Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Well, as weeks go for getting goals done this one was frustrating.

I did manage to reset the hallway closet.  I decided to keep the blankets and sheets out of said closet as much as I can for now.  The hallway closet is our access to our attic/crawl space and the hatch that leads to the attic isn't 100% tight of course, so I've noticed that I get dust and crud leaking from that hatch down onto the shelves, which isn't a big deal with "stuff" in there but when you have clean blankets?  That wasn't working for me.

So, I ended up space bagging up all of my antique quilts and shoving them under my bed and then emptied out the trunk at the end of my bed by doing that.  Then I put as many comforters/blankets and sheets as I could fit in there, which definitely cut down on the pile that develops on the recliner in the bedroom.  Wish I had a better solution, but for now that's as good as I can do until I can get my bedroom closet emptied and put a better system in place.

In the hallway closet, right now, I have my table clothes unceremoniously shoved into available spaces where they are protected from dust fall and I have my canner, jars and bands stored in there right now until I get my canning for winter done for the year.  It's better than having them hanging around in my living room over by my kitchen :).

I decided it was definitely time to figure out a skirt or dress for myself and sat down yesterday with the fabrics I'd hoped to use to make them only to find that I didn't have enough of the one fabric I wanted to use for the bodice of the dress and as for the skirt...the pattern which I thought would fold outward width-wise didn't...it goes vertical in a thin line and goes super long (the problems with getting fabric used sometimes), so to make a skirt I'd end up with a ton of panels to make it happen so the pattern wouldn't end up sideways on the skirt, which with an intricate pattern to line up...I don't have time to mess with that right now *scowl*.

So, those projects got put on the back burner until I can find better fabric (and more prolific fabric) to work with or just plain get more time to focus on doing a more intricate project than I had in mind.   I hate it when you think you have something all figured out only to find that you have nothing figured out *sigh*.

When it came to anniversary plans this week, my husband and I actually ended up getting into an argument about it.  I wanted to do something fun that wouldn't cost anything (the argument started just by me suggesting making one of his favorite dishes for dinner but a bit cheaper done).  My husband kept obsessing that we had no money to do anything and therefore we should do nothing, put it on the back burner indefinitely and just call it a normal day.  I finally got tired of trying to convince him and tired of getting my feelings hurt because neither of us was getting our point across to the other very well, so I just gave him his gifts today and called it good even though it's not our anniversary yet.  I'm depressed about how that went down, I'll readily admit.

Between that and just not feeling great for a good portion of the week due to anemia...I wish I'd gotten more done.  At least I did get some things done, though, so it wasn't a total loss.

At least my goals for the month are looking decent overall as I look over my list.  I still need to deep clean the kid's rooms, which is kind of hard when your daughter won't go through her things and your son is a one man destruction unit (he's taken to chewing on DVD's and destroying VHS tapes, so I have to watch him CONSTANTLY to avoid collateral damage).

I am hoping to get some of that done this week, however as next week my husband is going out of town, which means things are going to be harder for me to get done as I'm going to be juggling the kids and everything 24/7.

So, yeah, onto this week's goals.

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on Christmas gifts a bit (I have a few projects I found that I want to get prepped and out of the way)
  • If have time see about working on paneled skirt.
  • Mend husband's work jacket (at least one)

General Goals:
  • Get daughter through dentist appointment (the dentist appointment last week went well overall.  The son didn't have any cavities that the dentist could see, my daughter has one cavity, but it's in a tooth that she should lose within the next year so he's going to let it go if he can and the only thing she has to get done is a filling accidentally got yanked out with her braces, so we have to get that replaced) .
  • Work on goals for next month
  • Work on shopping goals for next month
  • Update canning list and figure out what needs to be filled in pantry-wise.
  • Decorate table for 4th of July.
  • Try to find refill kit for DVD repair machine (I put it somewhere "safe" and now I can't figure out where "safe" is).
  • If I find the elusive repair kit, repair as many DVD's as possible to try and keep up with son's chewing on them.

Canning Goals (weather permitting on this one):
  • Can BBQ sauce 
  • Can honey mustard
  • Can cherry jam

And there you are folks.  My goals for this week.  You up to anything this week?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Menu Plan Monday: Menu for Week of 6/27/16

My goals update and weekly goals are coming, just so you know.  I'm just busy, tired, etc etc and haven't gotten around to figuring it all yet.

This week's menu is using things on the cheap, while also trying to keep down labor involved in the meals as I've found myself battling an old nemesis of mine this last week.  Anemia.  I've battled it on and off since I was a teen, but this week it was really bad, probably due to lack of red meat in my diet (I can't really sub out beans for red meat as with my stomach condition it gives me one problem to replace another *sigh*) and just not realizing what was going on until I was having problems standing upright.

I'm popping iron supplements like a champ, eating plenty of dark greens, eating as much red meat as I can (which is about once a day due to lack of said meat in the house) and otherwise just trying to take it easy as much as I can.  So, you'll notice some canned goods being used and things this week.

So, onto this week's menu!

Menu for Week of 6/27/16
Monday:  Dutch Baby with peaches.  Sausages.

Tuesday:  Open faced beef (or turkey depending on mood) pot pie sandwiches (use canned meat) with mashed potatoes, gravy and salad.

Wednesday:  Beef roast, potatoes au gratin, salad

Thursday:  Noodle Bowl Night, salad

Friday:  Chicken enchiladas (use leftover taco meat from freezer as well with canned chicken to supplement), Spanish rice, corn

Saturday:  Polish Sausages with mustard and sauerkraut, home made soft pretzels, salad (hopefully I'm up to making the pretzels *fingers crossed*).

Sunday:  Pizza (home made).

Desserts:  Cake (anniversary), cookie bars (at some point *laugh*)

To bake/prepare:  Pretzels (Saturday), pizza crust (Sunday), bread (at some point)

How about you?  Having anything good this week?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

This has been a week of savings in that we really didn't go anywhere or do much of anything that would cost money to do.  We're down to the "save every penny to make the mortgage and other bills at the beginning of the month" crunch this week and next, so I am buckling down to get only bare necessities at the store if need be and call it good (which means getting extra meat is out this week, so that means staying away from the grocery stores if possible).

I did, however, manage to get creative on the money saving front this week.

1.  My anniversary is next week.  I wracked my brain a lot to give things to my husband that he would like, but would also not cost anything as we really don't have money to spend on said anniversary.  It's been kind of hard to do as my son has been really challenging lately.  He was getting really violent at the beginning of the week to the point I got really depressed thinking that I was going to have to call a psychologist finally and start talking about getting him on some type of medication to help cope with his autism. 

I decided first to try the new supplements that I got from Amazon.  They contain cod liver oil, vitamin C and vitamin D.  I figured when I ordered them that those three things kept British children healthy during WWII (cod liver oil and rose hip syrup were even given to children at school to help supplement those necessary nutrients) so hopefully with my son's non-diet that it might help in some way with the hitting. 

I managed to actually get him to take the supplements with a combination of bribery (Smarties) and using the feeding therapy techniques his speech therapist taught me.  So far he's been on the supplements less than a week and I've found the hitting is getting better.  Less often, less severe when he does it and his head butting is WAY down.  So, hopefully I might have finally found something that might help him a bit.  Prayers, once again, would be appreciated there.

Anyway, back to the anniversary.  I kept wracking my brain in my spare moments on what else I could do to make the anniversary gift a bit special.  I finally realized what I could do when my husband was looking through the photos of my son's ski trip from last school year.  My husband really liked the photos of he and my son together (which I have to admit came out really cute) and so I dug out my frames and found one that I'd gotten at a yard sale ages ago that someone had never used (original price tag was still half on it).  I cleaned it up, painted where the paint had chipped in places and then mounted the photos of the trip in the frame.  I thought it turned out really cute.  I also decided, instead of making chocolates, which I know my husband would say that we had chocolate that I didn't need to do that and such, I instead grabbed one of the free candy bars I'd gotten for free with a Freebie Friday coupon a while back. 

So, all the total gifts I made and are giving are above.  I think I did decently well for spending nothing on my anniversary so far :).  Now I just need to figure out what I can make for dinner that night that might be different for fun.

