Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update (the REALLY Late Edition)

MAN what a weekend!  I'm counting Monday as part of the weekend.  Trust me I'll get to that.

This was just a week where I felt like "frugal fail" was a vast understatement.  Thank goodness we have money in the bank to cover everything, but I've felt under siege here.

Let's start off with Friday night.  The husband started feeling like he was coming down with a cold.  By Sunday you'd swear he was dying.  He decided he needed to go to the doctors and they told him what I suspected, although I was kind of hoping they'd say "sinus infection" just to get him some antibiotics and let him feel better quicker.  Nope.  He found out that he had a cold.  Which since he went to Urgent Care to find this out, they asked if we had met our deductible for the year, he said no (which is obviously the truth) they just charged him full price for the visit.  So, there went 300.00 out the door.  We'll see how it goes after everything goes through insurance as I'm kind of hoping that we get a refund check, but I even warned my husband that it being Urgent Care that it might just go toward the deductible first no matter what and we'd probably get stuck paying for the full amount.  And so off to the pharmacy to get him some prescription cough medicine and other cold medicines like NyQuil to take at night since we were out of all of that stuff (at least with the insurance the cough medicine cost me a whopping .98 as the rest of the bill HURT).

Then there was Alvah.  We have been waiting over a week for his new "lesser dose" med to come from out of state and get delivered to the pharmacy, but nothing so far.  So, he's been cranky on and off, although getting the okay to do away with the Stritera sure seemed to help him out with mood regulation, go figure, although we still have some issues at least they were less than they were before.  One of the side effects of the meds not being as high as they need to be, though, is that the sound of the microwave?  Drives the son NUTS right now and I mean bad, but only when he's in an "over sensory" mood.  It's to a point where I can't defrost meat unless it's on the sly and after he popped open the microwave about 18 times when I was trying to heat up some water for a cup of coffee, I had enough and tried to heat it on the stove top.  Unfortunately my son also loves steam and he saw the powerful jet of steam coming out of the kettle and kept reaching out to play with it, which made it a non-stop fun fest trying to stop him from burning himself and then when the kettle whistle blew he freaked out, so that didn't work.  So, another expense this week was ordering an electric kettle (since I've been unable to find one worth buying at the used stores).  This way I can heat up water without whistles or microwaves humming, I can put it up out of his reach so he can't play with the steam and I can get boiling water when I need it.  But there went 20.00 I wasn't planning on spending.

Then there was my cell phone. I HAD gone on Amazon and thought of ordering myself a new cell phone since Amazon had some Tracfones that were decent prices (the one I was looking at was 50.00 about) and came prepackaged with a bunch of minutes and stuff on them which made them essentially free after the minutes and stuff were taken into account.  I'd actually placed the order and then thought better of it and cancelled it when the nearly 300.00 bill for the doctor came out of the bank.  I've been having problems with my phone.  It's on the old 3G network and would lose service in pretty much any building anymore and text messages would come in an hour late sometimes, but I just figured I'd make it work for a while until we recovered financially a bit.

And THEN yesterday hit.  I got up with my phone working fine and then suddenly I hear beeping when I'm picking the kids up from school.  My battery was dead.  "Oh well," I figured, "it's not a big deal.  I must have charged it a bit earlier than I remembered charging it."  So, I went home and plugged it in.  Went back and unplugged it later to find it wouldn't hold a charge.  AT ALL.  Worse, the darn phone constantly shuts down and restarts, so not only does it not hold a charge it doesn't even work for any practical purpose.  I pulled the battery and everything and nothing works to fix it.  People don't get that when I say, "I NEED my cell phone" they think I'm addicted to an I-Phone or something.  Not even close.  Heck my phone doesn't even do the internet with any degree of success (and I wouldn't waste my minutes doing that anyway).  The watch band to my watch died about two years ago and I haven't really had the time or the money to find a new watch band for it, so my cell phone is first my watch.  Next it's my alarm clock.  I have about five alarms programmed into my phone to remind me of certain events during the day (like it goes off in the afternoon to make sure to remind me that picking up the kids in imminent, I have an alarm set to remind me of speech therapy days, I have another alarm to remind me to make sure the kids are up by this certain time in the morning, etc) and so I use it for that.  Now this is on top of me using my cell phone for people like the school to be able to get in contact with me at a moment's notice with the kids and things.  And then, finally, my phone is my calendar and my personal planner.  You would not believe the amount of appointment reminders and important memos (even things I have to pick up at the store the next day) I'll program to go off on my phone.  So, the last few days I have LITERALLY felt like I'm missing a limb here.  I ended up ordering the phone I'd been contemplating from Amazon, express shipped it (which luckily it had reduced 15.00 in price when I ordered it which paid for the express shipping in the equation) and it SHOULD be here tomorrow (I pray). 

But, yeah, between all of that and the husband calling in two days sick to work (which luckily he does have some leave saved up which I'm praying they take the time he took out of that?), it's been a weekend.  I'm exhausted from too little sleep (sick husband more than the kids this time...totally not his fault, but still, the results are the same), too much stuff to do and just too much everything going on.

