Thursday, August 31, 2017

Operation Garden Salvage (or "The Adventures of Ted and Bob")

If anyone is wondering what I've been doing this week, this post will cover it.  Trust me.

I went out Sunday to find the garden destroyed.  The moose came back.  This time with a friend.

The way the tracks looked in the cabbage bed the moose were NOT happy to find the cabbages gone.  I, in a moment of a twisted sense of humor (if you can't laugh, what else can you do?) as I was salvaging what I could of the wreckage, thought of how the entire event HAD to have gone down.  I named the moose Ted and Bob for the sake of hilarity.
Ted *standing in what had once been the cabbage bed, looking around*:  "Hey, Bob!"

Bob *sniffing around and not finding any cabbages, realizing he's in trouble*:  "Um, yeah, Ted?"

Ted:  "I thought you told me there were delicious cabbages here."

Bob:  "Um, yeah, I guess the two legger came in and pulled them.  Or maybe that other moose, Abbot, down the road, got them."

Ted *looking at Bob like he's not believing a word*:  "Uh huh.  Well, Bob, you know what that means right?  You still owe me twenty bucks."

Bob *looking desperate*:  "But, Ted!  Look at these yummy peas!"  *chews on the peas zealously while making "yum" sounds*

Ted:  "Not good enough, Bob."

Bob *looking around*:  "Oh, hey, there's TONS of turnip greens!  If you just stomp on them like this..." *lifts hoof and stomps turnip greens into the ground hard* "...and then eat them, they are nice and tender and none of the spiky bits will bug you!"  *Eats turnip greens and isn't impressed but does it trying to sell Ted on the idea*

Bob:  "Ted?"  *Turns around to see Ted already walking away down the driveway*

Bob *chasing after Ted*:  "Aw, come on Ted!  I don't have twenty bucks!!!  Ted???  Ted!?!"

*Bob and Ted exit scene*
Anyway, you find reasons to not cry when you are picking up the meager remains of your garden.  The moose had pulled out some carrots by the tops, others they'd trampled into the ground and broke the tops off.  The turnips were much the same.  The peas were ripped out of the ground or eaten and definitely ripped off the trellis.  The garden, in short, was a huge moose riddled mess.  Oddly enough, the only thing that survived unscathed were the beans.  Bush or pole the moose just kind of went around them and didn't bug them.  They must not have liked beans or something.  So, the pole beans I carefully unwound from the remains of the pea plants and put them back up onto the trellis to grow more (after I put the trellis back up again), the bush beans got a bit bruised but are still alive and one lowly rat tailed radish survived in tact somehow.  Other than that the garden was shot.

So, Sunday started "Operation Garden Salvage" (or as I nicknamed it, "Oooooo!  I really hate that moose!"...say it like Yosemite Sam in your head.  You'll thank me later).

Here is what I was able to get out of the remains of the garden.  Be prepared.  This gets a bit weird.  But it worked!

1.  The turnips (not pictured, enough though I SWORE I took pictures of those things)...

The turnips were pretty small when I dug what was left of them (the only decent sized one, one of moose bit in comment on what I called it).   I was able to salvage a good portion of the greens, however, and I blanched and froze those Saturday and some on, I think, Monday (man the week has kind of rushed by...I THINK it was Monday...anyway...I blanched and froze the turnip greens is really the important part *laugh*). 

The beet greens...there wasn't much left of those.  I ended up throwing what I could salvage in with the turnip greens when I processed them.  Sad fate, that.  The turnips themselves I threw in with a beef roast I made last night (and thus they ended up as part of a meat pie tonight as well) as they were so tiny, what was left, that they could all be used at once.

Monday I actually made sauerkraut to steep down in the pantry for the next couple of months (well I guess at this point it's cabbage in a beginning brine to ferment over the next couple of months, but close enough).  My neighbor stopped by and checked out the destruction.  He felt sorry for me when he saw me staring forlournly at my beautiful garden laying in tatters and next thing I knew he came back over armed with two of his early harvest cabbages that he'd picked "just in case" as last year the moose had wiped out his cabbages as well.  He's been my gardening buddy since I moved in here years ago and his generosity made the day a bit more bearable.  We had as much of a conversation as I could muster that day with how bad my voice was and I told him I was so going to give him a hug when I was feeling better and I am definitely keeping myself to that.  I also grabbed a couple of jars of home made jams and jellies to bring over with me when I do to thank him for his generosity.