2.  A reader was nice enough to send me some fabric that she wasn't using (thanks, Dorothy!) and I was able to add at least two gifts to my list out of the four pieces of fabric she sent me.  So far.  I've still got plans churning in my head ;).
3.  I am actually, starting to turn my brain toward Christmas as it takes a lot of planning to figure out what to make, who to make it for, etc.  I started thinking of things I could make for teachers and therapists and looked down at the bag of corn husks I'd just removed from my ears of corn last weekend.  And an idea was born.

Seen above is the corn husk angels in their beginning stages.  I plan on making them a bit fancier closer to Christmas, but I'm happy they seemed to turn out okay so far and cost me nothing to make :).  I'm going to make them into Christmas tree ornaments when it's all said and done.  My first attempt at making corn husk dolls, so I was proud that they came out looking like...well corn husk dolls *laugh*.

4.  My daughter had a pair of yoga-type pants that I'd bought at Sears a while back super cheap, but when she wet to wear them they were a bit big in the waist and when she went to tighten the ties on them we found that they were fake ties.  But the holes for said ties were real...the ties were just super short and made a bow at the front (weird).  I cut the ties away carefully with a seam ripper and grabbed some bias tape type of ribbon from my stores to create a new waist pull and then threaded it through the holes in the pants, neatened the ends and voila!  New tie waist band for the yoga pants.  My daughter is happy with it and I'm happy that she can use the pants now.

5.  I opened one end of a pillow that was going super flat and stuffed it with the insides of another pillow that was going super flat.  End results were a serviceable pillow that could be used for a while longer before needing to be replaced.

6.  When I realized that my sideboard needed better protection from a bottle spin loving son, I grabbed a rug I'd gotten at the used store for 1.50 (it's a Persian rug...I just couldn't pass it up for that price) and put it over the top.  It works perfectly and cost me nothing to do.

7.  I rearranged where things went a lot this week to make them work better.  Cost me nothing but time.

8.  I, despite not having a menu plan, managed to make all of our meals at home this week.

9.  Instead of buying Bisquick I made a home made master mix instead (I'll share that recipe soon), which is the same as Bisquick, but cost me nothing to make as I had all the materials here.

10.  My vacuum started having problems with suction last night and I asked my husband for help as I had everything cleaned that I could find to clean (I'm very careful at taking care of my vacuum cleaners as they get a LOT of use around here).  My husband discovered a new place that I hadn't cleaned because I didn't know it existed and the vacuum was indeed clogged.  He and I worked on it for about 1/2 an hour to get the clog removed and from now on I'll know to check that place as well as the others on the vacuum for any potential blockages before they become a problem.  Thank goodness for having a mechanically minded husband.  If it had just been me I would have ended up having to take the vacuum to a repairman and goodness knows how much it would have cost me to remove a clog in the vacuum.

When it comes to the garden, I have a lack of pictures this week (sorry).

My rat tailed radishes are developing pods!!!  I'm so so excited to see them growing and pray they produce a lot at once so I can pickle them :). 

My potatoes are doing well, at least that I can see as are the carrots, but the lettuce is probably going to be getting harvested in large quantities here soon as the slugs are having a FIELD DAY with it.  I spent a half an hour out there this afternoon just picking off huge quantities of slugs.  Not cool.

The peas are finally starting to develop peas and are so high now that I'm wondering if the trellis will hold them once the peas start growing bigger.  I'm hoping to somehow convince them to bend down and re-vine on the trellis, but we'll see how it goes.

I also got to see my first nasturtium today!  I was thrilled to see that they were finally flowering :).

And yeah, that's about it on the gardening front at the moment.  I left the lettuce to grow in the garden this week for the most part as I still had a huge bag we were working through in the fridge, so I'll probably head out over the weekend to harvest a bunch more for next week.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

 Wondering where the menu plan is for this week?  Yeah, I didn't do one.  I have been kind of punting this week when it comes to meals due to being down to like two containers of pork steaks and TONS of chicken in the freezer and that is IT when it comes to meat.  So, I've been on the look out this week for any meat I can get cheap that ISN'T chicken.

It's been a week where you look down at your cart and go, "I spent THAT on this?  Really?"  What can you say.  When you need meat and laundry soap you know you're in trouble to begin with *laugh*.

So, I went to two stores this week.  Fred Meyer and Carrs (I know, you're going to die of not surprise there ;).

At Fred Meyer I picked up some reinforcers for my son's therapy (which aren't included here as they are in my son's monthly budget this month), water softening salt (it went up in price to 6.59 per bag, but I needed it and didn't want to drag the kids to Home Depot today, so I bought a bag.  Blah!) and I wanted to get my husband breakfast/protein bars.  He likes to grab a couple on the run in the morning and it has been seeming to keep the shakes at bay, so I wanted to make sure I got him some more.  Unfortunately he LOVES the Quaker Oat Flats I got free on Freebie Friday a few weeks back, but they are 3.99 a box for like 5 bars!  My jaw dropped when I saw the price on those.  So, instead, I picked up some other flavors of Special K bars that were on reduced for 2.30 a box.  If he likes them, good, if not he can work his way through them and I'll have time to wait for a sale on the Quaker Oat bars he likes before I have to buy them.  I also got a thing of Pop Tarts for my son.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I guess that Kelloggs is running a promotion right now, so I got a 3.00 off my next shopping visit coupon when I checked out.  So, that was a great score!

I also picked up some Seventh Generation laundry soap while I was there.  I used a 2.00/1 coupon I had on it, so I got it for cheaper.  It's expensive, but it's the only brand of laundry soap that doesn't break my family out, so I try to look at the bright side that at least there's SOMETHING I can use.

All totaled I spent 28.87 at Fred Meyer.

I then went to Carrs to pick up a few things, most notably hamburger as they had given me a personalized price on the 3 lb chub of hamburger.  While there I did find a few things.

I got pork chops on reduced for 6.37.  I also was able to get a big boneless chuck steak for 6.13 (this will be enough for a meal for my family).  My biggest score was finding a package of breakfast sausages on reduced for 2.00 and I had a 1.00/1 E-Coupon loaded onto my card for the sausages making the package 1.00!

I also picked up milk and bananas (I have a personalized price on those all month) and flavored water for the daughter (personalized price of 3.49 :). 

All totaled at Carrs I spent 31.10 after discounts were applied.

So, all totaled for the week I spent 59.97 on groceries.

 I am right where I would need to be right now, but I'm honestly seeing myself going over this week if I find ANY good deals on meat at all.  We desperately need it for variety in the diet's sake.  So, I'm not sweating it if I have to go over this week.  We shall see.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

 Well, when it came to goals last week, it was one of those weeks where I didn't get my original list accomplished, but ended up adding more and more stuff to the list.  So, I got a lot done...just not everything I originally wrote down.

We had a heat wave most of the week.  My son HATES heat.  So, instead of working downstairs on sewing projects, I mainly worked upstairs sitting under a fan keeping cool and juggling a cranky kiddo while trying to keep everything cool enough to be tolerable by bedtime.

Then there was everything we did Saturday as soon as the weather started cooling down and the bulk things I bought while regular grocery shopping that I had to find room for.

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the afternoon processing twenty ears of corn.  I got 18 cups of corn out of the ears, blanched and froze it in 1 to 2 cup containers. That should be enough corn to see us through about a year (we don't eat a ton of corn :).  So yay for variety on veggies this coming winter!

Today, it was cool and overcast, but the weather is looking to start heating up again (maybe), so I got up this morning and immediately started canning to get that done in case the weather got hot again.

I processed and canned the nectarines I bought Thursday (seen up top).  Word to the wise.  In Alaska I've never run into easy release stone fruits (oh how I wish I did).   Do not, while fighting to get fruit that does not want to release it's pit no matter what, jam a piece of pit under your thumb nail and immediately go to put said fruit into lemon juice laced water.  You might teach your children a few new words.  Or have a religious experience.  Or both *laugh*.

Anyway, I canned the nectarines and then I made a couple half pints of yellow mustard and canned those and then made dinner.

While everyone was eating dinner I canned this...

Strawberry rhubarb pie filling.

Just as an aside here.  I recently bought Ball's Home Preserving book, which was last year's edition (I guess there's a newer one out still).  I REALLY wanted to like the book.  I really did.  But, so far, I really kind of dislike it.  A lot of recipes are plain missing.  There's no condiment section, so no mustard or ketchup are in the book.  And the above recipe is missing as well.  The new recipes the book brags up seem to all be recipes for freezing or recipes using some of the canned goods from earlier in the book.  Really disappointing.  I think I'll skip their latest book and just buy myself a copy of the Complete Book of Home Preserving again when mine wears out.