Right, anyway, bright points!
1.  My mother-in-law texted me and told me she did, in fact, have some raspberries this year and that I was welcome to come and pick them but first come first served (with having six kids living within driving distance with their spouses and kids...that seems like a wise way to do things to me *laugh*).  I ran over in between doing tons of errands yesterday and picked over the bushes she had pretty hard.  Between that and what I've gotten slowly but surely from the wild bushes in my yard I have managed to get a full freezer bag full of raspberries (the bag seen above was before I went over to my mother-in-laws and is just what I've harvested from my wild raspberry bushes in my yard so far this year).  Yayyyyyy!!!  I'm still getting small harvests every day from my bushes and hopefully my mother-in-law will be willing to let me come over and grab some more raspberries from her bushes later as they ripen.  I'm hoping to get enough to make some jelly, some jam and maybe have some left for the freezer for cakes and muffins this winter.  That would be totally awesome!
2.  I knew I needed pectin to make jelly as my home made pectin was gone from the peach jelly I made earlier this year and I don't have any powdered pectin.  I went on Amazon and had added about four different things of bulk pectin to my cart so I could monitor the price on it (I have like 500 things in my cart saved for later and watch prices constantly on things...I'm weird like that) and one type of pectin went down to a little over 10.00 for two pounds of pectin one day this last week.  I immediately ordered it as that will be more than enough pectin to last me for a while (which is a relief to have this material in the house, honestly) and it cost me the same as two little jars of the Ball flexible batch pectin. 
3.  I was getting low on coffee, but my sister-in-law when I got the food when they were moving there was a bunch of coffee in with the food, so I ground up the whole bean coffees, mixed them in with the bit of ground coffee she gave me and threw it into my coffee container.  This will last me for coffee for a bit and it tastes pretty good (I know I just made coffee aficionados give me the look of death through the screen, but I'm okay with that).

4.  I made home made noodles to go in chicken noodle soup this week.  Not only does the family love them, but they are pretty frugal to make and are decently filling.  It helped to make my husband feel a little bit better anyway (the finished soup in the form of leftovers that I ate for lunch today way up top there).  Now a lot of people think that you need a pasta maker to make noodles.  Not true.  I just roll mine out thin on my counter top and use a pizza cutter to cut them into thin strips and pieces (seen above there in the once I started adding them to the soup).  So give it a try sometime.  You might really like it :).

5.  I have been having a blast watching the 18th Century Cooking series on YouTube and actually bookmarked a few recipes that I want to try.   I even tried one tonight, but I'll wait until the menu plan for the week to talk about that one.

6.  I mended a shirt and darned two socks this week (not my best work, but it worked in a pinch.  I definitely got to go back and darn the socks better).

7.  I took a nap today.  It was definitely needed and definitely free.  Although all of the things that I needed to get done were constantly running through my head so I'm not sure how much good sleep I actually got.

8.   I realized my dishwasher could use a good cleaning.  Normally I put it through the sanitizing cycle empty to do this, but instead I loaded up every glass item that I had that I knew would take high temperatures okay and just ran the dishwasher through the high temp cycle instead (I normally do a normal wash with drip dry function activated to save energy and not worry about melting anything plastic in the dishwasher).  It worked fabulously and I got a load of dishes cleaned at the same time.  Win-win!

I'm sure there were other things I did this week to save money, but I'll work on writing them down and save them for this Friday since this is so late anyway.

Onto a garden update!
Well, I have to save out of everything that I have grown in the garden this year the only thing that has been a true failure so far has been the chard.  That never grew BEYOND baby spinach size even though the packet says that it'll grow to full sized.  We've eaten the chard in salads and it doesn't even really have a "chard" type of taste to it.  Disappointing.
The corn is actually growing pretty well now, although I'm pretty sure it's not going to make it to corn stage before winter hits.  I'm planning on covering the garden as the freezes come and try to keep everything alive as long as possible before snow falls just to see if I can get the corn to actually make...you know...corn before it dies.  Here's hoping :).

The lettuce seeds that I planted are growing, although the poor stuff looks ill from all of the rain we've been hammered with this year (those little yellow plants at the bottom of the corn).  The spinach that I planted is actually holding in there a lot better than the lettuce and is growing right along.  I think I might actually get a second crop of spinach before we get a full freeze.  I'd be happy with that the way this summer has gone.

The peas I've been disappointed in.  The plants are growing great, but the amount of peas I've gotten out of the plants has been sub-par at best.  So far I've gotten enough to have in a few dishes and I have one sandwich bag that's about 3/4 of the way full in the freezer.  That's it.   I didn't notice these suckers growing any quicker in my climate (they are supposed to be ready to harvest in 30 days) and next year I'm definitely going back to my cold and heat hardy varieties of peas I planted last year.  The rat tailed radishes didn't go gang busters this year, but nor were they in the full sun location (where the cabbages and beans are now) and I think that might have made a big difference in their performance.  I'm definitely making a note of that for future reference.
I have BEANS!!!  I am so thrilled with this as I've never grown beans before :).  So far the few green beans that were of a good size on the bush beans I just ended up eating for a snack (they were SO good!), but there are more and more popping up on the little plants every day!  I'm hoping to grow some of them out to full sized as they are supposed to change color and actually make beans that you can dry and eat as actual beans during the winter.  I'd like to freeze some fresh, but I'm not sure if you can do that with bigger beans.  Anyone got an answer to that question out there?

