother-in-law is friends with a gal who swims with her in the morning and it turned out the lady had a homestead and was moving so she actually had a rabbit hutch we could have!  She delivered it to my mother-in-law's house, so we'll have to pick it up once my husband gets his truck's tires switched over (and finishes up some auto repairs that need done), but at least I won't have to worry about where to house rabbits when I can get some (which my one friend might be able to hook me up with some really cheap or even free, so I'm hoping :).

6.  I cleaned my vacuum cleaner bag and reused it again this week.  They get filled so quickly with how my son is that I just can't see just throwing it away if I can avoid it.  So, now I can get another use or two out of it before throwing it away (the rubber seal on it is starting to show some wear so I'm not sure how much longer the bag will last).  I also washed out and reused freezer bags and bread bags, per usual now.

7.  I went to the used store to see if I could pick up some more pint jars as I started doing inventory and realized that I would need more before canning for the year was over.  I found a bunch of pint jars for .50, but while I was there I also noticed that they had pink tagged clothing for .50 a piece and they had racks of the sale clothing put out.  I went through it and found two winter jackets for my daughter in the next size up, one a very nice coat in nearly brand new shape (I have a small rip in a seam to repair) and a pair of jeans in brand new shape for myself in a designer brand (only reason I know that is because the gal at the register pointed it out to me *laugh*) all for .50 a piece!  I was happy to find those, especially the jeans as I have a pair that I love but is falling apart very very quickly on me, so I was happy to add a better pair to my wardrobe.

Also, a quick update on the garden!
Seedlings are starting to pop up all over.  Some, like the spinach seeds I planted, are definitely coming up as they are coming up in a nice even spacing.  The swiss chard I planted...um...I'm not really sure if that is coming up or not, but I have seedlings popping up in a sporadic fashion in that area of the garden, so I'm hopeful.

My chives, of all things, grew up and immediately started to try and go to seed, but I found three more chive plants that are growing in the front bed now (woohoo!).  I removed the seed pods to encourage it to grow more, but I have to say the winter seems to have messed with plants a bit this year.

I found one more garlic plant that popped up nice and strong at the back of the garden in between where I planted the potatoes (which the planters where I planted potatoes are popping up, but nothing in the garden yet, oddly enough) and some of the seeds I spread around the potatoes are starting to pop up as well.  I'm hoping to have a nice variety of Chinese cabbages and such on top of the lettuce and things I normally grow this year. The existing garlic plants are definitely growing and doing well, so that was a nice surprise.  I'm glad I didn't lose any in my "I didn't realize I had garlic plants surviving" ignorance.

Hopefully the real plants will start to make themselves known (once they grow out of the new seedling stage here) so that I can start pulling weeds with more confidence here soon.

So, there you go folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week, both good and bad.  How did you do?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

Well, I have to say that I am really happy with how shopping has turned out this week.  We didn't have a lot of money to spend at the store and so I didn't spend much, but we had a couple of really nice boons this week.

One was a gift of some Amazon giftcards, which between them and some other giftcards I had from redeeming Swagbucks and doing a research study with a college on autism research (it was a 2 year project I've been involved in)  I worked really hard to make those giftcards go as far as I possibly could on Amazon.  I bought my son his yearly supply of Hersheyettes MUCH cheaper than if I'd gone through Chocolate World (actually not only did I get said chocolate cheaper I got twice the amount I normally get through Chocolate World as well, which will save me a bundle not having to buy more chocolate candy for the holidays and such through my other go-to nut free online store).  The biggest thing I saved on with buying them that way was the savings in shipping due to the lesser price of shipping on Amazon once I reached their minimum free shipping threshold (REALLY need to get Prime sometime soon, though as 49.00 for free shipping now?  OUCH!).  I was also able to get some non-food items we desperately needed around here as well (I'll go more into detail on that later on so I can focus on food items here).  I'm very very grateful for the blessings that I received with those gift cards.

For Mother's Day (speaking of giftcards) my mother-in-law gifted me with a Fred Meyer gift card,so I decided to use that to go toward canning lids and sugar that I needed for my monthly shopping needs as I was still pretty low on sugar and knew I would need it if I should run into any produce that I wanted to can and such (not to mention I just hate to run too low on staples like that).  So, I went to Fred Meyer figuring I'd get a big 25 lb bag of sugar, but they were out.  So, I settled for 12 lbs for about 6.00 (the sugar was like 2.12 per bag or something like that...sorry I just have the total for the trip in front of me *laugh*).