Between the two cabbages I had in the fridge and the two he gave me I was able to put up seven quarts of sauerkraut to ferment.  I was thrilled to put up a decent amount of SOMETHING for winter this month, anyway.

2.  The carrots (some of them seen up above number one)

I'm still not completely done with these, sadly.  I still need to blanch and freeze the bag of baby carrots I got from the plants, but the carrots that were left I placed aside and dealt with the greens first.  But, this is what I got done Tuesday in between everything else going on.  Notice the jar on the right hand side of sauerkraut that I STILL needed to put down in the dark pantry?  Yup, that's how with it I was this week *laugh*.
I made carrot top pesto with the carrot tops.  I made several batches.  In one I used a combo of parsley and dill (I had to buy parsley as the parsley in the Aerogarden never did get very big, but I had a ton of dill, thus why I used dill) and another batch with parsley and cilantro (parsley and cilantro were the only two herbs I could get at the store cheap).  I added a splash of lemon juice to the dill pesto to use on fish or chicken (since dill is such a strong flavor and such) and I used a half teaspoon of orange extract in the batch with the cilantro just because I saw that this recipe used orange juice and orange zest (neither of which I had) with some cilantro in the pesto, so I figured the flavors would go together okay.  I used a container of Blue Diamond raw almonds from the freezer that I've had forever (I bought a flat of them from Amazon years, and I mean YEARS ago and they have stayed good in the freezer all these years as I used them slowly but surely...I'm down to my last container now...I'll kind of miss them when they are gone) and used half the container for each type of pesto.  I used grated Parmesan (you know the stuff that comes in the green shaker) and garlic cloves from my braid of garlic I made last year (still going strong actually).  Overall I spent 1.98 on herbs (I had a personalized price on parsley and cilantro, oddly enough) and that was it for the materials I had to buy to make it.

Overall I'm looking forward to experimenting with the pesto and seeing what it works with in the months to come.  I got four bags of pesto out of the carrot tops, but I doubt I'll have to use a full bag for most applications, so I'm figuring on just breaking off what I need as I need it.
3.  The peas and pea plants

Yup, you read that right.  Pea plants.  Did you know that pea plants are completely edible?  Weird huh?

I looked at the remains of the pea plants and tried to figure out something to do with them.  I hadn't gotten many peas this year yet because of the weather and had JUST gotten my first sandwich bag full processed and put into the freezer for winter.  So, I was ticked and felt really cheated knowing that the peas were dead.  So, in a moment of utter frugalness, I ripped off EVERY single leaf from the plants, any flowers and ripped off any shoots/vines that were still decently tender (you don't want the thick vines as they get really woody) and threw them into a bowl right along with the few peas that were on the plants.  After staring at them a few hours I finally figured out what to do with them.

In Julia Child's cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking:  Volume Two" she shares a recipe for "Edible Pea Pod Soup".  Well, I figured if the recipe was good enough for pea pods, it should be good enough for pea plants right along with the pods, right?  I did change a bunch of stuff in the recipe to make it more flavorful as the pea leaves and things weren't as heavily flavored as pea pods, I figured.  Like the original recipe called for just water to be used when cooking down the pea pods, I used chicken stock (well in this case reconstituted chicken bouillon since I didn't have any chicken stock in the freezer) and I added a piece of crisp bacon crumbled up to the onions to help give the soup base more flavor (I had the bacon in the fridge left over from a breakfast dinner...waste not, want not).

I finished the first stage of the soup last night, late, after simmering the pea plants/peas/pods/the whole shabang for an hour.  I then put it into the fridge to sit and went to bed, sucking on a cough drop (at least I AM getting better..just slowly...I could actually talk near normally today!).

Tonight I pulled out the good old food processor and food mill, and a bag of frozen peas, and got to work.  I pureed the pea plant soup cold in the food processor.  Meanwhile I cooked the bag of frozen peas (minus about 1/3 of a cup that I put into the meat pie for dinner tonight) on the stovetop.  I then put the pureed soup through the food mill (TOTALLY NECESSARY if you do this!  You will not believe how much fibrous material the soup will have in it until you puree it and strain it.  Trust me!).  I then drained the cooked peas, pureed them in the food processor too and put them through the food mill as well...just to add more of "kicked up pea flavor" to the soup base.

