Saturday, June 3, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Wow, it's been a busy week.  The internet got updated (we now have internet five times as fast as we used to have), we went to the psychologist and got a new prescription to try on Alvah, which tastes so terrible that I felt proud of him for getting a quarter of a dose down him (which the full dose is 1/5 of a teaspoon which shows you something right there).  I tasted it and gagged and had to gargle with about five different things to get the taste out of my mouth.  The pharmacy that was compounding it was supposed to at least add sweetener to it to make it more palatable, but they didn't even do that and the mixture is so thick that it already killed a syringe and it's really grainy from undissolved bits of pill.  I'm not sure if the mixture is supposed to be like that or if the pharmacy REALLY screwed up the compounding of the medication, but either way...eeeeewwwwwwww!!!  And that's coming from someone who managed to get oral steroid solutions down her son once or twice.  Either way I'm calling the pharmacy on Monday and asking about the meds and if they say that's the way it is, I'm going to call the doctor and say, "No, this isn't going to work" and see if there is something else we can do.  I can't get Alvah to swallow pills to save my life without him chewing them up first, which severely limits my options.  I don't know what to do on that front.  All I find myself doing is kind of complaining to God that at LEAST he could have least made it so Alvah would swallow pills for me.

Shani has decided to move to California to seek treatment down there, so instead of renting her house up here like she had been planning on, suddenly everything is getting sold including her house and she's leaving at the end of the month.  I'm not sure what news she's gotten from doctors, but it sounds like all they can really do is cut out the tumors and then treat the cancer with chemo and things, which she doesn't want to do, so she's talking about going to Mexico for alternative treatment.  She texted me earlier in the week out of the blue and asked me to give back her dog crate that was being used as the chicken hauler so she could sell it.  I have NO IDEA how I'm going to transport the chickens when it comes to slaughtering time now, but I guess I'll figure it out when we get there, but yeah that ended up being a side job the last couple of days.  I cleaned the cage, drug it up by the back door to our garage for my husband and he took it over to Shani's today.

Anyway despite it being REALLY busy around here this week, let's get to the money saving aspects of the week shall we?

1.  I visited one of the local food pantries this week to see about getting some help with the food budget by hopefully padding out what was in the fridge and things.  I got a decent variety of stuff, which was great, including a couple of gallons of milk (which I'm hurriedly trying to use as they are over a week past their expiration date, so I'm not trying to use up a gallon or more of sour milk), a nice loaf of artisan type bread (which stuff like that I haven't bought in years), some potatoes (yay potatoes!) some biscuits and even some lettuce seedlings (yes, lettuce seedlings!).  I was thrilled with the seedlings and found room in the garden for them today.  I also got some cat food.  I will probably go back until my husband's pay starts getting better as at this point, every little bit helps.  My husband felt weird about it when I told him, but when I told him I was not going to turn away free food right now, he got it, even if he wasn't thrilled with the idea.

So, yeah, other than the food pantry, I spent 20.00 on groceries this week just buying "boy food" and some milk and that was it.  My husband picked up a few hours on the side on his off time which gave us a small check, so we went and put that into the bank today and I'll use part of that to go and get a couple more gallons of milk and some wet wipes (need them for my son).

2.  The menu plan this week so far has been...well really slapped together.  Wednesday I cleaned all day and was just plain not wanting to cook anything the least bit hard, so we ended up having hot dogs for dinner with left over coleslaw  (which I made from a kit that my mother-in-law had given us with the box of food last weekend).  Monday, I took out a gigantic value pack of chicken drumsticks that I'd gotten for like 3.00 on reduced over a year ago and knew I needed to use up, split the package in half and made one half up as BBQ chicken and the other half up as baked chicken legs with just some seasoning on them.  The BBQ chicken turned out to work out well for my husband for work lunches during the week and the baked chicken we had for dinner Thursday night and my husband had Erbswurst instead since he's got either allergies or a cold going on right now and wasn't feeling good.

Last night, I took some of the milk I was trying to use up, a package of sausage I had in the freezer that I'd gotten on reduced cheap over a year ago (by the "use by" date anyway) and some of the biscuits I got at the food pantry and I made sausage biscuits and gravy for dinner (one of my husband's favorite "comfort" type of meals).  It made enough to last probably three meals for us, which definitely makes it a frugal choice to make for dinner.

3.   My husband used up the last of the A-1 Sauce one night, so I snuck the "empty" bottle back into the fridge and when I went to pack a leftover burger for my husband's lunch the next day I added a bit of water and shook the bottle really well and voila!  Enough sauce for my husband's burger with lunch.