Anyway, I also reset the hallway closet a bit this weekend to make room for some things I had cluttering up the sides of the kitchen (like my thermal cooker).  I also got my garden goals (with the exception of planting seeds) accomplished this week as well.  So, really with the exception of deep cleaning children's rooms and getting some sewing done, I did pretty well.  Especially with all the other stuff that ended up going on (including spending more time in the garden than I planned fighting bugs).

So, onto this week's goals!

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on previous goals (skirt and dress and mending jackets)

General Goals:
  • Get kids through dentist appointment (pray for no cavities)
  •  Deep clean children's rooms
  • Shampoo downstairs carpets
  • Try to figure out better system for clean blankets/comforters storage
  • Sit down for a few hours with nothing to do but read a book.  Drink a lovely beverage while doing it (I can dream can't I?  ;).

And yeah, I think that'll do me for the week on goals.  How about you?  Up to anything this week?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Frugal Adventures for the Week

Two days late on posting this so I couldn't bring myself to put "Frugal Friday" as I do have some reverence for our great calendar *laugh*. 

I would have posted this Friday, but I had a few cool money saving things that were going to hit yesterday so I figured I'd just wait.  Well, then yesterday hit.  Don't worry, nothing bad, just busy :).  Prepare for a narrative style post at the beginning here *laugh*.

Yesterday, I got up early and immediately got my dishes in the dishwasher and vacuumed as well as I could without moving furniture.  I was preparing to redo the living room layout.  My son has found that he LOVES his rocker recliner, but he found tipping it over constantly was now his favorite hobby.  The recliner was really starting to protest this abuse, my son when he was down on the floor was poking the guard for the back of the fridge (which we want to keep in one piece to keep things out of there) and he was constantly blocking the hallway.  Not cool.

So, my husband helped me move furniture around to a layout that everyone seems okay with.  While moving furniture, of course, I vacuumed underneath everything and such as well, including removing the heating vent cover and vacuuming out the vent.
I barely got done speed cleaning the rest of the upstairs and guzzling my coffee and then we were off to Palmer.  I had contacted my friend about her rhubarb as I noticed a lot of rhubarb in the area was going to seed and she confirmed that hers was as well, so I asked if it would be okay to go and harvest it.  She said sure so we ran to do that (I get to go back in the fall to get the roots :).  Thanks again for the rhubarb and the help harvesting it, Davina! 

After that we went to Fred Meyer where I picked up some freebies from Freebie Friday that I'd forgotten about and the free doughnut from National Doughnut Day (also an E-Coupon loaded on the card).  My friend, Stephanie, gave me her freebies again as well, so I got those.  I was able to pick up 10 more reduced cans of cat food while I was there.

Then it was off to Bushes and Bunches (after running around to the post office and stuff) as soon as they opened to see what they got in on their truck on Friday and I got some awesome!

I got 20 ears of corn (not cheap, but great quality, so it was worth it) that I need to process today, but...

This is 5.00 worth of cherries.  Now, these are normally 5.00 lb around here.  So, this bowl would be impressive enough.  But, then we pan over to the right from the bowl...
Yeaaaahhhhh!  That's what I'm talking about!!!

They were selling cases of cherries that they said were really moldy and needed to be picked through for 5.00 per case.  I went through with a really discerning eye as if there is one thing my grandfather taught me, when it comes to cherries pretty much the entire cherry has to be moldy to not be good anymore as they are a pretty tough fruit.  Sure enough a  lot of the mold was just on the skins, spread from one cherry that had gone bad, but the mold hadn't penetrated the cherry skins.  I grabbed a case that looked pretty good.  I did have to clean some bad spots and things from the cherries, but I only lost probably about 1/2 lb of cherries total for the entire case (and some of that was pits that I removed if I had to cut a particularly big bad spot off of one of the cherries).

These went immediately into the freezer as they were REALLY ripe.  I texted my friend who had given me free cherries earlier and offered her a bag, but instead she declined and asked where I had gotten the cherries from.  I told her and she went and grabbed 5 cases before the stand closed  for the day.  She got so many cherries that she was able to clean with her daughters that she said we were definitely even *laugh*.

Oddly enough, I tried to send texts to family and friends about the deal and hers was the only one that went through (didn't realize that until this morning when my phone was still trying to send the texts...luckily a reboot found the function had frozen so it didn't completely drain my phone of minutes).  I think God was watching over her there :).

By the way local folks, family and friends, Bushes and Bunches is open on Sundays currently, so you might be able to score cherries today too.

Right, after that we went to the used stores so my husband could have a little fun for Father's Day and he found a couple cool tools.  We then came home and I immediately went about processing tons of rhubarb and cherries for the freezer. 

My brother-in-law had called earlier in the week asking if we needed any furniture as he had a bunch that he'd been given when he was working on places.  One of the things he had was a queen bed.  With a headboard.  I immediately said we'd take it as my husband has been talking about trying to build a frame for our queen mattress for a while, but we haven't had the money.  I figured it couldn't hurt to take it.  When we got it home, my husband and I both decided the mattress that came with the frame was thrashed and we'd just use our mattress, but the box spring with a new slat installed by my handy husband was fine to use and actually is really well built.  Within minutes of putting rhubarb and cherries in the freezer, I was downstairs helping to rip apart out Frankenstein system we had going for a bed, cleaning under it well and putting together the new bed.  Then it was a dash across the lawn trying to hold onto my end of the mattress that came with the free set to put into storage until dump day.  Thanks so much for the bed, Jake!  We really appreciate it!

After that and running to Sportsman's Warehouse for some sausage making supplies (we had a gift card my husband got for Father's Day to use towards it) so I could try making a project for my husband (more on that later if it works *laugh*), by the time we got home and I was finally able to sit down my legs were killing me (throb, throb, throb type of hurting) and I was exhausted.  And then I slept in a decent bed last night for the first time in YEARS and it made it all better :).  I can't believe how much of a difference sleeping on a real bed vs. the queen mattress sitting no the double bed set was.  It was wonderful!  And the best part is that I can reach the floor now, so no more hopping in and out of bed at night.  Life is good!

The garden is a bit more depressing.

Bugs are everywhere right now.  I had white fly trying their darndest to wipe out my chard.  Cabbage loopers were eating on everything they could get their grubby little mouths on.  Aphids were attacking my lettuce and anything else they could get on.  I was so depressed and frustrated as I picked them off the plants and dumped them into a glass of vinegar (I know, I'm mean).

Luckily the spinach and cabbages were bolting, so I pulled them (still have a couple of smaller spinach plants growing, though) and then instead of planting new seeds right away I decided to wait till July and start planting my fall garden.  Till then I went and bought a thing of marigolds and planted them in the holes in the garden.  Between them and using the hose to water the plants, the bugs seem to be less in number right now.  Luckily the lettuce is doing good still so far and the middle bed the garlic seems to be repelling bugs as well, so that was an upper anyway.  The peas are growing well, although no flowers yet.  The rat tailed radishes finally was able to develop flowers before they got eaten off after I planted a marigold right by it, so I feel great seeing those flowers everywhere :).

My rhubarb plant at the bottom of the yard was being attacked by caterpillars and slugs, so I harvested it a bit earlier than I wanted and spread a bunch of compost around the remaining stalks to help nurture them and hopefully keep the plant doing okay until I move it in the fall *fingers crossed*.

So, I harvested tons of lettuce, spinach, sage, thyme, rosemary, chives and Chinese cabbages from the garden this week (third harvest of the week is seen above).  I also harvested my rhubarb (which netted me 3 cups of cleaned and chopped rhubarb for the freezer). 

And now onto other ways I saved money this week.

1.  I got my gas bill in the mail.  I turned off the heat a lot this month, so our bill was about 1/2 of what it was last month.  Since we have a gas dryer and I use my oven and stove top a lot, this was a nice change of pace.

2.  I got my gift for my niece made this week.  I used materials I had around here to make it, so the total cost to make it was zero (except for my time of course :).