Here's the final product....
As it stands right now you would NEVER know that there were pea plants in the soup.  It tastes just like a really good pea soup.

I divided the soup base into two cup measures in some quart sized freezer bags and then placed the freezer bags inside a gallon sized freezer bag JUST in case they leaked and put the whole lot in the freezer.  I ended up with four bags of soup base, which you are supposed to add milk, water and a bit of cream, or sour cream, to the soup when you finish it, which I will do (the cream might end up being milk with flour added, or I'll use sour cream powder, but it'll work fine) when we actually eat the soup, but as it is right now it's really tasty!  I was proud of this one, honestly :).

And so ends the saga of the 2017 garden...well unless the beans start really producing beans and I can actually process some for use over the winter months (which would be nice).  But, yeah, as salvage efforts went okay.  Wish there had been more to salvage, but I did what I could with what I had.

And now onto figuring out tomorrow's endeavors, working on monthly goals and other matters.  Hope you all had a better gardening week than I did!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update (It's Been a Hard Week)

So, here's a good question for you.  What is more pathetic then a woman curled up around the sad remains of a cabbage plant, crying like a baby?

The answer to that would be a woman, curled up around the sad remains of a cabbage plant, crying like a baby, or trying to, as she has a terrible head cold and can barely breathe and has no voice so she can't even cry correctly.  It is a sad, sad, sight to be sure.

That was me this morning *sigh*.

This has been a hard week.  The kids and I caught the husband's cold this week.  Alvah missed speech therapy both days this week, missed two days of school on top of it and finally started to recover about Thursday and got through a full day of school that day (the last day of school they had this week as they had an in service day on Friday).  The daughter caught the cold on Thursday and I had to pick her up from school before noon because she swore she was dying of a stuffy nose in a absurdly dramatic fashion because she "couldn't breath through her nose right" (via the nurse).  She's actually got a pretty mild case of said cold, but you'd never know it talking to her.  I just never could get enough rest to actually even attempt to get well from this cold this week between the husband and the kids, so my cold just got progressively worse and by about Wednesday swallowing hurt almost as much as talking.  My voice has been pretty much completely shot ever since and I really don't feel great...gotta love bad head colds. 

Despite a terrible sore throat and sounding like I'd chain smoked for about eighty years, I still ended up having to make all kinds of phone calls and things this week.  Then I got to add, "telling the daughter to not talk to me continually and making me assure her every five minutes that she's not dying of the common cold and she will be fine" to the list.  And of course I had to do that with her, every five minutes, because kids are great that way.

I've had other things happening this week.  Mice have invaded the barn around the chicken coop and I actually found a mouse in the coop a couple of times this week, which when they are under the water dish and you nearly touch them when you go to change out the doesn't make your day.  I heard that chickens will kill mice...the chickens I have could not care less about mice and just looked bored when I shooed them in their general direction.  It took a few days to figure out how to rearrange things around so the mouse couldn't hide so easily and get the water dish on flat ground so that the mouse couldn't burrow under it to hide out, but I got there.  It was just another thing to deal with, though.

And then this morning, after cleaning the water and things with the chickens, I did my morning walk toward the garden to make sure all was well.  I've been so happy with how the garden has been doing now that it is getting cooler out.  Honestly there has been times this summer where the garden was like one of the few bright points.  I would be like, "Well, everything else might be hard and going kind of crappy, but at least the garden is growing".  The peas were finally starting to come in better, the cabbages were really growing and the heads were big enough I figured I'd be able to harvest them in two or so weeks, at least the front row, and start to turn them into sauerkraut.  The slugs has been a continual pain with all of the rain, but I've gone out every day and meticulously picked slugs off of the turnips and cabbages (and other plants but those were the two types that were getting it the worse) and dumped them into salt to kill them and was preparing to spread the snail bait again to see if I could kill some more of the suckers.  And then I looked down on the way to the garden and saw this...