The pole beans were supposed to grow up the corn, but laughed at that idea since they are now as tall or taller than the corn.  Instead they felt around and started growing up the peas that are already in the ground and growing up the trellis, so they found the trellis and are happily growing intertwined with the peas.  It works.  I'm just hoping that I'll be able to spot the beans as they grow out in with all of the pea plants *laugh*.

I went through and thinned a few of the carrots this week and happily got to chow down on some teeny tiny little baby carrots.  I'm hoping this means that the bigger carrot greens have bigger carrots on the end of them.  They are still pretty thin as feeling around the base of the carrots has yet to yield any carrots with a decent collar on them, but I have faith that they're growing and making some nice sweet carrots (least if the baby carrots were any indication).

The beats are finally starting to grow once the lettuce was out of the bed (to the left of the carrots there) and I see little beets developing on the ends of the greens.  I hope that they get to a decent size anyway before the freezes hit.  Fingers crossed.

The turnips are doing really well despite the slug onslaught.  I even have a few that are developing decent sized turnips and are coming out of the soil.  I need to check my seed packet and figure out at what size to pull them as I don't want them to overgrow and become woody.  I'm really looking forward to having my own turnips this year :).

I was sent some all natural slug repellent from a friend to try out (thank you, Ellen!) and that came in the mail today, so I sprinkled that around the garden in the hopes it would help to rid me of those troublesome pests!  I also got sneaky (Jeannie's comment on last Friday's post about duck tape and salt sparked an idea) and went and overturned anything that slugs could be hiding under in the general vicinity including the cinder blocks over by the cabbages and found a slugtopia under there.  I squished the slugs that were hiding there and then sprinkled a liberal amount of salt under the cinder blocks and then replaced them nice and close to the garden.  This will help to protect the salt from rain, keeps it out of the garden (they are on pavement and are downhill a bit so the water won't run in that direction) AND will hopefully pick off any slugs that hide there that the slug repellent doesn't get.  I am certainly hoping this helps to kill the little buggers and save my plants.  The cabbages are definitely starting to show some damage (luckily they are hearty suckers) and the turnips I've had a constant fight keeping the slugs picked off and squished underfoot this year to let the turnips keep enough of their greens to remain healthy.

So, yeah, there's my, very late, weekly update.  Hopefully my husband makes it through work okay tonight *fingers crossed* as he's still really tired.  Here's hoping for a good week and that my new cell phone comes in tomorrow!  How about you?  How was your week?

Friday, August 11, 2017

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

Right, so last week's menu plan?  Well, I did OKAY I guess, although Saturday is when things started going funky.  My husband was up late helping my brother-in-law getting ready to move out on Sunday, so my daughter and I had waffles and sausage for dinner (from the freezer on both counts) and then Sunday I made the sausage gravy and biscuits for dinner.  I used evaporated milk in the sausage gravy because we were getting low on regular milk and I had the evaporated milk to use up and BOY did that make the meal filling.  Sunday we just had left over steak and my husband had the last baked potato, I had a salad (I didn't feel like potatoes or bread) and my daughter had bread and butter and a small salad with dinner.  It worked okay.  Monday we had BBQ ribs as when I was going down to get the spare ribs out of the freezer a rack of actual ribs landed on my foot and I took that as a sign that the darned things wanted to be cooked when I couldn't get them to fit in the freezer right without falling out (yup, some nights that is how I roll with the "what's for dinner" question).  Tuesday I cooked some chicken in the crock pot in some cream of chicken soup and once it was cooked and the rice cooked in the rice cooker I made cheesy chicken casserole for dinner.  It's one of my husband's favorite comfort type foods and he happily took the casserole to work for lunch for the next few nights (win win as far as I'm concerned :).

Last night we had beef roast in the crock pot with potatoes and carrots and tonight I made corned beef, cabbage and neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes...it sounds fancier the other way *laugh*).  I was out of carrots, so I just added more potatoes in to pad out the meal.  Funny.  Just a little bit ago I would have balked at the idea of doing something like that.  I would have been like, "No, you need carrots for this meal as that is the way it is done.  Period.  I'm going to go and buy some carrots."  Now I'm like, "Yeah, that'll be fine" and just add what I have on hand *laugh*.

I've been depending on my crock pot more here.  I'm finding with speech therapy and other appointments going on, I quickly run out of time to make dinner in the afternoon as my husband is working a mid-shift type of shift right now (he's learning some programming skills and things and that's the shift where the guys who know that stuff are on) and he has to be out the door by six in the evening, so we're eating dinner around four thirty ideally right now, so he gets some time to get ready to go to work and spend a little bit of time with the kids.  So, I'm either going to have to get good at making dinner ahead of time and reheating it, get good at quick cooking meals OR use the crock pot and things more once the kids start back to school here as that's the only way he's going to get a chance to eat while I'm juggling kids and homework and things.  Fun times!

So, yeah, onto this week's menu (or the rest of it ;).

Wednesday:  Crock pot beef roast with potatoes, carrots (last of garden carrots from the freezer *sniff*), turnips (from freezer) and peas (from freezer)

Thursday:  Corned beef with cabbage, neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes)

Friday:  Crock pot spare ribs in honey mustard sauce, salad, baked potatoes

Saturday:  Turkey enchiladas (use ground turkey in freezer), Spanish rice, salad

Sunday:  Home made pizza night (last night before school starts) with home made bread sticks (for son).  Make meatloaf for husband to take to work for lunch (too much pizza with his acid reflux is a BAD idea) with mashed potatoes and green beans (make a frozen dinner type of lunch for him).