3.  When my husband went to my brother-in-law's to pick up the bed, I dug out and sent him over with a double jogging stroller for them.  My sister-in-law had asked me if I still had it and said that my brother-in-law could use it and I definitely agreed.  I've been trying to give the stroller to someone who could use it for a great while as it's a wonderful stroller, so I was thrilled to be able to get it out of storage and give it to someone who could use it :).

4.  I used home made shower cleaner this week and used vinegar to help clean things as well.

5.  I ate leftovers for lunches this week, and my husband took leftovers to eat for lunch a couple of days as well.  This not only saved us money, but also led to less food waste.

6.  I took advantage of coupons and sales this week to get the most for my money.

7.  My husband repaired several things this week with materials we had around the house.

8.  I mended a few items this week.

And there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures for this week.  I'm off to process corn.  How did you do this week?

Friday, June 17, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

When it comes to this week some things were frustrating (the garden and kids primarily), but shopping?  That went AWESOME!

I went to Fred Meyer and Carrs this week.

First I went to Fred Meyer yesterday.  Sadly, I didn't find any discounted produce worth buying, but I did get some peaches for 1.99 lb and used a 2.00 off your purchase of 10.00 or more produce coupon I had gotten in the mail with my last Rewards Rebate.  I got about six pounds of nectarines to can, hopefully this weekend.  I also got a watermelon (on sale for 2.50) and a plum for my daughter (she didn't remember what they tasted like and wanted to try one).  The best find though was when I went to the pet isle to get my usual four cans of catfood for the next week or so (which normally costs me about 2.40 for four cans mind you).

I found cans of cat food.  On reduced.  For .15 a can!!!!  That worked out to be 3.60 per 24 cans of cat food.  I had some .50/10 coupons for Friskies, so that made them 2.60 per case (and I had a .50/10 coupon loaded on my card that came off too so that made it cheaper yet!).  I got nearly 3 cases full of the different kinds of cat food and I'm hoping to go back over the weekend to see if they have any more.  Getting cat food that cheap will save me a LOT of money in the long run and it's actually a relief to have.  When money gets depressingly tight I have a hard time shelling out 2.00 for the cats for wet catfood.

They also had big bags of Meow Mix on reduced for 8.63 per bag, so I grabbed one and used a 1.00/1 coupon I had to get it cheaper yet.  A big bag like that should last us about three months or so, so it was a relief to get that ahead.

All totaled I spent 26.40 at Fred Meyer after coupons and discounts were applied.

I then went to Carrs and grabbed 4 boxes of pasta (.89 each with in-ad coupon this week, limit of four), 2 bags of sugar (2.49 per 4 lb bag with in-ad coupon.  I grabbed 2.) and a bulk bag of rice on reduced because of a slightly torn bag  (7.99 for 20 lbs of the store brand medium grain rice, which is our favorite type). 

So, all totaled between the two stores I spent a total of 42.04 on groceries AND I managed to stock up on cat food and rice (course I still need to get milk for the week).  I even have grocery monies left in my envelope from previous weeks when I was under in case I run into produce I want to buy.  I'm happy!

How did you do this week?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thrifty Thursday: Thrift Store Finds

Well, here's a post that has been MIA for quite a while.  We haven't had the money to go shopping at the used stores, so we've been avoiding them, and yard sales for the last little bit.

But, Tuesday, my daughter for her braces off (yay!!!) and better yet they did the X-rays to make sure her bite and everything was good and they said that her X-rays looked good, including that they couldn't see any cavities in her teeth (course we won't know 100% until next week at the kid's dental appointments).  Since she was so good during her appointment, we figured we could spare a few dollars to go the used store and see if we could get her a reward.

And I did find her a stuffed princess doll for 1.00 (better yet I found out by my daughter dressing her up that she fits into 18" doll clothes, so that might make Christmas even easier yet :) but then I went and looked around wondering if I'd find anything cheap that was on my yard sale and thrift store list.

I seriously hit pay dirt!  I've been looking for a new rice cooker as the bowl on my old one is just plain shot (non-stick coating is gone, aluminum is starting to pit, etc) and once I found that I couldn't get a replacement bowl for my old one, I figured I'd have to get a new one.  Unfortunately, the cheapest I was able to find was one for 15.00 or over on clearance and I didn't have the money when I'd see them.  So I was looking at having to pay 30.00 to 50.00 for a new one.

And then I found the one above.  A brand new rice cooker.  I looked inside.  It's never been used, still has the original cord securing thingies in place and even has the original rice paddle to serve the rice.  It's a lot bigger than my old one (8 cups vs. 4) and the best part?  A 6.00 price tag!!!

So, yay!  Bargain shopping went well for me this week :).  How about you?  Found anything cool at the used stores/yard sales lately?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Menu Plan for Week of 6/13/16

And whoops.  I completely forgot to post this up earlier.  You know, though, that's probably not a bad thing as I didn't watch the weather before planning our menu for this week.  I checked it last night and immediately decided to get up at 4 am and turn on the air conditioner.  We're looking at a serious heat wave till the weekend, which I'm glad I was smart enough to check that, but it does add some difficulty to planning meals for the week.   We have an air conditioner but it's a window unit, so it takes some creativity to keep the house cool with the one unit running only (and fans to supplement).  So, basically, heating up the oven still makes the house kind of hot, which I try to avoid in heat like this, and so we're going to be eating some colder meals the rest of the week or crock pot meals to keep the heat levels down (at least I got bread done when it was cooler out).

So, here we go.  Late, but better late than never.  This week's menu plan.

Menu Plan for Week of 6/13/16
Monday:  Hamburgers, chips, salad

Tuesday:  Crock pot round roast, bread and butter, salad

Wednesday:  Tequila Lime Baked Chicken (it's a spice rub I got a while ago), pasta with olive oil and Parmesan cheese, salad.

Thursday:  Crock pot BBQ chicken, baked beans, pasta salad

Friday:  Spinach salad with nuts, bacon, apples and chicken with honey mustard dressing

Saturday:  Pork steaks, home fries, salad

Sunday:  Husband's choice (Father's Day)
Desserts:  Strawberry Pound Cake (Jello cookbook recipe) with frosting (Father's Day), cake with chocolate frosting (Monday...this was a treat for my son), sliced fruit with whipped topping (Friday)

And there you have it folks.  My menu plan for the week.  How about you?  Having anything good this week?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Well, this was kind of a mixed bag on the goals front. 

I did get some of my list done for the week, but some things kind of took a back seat this week to other things I did.  Like sewing clothing goals got pushed aside for cleaning goals as I am trying to deep clean to get rid of even the shadow of the idea of bugs invading my house. 

I managed to get about 3/4 of the laundry accomplished this week, but still need to reorganize my hallway closet to work better (shelves are bowing under weight in wrong areas, etc), so putting it all away didn't get done. 

Due to hot weather, canning mustard didn't happen.  I could have done it this morning, but put it aside for another cool day, maybe later in the week.  Since I have all the materials to make said mustard on hand and we still have some mustard in the pantry, I'm not super rushed on that.

BUT, I was feeling super rushed to get my niece's gift done before she got here, so that's what I worked on yesterday and today (cut out last night, sewed together today).  I would have gotten it done sooner, but my husband worked all day Saturday and the kids have not been in good moods the last couple of days, so I've been busy with them.  The final work is above. 

Okay, before you ask, it's SUPPOSED to be a bunny snuggy.  To me it looks like Winnie the Pooh with rabbit ears on (to the point I almost embroidered a headband in between the ears to make it look like rabbit ears), but that's how the pattern worked out.  Since it's a multi-use pattern that is supposed to make a cat, a teddy bear or a rabbit depending on what ears you use, I don't know why I'm surprised by the result *laugh*.  By the way, I used a Simplicity pattern for this.  Normally I have really good luck with Simplicity patterns.  This one was AWFUL!!!  I eventually had to toss the sewing instructions aside and just work from the pattern itself or I would have been lost forever.  It was truly terrible in lack of illustrations and directions.

The pattern had eyes and a nose that you were supposed to cut out and sew on, but I embroidered all the details on instead since a baby is going to be getting it and I want the little one to be able to chew on it.  I also hand sewed the top animal body to the blanket with about three layers of back stitch to make sure it wasn't going anywhere as I imagine that the thing is going to be swung around by little kids a lot by the blanket part :).