That track made my heart slam into my throat.  I looked with dread at the distinctive tracks, dug into the Earth by a moose of a decent weight and size, and saw where they were headed directly for my small little garden corridor.  My feet felt like lead as I walked that last ten feet and what I saw when I got there was everything I was expecting. 

The moose hadn't walked beside the garden to get to the cabbages.  Nope, it'd walked RIGHT THROUGH everything to get there.  It'd trampled new lettuce seedlings, beets and carrots.  It had knocked over the peas and the trellis right along with it, killing corn as it did so.  It had eaten off some of the peas as a light snack, along with a few pole beans, before heading on to the main event. 

On top of the other devastation it did to get there, the head of every single cabbage was gone.  Just chomped right down to the core.  Most of the cabbages had been uprooted as it had fed on them and they were just lying there on the ground for me to find. 

It was just too much for me I guess after everything else and so I sat, curled up around the sad remains of one of my lovely cabbages and I tried my best to bawl my eyes out, gasping through my mouth for breath and wheezing  through my raw throat while I did it.  Not a great morning for me.  We'll leave it at that.

I finally pulled myself back together, climbed the stairs to the kitchen and squeaked for Armina to watch Alvah because I had to go and try to save what I could of the garden.  And so I went out armed with a tote bin, took a deep (well shallow with how my throat is) breath and got to work. 

I pulled the remains of every cabbage, cut the roots off and threw those far down into the ditch (once a moose knows there might be more cabbage to be had they might come back looking for more so I wanted to make sure EVERY speck of cabbage was gone from there) and then put the sad remains of all of my cabbages, every single leaf, into that tote bin.  I dug the carrots that had been smashed, brushing off the tops gently and putting them into the bin to be used as carrot top pesto so they would not be wasted.  I dug out the beets that had been broken and jammed into the ground and salvaged every beet top.  I carefully propped up any lettuce seedling that still had roots and might still survive as they hadn't been completely crushed or uprooted.  I put the trellis back up and flinching as I did tried to carefully take what was left of the peas and secure them to the trellis as best I could.  A lot of them were really badly bent, but I'm hoping that some might survive and the dying ones might still offer support to the living.  I can hope anyway.  The corn...there was no saving about half of it, but the other half might make it...might.  I only lost three turnips.  The roots on the three that were lost weren't big enough to harvest for anything, but I will blanch the greens and freeze them to use as greens so they won't go to waste.

This is the state of the garden as of a few hours ago...

I'm still not sure what will make it and what will die at this point from the trauma, but I'll just have to wait it out and see.

And so onto the frugal things that happened this week as this connects into the first one...

1.  I refused to let what was left of my precious cabbage go to waste, so I cleaned what was left of them immediately, turned the leaves into chiffonade (roll up leaves tight and then thinly slice so you end up with leaf confetti essentially) so that the tougher leaves would be hopefully more tender in the final product and turned them all into canned coleslaw.  I had to use storage onions versus sweet onions and I used frozen yellow peppers versus green bell peppers (and less of them as I only had so many of them), but I got it done.  I didn't realize how hard it would be to get canning done when feeling like this, but I made it.  More importantly, what is left of the cabbage, every bit of it (except the woody stem parts) was used.  It made me feel like I was avenging the cabbages a bit somehow.

Out of the really sad remains of six cabbages I got eight pints of coleslaw.  Here's hoping it tastes good.

2.  The husband just wasn't getting well and I knew from experience that the cough he had is because the cough had just inflamed his asthma really bad.  I knew that there was a certain inhaler that the doctors had given him in the past that would help to alleviate the onslaught on his lungs, so I called the doctor's office and asked them to write him a script for said inhaler.  Which led me to have to talk to no less than five people because his normal doctor wasn't in on Friday and then no matter how many times I told the medical assistants the name and that he was on a standard dose of the medication (it's a pill that you stick into a inhaler-like device and then pierce the pill and inhale the dust it releases, so I KNEW it would be a standardized dose). 