Monday:  Lamb roast with balsamic reduction, garlic toast, salad.

Tuesday:  Left over meatloaf night.

Desserts:  Vanilla pudding, 2 layer cake with chocolate frosting and strawberries, home made chocolate chip ice cream (I made it using the rest of a chopped up chocolate Easter bunny as the chips in the ice cream), cookies (note:  Make cookies).

Snacks:  Apples, cheese and crackers, animal crackers (we have a HUGE thing of them we were gifted.  Alvah can't have them but the daughter and husband will like them :), home made graham crackers and milk.

And there you are folks.  Our menu plan (even later than I wanted because my computer crashed last night before I could post this) for the week.  How about you?  Eating anything good this week?

And there you are folks.  Our menu plan for this week.  How about you?  Tried anything tasty lately?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Monthly Goals: August 2017

I've had this list compiling for weeks now.  And yet, I never got an opportunity to actually tweak it so it was where I wanted it to be until a couple of days ago.  Man, I'm busy!

It's been kind of hard here the last few days.  Alvah's mood went South starting Monday, where it was just a gradual decline and then yesterday he woke up and was just NOT happy with anything all day long.  I ended up giving him his Risperidone at 5:00 out of desperation to try and help calm him down as the self abuse was back.  He's been on and off today on the fits.  I called the psychologist's office as she was talking about putting him on a morning dose of Risperidone on top of the low dose he's on in the evening and asked for them to okay that addition, so I'm still waiting to hear back from them on that one.  Hopefully we can get everything regulated and working well before school next week.  Fingers crossed here.

The list for this month gets longer and longer the more days pass.  I've got lots of projects to do in the sewing department and unfortunately I don't see some of them happening (like the daughter's undergarments) until school starts next week.  Alvah has just been too much of a handful of late to do anything really labor intensive.

On top of the sewing, at some point we're going to have to process the chickens as cold weather is coming up very soon and that means no more eggs period.  The two non-broody hens are actually laying again despite all of the feathers in the coop, so I'm thinking that the rooster (who is DEFINITELY thin in the feather department right now) is actually the one molting the hardest and the broody hen is, of course, plucking her feathers out, so I'm not sure if she's molting or not yet.  The other two are starting to lose their feathers, I saw today, so I'm not sure how long I'll be getting eggs.  I'm up to four over the last four days, so they still aren't laying dependably yet (considering that they are both three years old, I can't really say it's a surprise).  I'm not sure if the processing is happening this month or next.  I'm leaving that up to my husband as he's the one who is going to be the one doing the work (since one of us has to stay in and watch the son) and has the number of the friend who would have real world experience on processing birds and things and could help us get the job done.  Depending on how things go we might be trying to quickly doing the deed while the kids are at school or getting a babysitter while we take care of it.  We'll see how that goes.  At least there are only four birds to worry about.

Humorous side story on the chickens.  The broody hen has been REALLY determinedly broody this time around, but even after the other two started laying eggs again in their favorite nesting box, the broody hen refused to move from her spot that she was sitting on in the coop.  I couldn't figure it out as even the one time that someone laid an egg near her she let it grow cold and sat in that one spot.  I took her off of her spot one day and shooed her out to go and get food and water down her neck and noticed something under the straw in the nesting boxes, so I moved the straw, expecting to find an egg that had escaped my notice.  Nope.  Determined broody hen is determinedly sitting on a chunk of bread that had been thrown in for a treat at some point.   I was baffled, but amused, I have to admit.

The weather was actually nice and sunny for like three days straight this week, which made the garden VERY happy for those few days, so I might actually see some real production from the garden this month yet!  We'll have to wait and see, but I'm hopeful anyway.

Anyway, let's get to the long and varied list for this month, shall we?

Sewing Goals *probably worked on once school starts*:
  • Make sleep pants for the son (turns out one of the side effects of Risperidone, which was seen immediately, was a want to wear clothes ALL the time, so I am in desperate need of pajamas for him as he hasn't wanted to wear pajamas to bed like ever)
  • Make night gowns for the daughter (as she will get jealous if the son gets something cool sewed for him).  Make pillow case nightgowns or dresses (depending how they turn out *laugh*).
  • Finish up second roll of unpaper towels
  • Embroider and sew apron for daughter for Christmas
  • Work on embroidery on pillow cases for family back East for Christmas
  • Try to finish first tote bag
  • Make reusable feminine care pads (this is a project to use up some scraps and things while also ending up with a "just in case" product at the end)
  • Work on new comforter/puff quilt for Alvah out of various scraps of cloth 
  • Work on flannel blanket for son for Christmas
  • Make more handkerchiefs 
  • Work on mending

Organizing goals *to be done once school starts*:
  • Get den cleaned up (it's a huge disorganized mess right now)
  • Work on master bedroom closet
  • Gut and reorganize pantry 
  • Detail clean car
  • Detail clean children's rooms

General goals:
  • Make cookies with daughter (this is to be done BEFORE school starts)
  • Do final check list of school supplies
  • Pull out back packs and start packing them with things like gym shoes so they aren't forgotten later on.
  • Get lock installed on new-to-us mini freezer and park it in its new spot.
  • Continue to harvest raspberries from bushes in yard and add them to freezer bag in freezer.
  • Keep eye out for good sales on apples and other produce and process if it works out.
  • Process what few peas there are in fridge, slice cabbage leaves into tiny pieces and make into freezer slaw, harvest and freeze fireweed blossoms, harvest more rose hips.

