Saturday, April 29, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

It was a kind of hectic week around here, so anyone who e-mailed me and I didn't respond, please be assured that I'll respond to you here soon.  I just haven't had the energy to really even CHECK my e-mail, so replying just wasn't in the cards much.

My son has been keeping me busy lately and not in a good way, unfortunately.  He's been going through this phase where the self-injury behaviors have been getting worse and worse and now he's also branching out into starting with self-injury (usually smacking himself in the face...he's got a welt on the bridge of his nose right now from doing it) and then just randomly going into full blown temper tantrums, completely with hitting others, on top of it with no reason that can be discerned for the behavior at the time.  I finally had enough after his allergist appointment early in the week because he gets to stay home that day and he freaked out ALL DAY over a plastic shopping bag ripping on him wrong (he likes to tear bits of plastic off and float them on his breath).  After about the fifteenth time he smacked himself in the nose and hour three of screaming and hitting the walls and things, I'd had enough and called the pediatrician for a referral to a mental health professional at the end of my wits on how to help him.  We go in on Monday to see a person who specializes in autism behaviors and things.  I'm hoping that maybe that they'll be able to fix this through behavioral therapy instead of medication, but I'm not sure at this point.  We've managed to avoid all medicines, with the exception of allergy meds, for nearly nine years, and I do feel good about that, but it might be time to consider putting him on some.  We'll see how the appointment goes.  My anxiety level is at about 11 right now...this doesn't help it.

Shani has been going from one hospital to another looking for anyone who would take up her case to fight her cancer and hasn't had much luck finding one and she found out today that she has four tumors in her liver.  I'm trying to convince her that at this point if there is one thing that God has given her with this diagnosis, it was the gift of time.  My dad had heart problems for years, but seemed to be doing pretty well after getting a pace maker put in and then one day he was just gone in an instant.  So, at least she has an opportunity to pack some bags, go down south and be with her daughter and grand children, no matter the outcome and to just seek out treatment down South, if she is determined to fight the cancer.  I'm spoiling the chickens a bit with visits and things and I know it's because I can make them comfortable and happy where I can't do that for Shani.  It's the least I can do for her.

The husband started his new job this week as after he got through his class and passed it on Monday they told him he could set his start date for the new job.  Work was kind of non-existent on the old job front so my father-in-law told him to start Wednesday on the new job.  He really seems to like the new job, and the people he works with seem really nice...they even let him have Saturdays off until the Special Olympics swimming is over with, where normally he will have to work Saturdays.

There are some definitely worrisome disadvantages, though.  The biggest one being that the benefits at the new job go on a 12 month cycle, period, and so if you get hired during that 12 month period you have to make up the months you weren't working so your bulk benefits are right at the end of the year.  Confusing?  You bet.  So, basically, we have four months of benefit payments to make up...not an upper when your husband is taking a nearly ten dollar an hour pay cut to begin with.

He's also going to be on a twice a month payment schedule, so once I found out when he'd get paid, I went and arranged budget billing on the utilities and changed our due dates to accommodate the fact that I'm going to have to pay utilities in the middle of the month because the first pay period of the month we're going to have to use to pay the mortgage (and I pray we can do it that way).  Hopefully once the beginning bumps work themselves out (I pray with every fiber of my being we can make enough to live on until the benefits sort themselves out) we'll be able to start socking money away to move. 

So, anyway, let's get to the money saving things that happened this week, shall we?

1.  The chickens have been very, very happy in their new home and have gifted me with eggs...one of the hens, not sure which one, has even laid double eggs a couple of days the last couple of weeks.  Which means I've been having eggs to spare lately (some of them seen up top there).   I was even able to trade some eggs with a friend of mine as she knew I had chickens (I asked her for advice when I first got the chickens and was trying to figure things out a bit) and offered to buy some eggs off of me if I had extra.  I gave her a dozen eggs (for free as I just had the extra and I knew she's on a budget too) and she surprised me by giving me a jar of goat's milk from her goats in return (she was insistent I take at least that as I turned down money).  I was impressed that the milk actually doesn't taste gamey at all and is actually really rich and creamy, as  I'd always heard goat's milk was really strong tasting compared to cow's milk.  I've been enjoying it in my coffee for the most part (seen up top in one of my "pretty" jars), which saved me from having to buy 1/2 and 1/2 for the next couple of weeks and my friend enjoyed her dozen eggs as did her kids, so win-win.

2.  I want to thank the people who suggested I use the dough cycle on the bread machine to mix up and get whole grain breads through the first rise cycle.  BOY does that work better than baking the bread in the bread machine.  I made some nine grain bread and it came out fabulously by using the dough cycle and then putting the dough into a loaf pan and letting it do it's second rise in there (seen up top in it's first-slice-taken-off glory).  Thanks again for the tip, all!

3.  I harvested lettuce not once, but twice from the hydroponic garden this week (the second harvest seen up top as well).  I can't believe how fast the lettuce recoups on the hydroponic garden.  I have to say I'm impressed and happy as the weather outside hasn't been really adequate to plant seeds yet (ground still really cold and we had rain showers all week), so I'm happy being able to harvest something from somewhere at this point.  Here's hoping I can get some seeds in tomorrow or something.  I'm hoping to at least get peas and some root vegetables started this week as they need so long to grow.

4.  I was able to pick up freebies at the store this week while shopping.  Shopping ended up being 100.00 this week, unfortunately, but we were out of a lot and the cats were out of dried food and the chickens were nearly out of their food as well (I learned that I needed to up their protein since they were older birds, which is probably why they were blowing through their feed so quickly, so I got a higher level of protein feed and that seems to be cutting down on the amount of feed they are blowing through, so yay for that).  The biggest purchases this week on the human food front were getting seedless watermelon for 2.50 a piece (Carrs has them on sale this week) and getting gold potatoes for .88 a pound (also on sale at Carrs).  I got enough potatoes to last for a while and we've enjoyed the watermelon the last few days with dinner and for snacks.

5.  Freebies at the store this week included a free thing of salt, a free loaf of french bread from the store bakery (which my husband likes to eat for snacks and things, so it's definitely getting eaten), a free thing of sparkling lemonade, a free thing of powdered gravy mix, a free thing of hot dog buns and a free doughnut.  The doughnut  and the lemonade I had for lunch after shopping as I was starving by the time I got done running to the feed store and everything else (not an ideal lunch on the nutrition side, but it worked).   The Monopoly game is going to be ending soon and I am going to miss it as the free product coupons I've won have been really nice to get.

6.  I mended a zipper that was coming apart at the seam on my son's back pack.  I am determined to get the backpack to make it through the rest of the school year.  The zipper is separating slowly but surely and things, but so far, so good and luckily with the snow gear no longer in the back pack the load on the back pack is pretty much non-existent so I'm pretty confident the backpack will make it.

7.  A benefit to the husband's new job is that my husband found that the airport is a REALLY expensive place to eat and packing lunch is really easy there as they have an actual break room with a fridge and things.  So, I'm thrilled that I'll be able to pack him lunch on a regular basis, which will not only benefit his general diet, but also will help us save money.

So, it's been...years, since I really thought of packing lunch on a daily basis where you can reheat food and things being an option.  Anyone got some good recommendations and things to make/pack to help add some variety to my husband's lunches?

8.  I made up a batch of onion soup mix and put it into the cupboard to use later on.  I've found that having that stuff home made...you can't tell the difference between the store bought stuff and the home made stuff in a recipe and making it at home is a lot cheaper than buying a box of the stuff!  And since I use it a lot in crock pot meals, it is so worth making it in decent quantities.

9.  I was actually able to pull out the grill this week!  I cut up one of the lamb roasts I got for cheap into rib loin chops and grilled them.  They came out yummy and made enough for two meals!  Not bad for a 2.00 roast :).

10.  I used up a bunch of carrots that were getting a bit old, some old potatoes from the fridge and some turnips from the freezer, along with one of the few corned beef briskets I had in the freezer and made a corned beef dinner earlier in the week.  I pulled out 1/2 of a loaf of home made bread that I had thrown in the freezer earlier after I defrosted it on the counter for a while and voila!  A meal of essentially left overs and castaways that filled us up and tasted good.