They kept wanting him to come back in to the doctors for an examination and I'd finally had enough and said (and yes, I did state it this bluntly), "Look.  He's been into your offices twice.  Once to Urgent Care, which cost us nearly 300.00 and then once to the doctor's office (which I told them the name  of the doctor he'd seen) last Friday and that cost us another wholloping amount.  There's a thing called, 'disposable income' and you guys have sucked me dry of what remained of mine.  Unless you are willing to do payments I need you to work with me here."  After that they suddenly figured out the dosage and actually found samples for the inhaler which they'd sworn up and down that they didn't have about four times before that.  I went and picked them up.  So far the inhaler seems to be helping the husband, so I pray that this time he's on the mend so we don't have to somehow cough up yet more money to send him back to the doctors again.  Between him and the kids growing and needing new jackets and things that I couldn't find at the used it's been depressing how quickly money goes out the door.

3.  The bowl to my rice cooker was in serious need of replacement after many years of constant use.  I'd gone online and looked into buying either a new rice cooker (which didn't sit well with me as the rice cooker worked fine still, it was just the bowl that was worn out) or a replacement bowl and had found that I could get a new bowl direct from the company sent to me for about 14.00 which was at least half of what a new rice cooker like mine would cost me.  So, I'd been having that on my "I really need to do this" list of things I needed to get done.  I stopped in at the used store early Thursday (before having to go and pick up the daughter) to drop off some donations and stopped in really quick to look around.  I found a rice cooker, same brand and build as mine but this was the much simpler model.  It was in brand new shape inside the bowl and was actually in brand new shape period.  And it was 2.00!  I bought it and just traded out my older bowl for the new one and was even able to trade out my condensation drip catch and a few other parts off the rice cooker.  I'm going to save the other rice cooker as back up with my older bowl and things (the rice cooker I bought at the used store just has a "on and off" type of switch on it while the one I bought myself has fuzzy logic on it that will cook brown rice, white rice or I can set it to steam other things on a timer.  I love my rice cooker), but it's nice having a new spiffy bowl for a lot less than having to order a new one to be shipped to myself.

4.  Shopping went well this week, mainly because of mark downs I ran into at Carrs but there were some good sales too.  I managed to get 1/2 gallons of milk on 50% off so I managed to get gallons of milk for 2.19 each (essentially).  I got three gallons worth as it was all that would fit in the fridge and TRUST me we will use it before it goes bad.  The son blows through milk, so I'm always happy to get it cheap (seen up top there).

I also was able to pick up canning salt for a dollar and some change after the 50% discount (which worked out well with the fiasco today as I needed it), buttermilk for .75 a container (a personalized price plus some 50% off reduced tags) and whole chickens for .97 lb (limit of 2).  I even managed to get the rest of my son's medications refilled all in one day so I didn't have to go running back to the store over and over and over again.  Yay!

5.  Luckily with the new medication schedule with the son he actually is going to bed before nine.  This has been a HUGE blessing for me this week as I've been so out of it health wise that I desperately needed the sleep.'s something frugal we can do that we seriously take for granted.

6.  The chickens got a pardon from the crock pot this week.  My mother-in-law mentioned that my sister-in-law would like to raise chickens and really wanted to raise chickens with her kids.  I asked my mother-in-law to text her and see if she'd like to take the chickens off of my hands as they are actually good trainer birds for kids I think and even though they are older they'll still lay next year and my sister-in-law showed some want to breed them and get chicks next year, so I think it'll work out for them well.  I'll give her the feeder, the water bowl and things like that to help her get started as I figure that's the least I can do.  I am happy because this saves me from having to cull the chickens.  I had made an appointment to get them processed for 5.00 each in the middle of September, but now I can cancel that, save myself  20.00 and the chickens can go to a good home :). 

The chickens were just one more thing to do in a really packed day for me and the 22.00 a month feed bill was hurting with how tight money has been and that wasn't including things like bedding and things on top of the constant broody problems I had with the hens all summer and them not laying because of it.  So, I am happy that I can save that money and time and the chickens will still be alive and happy. 

7.  My mom sent me some coupons in the mail, including a coupon for 3.00 off Ball jars.  I'm going to use it to get some more pint jars as all of mine are currently being used and I will need some for sauerkraut later on (luckily I bought some cabbage earlier when I could get it cheap so I'll process that into the beginning stages of sauerkraut tomorrow I hope).  Hopefully I can get some jars decently cheap *fingers crossed*.