I also ran into a really nice sale on canning lids!  The regular mouth canning lids, normally over 2.00 per box anywhere I'd look were only 1.70 per box about and the wide mouthed canning lids (which is where the REAL savings were as those are up to nearly 4.00 per BOX regular price!) were 2.49 per box!  I stocked up!

I also got cat food while I was there as it is much cheaper there than at Carrs.

I was worried that my seeds for my peas weren't going to come up with how cold it has been a lot of this summer so far, so I grabbed some pea seeds that are hardy in cold or heat and was going to plant those should the other ones fail to germinate (luckily my peas finally started coming up the last couple of days, so I'll just save the other ones for next year).

I also got my Friday Freebies that I had saved from my friend and from me (thanks again, Stephanie).  I was so frazzled and so busy lately I completely spaced the bread freebie until it was gone, but luckily my friend was more with it than I was and I was able to get her freebie for that.  I had looked for it last week but our stores hadn't had it in yet, so I was thrilled to find it this week.

I was also able to score a free Lindt stick candy thingie that my mom sent me a free coupon for (it looked like a coupon from the company, so I have no idea where she got it from to send me, but I was happy either way :). 

The Doritos and Oreos were for my son for reinforcers (the cookies) and for snacks and stuff.  They were on sale or cheaper than I could get at Carrs.

All totaled after gift card and coupons I had I spent 17.39 at Fred Meyer.  I didn't think that was too shabby really.

I then ran to Carrs to fill my daughter's prescription and got milk and eggs (eggs were on sale for .99 a dozen with in-ad coupon).  All totaled I spent 8.37 at Carrs (I would have gotten milk at Fred Meyer, but I forgot.  Go me!).
I then checked my mail the next day to find that my Fred Meyer rewards had come in the mail.  I was thrilled as I had decided I REALLY wanted to get some lettuce for salad this week and was going to run into the store to get it while running some other errands in town, so I grabbed my rewards and went shopping.  I was able to get all of the above for 1.28 after my rewards had been applied.

I'm really hoping that I can start to rack up some rewards points this period as they are once again doing their double rewards points on the weekend thing (you just need to load the E-Coupon once to your card for the entire period and it lasts all summer long).  We are usually in town on Saturdays, so I'm hoping to be able to just run and get my shopping done at Fred Meyer that I need to get done that day.

Anyway, tangent aside, I spent a total of  27.04 on groceries this week.  Not too bad.  Of course next week's shopping trip is going to cost more because I have "son food" to get, but overall I'm happy with this week.

The green beans I bought I'm planning on blanching and freezing tomorrow to hopefully use as dilly bean fodder a bit later in the year once I have some dill.  The spinach and the lettuce we've been mixing for a more flavorful salad and are enjoying them thoroughly.

So what about you?  Found anything good at the stores lately?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Menu Plan for Week of 5/9/16

I kept going back and forth on what to make for dinner this week.  I have two conflicting needs in me right now:  "Cheap" and "Different" seem to not really go together sometimes.

Luckily, grocery shopping worked in my favor this week, so I can change things up a little bit and then I'm going to get creative with some leftovers to see about changing the menu plan up from "meh" to "more exciting".  For a good portion of the week, too, I need recipes that are decently easy to make as with our schedule right now with appointments and such it's somewhat hectic around here.


Menu Plan for Week of 5/9/16
Monday:  Pork Steaks, flavored rice, salad

Tuesday:  Eggs Benedict (pull English muffins from freezer and use left over ham from Sunday), pear slices (use up ripe pear in fridge)

Wednesday: Puffed pancake, peaches, sausage patties (pull sausage from freezer)

Thursday:  Crab salad tarts (this should be an interesting concoction if it turns out *fingers crossed*.  Use canned crab from pantry) on lettuce.

Friday:  Ham salad with boiled eggs, garlic toast

Saturday:  Pan fried chicken, potato salad, spinach salad

Sunday:  Beef roast with roasted veggies, leftovers or Poor Man's Casserole (a recipe a blog reader sent in that I want to try :).
To bake:  Bread (weekend), desserts

Desserts:  Cookie bars (make Tuesday night hopefully), custard (Thursday)

How about you?  Making anything good this week (I'm ALWAYS looking for ideas *laugh*).

Monday, May 9, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

 Well, there was good and bad last week.  The week was depressing for sure, but there was some good there as well and I managed to get some things done.