And there you go folks.  Some of my adventures this week.  How did you do?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Well when it comes to the goals for this month, I didn't do too shabby all things considered I think.  The chickens are settled into their new home and seem very content, I went through my seeds and planned the garden, only to change my mind about five times as the weather isn't cooperating with the idea of decently early planting, although I at least got the garden turned over and ready to plant some seeds hopefully this week (we're expecting rain so that is a bit iffy).  Menu planning has been kind of on the fly, but I've been doing OKAY on that front overall.  I finally decided this last week that the best thing I can do for myself to make my life easier when it comes to menu planning is to do it on a Wednesday to Tuesday schedule instead of a Monday to Sunday because of the way I end up doing grocery shopping.  So, I'm going to give that a shot and see how everything goes for a while (so be prepared for the menu plan to be posted on Wednesday instead of Monday, basically :).

Spring cleaning has been a start and stop affair, but I'm hoping to be able to hit it harder this week, after Wednesday anyway (appointments for the kids took up today and will take up tomorrow as well).   I'm making slow, ever so slow, of progress in that area anyway.

So, onto the goals for this week!

General Goals:
  • Call speech therapist "list" again and stalk voice mails about possible openings (done)
  • Bring some of the masses of cardboard to the recycling center
  • Mend son's favorite comforter so it's at least in one piece again
  • Spring clean some more
  • Fold and put away laundry
  • Harvest lettuce from hydroponics garden again (done)
  • Pull out seeds that need to be worked as soon as the soil is defrosted enough and plant them in the protected part of the garden (under the eaves).
  • Put ring of DE around the house.

And there you go folks.  My goals for this week.  How about you?  Up to anything interesting this week?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update (as it is)

So, good news.  The reason that I didn't blog last week wasn't because of something terrible happening.  Nothing catastrophic happened.  No bad surprises.  No unexpected plagues or other medical things hit.  Nothing earth shaking BAD.  Thank the Good Lord!

Nope, this last week it's just been super busy.  The snow is finally melting, although we're still getting hard frosts at night and the ground in the yard is actually still really frozen underneath the grass.  It's really setting any garden expansion plans I had back a lot, but I'm starting to think that might not be a bad thing as I'd rather save the money from renting a tiller and just put that money toward moving costs later but another part of me keeps saying that if I don't expand the garden then we won't move because of Murphy's Law coming into play...ahh indecision, my old friend ;). 

With the snow melting, things start to get busy around here as there's a very slim window to get some things done before summer is quickly upon us.  We ran and got some diatomaceous earth at the store this week and I've been checking for the first little signs of spider mites climbing up the house before I put the "ring of protection" around the house to keep the blighters out of the house and away from my garden.

I am kind of a neat freak when it comes to keeping animal areas decently clean, so I wanted to muck out the chicken coop this week.  One of the poultry groups I'm part of on Facebook, everyone was talking about how awesome wood pellets were for chicken coops instead of pine shavings as it was a lot cheaper and easier to clean and things.  Since a 40 lb bag of pellets ran 5.49 vs about 19.00 for a 40 lb bag of pine shavings,  I decided to give the pellets a shot and I mucked out the chicken run area of the coop and put down the pellets earlier this week (the nesting boxes I'm keeping with shavings and straw mixed as I want the chickens to be comfortable when they bed down at night). The pro of the pellets I've found is that they ARE cheap.  And honestly that's about the only benefit I have found.  The chickens hated the pellets as soon as they walked on them and they took a good day to break down the pellets where they didn't mind being on them.  I hate the pellets because they don't do much for making cleaning up after the chickens easier.  Pine shavings I liked because they adhere to things and make it easier to scoop things up and out...the pellets don't do that at all so the poor chickens are just moving through a mess constantly.  I'm definitely going to spend the money on some pine shavings next time and forgo the pellets although I'll save what I have left and use them as a base layer under the pine shavings to help the pine shavings to go further.

Quick garden update (or should I say "dirt piles update" *laugh*)  is I did manage to work the soil in the garden area this week and hopefully managed to expose any slug eggs to the birds and the wonderful drying forces of the sun to kill them all *evil laugh*.  Ahem.  I can hope anyway (seen up top in all of it's soil exposed glory).  Bright side is that at least the small beds, being on the sunny side of the house, managed to defrost down far enough for me to turn the garden over, although I noticed that the ground is still pretty cold.  I'm hoping to get some of my seeds in this week, though, like turnips and things as those need longer to grow and don't mind the colder weather.

Past that a lot of the week was my husband and I figuring out the logistics of moving, what needed to be done (with me making one list after another to try and stay organized on my end) and things as well as my husband getting ready to start his new job at the airport soon.  He's got to attend a class on airport security on Monday and then basically he can start whenever he wants (which will be soon as work is kind of sparse at the moment on the old job front).  We're hoping that after six months he can go the union, tell them that he's going to give them at least a year up here and see if they could help him transfer to where we want to go or something next year.  Here's hoping.

So, yeah, onto the money saving things that happened this week!

1.  I was able to harvest lettuce a couple of times from my little hydroponics garden and ate some salads for lunch when it was just me home.

2.  I was able to gift some eggs from the chickens this week.  Turns out that once I got their diet on track and made sure they were getting some air and more protein all three hens are now laying every day.  So I'm getting nearly two dozen eggs a week right now.  Which is a bit much for us to go through around here.  I did a bunch of baking last weekend (made brownies and spice cake for Easter) and we had Eggs Benedict for dinner one night as well as eggs, waffles and bacon for dinner another night, and yet we were still drowning in eggs between what the chickens were laying and the ones that I had left over in the fridge that I had gotten before we got the chickens.  I was gifted some egg cartons in return, though, which will come in handy the way the chickens are going ;).

It's nice having fresh eggs around, I have to admit.  It's nice basically needing a jack hammer to get through a shell and you crack it into a bowl knowing exactly that that chicken was eating to create that egg.  I'm weird, what can I say *laugh*.

3.  I was finally able to get some of my freebies from Carrs this week with my Monopoly tickets.  I got two free boxes of pasta this week, a free container of salt, a free box of organic whole wheat water crackers and a free five pound bag of flour.  And in my tickets today I got coupons for a free envelope of gravy mix, a free sparkling water and a free thing of hot dog buns.  If I win nothing else, I'm loving on the amount of free products that they are giving away with this year's monopoly game!

The biggest "woohoos" when it came to shopping this week was getting sparkling juice on Amazon for about 10.00 for a case of 24 (I got a variety pack of different flavors for like 10.46 after a coupon code and another case of orange for about 10.87 after coupon), which I got in this week (they were on subscribe and save) and getting string cheese for .99 for a bag of them after I combined a one time use E-Coupon special they had and stacked it with a 1.00/1 manufacturer coupon.  

4.  I took advantage of a sale that Rifftrax was having to purchase one of their live performances, which includes a movie and three "shorts" (kind of like educational mini movies of old) they riffed for less than five dollars.  I didn't download it or anything and will save it for when we really need something neat to watch (like when the kiddos are sick or are bored this summer and need something different to do).  I used what I had left of a gift card they gave me a while back to get the movie for 2.00 and some change after sale and giftcard.

5.  I checked the bank and found that Netflix had charged us 14.00 a pop for two movies when they cancelled the account, but I knew I had returned the last two movies I had, so I dug up the confirmation e-mail from them where they had gotten them, called them and got the money refunded to me (it was something screwy in the way the movies were logged into the system that did it).  Always good to keep on top of the checking account as things like that add up quickly.

6.  I managed to get some Spring Cleaning done around here this week, which was nice (and nearly free as all it costed was my labor to get it done and some soap and water).  Hopefully I can get more done in the next couple of weeks as school lets out the middle of next month, so time is ticking away here.

7.  When going to make dinner earlier in the week I wasn't feeling great and just quickly looked around and pulled anything that would cook decently quickly to make a quick dinner.  It actually turned out so well my husband asked me to put it into dinner rotations in the future.  I'll share the recipe a bit later as I'm hoping to make it again soon :).

8.  Easter was a pretty laid back event.  I was gifted a bunch of Easter things that I then gave to the kids in their basket, along with a few things I'd remembered to pick up in the way of candy and things...which in itself was a miracle really as everything was so insane the last couple of months it's a miracle I remembered what month it was let alone when Easter was.  We colored a bunch of eggs with different types of food coloring (I still really love the look that the gel food coloring gives to eggs when you color them...you should really give it a shot sometime!) and enjoyed a ham I pulled from the freezer at the last minute but put into the oven with some water in the pan and steamed it for three or so hours.  It was an uneventful and decently peaceful holiday.  I hope you all had a nice holiday too!