Garden goals:
  • Continue to fertilize the garden at least once a week (weather permitting or not)
  • Harvest from the garden often, especially the peas, and watch for mold or blight issues (due to all of the moisture we've gotten this year)
So, there you are folks.  Some of my monthly goals for this month.  Hopefully the list will stop expanding here sometime soon.  How about you?  Up to anything this month?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Geez it's hot!  It's not bad outside, I think it's like in the mid-seventies, but the way our upstairs bakes in the house due to the exposure to the full sun, the last time I checked it was 80 down in our stairway, which is about five degrees cooler than my upstairs is.  I nearly ate ice cream for dinner.  Bright side, at least the kids rooms with their two fans running each (ceiling fan and window fan) their rooms aren't terrible.  The living room and kitchen, though, is, especially after I did some baking earlier this evening.

Anyway, money saving went so very very well this week.  I'm still overwhelmed by the kindness of others that was bestowed upon my family this week and then other stuff happened too!

1.  First up there was grocery shopping.  I had hoped to get meat this month, but wasn't sure how it was all going to work with the sales and things, but then I saw that Carrs had value packs of chicken on sale for 5.00 each as part of 5.00 Friday this week, so I knew I wanted to stop by yesterday and get chicken.   I finally saw that the Care Credit payments had cleared the bank, so I went online to see how much I was going to have to shell out to pay off the one chunk we had to pay by the 23rd of this month.  When I went online and checked Care Credit had actually applied our regular monthly payment onto that amount FIRST so it was already paid off!!!  I was thrilled as I had 75.00 budgeted out of the insurance check to pay that bill off, so I now had money in our regular budget for meat!

We ended up getting to Carrs kind of late last night due to a full day and I ran in to grab what I thought was just going to be chicken, but I found some great stuff!  For one, I had planned on having to run to Eagle River to get hamburger because it's the cheapest place to buy hamburger around here normally, but as I was perusing the hamburger seeing if there was any marked down packages, I found they had hamburger on markdown for 3.49 lb just on regular sale!  That beat the price I would have paid going to Eagle River, so I grabbed two value packs of hamburger.  Then I stumbled on some mismarked  packages of steaks that had been marked bone-in thin cut pork chops and they were cheap.  I flagged down a meat guy, my conscious nagging me, and showed him the packages, but the guy told me to keep them and said it was their fault for not marking them correctly.  I had grabbed the last three that were there, so I really wondered how many people had taken advantage of the not properly marked packages during the day.   I also got a couple of packages of pork steaks on reduced and even got my daughter Ball Park hot dogs on 50% off (I even had coupons for those!).  Overall, I spent 80.00 on meat and managed to pretty much fill the freezer up again.  It feels GOOD to have meat staring back at me when I open the freezer instead of lots of empty holes :).

I do find it pretty funny that one of the few lamb roasts I have left that I got for like 1.49 stares back at me when I open the door with the original price tag showing *laugh*.
2.  When I was digging in the recesses of the pantry to see what I had and what I needed to use up, I ran across a bunch of evaporated milk that I had.  I had thought I was out a couple of times and would go and buy another flat and yeah...I wasn't out.  So, I moved one flat upstairs onto the counter to remind myself to use it (since it has a use by date for this year and I like to keep close to those when I can).  I had some baking and things to do today so I made up some dehydrated milk and then added evaporated milk to the jar as well so help the taste of the dehydrated milk along (in the jar up above there).  It worked out really well and I honestly think it made everything just taste a little bit richer.  Neat trick!

3.  My husband went over to help my brother-in-law get the last of his stuff together to move tomorrow.  He came away with a bunch of different items, including more canned food stuffs and (honestly I'm kind of excited about this one) a small freezer!  I'm so looking forward to having the extra storage room in the freezer especially when it comes to vegetables and things :).  Thank you Clinton and Nicole!!!

4.  I have been harvesting raspberries from the yard obsessively to save them from the hornets, birds and slugs and so far I'm getting small harvests, but they are adding up slowly but surely.  I'm hoping to have about a freezer bag full by the end of the month as they are finally starting to ripen in decent numbers.  Here's hoping!  I also harvested what I could out of the rhubarb plants as the slugs were just decimating the one that sits down in the underbrush.  Out of two plants, one of which has been bolted since pretty much the beginning of summer, I got a big freezer bag full of rhubarb to use later on.  I'm happy as I think with what I still have in the pantry and now what I have in the freezer, rhubarb harvesting should be good for the year :).

I also got a few rose hips harvested, but I'm going to wait to harvest those in earnest until the kids are back in school because that way I won't be hurried about it.

5.  The daughter managed to outgrow all of her jackets, so I went onto Land's End to see what I could find for clearance sales for last year's jackets.  I also found a code for back to school for 30% off your order.  I managed to get a winter jacket for less than 30.00 after shipping.  Not too shabby!

6.   I ran into a good deal on cabbage during the week, so I picked up two heads of green cabbage and two heads of red cabbage to shred and start on the journey to sauerkraut (did it as part of my normal shopping this week).  We eat it enough that if my cabbages get to a good size I might still process the cabbages from the garden into sauerkraut as well, but we'll see how it goes later on.  For now, I can at least get sauerkraut going in the pantry to can up in a couple of months!