1. Monday, before I had to go and pick up the kids early due to allergy issues, I managed to rebuild the rock wall in our driveway.  I had wanted to start on the back yard that day, but the rock wall was getting BAD.  The rocks just sit in the bank and the previous owners never used concrete to set them in.  So when the bank starts to just crumble in dry weather (of which we've had a lot the last couple of years) whole sections of the wall will just collapse.  I stacked a lot of rocks that day, killed off one ants nest that had been built underneath one of the rocks right by my house with some diatomaceous earth and then I took a push broom and swept about four years worth of accumulated leaves and other stuff that had piled up along where the wall was and swept it all into the ditch on the opposite side of the driveway (it's a drop off type of ditch on that side, so the more I throw down there to slowly fill it, I figure the better off we are).  I probably recovered two feet of driveway by doing that and the best part is that it looks SO much better now than it did before..it was looking pretty derelict by the end of the winter.

2.  I did some research online on when and how to move rhubarb plants and found that you can move them in the spring or in the fall after they seed.  If you move them in the spring you don't get rhubarb for a couple of years, which panicked me a little as I know I need to move my rhubarb plant, but I don't want to be without rhubarb as I need it for winter preservation.  So, I will move it in the fall once it goes to seed.  I also contacted a friend of mine who had offered me her rhubarb plants and asked if I could wait and harvest the rhubarb in the fall (they don't use it) and then when the plants go to seed come back and grab them.  She was okay with that (thanks so much, Davina!) so hopefully I'll have plenty of rhubarb for canning and for the freezer this fall and I'll be able to have time to clear the bank where I want to put them.

Bright side to the colder weather we're having this year (it's been dry and HOT the last couple) is that the raspberry bushes that I thought were just going to finally kick the bucket on me are actually growing WELL right now, so hopefully if I can clear the underbrush from the bank and stake the raspberry bushes as they grow (and move the one from further up in my yard to said bank) I might be able to preserve the bushes I have left.  If this works I might be able to rebuild my raspberry patch and this time control how it grows (the previous owners just let them grown wild) .  I'm then hoping to plant my rhubarb on the same bank and hopefully get some sort of rock (pea gravel or something) in there to help with drainage and help to control weed growth (anyone got any tips on how to do that without spending a fortune in things like landscaping plastic or anything?).

3.  I got some canning done.

I got the rest of my discounted apples canned last night for use in recipes later as well (seen above).  I'm really happy how the preparations for winter are going so far.  I pray that my lucks holds and I'm able to get more accomplished as the summer goes on.

4.  I started to fill out the paperwork for TEFRA only to get e-mailed an entire new packet so everything was filled in right in the fields.  So, time to start over again.  At least I have appointments this week (orthodontist tomorrow, root canals for husband on Wednesday, occupational therapy for son on Thursday) where I'll have time to get it done and e-mailed back to his new care coordinator. 

5.  We went to the nurseries on Saturday where I was after a few things with my limited budget.  I wanted to get some thyme, some sage (I planted some seeds but I wanted some that would be ready to harvest sooner...I LOVE sage) and some rosemary for my one planter out front, which I got.  My daughter REALLY wanted to plant petunias, so I found some cheap wave petunias at one of the nurseries and we planted those in the front raised bed (I figure wave petunias can compete with the chocolate mint once it starts spreading and hopefully fill in the bed a bit).  I also got some Nasturtiums to plant in my one other white planter up front as they are edible flowers, are pretty, are good in cool weather and are easy to grow (so said all the online resources anyway *laugh*).   I'm just all excited as I've been looking for Nasturtium seeds EVERYWHERE and couldn't find any, but finding the seedlings was inexpensive and will hopefully allow me to grab some seeds when they go to seed later for next year.  So, all totaled this year I spent about 20.00 on the garden and 13.00 of that was compost and soil that I bought earlier (I'm hoping to get some rabbits this year sometime and hopefully next year I'll have compost and not have to buy any because of that, but time and finances will tell if that gets done this year).

I also planted the basil seeds indoors.  We'll see how they do.

So, yeah, that's what I was up to this week (other than obsessively watching the garden for signs of seedlings popping up and throwing it tons of good vibes.  Little seedlings are starting to pop up pretty much everywhere, but now the true test begins...am I growing vegetables or are the weeds starting to come back into the garden.  Only time will tell, BUT I know that I have at least two pea plants coming up (yayyyyy!!!) and my mixed lettuce and cabbage planter is popping seedlings up, so I have that going for me at least :).