9.  I took advantage of an opportunity to read a book in exchange for my review.  I've been reading it along with some free magazine subscriptions I've gotten when I go to the school to wait for when I go in to pick up the kids for the day (I am OCD about getting to the school early so I don't have to worry about being late...I have nightmares of the kids not knowing where I am and freaking out and worried, so I try to make sure that doesn't happen if I can help it).  I've really been enjoying the quiet time as it's one of those opportunities where you get to do something for yourself, in my case read while listening to the radio, and not feeling guilty that you should be doing something else.  It's a nice, peaceful bit of time.

10.  The daughter FINALLY got to the point where she'll eat apples with the peel on!  It's been so wonderful just being able to put an apple in her lunch instead of trying to stop apple slices from browning and things and also just being able to point her toward the fridge when she wants a snack and say, "apples and cheese sticks are in the fridge" instead of trying to figure out something else to make for her and combine that with sparkling juice and you've got a decent snack nutrition-wise.  Love it when things like that happen.  And I've been able to guilt her...errr...convince her...to eat eggs and things more often as all I have to say is, "Hey, those peas were grown in our garden!  You helped to pick them remember?"  or, "Hey, those are the eggs we gathered from the coop today.  A lot of work went into those eggs.  Eat them!"   Bwahahahaha!!!  Guilt as a parenting tool.  Working for parents since the beginning of time ;).

And there you are folks.  Some of my adventures this week.  How did you all do?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap


This is the week that my husband and I decided we're moving.  Out of state, preferably.  We're thinking Northern Iowa.  My husband's father's family is from that area and was in that area for generations before his grandfather met up with a woman whose family had been homsteading in Alaska for a generation and moved up here eventually.  My husband was there as a kid briefly and really liked it and we've talked about going there from time to time over the years.  We called the Chamber of Commerce down there and found them friendly, kind and generous with the information and I was even able to get in contact with a couple that runs a therapy place down there for special needs kids and found out that Iowa seems to be an excellent state to be in if you have an autistic child when it comes to resources (and the couple was from Wasilla too, which I found really funny and took as pretty much a sign).  We're aiming for a year before we move as we have to get the house fixed up to sell, get my husband some experience under his belt with the airport job (which will look good on a resume), get my daughter through elementary school and get my son to a point where he'd be graduating out of the elementary ABA program and into regular special ed up here as well (which another thing in Iowa's favor is that their autism programs go longer in school).

If anyone is from around that area, drop me a line and if you've moved from Alaska to another state (it complicates things being this far North), please e-mail me at makedohomemaker (at) gmail (dot) com and give me some tips.

The straw that broke our backs this week was an incident that happened when we went to the store on Tuesday to get milk (the store was out of whole milk when I'd gone to get milk on earlier) and we had an incident in the parking lot with an unhinged lady...long story, but to skip to the ending the cops got involved when the lady called and started yelling at the 911 operator because we parked our cart in the wrong spot and offended her sensibilities (like I said...unhinged) and she was blocking our car so we couldn't pull out until the cops came and arrested us for cart mis-parking.  The cops agreed the lady was nuts and after telling her that what we had done was far from illegal, wasn't hurting anyone and that the store didn't care if someone parked their cart somewhere other than the inside of the store, stayed with us until she was out of sight for a good five minutes or so to avoid her following us home and starting something.  She was that nuts.  Basically the lady was either on drugs or she needed to be.

At that point my husband and I were just DONE.  We have come to realize that around here that most people with skills and any ability to get out of the state are leaving in a mass exodus right now (as the state is going to crap due to government mismanagement) and that we were going to be having more incidents like the one in the parking lot if we stayed here.  It's like the insane people running the asylum more and more up here and once the 30% income taxes start hitting on top of sales tax and no PFD, it's going to be impossible for most people to live up here.  And we'd looked at property to move from here to another area and property prices are even higher than when we bought this place, so we can't find anything worth buying for under about 300,000 with any decent amount of land.  Which we can't afford that.  So, leaving state is just the best option.  Scary as I have NO idea HOW we're going to do it, but I'm praying somehow we can save up the money we need and if we sell the house and some other things we might be able to make enough to get out of here.  If for no other reason than for better services for Alvah (still no luck finding him a speech therapist around here yet).  Pray for us, please?  I'm figuring if it's meant to be God will make sure things fall into place, so here's hoping it all works out.

Update on Shani is she still hasn't looked into treatment centers and unfortunately I can't do the last part for her as she needs to coordinate and pay for her travel and make appointments and thigns.  She's kind of acting like she's giving up and is just going to give chemo a shot up here, which from what I've read isn't going to work on her type of cancer.  So, I don't know.

At least the chickens are doing good.  For three year old hens (turns out that is how old they are...between two and three is what Shani was told), I have two hens that are laying one egg consistently a day and they started laying pretty fast...within a few days (the eggs I got this week seen up top).  Which makes me think that they really enjoy their new home, which makes ME happy knowing that.  One hen just randomly is laying one egg a week wherever she seems to be at the time (the other two always lay in the same nesting box so I know it's not them and the eggs she lays are SLIGHTLY bigger and has a slight tan undertone to them).   I'm not too worried about a pretty much freeloading hen at this point.  Since the chickens are all so old, we're probably going to look at culling them all this fall after they molt (thus stop laying) for the winter and starting fresh next year (if we're still here anyway).  I talked to a breeder and he agreed as the hens are getting old enough that they are going to cease to be cost effective to keep soon.  I texted Shani to ask her opinion (I didn't want to just get her chickens, take care of them six months and then slaughter them without asking her about it as it seemed not right to do without her okay) and she said she had gotten them not only for eggs but also for meat so if we felt the need to cull them to do so and enjoy the chicken.  My daughter was even okay once I explained that most times you only keep chickens for a year or so before you turn them into dinner and that it was best to not name them because of that.  She just got all excited over the idea of getting new chickens/chicks later on.  Hopefully wherever we end up we can get some more chickens as I've found I actually do enjoy taking care of them (I know, I'm weird).

So, yeah, onto the other money saving things that went on this week!

1.  I was on Amazon and surfing around looking at stuff (because I'm terrible like that) and found a bunch of stuff that were add on items that I decided I could put into one order and get.  The biggest find was a six pack of Simply Pure (or something similar) Pillsbury frosting mixes were down to a six pack of them for 2.00 and some change.  I ordered four packs as I am hoping that the frosting (which you add butter and things to) would be close enough to the processed crap in taste that my son will eat it, but also get some nutrition in him (and since there is no leavening in it the powdered mix lasts pretty much forever).  Got two of the orders in supposedly yesterday only to find two envelopes in the box, not the 12 I was expecting.  Contacted amazon and the frosting mix is back ordered with their supplier, so I have no idea if and when I'll get my missing envelopes or if I'll get my other orders.  Ugh.  At least it was cheap to begin with, I guess.  I also got a razor with refill cartridges for 2.00 and some change after a 3.00/1 coupon they had.  So, yay for at least getting a cheap razor :).

2.  I went to Fred Meyer yesterday and got the freebies I had saved on my card.  One was the new line of Jell-O that is coming out, which is with simple all natural ingredients and what not.  I checked out the flavors and most of them there was no way my family would like (I mean Strawberry pudding just didn't seem like it would go over well), but I picked chocolate caramel in the hopes it would taste like chocolate.  We shall see.  I also got a free bag of Sour Patch Kids (sour gummy candies) and put those aside for the Easter basket tomorrow, so yay for free Easter candy!

3.  I went to Carrs hoping to get the freebies I had coming there from the Monopoly game.  I had a coupon for free salt, free aspirin and free crackers.  Only to find that Carrs was out of all of them.  Hopefully they'll get them back in before the game is over.  I did get a coupon for a free pound of pasta yesterday, though, so I'll at least be able to redeem THAT one, so yay for free pasta anyway!
4.  I harvested some lettuce from my hydroponic garden this week, which was nice because our winter is definitely holding on this year, although thank goodness things are melting pretty quickly now.  We're about a month behind on Spring compared to the last few years right now, unfortunately, and by the sheer amount of freezing temperatures we're still getting at night, I'm really wondering if the garden is going to do very much this year the way the weather is going.  We shall see.
The hydroponic garden, though, is actually doing really well.  The amount of lettuce I can harvest at one time is just enough for side salads for the family for one night (an average amount is seen in the bowl there), but I have found that the lettuce recoups pretty quickly (seen above a few days after harvesting some for salads).  I doubt I'll regrow lettuce in the garden, though, as I can't see it being cost effective with what I'm paying on power with the light compared to the cost of lettuce at the store.  Next time I'm going to just plant herbs instead as those I can always use and things like Basil don't like to grow outside here, so it'll be nice to have some of that to harvest.  And a box of herb pods came with my aero garden, so my next harvest won't cost me anything to plant.