7.  My mom is sending me some sulfate free goat's milk soap to try on Alvah.  My younger sister is VERY allergic to sulfates (sulfa) so she can't do the sulfates in regular soap, but she found this stuff really helps her out, so they want me to try it with Alvah.  Here's hoping it works well on him.  I've found that switching to more and more sulfate free products does seem to help him a bunch, so I'm hopeful this will help him as well.

8.  I used up some free samples this week, including ones for toothpaste as I am waiting for a sale on toothpaste before I buy it (MAN toothpaste is expensive!!!).

9.  I realized that I had to make some clothes for the son and went and quickly found some nice fabric to make what I needed out of materials I had on hand.  This is going on my monthly goals this month, so I'll fill you in more about that one later.

And now onto a garden update!

This was "thin the garden" week it seemed.  I went out and tried to clip the larger leaves off of the bottom of the cabbages to one, use them to make freezer slaw before they got really tough, and for two to give slugs ONE less thing to crawl up into the cabbages with.  I have been having to weasel my small fingers down into the cabbages where they are forming heads and snatch slugs out with my fingers to then squish on the ground.  So far it seems to be helping (that and the hot weather we've had the last couple of days) and the mold and mushrooms the garden was growing are much less as well.

I took the rooster and tried to get him to hunt slugs, but instead he hunted my lettuce plants and tried his best to eat one whole before I went to grab him and he flew into a tree (NOT my happiest morning last week I have to say), but the one thing that came out of that was I really looked at the green lettuces I had planted in the root vegetable bed and found that since they were "head lettuce" (which I normally don't grow) that they had REALLY deep roots and the roots were actually pretty darned big!  So big that they were impeding the growth of other plants, like my beets.  So, I took my trowel and cut three of the out of the ground this week and we'll use them happily in salads for the next couple of weeks.  I left one which doesn't really have anything around it that it would hurt by being there for now, but once the other lettuces and spinach come up better here I'll cut that one too to give everything else more room to grow.

The turnips were seeming to be growing great, but as I was battling slugs this week I looked close at them.  One half of the bed are growing well, but the other half were just too densely packed together so the turnip roots were really small and not really growing well.  So, I thinned out a bunch of the turnips this week too to help them grow better.  By doing that, a side benefit, the rat tailed radishes seem happier and are producing more, so yay!

I also found, quite by accident, that by not adding onto the trellis for the peas that the peas just went "ah well" and bent over and just started wrapping back down over the trellis I have instead of bending and snapping (which was my fear).  Turned out to be quite the blessing in disguise as I found accessing the peas through all of the other things I have planted requires me to basically do the splits over the bed to get to the middle peas as there's really no where to stand, so another layer of trellis might have gotten pretty hairy for me to pick from.

The pole beans are FINALLY vining out in a few places.  The bush beans I'm worried might be developing a blight as a few of the plants aren't looking good, but we'll see how it goes.  This has NOT been a good year for a garden...well with the exception of carrots and cabbage...those seem decently happy, although they are still behind where they would normally be this time of year.  I'll fight it to the finish, but I'm thinking I might just have to resolve myself to the fact that I'm going to have to go to the U-Pick farms to get more produce in this year.  We shall see how it goes!

And there you go folks.  My week in a nutshell.  How about you?  Did you have a good week?

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

First be prepared for a lot of posting today.  I am hoping to get the "Frugal Friday" post up today, as well as the monthly goals for this month and I still need to write up stuff I did last month (I kind of like the monthly recap as it hammers home to me that while the goals might not have been completely accomplished I did manage to get other things done :).

Since a lot of people have been asking, I wanted to start off with an Alvah update :).  He's still sleeping at night (yes!!!!), but my dear daughter decided as soon as he started sleeping at night she was going to be a complete pain in the tushie and not go to bed, no matter what I did, until about one am.  I finally told her last night that she had better go to bed at the actual "bed time" that the parents are always going on about or there would be consequences.  One, she was going to be completely thrashed when school starts in a couple of weeks.  And two, if she didn't go to bed, on time, keep her lights off, her TV off, her books closed, her voice quiet and you know...go to BED, that she wasn't going to live to see her next birthday.  It was either that or the whole, "If you don't go to bed RIGHT NOW and go to bed when I tell you to, you are going to lose your TV out of your room, your favorite toys and your lamp!".  Since she already lost the ability to watch her kindle after 8pm (it gets plugged in out in the living room now as she proved herself untrustworthy to have it in her room at night), I think that MIGHT have gotten through to her a bit more.  I'm still fighting to get her to bed before eleven, but at least I made progress.   She's always been TERRIBLE about sleeping from day one of her life, but now that Alvah is actually going to sleep at night, she better get used to an earlier bedtime because mom is going to get sleep.  Period!

As for everything else with Alvah, now that the meds are regulating a bit he's had a few temper tantrums, some of them bad, but the hitting and self harm is WAY more under control than it used to be, so that's definitely a good thing.  We went to the psychologist this week and we talked about tweaking meds to get something for anxiety on board (because he does have that going on for sure), but we're just going to let everything just regulate and settle before we try anything else for now.  Here's hoping everything remains good.