Oh and Gretchen, if you read this, I grabbed the materials out of my stores before I knew if you were having a boy or a girl and it was half cut out, so I didn't redo it in a pink theme.  Sorry *laugh*.

Overall, I'm pleased with the result.  Wish it looked more like a bunny, but at least it looks like a cute Winnie the Pooh with rabbit ears on ;).

I also got golden syrup canned this week, which was one of the things off of my canning list, so yay there, got the den decluttered a bit, got a list going for gifts for some of the kids in the family for Christmas (and thank you to the blog readers who chimed in with ideas for gifts, some of them were a REALLY big help in figuring things out to make), got the list done for the freezer on what meat I needed to get (which ended up being the one word...meat...it's kind of sad really...now to just find a good price on beef products somewhere :), got a teeny tiny bit of work done on the yard (I've been ripping dead out of the raspberry patch every time I go and water my rhubarb plant at the bottom of the yard.  It's only a thing or two each time, but I'm making SLOW progress doing it that way) and I got the materials to make truffles as part of my husband's anniversary gift, so woohoo on all of that!

I also managed to make artisan style bread Saturday and used a trick I found online where if you put a pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven when you are baking the bread it is supposed to give you that chewy "store bought bread" type of texture.  I was curious and sure enough the trick worked!  You have no idea how many years I've been messing with recipes trying to get that texture *laugh*.  It was worth the kneading the dough by hand (I skipped the mixer...for one I'm trying to get in better shape, so I figured that would give me a work out...and I was right) and the 3 hours plus lost of my time to make good home made bread :).

I then made two more loaves of bread today as the recipe I used for the other bread the loaves came out smaller than I had anticipated, so I wanted to make good sandwich bread for the week.  So I made my go-to recipe for bread in an hour and got the light fluffy sandwich bread cooling right now.

So, yeah, onto the goals for this week!

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on clothing sewing goals (getting zipper replaced in husband's jackets, skirt and dress for me, etc).
  • Clean sewing machine (it'll need dusting and oiling after working with fleece today)
  • Work on mending pile

Canning Goals:
  • Can mustard (if time and weather/temperature permit)

Cleaning Goals:
  • Rip everything out of kid's rooms, deep clean (and I mean DEEP clean), shampoo carpets and then reset everything.  Weed out toys, especially with daughter, to figure out what needs to go/isn't played with anymore.
  • Shampoo downstairs carpets

General Goals:
  • Reset hallway closet (what is this, reset like number 1000 or so?) to work better.  Flip shelves to help with bowing issue.
  • Get daughter through her orthodontist appointment (she gets her braces off tomorrow!  Yay!!!) 
  • Harvest cabbages that are starting to bolt from garden.  Plant new seeds in place where they were.
  • Fertilize garden.

And there you go.  My goals for the week.  Doesn't seem like a lot, but the bedrooms and the hallway closet are going to take a LOT of time and energy to get done.

How about you?  Up to anything this week?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

I spent 100.00 (103.15 to be exact) on groceries this week.  Yup, I went over by that much.  But, I came to the conclusion that I needed to and my husband agreed.  Basically we needed meat and there were some awesome sales at Carrs this week, including 5.00 value packs of chicken on 5.00 Friday, so we decided that spending an extra 50.00 to get meat and things we were running desperately low on was necessary.

The only thing I picked up at Fred Meyer was my free Quaker oat flats from Freebie Friday a couple of weeks ago (yay!) and a can of cat food to make my life easier about the freebie, since I checked out at U-Scan (I paid pocket change for that).  The photos of that aren't seen because I forgot about them, honestly, until I found the bag in the front seat of my car later that same day (oops).
The Carrs trip is broken up into two photos because I didn't want to haul soda and cat litter upstairs only to haul it back downstairs again.

I then went to Carrs on Friday with both kids in tow and still managed to stick to my list.  I was so proud of myself *laugh*.  I shopped the ad hard to fill in holes that we needed to fill.

So, let's break it down.

5.00 Friday Items
  • Bounty Paper Towels
  • Value Packs of chicken (no weight limit)
  • Tidy Cat cat litter (no limit on those, so I got two)
Other items:
  • Coke 2 liter bottles on sale 1.49 each when you bought five, so I stocked up for the next couple of weeks (glad I did too as my son is back on his "I must have fresh soda, take three sips and then you must pour it out and get me more soda" kick *sigh*).
  • Pork steaks, three packages, 1.99 lb, personalized price
  • Hot dog buns on sale 1.99 (for son.  I need to hit the Franz outlet one of these days to stock up again)
  • Tortillas 1.69 personalized price
  • Big value box of baby wipes 10.49 personalized price
  • Lays chips, free with coupon (the coupon maxed out at 1.49, but the cashier said "uh it says free, so no" and punched in the full price of the item.  I thought that was nice of them).
  • Two things of reduced hamburger patties 7.98 for both
So, yeah, after all coupons were applied (and personalized prices and things) I spent a total of 103.15 on groceries.  I'm not going to try to make up the 50.00 difference from my reduced grocery budget as my husband and I decided that we would allocate 100.00 or less to restock the meat as well as we could.  So, really I have 50.00 left to spend on meat if I need to (hoping to make do with what I got, though).

How did you do this week?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Well, as week's go it's been productive, in some ways not in the way I had planned.

This week was, I'm liking to call "Me vs. the Bugs" week here at the Make Do Homemaker homestead.

First there were the bugs in the garden.  Ever sat there and flipped every single leaf of lettuce, spinach and cabbage over looking for aphids and other nasties so you could kill them before they did more damage to your plants (and I'm sure other gardeners are looking at the screen and saying, "Yup" right now)?  Yeah, that was me.  The insecticidal soap isn't working as well as I'd hoped, primarily due to us getting JUST enough rain to make the weather bug friendly, so it was down to manual killing of bugs this week.

Then I was in my kitchen and pulled out my mixer to find a meal worm under it.  Now I KNOW that kitchen pests happen, especially in bad bug years (and I keep my food locked away in Tupperware and other containers to make sure I keep these things to a minimum), but you have NO IDEA how deep my bug-a-phobia goes.  I lived in Florida for four months with five slobs for roommates (I must defend my roommate Kim, though, she was neat just like me so we were the two trying to fight incoming bugs constantly).  After seeing walls move when you turn on the lights and having to kill that many roaches in one evening...you are scarred for life.

So, I freaked out when I found the meal worm, cleaned everything down to the deepest level I could (including going at my mixer with a Q-tip and some bleach water...yes...I'm that bug a phobic) and really worked on getting clutter reduced in the kitchen to give bugs less places to hide.  I've then been on a quest to get the rest of the house cleaned down to the deepest levels as well to keep bugs down as with the way the summer is shaping up I'm imagining bugs are definitely going to be a problem this year.

At least deep cleaning doesn't really cost you anything except in elbow grease and time.

Things overall, though, went well this week on the money saving front.  Let's get to that :).
1.  When it comes to the garden I harvested tons this week, so here's a quick update.

Lots of lettuce, spinach and cabbage was harvested and turned into salads this week.  I harvested all of my dwarf bok choy as it was starting to bolt, so I'm looking through my seeds to figure out what to plant in it's place :).

I thinned my Swiss chard, finally, and was able to add that to salad fixings as well.  The bunching onions are finally starting to grow, the potatoes are trying to take over the universe no matter where they are, the chocolate mint is finally starting to come up in the front bed and I noticed we finally have some wave petunias starting to come out in bloom in the front bed, so yay!

I also harvested herbs this week and used them in different dishes, including chives, which was nice not having to rely on my dehydrated onions for onion flavor in dishes for a change (and I'm thrilled the chives have spread to at least three different locations in the front bed and are doing well this year).

I love this time of year.  Being able to harvest salad fixings from the garden and herbs.  Shot of my first "official" harvest from the garden is above :).
2.  While most of the week was too hot to can things, Monday wasn't too bad, so I got golden syrup canned.  You don't really need to "can" golden syrup as once it's made it keeps at room temperature for a long while (at least a year), but I like to actually can it to one, be safe, and two, so if it falls over in the pantry it won't leak everywhere.  I discovered golden syrup when my daughter had her corn allergy.  It's basically just a caramel flavored sugar syrup, but you add lemon to it to stop the sugar from recrystallizing and also to help flavor the syrup.  The taste actually improves with age and you can use it in recipes calling for corn syrup, you can use it to make gypsy tarts (great...now I'm drooling at the thought) and you can use it for a topping for pancakes or ice cream and other things.  It's actually really versatile and pretty easy to make :).  And you can't beat the ingredient list.  Sugar, water and lemon.  That's it.
And it sure looks pretty when done *laugh*.