5.  I got eggs to color for Easter (I didn't want to use my first fresh eggs to make Easter eggs, I know I'm bad) for free after spending 25.00 at Carrs with a coupon this week, which was cool.  Now, though, between that and the eggs I got from the chickens and a dozen I dug out of the back of the vegetable drawer I forgot I had (don't ask me why I put my eggs in the veggie drawer...for the life of me I don't know)...I going to be using up eggs in the next few weeks for sure.

6.  I mended a t-shirt that was losing it's arm due to a loose seam. 

7.  We ate at home all week without eating out once, which is rare for us with my son and his "french fry food group" diet.  So, yay for saving money that way!

8.  I enjoyed the free resource of naps this week trying to recoup from my cold.  It's still straggling on a bit, but at least I am starting to feel human again. 

9.  It's been warm enough to open up the deck door and the windows this week to start letting in fresh air.  It's been in the 50's during the day some days, which is wonderful after the long, cold winter we had!  Fresh air is not only free, but definitely welcome.

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

So, what happened to Frugal Friday last week you ask?

Well, actually I was really frugal last week.  Mainly because we were all sick and so no money was spent because I didn't go anywhere or do anything but be sick or take care of others who were sick.

We started the week with the daughter catching a cold and that lasted till about mid-week.  Then I started catching said cold, but was holding it off.  And then my son got the stomach flu.  So, after staying up all night taking care of him...well the cold didn't so much hit me as hit me like a truck.  So, I JUST started feeling better today and had to run around like a maniac this morning to get errand running done that I didn't get done last week because of all the sickness.

I also needed to run and get unforeseen chicken supplies.  We finally went and got the chickens yesterday (thank goodness).  The coop isn't QUITE done as we need to put the insulation on the outside of the coop and add a few wood panels on top of it to insulate the nesting box area.  Overall, though, I was impressed with how roomy and comfortable my husband was able to make the coop for the chickens and they are VERY happy by the sounds they are making (a chicken treat brick that I bought at the farm supply store MIGHT have helped a bit).

I was worried when we picked up the chickens though and found that they were completely out of things like chicken grit and things, so I ran to the supply store today and grabbed those things.  It really wasn't too much money overall, but was still more than I was thinking I'd have to spend for start up costs as Shani thought she had plenty of everything (other people were feeding the chickens since she's been sick, so I don't blame her at all), but at least the chickens are settled and hopefully might start laying eggs here soon.  Bright side was I was able to collect seven eggs from Shani's coop and deliver them to her so she can have some farm fresh eggs in her diet here.  It can't do her anything but good at this point.  I'm really worried about her as when I saw her yesterday she seemed like she had some energy, but she's lost an awful lot of weight and she hasn't even started treatment yet. 
The entire cost of the coop was right around 200.00, and of course labor on my husband's part (and it's huge...it takes up an entire bay of my barn pretty much).  I can't imagine how that big of a coop would have cost if I'd bought it somewhere else, so yay for having a mechanically inclined husband!  I just hope the chickens will be happy and content here as I hated the necessity that required me to adopt them.

My husband went to a meeting about the drug treatment center and we came away severely depressed.  Basically, because the center is run by an independent company and not the state there is no special permit that the company would need to open said building, thus nothing that we can even contest.  And we also found out that the borough LOVED the idea of the thing going in, so we weren't going to get anyone on board with the idea of putting the center into a better area.  So, basically, we're screwed.

Basic plan we've come up with is that we're going to go to the bank after we get a accurate survey of our land done (which I need to start looking for someone to do that for a decent price...I hope it doesn't cost much) and then either get a home equity loan or even refinance our mortgage so that we can get the funds to put up a big privacy fence around our entire property, preferably with barbed wire on top so we don't have to worry about fence jumpers getting over very easily.  It's the only protection we can really think to do at this point.  It was a depressing, sick filled week for sure *sigh*.  At least we have property that could go residential or commercial, so we're hoping to get the fence built, get the land cleared and maybe sell it as commercial property.  The governor is determined to push tons of taxes and things through up here, so we're seriously considering relocating in the next few years as our standard of living is so high up here already that if they start putting taxes on top of it, there is going to be no reason to stay as it would start making living here just too expensive to stay.

Bright side to the week was my husband got to go in and start the process to get all of the various security clearances he'll need to work at the airport, so yay for that!

Last week I might not have gotten much done on the money saving front, other than not going anywhere or spending money because I was too busy or not up to do doing much, but we got the coop pretty much done (so one goal nearly accomplished) and I spent a good couple of days researching cancer treatment centers for Shani.  I was trying to find a good place that would have everything she would need to help her hopefully beat this cancer (she asked me as she just wasn't up to concentrating enough to do it).  I think I now know more about her cancer than she does after reading a lot of different sites and sources, and I found a really good cancer center that I'm hoping she can get into.  The head doctor there is the top authority in her type of cancer, they have a special scanner to help detect her cancer cells and figure out where to target them, and they have four research studies going on for her type of cancer right now.  I hope she can get her wound healed up enough to go and at least get the opportunity to fight the cancer with the best tools at hand.  Here's hoping.

So, yeah, anyway onto this week's goals!

General Goals:
  • Harvest some lettuce from hydroponics garden (I can't BELIEVE how quick the lettuce grew the last 10 days.  I'll have to take a pic of it so you can see it later!).
  • Finish up meal plan for the week (I got it like 98% done, but need to finish it tomorrow).
  • Recover house from being sick (this is taking a LOT longer than I thought because I am still wearing out easily from this cold).
  • Clean car (this needs it bad)
  • Look in closet and see if I have a pair of sneakers for the son in the next size up (found out when I checked his shoes today that his toes are at the end of his sneakers...here's hoping).
  • Get some baking done (hopefully tomorrow) to get school treats, bread and some muffins done for the week.
  • Fold and put away laundry.
  • Mend bathing suit 
  • Mend comforters (again)
  • Get well (this is definitely a hope on my part as I'm SO tired right now)
And there you go folks.  My goals for this week.  How about you?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Monthly Goals: April, 2017

You know, I felt like I got like nothing accomplished on my goals for last month, but looking at the list I had I actually got a good portion of it done.  Which is impressive when I look at my cell phone for last month as pretty much every day with the exception of Spring Break (since I was busy with the kids that week) had appointments and stuff going on.  I'm actually kind of surprised and pleased that I got anything done last month considering the month we had.

First, the good news.  My husband heard from the airport today and Juneau okayed his position!!!  He's actually got another job interview for another job tomorrow through the state as well, so he's going to see if the second job can give him a better deal or not.  I'm glad the husband is finally realizing his worth.

Shani was actually in decent spirits when I visited her today as they might have found a research study in Texas for her to be in on with her cancer and so her treatment would be free.  The best part about it, though, is that it is a new type of cancer treatment that would bypass chemo, which would enable her to keep her strength up while they fought the cancer.  If nothing else, I'm really happy that she might get to avoid chemo.  She's got a terrible wound in her gut right now from the surgeries she had done, so hopefully that will heal enough for her to fly and pretty quickly as time isn't on her side with this cancer.

So far with the heroin treatment center situation, I've been on the news getting interviewed about it and my husband is hopefully going to get to speak at an assembly meeting tomorrow to see if we can get this thing shut down quick.  I'm hoping this just goes well, for a change, so please please if you have a moment send up a prayer for us.  I can't really afford to move and I sure don't want something like that next door to me...the entire situation is just making my husband and I ill.

My theme song this week has been, "It's Gonna Be OKAY" by the Piano Guys.  Got a moment, take a listen and get inspired.  The song has helped me out a lot lately...

It has kind of become my theme song.  It definitely speaks to my fighting spirit.

When it comes to goals this month, a lot of it depends.  On the weather.  On how the situation with the heroin treatment center goes, how the new job goes.  So, so many factors at work right now.  But, I'm still hoping to get some stuff done, so let's get to those goals shall we?