4.  I  found, while digging in my pantry, a Pillsbury quick bread mix that I'd gotten on clearance (you know, I should probably start stating the opposite of that, like saying, "Hey, I paid full price for this" as it'd be way less redundant since I buy stuff on reduced all the time.  Har) and pulled it out to make for breakfast fodder for my husband for work.  He and I have both been enjoying it (anything cinnamon involved and I tend to be all in and eat too much of it *laugh*).

5.  I took a little cross stitch ornament kit I had kept, it's gotta be seven or more years now as I kind of stopped doing those kind of little projects right about the time my son was born, and used it as a way to start to teach my daughter how to do cross stitch.  I remember back when I was 13, I was with my grandma while she got her hair washed and set and ended up striking up a conversation with a woman named Janet who was sitting there getting her hair done as well, but was also working on a really intricate looking embroidery kit.  I just kept asking questions here and there about what she was doing and she got all excited talking to me and realizing that I was really interested in the same things she was.  Janet, even though she was my grandma's age, and I became quick friends and the next time I went with grandma to get her hair washed and set, Janet made sure she'd be there too and this time was loaded up with a bag of stuff for me.  In the bag was some tools of the trade (aida fabric, embroidery needles, a magnifying bar) and some kits for me to work on, including a cross stitch kit with "Footprints" on it.  I'd always loved "Footprints" so that was all I needed to work on the actually pretty detailed ocean scene in cross stitch that entire summer.  Janet would be at the hair dressers to help me with any issues I had and she was a wonderful source of encouragement for me.

Janet and I remained friends for four more years until she passed away from a stroke.  To this day I credit her with getting me started with hand sewing and embroidery and things.  She was a very cool lady.

Side note is that my mom loves "Footprints" too and to this day my work hangs on her wall in all of it's "knots on top of knots and tangles in the back" glory ;).

I'm hoping Armina can find enjoyment in these types of projects too, so we'll see where she goes with the kit :).

6.  I added a huge amount of things to my Amazon account in the way of food storage types of items (no joke, like 80 or more items of various types) and I was able to make my Associate fees for last month go further since it took Amazon so long to ship my stuff.  I found that the breakfast kit I had bought bottomed out CHEAP in price one day, so I cancelled my order and reordered it for like 1/2 the price I had originally paid.  Coming back on a few days later I found that the dinner kit the same company had was suddenly about the same price as the breakfast kit had been (the breakfast kit had since gone WAY up in price), so I ordered it too.  So, I got 12 big cans of food storage for the same price I might have gotten six!  Woohoo! 

7.  I mended four items this week (yay for getting something like that done with all the cleaning I did this week).

8.  I saved my coffee grounds every morning and spread them on the garden today.  I'm hoping that the ground will not only help fertilize the garden, but might also repel nasty garden pests of different types.  Here's hoping.

And now onto a garden update!

The lettuce seedlings I planted from seeds and then transplanted had about a 50% failure rate this year, which since the 6 that died were looking really bad when I planted them in the garden, I shouldn't have been too surprised (although I was sad).  I took the seedlings I got from the food pantry (eight of them total) and planted them in the garden today.  I got a combo of red and green lettuce, which will definitely be welcome if and when they grow big enough to harvest (the seedlings are as big or bigger than the seedlings I planted in the garden, so they are least off to a good start).

The cabbages have so far all survived and seem to be really starting to take off (seen up top next to one of the new lettuce seedlings).

 The turnips are up in a big way in the far bed (seen above in the back there) and the rat tailed radishes are starting to pop out of the soil too (one of which is seen closer to the front there).  The carrots JUST started sprouting up today, which yay as I was starting to worry they'd be a loss.  The beets are no where to be found yet, but they have a really long germination period, so we'll see how that goes.

Now the corn...that one is vexing me.  I have seen nothing in the way of sprouts from it, but did dig carefully around in the soil a few days ago and found a couple of seeds that had sprouted roots, but some that hadn't done anything, so I'm not sure how much of a failure rate I'm going to have with the corn.  We'll see how it goes.  The middle bed might end up being an interesting mis-match of things.  I already planted spinach in the hole created by one of the lettuce seedlings dying in that bed, so yay...we'll see.

I also planted Barese chard today (a quick growing variety of chard that is meant to be picked when it's smaller, so it takes up less space and will hopefully allow me to get a couple of crops out of it this summer so I'll have plenty of chard for the freezer :), spinach in various places (a quick growing dwarf variety of Spinach I grew successfully last year) and bush beans at both ends of the garden.  I heard from a couple of people that bush beans grow well up here and other gardeners had planted beans this week, so I figured "Well, here goes nothing" and planted them.  The weather has turned sunny and warm this week, which the garden is loving, so here's hoping the sun keeps the soil above 65 and we see some progress there!

The peas are up!  Time to start building some trellis out of...something or other so that they have somewhere to climb to.  So excited as peas did so awesome last year I'm hoping to see a repeat this year (I still have some bags of peas left in the freezer from last year and we actually ate them quite a bit over the winter.  Love it!!!).