3.  Got my electric bill in the mail and it's down 60.00 from last month and that's with four more days onto the calculations.  Part of this I attribute to watching electric consumption, but a good portion of it, I'm sure, is because we've only had to run the air conditioner once so far this summer (although I am tracking it to see if the new meter had anything to do with this trend as well).  Definitely a good thing.

4.  I hit sales hard when grocery shopping this week and luckily things I really needed were on sale (more on that in a later post).  I even had both kids shopping with me yesterday and managed to keep my list straight.  I was proud of myself *laugh*.

5.  I made meatloaf this week and used the free crackers that neither my husband and I were fond of in the meatloaf instead of bread crumbs.  It worked really well, actually, and made a really tasty meatloaf.  I'm kind of glad that I have about 1/2 of the box left to make another meatloaf with in the future.

6.  I mended five items this week.  I'm still trying to figure out this phenomena.  No matter how many things you mend, it's like suddenly there are MORE things to mend then when you started the pile.  I swear it grows as you watch.

7.  I spread used coffee grounds on the garden before I fertilized it, so the garden was definitely happy (at least if the sudden jump in growth was any indication anyway).

8.  I accidentally put some paper towels through the washer and dryer and once they came out of the dryer, instead of throwing them away, I stacked them in a pile and have been using them one at a time to do things like dust the shelves downstairs and things.  It's a great way to reuse something that is nice and clean again before throwing it away.

9.  I actually kept to my meal plan this week (booyah!) which helped to eliminate a lot of "what's for dinner" issues.  I even made a double batch of pancakes for pancake night and if we don't eat through them this weekend I'll freeze the left overs for later use.

10.  To save on freezer bags, I used empty bread bags to pack my meat in before putting it into freezer bags.  This eliminated me having to use 7 freezer bags this week.  That's definitely a savings!

I know I'm forgetting some things, but those are the ones I remember.  So, how did you do this week?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Menu Plan for Week of 6/6/16

So, I've found that after hour three of hitting cookbooks and Pinterest looking for recipes to try that your brain will officially turn to Jello and you'll just throw up your hands and say, "We're having noodle bowl night for dinner" and that's that *laugh*.

I'm doing a bit better today after about six hours of near solid sleep last night.  Night before I didn't get nearly that (son was up till nearly five am), so I feel like I can think today.  Which yay for that!

So, onto the menu plan for this week!

Menu Plan for Week of 6/6/16
Monday:  Noodle Bowl Night/Leftover Chicken enchiladas

Tuesday:  Shrimp Garlic Butter Pasta, mango slices

Wednesday:  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad (from garden)

Thursday:  Chicken Souvlaki with cream sauce, rice, salad (or fruit cocktail)

Friday:  Pancakes, bacon, eggs

Saturday:  Chicken Salad Sandwiches, sliced fruit, french fries

Sunday:  Sausage and Biscuits Casserole (still haven't made this yet.  Figuring if this turns out it'll be a good thing to make on Sunday so my husband has breakfasts he can reheat during the week)

Desserts:  Pudding (using up boxed milk that is about a month past it's expiration date.  I know it's still good, but still...use it up time :).

To Bake:  Bread.  Hopefully I'll get to this earlier in the week, but I'm planning on it not happening until this weekend the way schedules go.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Well, as week's go this last week was decently productive.  I got the cabbage canned and canned some peaches.  I also got the baby rhubarb plant put in the ground and it seems, so far, to be doing well.  I've even got new little leaves sprouting up from the middle (I would have taken a picture of it, but it's out and out raining today).  I fertilized the garden, got some more compost spread around to keep it fed well and got insecticidal soap sprayed on the leaves (which I'll have to do again as soon as it stops raining, I'm sure).  I even managed to rip out some dead bushes from the raspberry bank yesterday and started to stack them near by there.  I was hoping to spend another 1/2 an hour or so on that this morning, but luckily it rained as my son was up till 4 am and I REALLY didn't want to try and pull myself out of bed at six this morning to try and get that accomplished (if it had been nice, I probably would have though, so yay for rain).

I did get the pantry reset, kind of, last week too.  I took my commercially canned goods and moved them off the wire shelves and placed them in the slanted part of the pantry (I'll take pictures as soon as I come up with a BIT better organization in there as boxes are just kind of stacked right now) and I was able to start to really organize my home canned goods better. 

The nicest part is that I can still stack upwards on things like where the applesauce is (as we go through a lot of applesauce around here and I just can't see the amount I have lasting us all the way through winter...and now my daughter won't eat store bought applesauce because she realized how good home made is *laugh*).  I've still got cardboard and I have tons of rings, so it won't be too hard to put rings loosely on jars, place some cardboard and put another layer of jars up.  At least I'm happy with how the home canned goods are shaping up on the shelves.  I have left room for things that I still need to can (BBQ sauce, strawberry rhubarb pie filling, etc), but so far, so good!

So, onto the goals for this week!

Canning Goals:
  • Can golden syrup 
  • Can mustard

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on mending pile.
  • Start to work on dress or skirt.
  • Work on gift for niece (I need to make a sticky of this and just copy and paste it from week to week the way I'm going *laugh*).

Cleaning Goals:
  • Shampoo carpets (this is going to wait for another day.  I was planning on doing it today, but with how heavily it is raining the carpets would never dry, so it's out for the day).
  • Scrub down son's bedroom.
  • Fold laundry and keep on top of housework.

General Goals:
  • Work on getting den decluttered a bit.  
  • Work on Christmas gift list for family (I'm seriously wondering if I'm going to be dropping extended family on gifts this year just because I haven't had the money to buy materials to make gifts.  Normally due to yard sales and thrift stores I'm in a LOT better shape than I am this year...I've just had to prioritize where money goes and feeding my family over winter and things has definitely taken precedence over gift giving.  I've got to figure this one out soon or I am going to stress myself out come October).
  • Take better inventory of meat in freezer and figure out what is in desperate need to be filled.
  • Check and see if I have materials available in pantry to make husband some home made truffles (filled chocolates) as part of anniversary gift.
  • Figure out menu plan for week (I totally didn't do one last week and it was AWFUL trying to figure out what to have for dinner every night.  I need to be better organized this week.  I'm hoping to do two weeks at once.  HOPING anyway).
  • If there's time and weather permits, work on yard. 

And I'm sure there were some other things I had written down, but I can't find my list right now, so this will have to do.  What are your plans for this week? 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

This Week's Shopping Trips

This week's shopping trips went kind of wonky right out of the gate.  I'm figuring that I'll be doing my shopping on Thursday over the summer as my son has OT that day and if I plan right I can get my shopping done in the hour when he's at therapy so I have the ability to think when shopping. 

But, like the best laid plans of mice and men, when a mother makes a plan on when to shop the children will get involved and things will immediately go awry.  In this case my son, probably due to all of the medicine he's on, wasn't feeling great Thursday morning so we missed OT.  So, I ended up going shopping on Friday and Saturday.  Friday we went to Fred Meyer and by the time I got done there I was NOT going to hit another store with an uber cranky son in tow.  No way, Jose.  So, when we took our normal weekend drive with my son on Saturday I made my husband drop me off really fast at Carrs where my daughter and I ran in to get one item.  They have RC Cola on sale this week for 1.49 a piece if you load the right E-Coupon, so I went and grabbed that instead of Coke for my son to drink (we found, quite on accident a while ago, that my son almost prefers RC Cola to Coke, so it's an option when I can get it cheaper than Coke).

At Fred Meyer is where I did the majority of my shopping this week.  You'll notice a lack of...well...groceries for being two weeks without shopping and all, but I only grabbed a week's worth of groceries this week.  Mainly because I am hoping to go shopping for the few "son" items we'll need for next week on Thursday and two because I stocked up big time when I got ready for not shopping for two weeks on things like chips for the son and then found out that he was willing to eat things like pasta and rice for meals, thus not blowing through chips like they were air.  Always a nice change of pace.