Goals for Month:

  • Organize seeds and start planning garden (I barely got them taken out and put into one box this week with everything that was going on...seen up top...but I still need to figure out EXACTLY what and where to plant...if we're not moving before property values crash...ugh...life is driving crazy right now).  Plant seeds that need to be started indoors (and pray cats are nice to them).
  • Finish chicken coop.  Pick up chickens and get them settled into new home (getting there on the coop...the husband has been distracted so it's been taking a while).
  • Walk property and assess damage from last big wind storm (we lost at least a couple of trees, so I want to make sure nothing scary could be on the verge of going down somewhere).
  •  Spring Clean.  Wash walls, windows, clean under beds thoroughly, vacuum mattresses and dust thoroughly.  No matter what happens with the drug treatment center, this needs to be done, so I'm hoping to focus on cleaning up and things as much as I can.
  • Take care of Shani as much as I can.  I cleaned her vehicles for her today, which allowed me to visit with her at the hospital.  It felt good to help her out and also was nice to visit with her.
  • Start embroidery projects (one of these days...)
  • Start to harvest lettuce from hydroponics garden (seen above in the beginning stages)
  • Continue to catch up on mending, especially of the comforters before they find a way to fall apart completely.
  • Get back on track with the menu plan, baking and more domestic things.  I've been so super busy it's amazing that I remember my head is attached lately, so I really need to work on the home front...it helps me feel more grounded in turbulent situations, which is REALLY needed right now and benefits the entire family, which is a double benefit.
And there you are folks.  My hopeful goals for this month.  How about you?  Got anything you are up to this month?

Side Note:

I just wanted to share this link with you.

Shani's daughter is trying to raise money through GoFundMe so she can fly her and her kids to help with Shani's care.  You can find more information on that HERE.  If you can help, please do.  I would have given anything to have had a few more moments with my father before he went to the other side.  I'd like to at least give Shani's daughter that if the worst case scenario plays out, and if it doesn't Shani could certainly use the help and support.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

March.  Man, March. Traditionally this month has kind of sucked for me (don't know why, but it's just the way it is), but this month has tried to break some records.

First an update on Shani.  She got her second opinion.  Turns out she doesn't have colon cancer.  She instead has neuro endocrine cancer.  Stage 4 was correct, though.  It's a very rare form of cancer with a very short life expectancy.  She went in earlier in the week and had the obviously destroyed part of her colon removed so she could at least eat again and is, if the infection in her incision clears up quickly, going out of state to probably Texas to put up as much of a fight as she can against the cancer at a cancer center there.  Thank you all for your prayers.  They are helping her mood if nothing else.

I'm not sure if we're going to get to make soap before she leaves for treatment, as time is of the essence if she wants to even try to fight this cancer, but we'll see how the weekend goes.

I put in calls to everywhere trying to find my son a speech therapist in the Valley and am having 100% no luck.  Lots of waiting lists when I can get a hold of someone, but no speech therapists calling me back for the most part.  I'm going to continue to call and see what I can find, but I might end up paying the literacy center for their program just to keep my son in some type of therapy here.  Depressing to say the least.

The icing on the cake on my week was finding out from a neighbor that our Community Council, with no input from anyone in the area if they wanted to it or not, decided to okay putting in a heroin treatment center in my neighborhood.  More specifically in my back yard.  With easy access to four schools in the immediate area, lots of homes with young children, including MINE, and no access to any services that addicts might need near by (like say, oh, a hospital), but not far enough away from things like drugs to do addicts any good in THAT way either.  Great location for one of these to go in (sarcasm gets me through sometimes).  So, now all of us in the area are going to have to fight this from going in.  If it passes I'm going to seriously have to look at moving pretty darned quickly before my property values tank so much I can't sell or, worse, my kids run into weird people in my yard or other things I don't need them exposed to. 

Oh and top that off  with March deciding it was going to go out like an ex that just doesn't catch the hint (seen up top).  After 28 days of decently dry weather, our thoughts turned to Spring.  But, nope, darned March anyway.  Snow this week which would melt during the day and turn to ice under the snow, with our road not getting plowed, it just made getting off the road onto the main drag really difficult. Then having to pick up the kids early a lot this week because my daughter is growing and it's throwing her stomach condition into a tizzy.  And an IEP for my son, which are always fun because you walk away with a list of all of your child's shortcomings and you feel like you are the worst parent ever in the creation of time. 

I'm fatigued on levels that I forgot I had.  I feel like I've just been hunkered in a foxhole this week with bombs exploding all around me.  I just...ugh.  You know ever since I was a child and things were always so stressful with my parent's marriage and then the divorce and everything that went with it, all I ever wished for was a nice, boring and predictable life.  And the Good Lord has seen fit to turn that on it's head my entire life.  I'm kind of tired of it.  I want boring and predictable.  SO, SO badly!

Anyway *shakes head to help clear mood* there were some money saving things that happened this week, so let's focus on those instead of the black cloud of "blahhhhhhh" that hangs over everything right now, shall we?
1.  My biggest, super hugest, most awesome score of the week was on the shopping front.  I did my shopping at Carrs just because they had sales on things we normally buy this week.  I went online, like I always do, and loaded my personalized deals and coupons onto my card before I went and was shocked when I saw a personalized price of 1.86 lb on lamb rib chops or roasts.   I was like, "Nah, those are normally 14.00 lb, there's NO WAY that they are actually giving me 1.86 lb on those (I was wrong by the way, it was 12.99 lb normal price)." 

So, I went to the store, got the few groceries I needed (our usual stuff, Doritos and the like for the son and such) and headed over to the meat section.  And I scored pay dirt!  They had lamb rib roasts marked down 30 to 50% off!  I looked at the prices on them and flinched, worried that the personalized price per pound wasn't going to work (I mean when you are staring at a roast that has a 30.00 price tag on it for a teeny, in portion to the price, little bit of meat, you tend to get nervous), but I still loaded up my cart with the roasts they had on clearance, which was a total of 10.  I got up to the register and explained the personalized price thing to the cashier and asked him to do a trial run with the first roast and he even said, "There's no way that is right.  They had to have given the wrong explanation on the coupon." I completely agreed with him, but was curious to see if it actually worked.  And I watched the price on the roast go down to 3.00 when he hit total down from around 30.00!!!    The sub-total started at well over 300.00 for the order.  After the personalized price and discounts were taken off?  40.00 for everything!!!  Boo to the yahhh!!!!

I went back today to see if they had any more roasts (I had to pick up a prescription I forgot yesterday), but struck out.  But, yay for having lamb in the freezer.  I feel like "The Galloping Gourmet" with the "fancy" lamb in my freezer.  This is the first time EVER I've had lamb rib anything in the house as I'm too cheap to buy something like that *laugh*.

2.  I started looking up different soap recipes to see if I could find a couple for Shani to choose from when she came over to make soap.  Since I was looking for soap not made with castor oil, I hit a bunch of different free books on Amazon to see what I could find.  I didn't find anything in the books, but hey, at least they were free to read.  I found a couple of recipes online, though, so that was a good, free way to find some recipes.

3.  Instead of buying aluminum foil from Amazon, I found a sale at Carrs on aluminum foil this week and was able to use a coupon I had to get it for 1.00 less than Amazon.  It's the store brand vs. Reynolds, but I'm willing to deal with it for the sake of saving a dollar at this point.

4.  I melted the end of my shoe lace to stop it from fraying and driving me crazy instead of going out and trying to buy a new pair of shoe laces.  It worked great and will hopefully extend the life of my shoe laces (the cat got a hold of the end and unraveled it last week).

5.  I mended a hole in a comforter this week.

6.  I gutted part of my freezer and reorganized it.  This allowed me to not only stop things from dropping on my feet at a moment's notice, but also gave me a good idea of what needed to be used up on those shelves.  I'm planning on doing more of that in the coming weeks to make sure that nothing goes to waste.

7.  I fixed a few of my daughter's toys with super glue this week.

8.  I double checked to make sure all of the heaters in the house were off and found one of the electric baseboards downstairs was turned on, low but it was on.  I had forgotten that I turned it on a while ago when Shani was over because she was cold (she did home speech therapy with us) and I figured it would be quieter than having the forced air running if I just ran the electric heat.  I can IMAGINE what leaving that on did to my electric bill the last bit, but I'm glad I am paranoid and checked so it got turned off.  Kind of cutting off the bleeding at that point, but better than nothing!

9.  My son ran his teeth over a DVD and I was able to repair it so we didn't need to replace it.  Yay for DVD repair kits!  We've had the same one forever and I just buy a refill, which is getting harder and harder to find, when needed.  It doesn't save all DVD's that get injured, by any stretch but even one save pays for the refill kit.

10.  I listened to a bunch of different music for free through YouTube and Amazon Prime this week as I did housework.  I love being able to carry around my tablet and play music while I work. 

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Menu Plan Monday: This Week's Menu Plan

I swear with how life has been going, I need to start a new calendar system.  The, "Darn it, I REALLY wanted to do this on the right day, but have yet been able to do it!" calendar.  Although, I might have to work on a shorter title *laugh*.