And so onto this week's goals!

Canning Goals:
  • Can cranberry sauce (have a bag of cranberries in the freezer that need something done with them).

General Goals:
  • Cook potatoes and freeze in different types of packets (home fries, hash browns, etc).
  • Fill out TEFRA paperwork and get it passed back in to new care coordinator
  • Get through appointments this week.
  • Work on yard work if weather (and kids) cooperate

Cleaning/Household Goals: 
  • Get caught up on sorting and putting away laundry (I'm so behind on this as I've been so tired lately it just hasn't gotten accomplished).
  • Restock toilet paper in bathrooms 
  • Scrub bathroom toilets and vanities
  • Dust ceiling fans (this seems to be a constant chore)

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on mending at least one of husband's work jackets.

And there you are folks.  My limited goals for this week.  With so many appointments I know that I need to keep it simple or I won't get anything done.

What are you up to this week?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, this week has been kind of depressing.  It's been a disappointment.  One after another.

My husband didn't feel well due to allergies, so we had to reschedule his dental appointment.  While upsetting that we had to do that, I saw the silver lining on that one as it allowed me to conserve gas to hopefully save me money until this week's paycheck came in.

My daughter's stomach condition kept flaring this week (end of school excitement combined with allergies just throwing her system off I'm sure), so I ended up having her home one day and had to pick her up early another day.  Every time I feel like we got her stomach condition controlled it shows me who is boss.  I also had to pick up the kids early another day due to my son's allergies getting to him and knocking him around.

My son's allergist appointment was yesterday.  We found out we can't start him on allergy shots until he is completely hive free because if he has hives on the shots we have to stop them immediately because you have to assume the treatment is causing them.  So he's back on massive antihistamines to get his allergic reactions under control.  The allergist warned it wasn't going to be easy as he has a "perfect storm" of allergies going on.  Lovely.  Poor kiddo.  So we have instructions for doses of Zyrtec and Benadryl types of drugs to give him and we go back in a month.

 I called the cooperative extension service to check on my canner and to hopefully get my other canner in to check as I wanted to can some potatoes maybe and found out that the gal who checks the canners isn't going to be in now until June it looks like.  So, I'm going to be dehydrating potatoes instead as all of the potatoes I bought, despite doing everything I was supposed to do to stop them from sprouting...sprouted.   I am working on cleaning out a fridge drawer to stick as many as I can to stop them from going soft on me, but I have probably 20 pounds of the 30 lbs I bought left still, so I figure I'd better do something with some of them.  I would just can the potatoes and figure it'll be fine, but my canner lid has taken a few good tumbles and I worry about the steam gauge not being accurate anymore.

So, with the kids getting picked up early and my daughter's stomach flaring, I got next to no yard work done this week on top of everything.   At all.

Between that and finding out my family is having their own issues that upset me (a stupid delay in the sale of my step-mom's house that she desperately  needs the money from to survive, my half sister getting evicted from a house that she shouldn't be able to be evicted from and my older sister losing her job)...it's been a week to learn depressing news.

So, anyway, that and money being tight to the point of depressing it's been kind of a hard week.  Luckily I haven't broken down into a puddle of tears as an outlet.  Yet *sigh*.

At any rate, despite the way this week has gone emotionally, I did manage to get some things done on the money saving front.

1.  If you are wondering where the weekly shopping trip was this week...well...I didn't really have any money to get much, so I just bought Coke and chips for the son and milk for the week (spent 36.00).  I also got some Epsom salts as we are working on incorporating those into my son's bathing times to hopefully at least get some magnesium into him and hopefully help his skin some.  It does seem to help with the eczema irritation a bunch when he has a bath with them in it.

2.  I wanted to make root beer floats for dessert tomorrow, but we don't have any root beer around here and I really didn't have the money to just blow on something we don't need like root beer.  But, I remembered that I had some root beer extract that I bought years ago with my daughter's corn allergy to possibly make root beer with.  So, I took some extract, some sugar and my soda stream (also bought years ago...mainly to see if my son would drink any type of carbonated juice) and made some root beer.  I actually kind of like the home made stuff better than the store bought soda, although it doesn't have the level of carbonation as the store bought stuff (seen above).

3.  Despite having a lot going on this week I did manage to can something pretty much every day this week so that no discounted fruit went to waste.  I also made sure to use up some frozen fruit that I really needed to use to make something as it was getting near it's expiration date.