When it came to the menu last week we ended up being so busy that a couple of nights the menu plan went out the window and I had to punt, but overall I did pretty good with it.

This week, now that back to school running around is over with (I hope) I'm hoping to get back to a more consistent menu instead of rushing to throw something on the table because we ended up spending hours out of the house running errands and everyone is starving to death when we get home.  Here's hoping!

The highlight of the week was definitely the biscuits. I finally got light biscuits!  They turned out so good!  Not the cheapest with all the butter in them, but I think I might try halving them with some beef fat I have in the fridge when I make them for dinner tonight (since it's also cold fat). 

So, onto this week's menu!

Wednesday:  Tacos (used up some leftover taco meat I had in the freezer)

Thursday:  Pork chops in creamy BBQ sauce (I found some ANCIENT pork chops buried in the bowels of the freezer as I was getting close to the bottom of everything.  They were badly freezer burned so I was hoping that the BBQ sauce mix would help to mask the nasty freezer burned flavor...it didn't really work that well, but we got through the meal), apple sauce (the last bag I had frozen, mashed potatoes, salad.

Friday:   Fried chicken, oven fries.

Saturday:  Sausage gravy and biscuits.  Fruit cocktail.

Sunday:  Steak salad (use leftover steak from dinner Tuesday that is in fridge)

Monday:  Crock pot spare ribs in honey mustard sauce, baked potatoes, salad

Tuesday:  Blueberry waffles (use blueberries from freezer), sausage links.

Desserts:  Beignets with lemon curd (leftovers from fridge), vanilla pudding, home made ice cream (use some of the cream in fridge) with strawberries (we are seeing an uptick in temperatures this weekend with the wonderful glorious SUN shining, so I'm figuring on cold things for dessert are definitely appropriate!).

Snacks:  Grapes, apples, home made crackers and cheese (note:  Make crackers...didn't get to this last week), bread and butter or bread and butter with jam (note:  Make bread).

Breakfasts:  Leftover waffles and sausage, scrambled (or fried) eggs, English muffins, granola, yogurt with jam (or granola...whatever the preference), oatmeal.

Notable mention:  My daughter made individual pizzas for lunch Wednesday (seen up top).  We'd gotten a kit that made four pizzas super cheap at Fred Meyer a while back.  I pulled them out of the freezer, defrosted them and we tweaked them a bit.  I used my own tomato sauce (since the stuff that came with the kit looked old in the package) and we used some pepperoni for my husband's pizza from a little baggie we had in the freezer (once again their pepperoni looked kind of old).  Overall they turned out well and the daughter had a lot of fun "making lunch" :).

And there you are folks.  Our menu plan for the week.  How about you?  Eating anything good this week?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Shopping Goals: August 2017

First, I just have to say that this week I have been completely blown away by the generosity of others.  I feel truly, truly blessed and am overwhelmed with gratitude. 

I was able to meet my shopping goals last month, which I honestly didn't think I'd be able to do with our extremely limited budget, but I made it.  Some of it through downright miracles (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). 

For instance, I was online a few weeks ago.  I follow a range of pages on Facebook just because I have a lot of different interests.  One of the pages I follow and really like is Tillamook Dairy Farmer (Facebook link there folks, like him up!) as he shows pictures of his beautiful and happy cows a lot and also goes through dairy farming and how it is done.  It's pretty cool.  That and we love Tillamook cheese so that helps *laugh*.

Anyway, a few weeks ago he posted up a rebuttal to an article in a local Oregon newspaper where someone called Tillamook cheese "mediocre".  Now anyone who eats Tillamook cheese knows that's not true (my completely biased opinion as I really do like Tillamook cheese better than other cheeses out there), and he did an open letter showing all of the different awards that Tillamook has won over the years.  Honestly, this was in the middle of "Alvah going nuclear" and I was kind of ticked at the tone of the article in the newspaper and so I wrote the truth on Tillamook Dairy Farmer's Facebook page. 

"You want an endorsement for Tillamook cheese?"  I wrote (okay I'm paraphrasing here since Facebook doesn't work on my laptop like at all), "I have an autistic eight year old son who has a very limited diet of things he'll eat and Tillamook cheese (and yes it HAS to be Tillamook) is one of the few "real foods" he'll eat.  If that isn't a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.  Thank you for being one of the few sources of nutrition for my son!"

I didn't think anything of it when I wrote it.  I was telling the truth and definitely sticking up for Tillamook cheese because I want it to stick around for a long, long time (man the idea of it going away and Alvah losing that source of nutrition actually makes me panicky).

Out of the blue I get a Facebook private message from Tillamook Dairy Farmer after I had posted up my response to the article.   He asked if he could send Alvah some cheese because he "deserved the best".  And he sent me the above cheese this week;  a five pound BLOCK of medium cheddar and some vintage white cheddar (for the rest of the family)!  I never would have thought someone would be that nice to someone just leaving a random comment on their Facebook page.  Not looking for publicity or anything else...it was just an act of pure niceness (although he's getting publicity anyway just because *laugh*).  So, if you are on Facebook, please look up Tillamook Dairy Farmer and like him up.  He's a really nice, great person (obviously if sending cheese to an eight year old is any indication of his coolness level) and really does try to keep things on the positive, which I appreciate :). 