First, I just want to thank everyone who has sent prayers for Shani.  She spent all weekend in Anchorage admitted to the hospital there to get a second opinion on her condition.  After loads of tests, but as of yet no answers or opinions, she's getting discharged today.  At this point we still don't know what the future holds, but she was very touched when I told her of all of the people praying for her and she asked that I tell everyone, "thank you" for her.  I'll keep you all updated as we know more.

I spent the last two days on the phone with various therapists trying to find openings.  Even our old OT is double booked right now, so I was quickly losing hope of having Alvah in any type of therapy here soon and getting desperate of him losing skills and things once school was over for the summer.  My sister-in-law had been sending one of her boys to a literacy center and highly recommended them as they had done wonders for her son, so I called them and got really excited when they started explaining their program for lower communication functioning kids to try and help them learn to talk (she's worked with severely autistic children before and had a lot of good luck with the system).  And better yet they have openings!  Then I found out that they don't take insurance and at 65.00 per session...that could be a problem with our budget right now, even though I'd love to see how the program worked on the son unit. 

When I explained our financial situation to the nice woman, turns out she knows a speech therapist (a good friend of hers) who takes insurance, has a REALLY good reputation (I had heard of her through the grapevine, but could never find anyone who had a number to reach her as she'd moved to the Valley from Anchorage a couple of years ago) and could be brow beat...errrr...persuaded, to probably take Alvah on as a new patient (her words, not mine *laugh*).  She called back today and gave me the gal's number as she might have an opening as early as next week but the most we'd have to wait is until summer, so I called and left a message.  Here's hoping. 

At this point, I might still try and wrestle money from our meager budget to get the son in with the literacy center a couple of times a month as a supplement to speech therapy to try him out on their system too, but I have to sit down and seriously crunch numbers to figure out how to make that happen.  Bright side is that at least the electric bill will start going down here with summer coming and the sun coming back, which will be a welcome relief on the budget (400.00 a month during the winter for electric between lights and heat just kills you).  Once next winter hits...I'm not sure how that will go, but at least by that time we'll HOPEFULLY be well entrenched at the new job and we'll have a good hold on where our finances are (what a wonderful thought :), so I'll have time to plan for things.

So, anyway, man I'm busy.  Right...menu plan for this week!  The last couple of weeks it's been a true miracle we've eaten, really.  I was so sick week before last and then last week was just so...much...that we ate out more than we wanted to and just felt good to have survived everything, really.  So, this week I was determined to get back on track and work on getting meals planned out.  I'm using easy meals, ones that I can make ahead (like chicken salad) for eating later or something I can stick in the crock pot and let go, etc.  This is mainly to make sure that I am free to handle the kids so that my husband can go out and work on building the chicken coop (he managed to buy material this weekend and that was it), preferably before the rain starts moving in this weekend (sounds like, from the weather report, we'll be making soap in the garage this weekend.  The husband will be thrilled *laugh*...you really stink up the place when you make soap).

Menu for Week of 3/27/17
Monday:  Fried Chicken, salad

Tuesday:  French dips (beef roast cooked in crock pot), fruit cocktail, tater tots

Wednesday:  Chicken salad sandwiches (use leftover chicken from Sunday, canned grapes from pantry, pecans from freezer)

Thursday:  French toast, sausage patties, canned pears

Friday:  Smothered pork chops (crock pot), mashed potatoes, green beans

Saturday:  Pho Beef dish (crock pot) with rice noodles and various veggies (from freezer)

Sunday:  Tacos with Spanish rice and refried beans (make those in pressure cooker)

To Bake:  Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, brownies (Sunday for daughter's lunches next week for treats)

And there you are folks.  Our menu, and quick update, for today.  How about you?  Making anything good this week?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, as weeks go, believe it or not, despite everything that went on, money saving things got done.

1.  I got my shopping done at Carrs last week as they had the best sales and while there I picked up the freebies I'd gotten from the week before with the Monopoly game (seen up top).  The highlights of shopping last week were getting aluminum foil for 3.00 for 75 ft (I'm desperately low on it and I use it all the time).  I picked up a container of the super long heavy duty foil and got my free 25 feet container on top of one I had already won a few weeks prior.  I've been nursing aluminum foil along like you would not believe because the price on the stuff made me flinch.  I normally buy the HUGE roll of aluminum foil from the bulk store, but what they wanted for it was way more than I wanted to pay, so I got the on sale foil from Carrs and then priced out things and found Amazon had the 200 ft rolls the cheapest (and Reynolds wrap to boot), so I ordered a few of those on Subscribe and Save for next month, which will hopefully last me a couple of years.

I went a bit over budget last week by 8.00 after replenishing stores from the kids being home over break and things, but considering I was sick and still not feeling great on and off when I went shopping and everything else that happened, I thought overall I did alright.  

2.  I met up with a friend of mine who offered me a waterproof mattress protector she wasn't going to use.  Not only did I get a mattress protector out of the deal, but I also got something way more precious, which was a chance to talk to a friend I don't get to see too often (thanks for the protector, Davina :).

3.  I went to Fred Meyer today (okay, so TECHNICALLY this is on another week, but I'm counting it anyway) and went looking for coconut oil to make soap this weekend.  I found REALLY expensive stuff in the organic foods section (they were out of anything affordable) and I decided to swing by the cooking oil section to see if they had anything there.  And voila!  I found affordable coconut oil.  Woohoo!  While there I also got my free thing of Tostitos salsa and my free cup-o'-noodles (which I ate for lunch...they are as "meh" as I remember them being from when I was in college).

4.  My mother-in-law went to a local thrift store that is changing ownership soon and found that they had a bunch of things on heavy liquidation sales in preparation of the transition.  While checking out buying some bikes my mother-in-law and the owner (who is really nice) talked a bit and the owner gave my mother-in-law some bags of freebies, some of which were clothes that would fit my daughter or are a couple sizes too big, so my mother-in-law dropped them off over the weekend as kind of a "surprise" type of gift.  Some went into storage for later and the rest went into the daughter's dresser today.  She even got a free box full of Hello Kitty activities, which she is thoroughly enjoying (thanks for sharing that stuff, Stacey!).

5.  I have been loving on my bigger crock pot I found at the used store a while ago (it's a six quart one), but the plastic that the thing is made with for the handle and things is...I don't know...sub-par or something as it gets really soft feeling when the crock pot is on.  I went to pick it up the other day and was worried that the lid handle was going to come off in my hand and I noticed a LOT of cracks in all of the plastic on the crock pot.  I went online on Amazon in search of a newer crock pot (this one was from the early 90's and while later ones were recalled, I couldn't find anything as old as mine to see if it was recalled or not) to be safe and found one that was on sale (after much searching) for 24.00.  Way cheaper than the stores for that size, so I was happy (I'd be even happier if they'd ship it *grumble*).  Bright side, too, is that now I have a crock pot to make soap in this weekend as the low setting on my thrift store crock pot is nice and gentle, so should cook the soap without scorching it no problemo!

6.  I got an e-mail from Rifftrax about their Kickstarter campaign (Rifftrax is on of our big "splurge" items when we want to get new entertainment) and found that if you donated one dollar you would get 10.00 worth of shorts for free as the opening "bonus" thingie that you'd unlock.  I had found a dollar in the parking lot earlier in the day and took it to be a sign, so I donated the dollar to get 10.00 worth of stuff.  It was a completely self serving move on my part, but I'll be sorry about it later ;).

7.  I discovered, while searching for soap making supplies around here that somewhere throughout the last couple of years my castor oil has somehow disappeared into the abyss of "who knows where".  Instead of going and spending probably 9.00 on a new container of castor oil at our local herb shop, I looked around on the internet and found a soap recipe that didn't contain castor oil.  Problem solved!

8.  We desperately needed a new garage door opener remote as the old one would stick and randomly make the garage door possessed or we'd be sitting in the driveway for a good five minutes trying to get the door to open or close.  It finally got bad enough we had finally had enough.  We went to Sears to see about getting a new one and found the one we needed for 50.00.  We flinched but knew we needed it so I grabbed it.  I actually had checked out when my husband came up and took me back to where some clearance items were hidden in the back of the tool section and we found one that had been opened for 14.99!  I returned the new one for the opened one.  It works great and it feels good having saved 35.00 off the new price!

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Cosmic Yo-Yo Week

Frugal Friday has been interrupted by my week.  I'll get back to the regularly scheduled program here probably tomorrow and do a recap, but this, I felt, deserved it's own post away from saving money and everything that goes with it.