So, in recap I made...
Monday I made apple pie filling with some of my discounted apples.  I used the recipe in the Ball Book of Home Preserving and for once I got the EXACT yield they said you'd get (7 pints).  I was impressed.

Tuesday I made pie filling with what turned out to be odds and ends of berries I had in the freezer.  I thought I'd make raspberry pie filling, but found that I didn't have enough.  So digging in the freezer I found some blackberries, some strawberries (from last year that I had left over) and some blueberries to add in with the raspberries.  I call it "triple berry pie filling" as a send up to the "triple berry pie" from "Bear in the Big Blue House" as my daughter loved that show (and will still watch it with my son) so I thought it might inspire her to actually try a pie when I make it even though technically I guess it's "quadruple berry pie filling" instead *laugh*.

I'm hoping to make some cherry pie filling and some strawberry rhubarb pie filling later in the season to fill out the pie options for over the winter, but so far I'm happy with how it's all turning out.

Wednesday I made orange marmalade.  I kind of combined recipes for this one.  I followed a traditional recipe but just boiled the orange zest for about 1/2 an hour until soft instead of letting it sit for days in soaking water to soften.  And then I took a bit of advice from Pickyourown.org and when I made the final recipe I used orange juice (one of the bottles I got for free from Freebie Friday) in the marmalade instead to take the place of some of the water.  It gave the marmalade a really beautiful orange color and also gave it a wonderful depth of flavor once it boiled down the right consistency.  The set on this was so good I can stand the jars upside down and the marmalade doesn't move.  I felt proud of that one!

And I'm also loving that I now have marmalade in the pantry as I LOVE orange marmalade and never buy it because it's expensive (if you get the good stuff and I like the good stuff).  My favorite way to eat it is I take a page from Graham Kerr and strain some yogurt into yogurt "cheese" and then I spread that on some English muffins with the orange marmalade on top.  Beats the pants off of butter on an English muffin any day!

So for 2.00 worth of reduced oranges and lemons, some sugar and a free thing of orange juice I now have enough marmalade to last me quite a while.  I'm happy!

Thursday/yesterday I made another batch of applesauce.  I did have to add 1 cup of sugar to this batch as I had a lot of granny smith apples and other more sourish apple types in the bunch, so it was a BIT puckery for me when I tasted it, but overall it turned out well.

I still have a bunch of apples to can believe it or not, so I was hoping to can apples in syrup tonight (so I can use them in cooking or for crisps and things later), but my TMJ is flaring tonight and I have a headache as a result, so I just said "no" until tomorrow on that one.

4.  I was running low on sugar after making the marmalade (disadvantage to making marmalade with no pectin is you use a LOT of sugar to make it), so instead of spending some of my severely limited grocery budget to buy sugar this week I just opened the couple cans I had of sugar in my food storage and added them into my bulk sugar container.  It'll see me through until later in the month when I can hopefully get a big bag of sugar.  So, really, between canning and the sugar I shopped a lot from my own home this week compared to going grocery shopping.

5.  I used up some hamburger that was really freezer burned in the freezer (some of the odds and ends I dug from the depth of the fridge freezer) and mixed it with some ground turkey and decent hamburger and used up the rest of my taco seasoning to make a big batch of taco meat.  I'll freeze any we don't use in the next couple of days so all I'll have to do is quickly reheat some hamburger for tacos on nights when I'm strapped for time or not feeling well.  By mixing the meats and then mixing in the strong flavoring of the taco seasoning it worked to cover the taste of the freezer burn really well.

6.  I received a sample of cat food this week which was fortuitous in that it allowed me to feed the cats with the free can of wet food and will allow me to not have to buy more wet food until tomorrow (it padded out my cans a bit).

7.  I mended my son's stuffed back hoe this week, a big hole in one of my husband's t-shirts and a seam that was giving on my sneaker.

8.  I have started saving my morning coffee grounds again to spread on the garden as soon as the seedlings start getting decently big so I don't bury them (some of the seeds are just starting to show starting to show life in the garden.  JUST).

9.  I took advantage of a free resource this week when my kids were in school.  Naps.  I have been running on emotional and physical empty this week so taking a nap here or there really helped to give me a recharge.

10.  I read some free books that were available on Amazon.com this week and I also took advantage of the internet to watch some shows for free as well.

And there you are folks.  Some of the things I did to save money this week.  How did you do?