So, yeah, now I just need a few potatoes to sprout to stick into the ground and dig up a bit of yard for that and to plant my onions and some more beans and stuff.  I'm should not be this excited, I really shouldn't, but I'm going to be excited anyway *laugh*.  Here's hoping for a good, prosperous garden this year :).

So, yeah, there's some of my frugal adventures this week.  How did you do.


  1. If you mix ketchup and worcestershire sauce together it tastes like A-1. Just experiment with the amount of each to use (takes more ketchup than the worcestershire). You can use generic or store brand ketchup and worcestershire. I love A-1 and this is almost identical in taste. Always enjoy your posts. Penny S.

  2. Its not been too frugal here, but thats how some weeks age. My sons shoe broke, right at the first station on field day. Poor thing went all day hobbeling, but I think I may have fixed it, at least for a little while, with shoe goo.

    Last night, a stomach bug bit my oldest. And its horrible. He slept most of today and has a fever. My youngest had some diarrhea but only once so I'm nervous. We leave for Orland Saturday, and I pray we are all well and healthy.

    I guess working on my blog is frugal, I never imagined so many people would go to but they are. Not many comment, but the numbers have floored me, so Ive been working on that, instead of browsing online.

    Just when I dried a load of laundry outside successfully again, next day a tick is crawling on my husband, right where I dry, so thats it. I'll try and dry some inside, but this may be a dryer summer.

    Our garden update! Finally, finally a blueberry bush is producing. And the one I'd given up for dead put forth leaves. Only took 3 years. Our other beautiful one isnt fruiting, but I'll figure it out. I went and got one more plant at Home Depot, and it rang up half off so a few days later got one more. My strawberries are doing well, my tomatoes have recovefed from frost damage, but too much rain has made spotty yellow leaves and yellowed my best blueberries bush too. My onions are looking well, but our peppers just arent growing. Still look like seedlings.

    Tomorrow we are going to skip church with the boys being sick. Of course, no one will sub for me. Sigh. People do not think twice about dropping their kids into primary, but a lot use it as free babysitting and won't help for anything. I think since we will be here, it will be frugal in the sense I will be cleaning, and trying to use up stuff in the fridge before we go.

    I think that medicine sounds awful, I hope the pharmacy can do something for you!!

    1. Congrats on the blueberry bush! I just look at them and they die, so good work :).

  3. Both of your children have uncommon names. Are they family names?

    1. Alvah is. Armina...well both the husband and I went through the baby book and wrote down the names we both liked. Armina was one of those names so we chose it :). We were looking for different, but not too odd.

  4. Good job this week saving money and spending so little at the grocery store. I'm glad you went to a food pantry. Your garden looks great! It has grown so much since last time. I'm growing carrots too. This is my first time. Aren't they supposed to be thinned? It always makes me feel bad to pull up baby plants, but the crop may not grow big enough if there's not enough room, huh?

    1. Yeah they have to be thinned, but only to like two inches apart or something like that so they don't grow all tangled together :).

  5. It is so tough to ask for help with feeding your family, but I'm glad you were able to get some things to help you out right now. I hope your garden is very successful this year to help round out your pantry, Erika.

    It's funny how we stash special food items in our pantry and don't want to use them. I'm glad the quick bread made for a nice breakfast/snack item for your family. The biscuits and gravy dinner sounds amazing too. I've never made it before, but have read about it. I really should try it sometime!

    Erika, I'm curious about the "dinner kits" you bought on Amazon. Could you explain further what is in them? Thanks!

    1. They are big number ten cans full of various things, but they are dehydrated or freeze dried depending what they are. Unopened they have like a 10-25 year shelf life depending what the product is. Once opened they'll last a year. The breakfast kit I got had #10 (huge coffee can size for the curious) cans of cream of wheat, freeze dried strawberries, bacon flavored bits, buttermilk pancake mix, shredded potato and freeze dried scrambled eggs. The dinner kit came with things like creamy potato soup, bread and roll mix, some type of meat substitute, corn and a few I am spacing. The are from an outfit called Augason Farms, Wal-Marts in the US carry them, but not sure of elsewhere :).

  6. I love your story about the cross-stitch. Very special!

  7. Thanks for answering my question about your kids names! Now I'd like to request more pictures of you and your family. It's more fun if you can see who's writing🙂

  8. I'm so glad your garden is growing so well. It's a lot of hope for new meals full of fresh food!

    I'm also glad that you could get a few things from the food pantry. How nice that there was one you could go to. Have a great week!

  9. Yahoo! The garden looks GREAT! I think this will be a great year, I just know it. You are already so far ahead of last year. It is going to be a huge success. I can't wait to watch it grow.