There are weeks that you feel like the world is your oyster, things go great and you feel like the universe is in your corner.  There are weeks that you feel like things couldn't get worse and then they do.  This is like a week where I hit both extremes within the week. 

I took the above picture of Belkar at the vets getting her booster shots.  She started by burying her head in the corner of the carrier into the towel, pretending like things weren't happening and then when she realized things got real, she quickly grabbed the towel with her paw, shot it aside and quickly fluffed and rearranged the towel so she was perfectly hidden under it.  I had to take the picture and send it to my husband as that was a first for me with a cat.

Wanting to hide under a blanket like bad things weren't going to happen is how I was yesterday.

The week started out with the above mentioned vet appointment, which went great, had no surprises and was easy overall.  My husband started feeling bad so he went to the doctor's the same day I took the cat to the vet (turns out he's just has a virus), but it at least turned out alright.

And then we got the call that my husband had gotten the job at the airport!  We're waiting on final okays from Juneau on allocating money for the position but as far as the airport guys are concerned the husband is in!  It's going to be less per hour then my husband is making now, which is a worry in the back of my mind, but I'm determined to make it work as this is the type of job he's always wanted as control work is the part of his job that he enjoys the most.  And hey, benefits!

And then yesterday happened. 

A good friend is dying.  Stage 4 colon cancer.

Not only is she a good friend of mine, she's also Alvah's speech therapist. 

I was, at first, baffled.  Shani has been having problems with her stomach since December.  First they thought she had a bowel blockage, and then they decided on Crohn's disease after a ton of tests and things and they had an appointment at the end of April to get a diseased part of her colon removed to make her more comfortable (and they assured her they were positive it WASN'T cancer) and get her back to "default" basically and she could just start her life with Crohn's.  We went from that to suddenly being in for surgery and then to stage 4 colon cancer with no chance of survival and they don't even know if she'll make it through the summer.

We have no idea how much time she has left.  She's getting a second opinion.  She's going to work as long as she can for not only income but to give people a chance to find another therapist. 

I felt like I'd been hit by a convoy of concrete trucks fully loaded.  I have a decent amount of casual friends, but good friends I can count on one hand and have a few fingers left over.  Shani is one of those friends.

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the day crying and calling on any spiritual network I had to pray for Shani (if anyone has a prayer chain or prayer list please add Shani Dean to it.  Thanks) in the hopes that the second opinion would come back better than the first opinion and maybe the Good Lord had a miracle lying around He could give her.  I have everything from three wards of the LDS Church, to St. Jude's ministry to a order of Buddhist nuns praying for her (my step-mom has connections as she's a minister).  It's the least I can do for Shani after everything she has done for so many people in the world...she is one of those people who would give you the shirt off her back before you even ask her for it, gives her services for free to those who can't afford it and other things.  She deserves the prayers.

I worked yesterday to try and wrestle control from an uncontrollable situation, thus prayer networks and things.  I talked to teachers to get my son into summer school this year so he'll have some type of therapy going, made a call and left a message with our old OT to see if I can get him in once a week there (I don't want him to be without any type of therapy as he could get used to NOT having therapy, which would be detrimental for sure).  I got names of speech therapists people had to give calls and see if I can find openings somewhere, but am not holding out much hope as therapists in the Valley are always booked solid with long wait lists...but maybe God will work to help us with that.  It was a really painful day, to say the least.

Today, I at least woke up with a better outlook, at least I hope I did and am determined to be there for Shani no matter how much time she might have left on this Earth.  A week or a year, it's the quality of the time, not the quantity that matters.  Every day we're gifted 24 hours and if you're lucky you can take advantage of those hours to do something that makes you happy.

Shani wanted to make soap this summer for the first time and was really looking forward to it.  We're doing it next weekend instead so I can be sure she can at least check that off of her "I want to do that" list.  Anything else I can do for her to make her time here better...it's the least I can do.

Shani asked me to take her chickens (she's the friend with the coop) as she wanted her chickens to go to a good home (those are the chickens I chicken sat last year), so this weekend Clark is building a proper coop to house them.  I never even thought about budgets or anything when I said yes and I still don't worry about it.  We'll deal with it.  God will provide.

So, yeah, I didn't want to put this in a "Frugal Friday" post...it just didn't seem right.  I'll go through all of that later once I sit down and tally everything, but I have to say as situational mood swings go...this has been a week.

Hug your friends and family close and seize the day, all.  You just never know.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Frugal Friday Goal Update Thingie Post

Right, so the subject line should cover it I guess.  I didn't get to either my goals update or my money saving weekly recap post over the weekend, so I figured I'd conglomerate the two today.

What happened you ask?

Well, Friday was just REALLY busy with errand running and things, but Friday night I woke up with my tonsils bugging me in the middle of the night.  I drank a bunch of water, gargled with some mouthwash and went back to bed.  Saturday I woke up not feeling too great, but I tried hard to get stuff done in between gargling with salt water, apple cider vinegar shots and even gargling with rum (I'm not a big fan of hard alcohol, but in this case it was necessary) to try and keep my tonsils down.  See, I recognized the early signs of what turned out to be strep from last time, but this time I figured I had some advanced warning, so I was determined to fight.  Woke up in the middle of the night Saturday not being able to swallow past my tonsils really and realizing that I had, indeed lost.  One 300.00 trip to Urgent Care first thing on Sunday and a REALLY positive strep test and some penicillin to combat it, and I was officially shot.  I spent most of yesterday in bed feeling awful.

Today I'm a LITTLE better, although my throat hurts worse than it did yesterday, oddly enough.  But, yeah, I'm not thrilled to have strep for the second time in six months *scowl*.

Got Prince done with his follow up check up with the vet.  Great news is that his eye looks great (thank you, Lord) and I managed to get one of his two boosters done today as the pound didn't give him a leukemia vaccine (kind of blew my mind they didn't test for that at the pound with how quickly something like that would spread, but okay), so we got him tested and got that on board as well.  I have to take him in ONE more time next month just to get the leukemia booster and that's done.  Got Belkar's follow up tomorrow at the vet and her booster shot visit, so once those are done I can HOPEFULLY stop bleeding money here sometime soon.  Glad I didn't pay off Clark's dental bills or I'd have no money to do any of this, but I was HOPING to save some of it, darn it!

Right so a quick recap of things I got done last week.  I managed to barely keep on top of the housework with my son and daughter home for the week, got my daughter's room cleaned out and reorganized to a point, got the den mucked out a bunch and the cardboard that we'd been accumulating sorted into different boxes to recycle and...yeah...that's about it.  I didn't get much done on my list (well nothing really), but I did get some embroidery ideas drawn out on paper to transfer to material, so at least I got that far.  I also sat down and started researching seeds and ordered a bunch, including some from Denali Seed Company as they have seeds that are rated for Alaska or even developed to grow here.  They even have CORN that will grow up here.  I was thrilled and ordered some of that too :).

My husband and I sat down and tallied up expenses and expenses we need to do yet this year and finally decided this was NOT the year to consider getting chickens as we figure if there is an area we want to put our money into this year it isn't going to be getting feed and things for chickens and building up a proper insulated area/coop to keep chickens for winter, not to mention our labor.  No, if we're going to put money into something we want it to be put into expanding the garden.  My friend works constantly, but also has tons of organic seeds, so she said if she could grow things here (basically if I take care of the plants for her) she'd give me not only a portion of the booty and some of the seeds (since all of hers are open pollinating varieties), but she'd also provide the seed as well, so I'm curious to see what she is going to have that I might not.  I might talk to her about maybe me putting a little money into a chicken concern with her for a portion of the eggs and meat (she HAS a coop), but that will have to wait for later this week :).

My husband got another interview, this time with the airport for the job he REALLY wanted, so if you could send a prayer for him that would be great.  He had the interview earlier today.  Man, I hope he gets this one as I've never seen him this excited over a job before.

So, yeah, let's get into the "Frugal Friday" portion of the post shall we?

1.  I got my son a mattress (seen up top).  We went around everywhere we could local and found NOTHING that was the least affordable/in our price range, so I ordered one from Wal-Mart.com.  I ordered it the same day I ordered the bed frame from Amazon (saved me 40.00 shipping finding one on Amazon that would ship up here) and the mattress beat the frame by a good four days.  Go Wal-Mart.com on that one!  All totaled between the mattress (154.00 shipped) and the bed frame (60.00 shipped) I spent about 200.00 for a new bed for the son.  Not bad I'd say.

Now I need to invest another 35.00 or so and get a second in-good-condition mattress protector for his new mattress so he doesn't wreck the memory foam spilling things on it.