That is how my week went.  I got a text from my sister-in-law as she and my brother-in-law are moving their family to Montana and asked if I'd like the canned food they weren't going to use.  I, with a really grateful heart, said "Of course!  Thank you!" and she dropped off a bunch of stuff, including canned vegetables (which were on my shopping goals for this month) and even some baking mixes for things like cookies and things...stuff I don't have normally and am really looking forward to having in the pantry for something cool to make (thanks, Nicole!).  The food is definitely appreciated!

Then a friend e-mailed me and asked if she could send me something and I said "Sure, thank you" and I got a box with crafting kits in it (which will make some wonderful Christmas gifts) and so much more (thank you from the bottom of my heart Jacki!).  This week has made me cry, honestly, but in a really, really good way.  God is good and there are great people in the world and I'm really lucky to stumble into them it seems =D.  Thank you all! 

As for everyone else, don't downplay what you do just coming here and reading me ramble on about my life.  Even advice and comments have helped me so much over the last couple of years of hardship and struggle...you wouldn't believe how much you all reaching out to me has done for me.  Sometimes (sad though it seems) this blog has been the only social life I've had from time to time. Thank you for being there and just reading, e-mailing and commenting and everything else you do!  Thank you!!!

But yeah, ahem, now that I'm teary eyed and properly sappy, let me get on with the goals for last month.  

My friend Stephanie sent me a message letting me know about a sale Fred Meyer had on toilet paper last week and actually matched up some coupons for me to use with the sale, so I was able to get cheap toilet paper, so that got marked off my list (thank you, Stephanie!).  I shopped around and found that Carrs had the cheapest price on potatoes around at .49 lb, so I went and got a 10 lb bag of potatoes, which will hopefully last a bit.  If there is one thing I've learned from rationing cookbooks and things?  Potatoes and bread are AWESOME at filling out a meal and will help to fill you up.  I've found myself reducing the amount of meat in recipes more and more and upping the potatoes and things to help fill out the meal...I try to go with potatoes more than bread as I can mix other veggies in with it...masking veggies in bread isn't so easy *laugh*. 

Carrots...I got some baby carrots for 1.31, a smaller bag and they tasted like plastic, so I've been pulling the last of the carrots from the garden last year out of the freezer and SLOWLY using them up instead of buying new until, hopefully, the new carrots are ready to harvest.  It's working so far, so we'll see how far we get.

Vegetable oil I ended up getting one bottle of it, but I could honestly use more just to have on hand, so I'm going to roll that goal over onto this month.  And I've got vanilla extract steeping which will be ready in two to six months (depending on whose blog I read), soooo we'll see how it tastes in two months *laugh*.  In the meantime I'm trying to make my vanilla extract last and using the imitation vanilla for everything else.

This month in the garden, in an ideal world, I'd be rolling in radishes, still collecting lettuce and the peas should be producing like mad.  So far I'm battling slugs on the lettuce, which the rooster ignored the slugs and went after the lettuce when I tried to get him to take notice (great minds think alike, Jeanie *laugh*) and then I had to bribe him out of a tree (turns out Icelandic chickens can fly pretty high and LOVE to roost in trees...should have read THAT blurb before trying that stunt...oopsie) with some treats.  If these wet conditions happen next year I'm seriously going to consider borrowing someone's duck for slug control.  The radishes are producing, but not super great (too cold and wet) and I'm watching for powdery mildew on the peas like a hawk since it's so wet.  I do have flowers on the bush beans, but the pole beans are barely growing, so at least I have bush beans growing and spinach and lettuce are sprouting and starting to grow.  We'll see how it goes. 

Bright side the carrots, turnips and cabbages are LOVING this weather, so hopefully I'll be able to harvest a few turnips this month at least and maybe some carrots.  I'm going to harvest some of the outer leaves from the cabbages, hopefully tomorrow and turn them into freezer slaw before they get super woody and tough (and free up some space for the heads to form bigger on the cabbages too).  Waste not, want not :).

Things I need from the store this month are varied, but needed, so let's get to that shall we?

Regular Stores:
  • Toothpaste (we're down to sample sized tubes...I didn't realize we were that low!)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Eggs (the chickens are going through hard molt...it looks like a down pillow exploded in the coop right now and when they molt no more eggs for the winter, so processing time is nigh... I'd like to get extra eggs to make some ice cream and things with here this month)
  • Vaseline (works as outer barrier to help protect the son's skin from further irritation)
  • Meat (big time.  We're down to a turkey, some pork roasts and some packs of chicken thighs and that's about it...definitely time to start shopping sales to fill up the freezer a bit more.  I'll fit what I can into our normal grocery budget to make it all work.  At least meat is back down into reasonable prices category again so I should be able to get SOME variety of meat into the freezer).
  • Seasonal produce (we should start seeing things like apples come into season.  I would like to put up more applesauce.  I've also got to get some sauerkraut started here soon whether my cabbages are ready or not, so I might just putting my cabbages into cold storage later and using store bought cabbages for the sauerkraut...we shall see.  Past that I'm just going to see what is on sale cheap and see if I could use it or not and work it into the budget)
  • Sandwich bags (the little sandwich bag system I started with the son's snacks works great AND double benefit with this extreme humidity is that the entire bag doesn't go stale in two seconds flat).

And yeah, that's about it for shopping goals.  I think.  Which that's still a pretty big list to fill, but I'm sure I can do it :).

I hope your week was half as awesome as mine!  Got any shopping goals worked out for this month?