I'm kind of concerned with my meat situation right now.  We're starting to run low on meat in pretty much every area (I'm even starting to run lower on chicken...surprised me to find that honestly), but there haven't been any killer sales or meat reductions I've run into of late.  So, I'm worried eventually that I'm going to have to do meat as part of my normal weekly shopping, at which point my grocery budget is going to go up again, which we can't really afford to do.  Right now I'm stretching the meat as far as I can by having meatless meals or meals that include things like beans to stretch the meat we have, but I'm not sure how long that's going to work before I have to buy more meat.  I'm hoping for some good sales coming up for summer holidays such as the Fourth of July on things OTHER than hot dogs and things, but more like sales on steak and other true meat items.  Fingers crossed.

But, yeah, the majority of my shopping this week is above.  

I went to Fred Meyer and decided to get my freebies from Freebie Friday and the ones that my friend gave me as well as see what I could find for cheap produce.  I was able to get a BUNCH of peaches and nectarines in the dollar bags, a HUGE bag of fresh ginger (that I'm going to peel and freeze tomorrow), some limes and a lemon and a couple of apples.  I then went and looked for the free oat bars that I had loaded on my card, but while there is a slot for them at the store they haven't had them since the freebie popped up online.  I'm hoping they haven't gotten them in yet and will hopefully get them in before the coupon expires.  Here's hoping.  I did, however, pick up a box of Fred Meyer brand breakfast bars for my husband as he's found that taking a few for the road in the morning helps him not get shaky.  I had a 1.00/1 breakfast bar coupon for the store brand ones (it was a personalized rewards rebate coupon thingie that I got in the mail) and they were on reduced for 1.53, so I only paid .53 for the box. 

I had signed up for free samples of Silk dairy free yogurt and got two coupons in the mail instead of one, so I went and got those.  I have no problem eating soy yogurt for breakfast...heck I could probably use the extra protein, so I was grateful to have them.

The crackers were the Freebie Friday this Friday and so I got the one I had and the one my friend gave me.  We've tried both flavors.  The garlic herb one wasn't too bad, but the veggie one...yuck.  It tastes like dried tomatoes and not much else when you bite into the cracker.  I'm figuring that meat loaf will be a good way to use these up, or use them for breading for chicken or something.

The cat food was on sale for .49 a can and the Doritos were on sale for 3.50 per bag.

After coupons and freebies were applied I paid a total of 24.59 at Fred Meyer. 

I then went to Carrs on Saturday and picked up soda for the son and spent 9.19 there.

So, all totaled I spent a total of 33.68 on groceries this week between the two trips.  However, I also need to send my husband to get milk again tomorrow, so I'm probably going to average about 40.00 and some odd cents this week for groceries.  Not too bad, though, especially since I got some canned peaches and frozen ginger out of the deal.

I'm still hoping to not have to shop for much this week at all, so I'm aiming at spending about 30.00 on groceries for the rest of my two week period just to get my son his snack foods and call it good.

How about you?  Find anything cool at the stores this week?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 Well, I'm behind on blogging that's for sure.  This week has been so busy I just haven't had much of a chance to do it, unfortunately.

With my son's skin doing better, he's been a bit more destructive than normal and he's normally pretty active, so it's been a struggle to keep the house from looking like a tornado hit it.  I've been able to do it with limited success (and I mean limited *laugh*).

So, let's get to some things I did this week shall we?

1.  I ended up helping a friend of a friend who was having issues with her website not showing up.  My friend asked me to help her as she knew that I had knowledge in "old school" webpage building (read:  I know how to do html *laugh*) and asked me to take a look at her website for her.  I ended up rebuilding her main page for her (the index page) when I had time over the last month and got it up and running.  She insisted on paying me for my trouble and I told her to just pay me what she thought I was worth.  She ended up paying me way more than I thought I was worth *laugh*, but the supplemental income was definitely welcome right now as we're at razor edge finances at the current time.

2.  I canned the cabbage I had bought this week (seen up top).  Per usual when I follow a recipe for canning it's like sometimes the yields are WAY off base.  This was one of those times.  I weighed out my six pounds of cabbage to the ounce, salted it just like the directions said and I found I had just the right amount of ingredients to spice the brine the way the recipe said too.  Well, of course that didn't work out.  I ended up having to reuse the one spice bag when I had to TRIPLE the brine called for in the recipe (and I packed the cabbage into those jars like you would not believe!) and made up a second one with what spices I still had plenty of (like mustard seed).

The recipe said you'd get about five pints out of the recipe.  I got nine.  But, it's done and the few pieces of cabbage that were left over tasted good, so I figure it will work out alright.

3.  While working on the pantry and getting it better organized I used some of the dissovable labels I won to label the jars.  So, that was a nice, free thing to help me figure out what was in the jars at first glance.
4.  While shopping yesterday (which I'll get to posting up my shopping trip promise) I found peaches on reduced cheap, so I grabbed as many of the 1.00 bags as I could find that were in decent shape.   Some of them were REALLY ripe, though, so I didn't want them sitting around so I came home from shopping and immediately canned them (seen above).

You'll notice the floating peaches.  When you can you'll quickly realize that you have strengths and you have weaknesses.  Some people can make beautiful cans of peaches that don't float, but can't get a jam to set to save their lives.  You can make wonderful crisp pickles but can't get cherries to sit in a jar right.  Well, I can't get peaches to NOT float no matter what I have tried throughout the years.  I've tried extra light syrup, hot pack method and cold pack method, jamming the peaches in there until I worry the syrup won't fit in the cracks...nothing works.  The peaches just float.  So I gave up on having pretty peaches in the jar *laugh*.

5.  My brother-in-law gave us a big bucket of brown rice given to him by some people who were moving and were getting rid of food storage that they didn't have room for.  He was given 100 lbs of it and asked if we wanted some.   Of course I wasn't going to turn down free food.  The rice is a bit old, you can smell it, but once rinsed and things it tastes okay.  I figure I'll use it in casseroles and save the white rice for my son who wouldn't eat brown rice if you paid him right now.

6.  The weather is milder this summer than the last couple of years, which is great for things like my rhubarb and raspberries that were suffering so much during the past couple of years.  The one bad part, though, is that bugs are EVERYWHERE in my garden right now.  I'm battling cabbage fly, millipedes, ants, you name it.  So, I spread some more diatomaceous earth around for the crawling insects and made up a batch of insecticidal soap (1 cup oil.  Add 1 TBS dish soap, not dishwashing detergent, soap, to the jar.  Shake it up before you use it every time.  Add 1 tsp mix to a spray bottle with 1 cup of warm water.  Shake well and spray on plants.  It'll help suffocate any bug with a soft body) that I sprayed on the plants today.  The way the rain has been falling lately, I might have to do this about once every three days or so, but if it'll keep the little buggers from eating my cabbages and other plants, I'll do what it takes!

7.  I used home made shower cleaner to clean the children's bathtub today.

8.  I mended one of my daughter's skirts and a hole in one of my husband's work shirts this week.

9.  I got some free samples in the mail this week including a sample of Green Mountain coffee Keurig cups.  I don't own a Keurig, but I found that if I put the coffee in my drip coffee cone, it works just fine and this way I get two free cups of coffee OR I can save the cups to put in with a Christmas gift later on.

10.  I entertained my daughter by putting on, "Victorian Farm Christmas" on my computer as it combined two of her favorite things.  Farms and Christmas *laugh*.

And now onto the garden update.

Look at my rhubarb plant!!!  I even have a baby that sprouted up by it this year (which I'll transplant come fall :).  I'm so thrilled that while smaller than a lot of rhubarb plants around, it at least looks like a rhubarb plant instead of a spindly weed this year.

I mentioned the bugs that I am killing with extreme prejudice, but luckily I also have some beneficial bugs helping me out too.  I tried to get a picture of the swarm of dragon flies that are hanging out in my garden, but my camera isn't fast enough.  I also have a ton of spiders helping me out with some pest control too.

I was thrilled at the growth in the garden this week, though.  Check out how much things have grown!

The potatoes, lettuce and cabbage "bowl" and the kohlrabi.

 The rat tailed radishes (right) and my various cabbages (you can see some of the bug damage on the row in the middle).