2.  As I said, I ordered seeds.  I ordered most of the seeds from Denali seed company which I found really reasonable in price.  Most seeds cost me about 1.79 or so per packet.  I also ordered a few seeds from Territorial Seed Company.  The main thing I wanted from them was a type of pea that only takes 30 days to grow before you can harvest it.  That's my type of growing season for up here :).  Territorial definitely cost me more in shipping too, but overall I spent about 30.00 on different kinds of seeds from both companies and will have a wide variety of plants to choose from to grow in the garden.  Yay!!!

3.  We went to a location each day last week to get the kids out of the house as part of Spring Break.  It was super nasty windy most of the week, so we went to different stores for the most part.  We tried to stick to stores where we had gift cards to keep spending down and it worked.  Some stores we didn't even spend any money in.

4.  Grocery shopping was done primarily at Carrs this week, although I did stop off at Fred Meyer (one of our "field trips" with the kids one night) and get a few things and my Freebie Friday V-8 Energy drink.

At Carrs I combined sales, E-Coupons and printed coupons from the Monopoly game to get items for as cheap as possible and spent a total of 70.00 and that was also getting a corned beef and satellite items that I normally wouldn't buy, so I felt pretty good about that.  I got my free aluminum foil (JUST in time as I ran out the day I picked it up!) and my free salt while I was there as well.

The gal who was checking out in front of me also had an autistic child and we struck up a conversation and had a good time chatting while she was getting checked out.  She had a huge cart of groceries and asked if I'd like her Monopoly tickets since she wasn't playing the game and I said sure.  Between her tickets and mine I got out of the store with like 70 tickets *laugh*.  I got a few freebies coupons out of the tickets, but for the life of me the freebies are escaping me right now...still not feeling great.

5.  The highlight of meals this last week was definitely the day that I made chicken a la orange in the crock pot and a home made cheesecake from scratch.  Everything I used (orange marmalade, cherry preserves, home made Russian dressing, onions and parsley I dehydrated, etc) with the exception of bare bones basic ingredients I had put up or made myself, including the graham cracker crust for the cheesecake (and of course the filling and topping *laugh*).  The family was actually REALLY happy with the meal too, so that was definitely an awesome feeling.

6.  Since I was feeling pretty ucky today I put dinner in the crock pot during a "good feeling" moment and voila!  Dinner will be ready when my husband gets home from Anchorage and we won't have to eat out.  Always a good feeling.

7.  I cancelled Netflix this week.  My husband and I sat down and figured it all out and we came to realize that we just plain don't use it enough to justify the cost.  We plan to see what we can watch for free through Amazon Prime and then from there look at other free resources on the Internet to watch things.  That will save us about 12.00 per month.  Not a "wow" type of savings, but a savings none the less.

There was more to report, but my brain is fried and my throat feels awful right now, so I'm going to call it good for now.  Goals for this week are to feel better and see if I can get my son's new bed put together, get things rearranged otherwise to work for the time being in his room (his race car bed frame barely made it UP the stairs when we moved in...I should know as I moved it by myself...so it's going OUT the front door if it's going out and with the amount of snow outside still...it might be sitting in the son's bedroom for a bit, so I need to figure all of that out).  I would also LIKE to get started on some of my embroidery and other crafty type of projects if my health will let me.  Here's hoping.

So, there is my week in a nutshell.  How did you all do?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

 Despite it being super busy, super chaotic and in some cases kind of depressing, I got stuff done this week!

One thing that happened was that we got word on the one job that my husband had an inside track on...he didn't get it.  They hired another guy who was older, had more experience and was certified as a boiler tech (which my husband is not).  So, that was depressing.

Yesterday my children were REALLY lucky that they are cute and that I love them as it was one of those days where they go to bed, finally, and you just think, "Right, let's hope tomorrow is better."  I spent all day fighting with my daughter about EVERYTHING, primarily cleaning her room, and her brother was a swath of destruction from the moment he got up until the moment he went to bed.  I had plans to bake yesterday and kind of a have a fun day.  Nope.  Ended up having to tear my son's bed apart after he had dumped an entire thing of milk all over it and while the waterproof cover was in the wash he dumped an entire can of soda on his mattress.  Oh yeah.  So, I ended up having to rip his bed completely apart to deep clean everything, dragged his mattress out to the living room and shampooed it with a combo of vinegar and water to get the soda out of it and disinfect it.  And then we had to drag a temporary mattress upstairs for my son to sleep on in the meantime while his mattress dried over the next couple of days (luckily it's sunny today, so we're making progress there).

While cleaning his mattress and bed I came to realize EXACTLY how bad of shape both his bed and mattress were in.  Basically he's managed to toast a mattress completely and it's not even a year old.  There are dips in the mattress that should not be there, you can hear broken bits of metal jingle in the mattress when you move it, etc and the race car bed frame (which is just pressure fitted heavy duty plastic) is starting to show some stress from all the years of bouncing on it.  It's time to get the son an adult bed that moves easily on a wheeled metal frame, preferably a memory foam mattress that he can't break springs in maybe, so I've been calling around today getting prices.  I'm not sure what we'll end up with, but I'm done with our current system as it's just NOT working and I can't imagine sleeping on that bed is even comfortable at this point.  So, more money to be spent.  BLAH!!!!!!

But, yeah, at least his mattress is nice and clean for the time being.

And we ended up with a son who toasted the back of my car with stomach issues as a result of his sinuses getting to him, so I got to shampoo that and clean up his car seat, wash his jacket and things as well and we took him to the doctor over the weekend to make sure he wasn't fighting a sinus infection (ran a low grade fever after the car incident).  So far the answer from the experts was no and he seems to be feeling better, so hopefully he's over the hump now.

So, onto what I've been up to on the more "normal side" since late last week!

I got my kitchen cleaned out and reclaimed a bunch of counter space.  I have a small bookcase over behind my deck door where I was keeping a few appliances (crock pots, Sodastream and rice cooker) and I decided to clean off the other "things" that I had on the shelf (like some flours) and move them to another location and then make the shelf into an out and out appliance holder.  So, my mixer and toaster got moved to the shelf and then I got rid of things I didn't need, stacked some baking containers up (love Tupperware at moments like this) and moved my silverware holder and phone to the top of my bread box on the microwave.  And voila!  I think I tripled my counter space doing that, which with how little counter space I HAVE, that speaks volumes.

Here's a shot before that I took a while back...

And here's the after...

I still have a few things I want to find a better system for (like my sponges and things that I use for dishes), but for the most part, I'm happy with things so far.

The floors got scrubbed as well.  My daughter can take credit for doing them the first time with me having to do a lot of touch up work when she was done (it was her first time using a mop instead of doing the floors with a scrub brush...she normally likes playing Cinderella with the scrub brush when she volunteers to do the floors, but this time she wanted to use the mop).  But, hey it got done.

The recliner in the bedroom got cleaned off as well and the multitudes of blankets and sheets that were stacked on it got put away (do NOT ask to see my closet, though, as I refuse on the grounds of it's hidden with the door shut so it's fine), which is a step in the right direction.  I would have taken a picture, but I have a TON of laundry that is in the process of getting folded around where the recliner is and I didn't want to have to stage a photo to take a picture of it.

I didn't get the cat carrier deep cleaned, but did get it cleaned up enough to put away in time to pull it out again for the cats follow up visits next week.

And I did get a nap in.  It was short, but it was a nap :).

Overall, for a change, I got pretty much everything I'd put on my goals list accomplished this week.  Booyah!!!

So, onto this week's goals.  I'm just going to lump them together for simplicity's sake since I have both kids home this week on Spring Break and this post has, thus far, taken me nearly three hours to write.

Goals for the Week!
  • Get some of the carpets shampooed.
  • Dust as much as I can find time for.
  • Clean windows (now that it's getting lighter the windows are bugging me)
  • Finish menu plan for the next couple of weeks (I'm behind)
  • Finish folding laundry and put it away in the proper locations
  • Try to rest arm as much as possible (between running the shampooer on the mattress yesterday, NOT EASY, and having to help my daughter clean her room, my arm is making the entire left side of my body hurt today...not fun)
  • Sketch out embroidery ideas (I'm determined to get SOMETHING accomplished in the way of embroidery projects here...it might have to wait till next week, but I'm hoping to get a few things accomplished this week)
  • Start quilt (new quilt idea I ran into that I'm going to start working on slowly but surely that uses fabric scraps but isn't time consuming...my kind of project)
And there you go folks.  My goals for the week.  How about you?  Up to anything?