The lettuce and carrots (you can see them off to the left there).  I think I should be able to carefully start harvesting lettuce this week :).

Another shot of the carrot rows, the garlic with cabbages on either side, the potato plants (which I have a garlic plant growing behind one of those as well) and the bunching onions up front (which are still kind of "meh" in growth...I'm hoping they start to take off here or I might not get many this summer).

The spinach I should be able to start harvesting this week too (up front), the chard is still working on growing here, but I'm hoping as the summer progresses it starts doing better (I hoping to thin it some day soon), and the peas in the background that are going up the home made trellis nicely.

And here's my other potato plant up on my deck with my just sprouting basil and spinach hanging planter.

The front planters.  This time I took a shot of the nasturtiums that are just starting to really take off.

The front bed is still not doing too much, so I didn't bother taking it's picture right now.

So there you are folks.  My garden updates and things for the week.  How did you do?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Shopping Goals: June 2016

 This was an area that was kind of tricky for me to figure this month.  We have holes to fill in the pantry and freezer, but no money to really fill them, so what do you do?

Well, my friends, in my case you go through, take a detailed inventory of what you DO have and figure out how to fill those holes without spending money.  And I came up with some plans.

Remember those #10 (big coffee can size) cans of tomato sauce I bought last year?  Well, they'll be coming into play here this month (hopefully depending on how hot it is :) and I'll be using skills and my canner to fullest extent to get some things accomplished here.

I do have a subscribe and save order in with Amazon that I paid for with giftcards, so at least I don't have to worry about that coming back to haunt me with money coming out of the account next week.

The garden should start producing this month to the point I should be harvesting lettuce and other salad fixings as well as herbs.  This is always a welcome addition to our summer table, so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

So, anyway, here's my various shopping goals for the month.

From the Pantry/Canning:

#10 Cans of Tomato Sauce, make into:
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Ketchup
Mustard seed, make into:
  • Yellow mustard
Sugar and lemon, make into:
  • Golden syrup (this will help supplement pancake toppings come winter to save me money on maple syrup and also to be used in cooking)

  • Coffee
  • Ultra Gel (for canning)
  • Chili powder (bulk)
  • Au Jus mix (bulk)
  • Fish oil containing vitamins, chewable (for son.  Some people swear that it has helped their child to talk better and have less melt downs, so I want to give it a shot)
  • Dill Seed (bulk)
  • Kraft EZ Mac cups (for son for summer school)

Home Depot:
  • Water Softening Salt

Regular Stores:
  • Cheap produce (if I run into any)
  • Cheap meat (I'm running kind of low, so I'm kind of hoping to run into some)

And there you are folks.  My shopping goals for this month.  How about you?  Have anything planned?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Monthly Goals: June 2016

You know, really with everything that went on last month I'm overall proud of myself with everything I got done.  Sure, the yard work didn't get done that I wanted, but I managed to nurse my rhubarb plant to the best health it's been in since we moved here (it's actually looking like a rhubarb plant vs. a weed this year!!!), I got a new rhubarb plant and got it planted.  The garden is alive and growing (I might be going to war with bugs here very quickly, but so far we're doing okay).  I got a lot of canning done, earlier than I have done in the past couple of years and in greater quantities which I am happy about.  And I managed to keep my sanity in tact...well mostly ;) despite everything that's been going on.

This month holds a special milestone for me.  At the end of this month my husband and I will be celebrating our fifteen year wedding anniversary.  Doesn't seem like it's been near fifteen years (I'm hoping that's a good thing *laugh*). 

We were hoping we'd be in better financial shape by this point in time, but it wasn't to be.  I have to admit for quite a while I got really depressed that we weren't going to be able to celebrate yet another occasion as I was really looking forward to doing something special for our 15 year anniversary (my parent's marriage was really failing by this point in their marriage even though they stayed married for 20 years, so to me it's kind of a big deal that we're here and our marriage is still healthy).  I've lost birthdays, Mother's Day and other holidays for a long while now and just kind of just took it without worrying about it too much, but this one was bugging me.

Then, I woke up one day, mentally smacked myself upside the head and yelled at the depressed part of me, "SNAP OUT OF IT!"  And I did :).  I mean, really, what is a day in the whole scheme of your life?  Not much.  And the important thing is to take each day and try to make the best of what you have.  Since the mental smack down I started brainstorming on things I could do for gifts for my husband and things using materials we had around here.  Just because we can't go out to a fancy restaurant or something doesn't mean I can't work on making the day a little special.

At first I thought I could at least grill steaks that day, but found we were out of propane.  Even if we had money right now to fill the tank, we wouldn't, we'd spend the money on food or something else, so that was out.  I went through list after list like that and then I finally came up with a plan of sorts.

See, my husband has been wanting to try Dusseldorf mustard for ages and I kept putting it off for a holiday gift or something because buying it wasn't going to be cheap as the only places we could find it was online and since the mustard was imported it was going to be spendy.

So, I looked at the mustard seed I have around here and thought, "Heck, I can make him some!"  So, I started researching last month.  I finally found some traditional recipes in various library books, online e-books and other sources for Dusseldorf mustard...some going back to the 1800's.  I found a couple that I wrote down as a guide to the ingredients and spices involved (which honestly had me a bit discouraged as they called for white wine and wine vinegar...one I don't really have around here other than a couple of splashes for cooking and wine vinegar isn't cheap and I don't have a lot to spare) and then started working on adapting them to recipes that were safe to can and at a much lesser amount (a lot of the recipes were for estate kitchens or farmhouse recipes that made a TON of mustard at one time...like 64 oz of wine vinegar as one of the ingredients).

 I finally settled on one that really intrigued me from an old farmer's wife recipe that had been translated from German that I found that called for "apple wine".  I was like, "Wait, apple wine?  Isn't that apple cider?"  So, I know it PROBABLY isn't the same (who knows if it was translated correctly too from someone's old handwriting and such), but I decided to sub out some hard apple cider I had in the recipe and while the recipe called for wine vinegar I decided to use apple cider vinegar instead (sticking with the apple theme).  I did stick to the spices that all recipes for Dusseldorf seemed to agree on (to a degree...it really did seem to shoot all over the place when it came to what spices were used...probably due to regional availability of ingredients or something).  I then looked up some safe for canning recipes for mustard, subbed out my alcohol for the ones in the recipe (since it was all 5% alcohol by volume...or whatever beer and wine have in them), subbed out my vinegar for theirs (5% acidity all the way around) and I was good to go. 

Traditionally, it seems like Dusseldorf mustard is kind of like a dijon mustard but spicier/hotter and is supposed to come out looking like a nice creamy mustard.  Well, my blender wasn't up to the task of making a smooth emulsion of the mustard, so I ended up with a grainier final product.  It tasted good once you got past the heat (1 cup of brown mustard seeds=hot out of the pan!).  I canned the mustard and placed it in the pantry as it is supposed to mellow/mature for 6 to 8 weeks before consuming.  We won't QUITE meet the 6 week mark (since I finally got a chance to make it last week), but I suspect it'll taste good all the same.  But, yeah, really I didn't really make Dusseldorf mustard like you'd get from the store, but I do sure hope it tastes good (seen above before I stuck it in the pantry).

So, yeah, anniversary plans are part of my goals for this month :).  Here's hoping I'm off to a good start!

Monthly Goals:  June 2016

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on dress (I pray I have more time this month to work on this)
  • Fix husband's work jackets
  • Make gift for new niece (she might be getting it for Christmas the way I'm going, but I'm hopeful *laugh*) 

General Goals:
  • Work on anniversary plans/gifts 
  • Work on emptying and resetting pantry
  • Try to work out two week menu plans to better fit with the shopping every two weeks schedule
  • Continue to process/can cheap produce if I run into any
  • Work on ideas for bulk things to make for breakfast for husband so he gets added protein in his diet (part of doctor's orders)
  • Save money (goes without saying really, but I like things to be written down.  It keeps me motivated :).

Cleaning Goals:
  • Work on getting stuff weeded and out of den
  • Clean out master bedroom closet and reset
  • Wash down walls in children's rooms (my daughter is going to help me with this :)
  • Clean ceiling fans (this is a monthly chore as the fans get pretty dusty).

I'm sure that I'm missing a few things, but those are the tentative goals so far.  So, how about you?  Got anything planned for this month?