8.  I made spaghetti on Monday, but we didn't use much of the sauce I prepared.  Instead of shoving it into the freezer, I redid the menu plan last night and made easy to stuff manicotti with the sauce instead.  I was able to get string cheese for 2.00 after coupon this week at Carrs, which inspired this choice of meal to use up the leftover sauce.  Not only did the string cheese make the manicotti, but we still have at least half of the bag left for lunches for the daughter and husband, so definitely a win in my book.

9.  I ordered two free magazine subscriptions through Freebizmags, one for Taste of Home magazine.  I really enjoy the magazine but rarely does it pop up as one of the freebie magazine subscriptions, so I was happy to sign up for it again.

10.  Despite being sick, I continued to harvest the raspberries from the yard (stubborn to the point of should be on my family's shield I swear).  I'm really happy with what I've managed to get so far and am hoping that I can get a good lot of raspberry jelly and jam out of the berries I harvest this year.  I'm happy with what I've gotten so far anyway.

11.  I called and disputed a late fee I'd gotten charged for a bill that I'd paid but the payment hadn't stayed in the company's computer for some odd reason.  It had never cleared the bank and I had called about it before it would have gotten me into trouble (as the charge normally cleared the bank within a couple of days of me paying them), but I found I'd gotten charged a late fee even though they had said they'd look into getting it reversed for me.  They not only refunded me the late fee, but gave me a 5.00 credit on my bill as an apology for not getting it done before my monthly bill had come out.  Sometimes it pays to be diligent.

So, yeah, you already got the garden update for the week, so we'll wrap it up here.  How was your week?

Monday, August 21, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

So, you can either consider this really late or really early.  Depends if you are the "glass if half full or half empty" type of person I suppose *laugh*.

I didn't get to working on the menu plan last week due to just being busy and stressed out of my mind, so I just kind of punted on the whole "feeding those pesky family members" thing.  No one starved, so I suppose I succeeded ;).

The highlight of the week when it came to trying new recipes was trying the 18th Century Fried Chicken (I linked to their "Savoring the Past" blog post on it so you can check out the recipe without going directly to YouTube).  The final results are seen up top.  I even managed to get enough parsley from the Aerogarden to give the fried parsley a try and I do have to say that the fried parsley does add something to the recipe.  I used malt vinegar instead of the white vinegar to give it a more authentic flavor.  Overall I was impressed with the flavor.  You couldn't taste the wine in the batter, but it did lend a bit of tang to the crust and the marinade lent a subtle, but deep flavor to the chicken and the crust came out nice and crisp.  I bookmarked the recipe and will definitely make it again sometime.  I made potato salad to go along with it and I have to say it went as well with the 18th Century recipe as it would have with a modern recipe. 

In other news the son and I are now sick with dad's cold (wonderbar) and the daughter is home today with her stomach cycling.  Last night I could tell I was starting to get sick, so I grabbed all the odds and ends from the garden, the "bits and pieces" freezer bag of beef pieces I had from past trimming of beef roasts, a freezer bag of au jus I had saved from when I roasted beef roasts, threw it all together with some water and I made a HUGE pot of beef stew for dinner.  This way I'll have lunch all week without worrying about what to make, or how I'm going to have the energy to make it, and I will also have enough to morph the stew into pot pie here within the next couple of days as well.  It turned out really good and I served it with cornbread, so it filled everyone up really well.

Since this menu is kind of in a weird locale due to the way last week went I'm going to just do a week and a half of menus to get everything back on track.  My plans for grocery shopping are absolutely minimal this week to hopefully help recoup some of the masses of money we've had to spend the last bit, so I'm not going to worry about waiting for the Carrs ad to come out to do the menu for next week.

So, here we go!  The menu for the remainder of this week and the coming week as well!

Monday:  Spaghetti with sausage in the sauce (husband knocked a small packet of Italian sausages out of the freezer and broke the seal on them, so I'm considering it a sign), garlic toast, salad

Tuesday:  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans

Wednesday:  Crock pot chicken, leftover mashed potatoes, corn, salad

Thursday:  Beef pot pie (use leftover stew for base)

Friday:  Crock pot pork roast, green beans, rice

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Salmon pudding sandwiches (this is a rationing recipe from WWII Britain, which calls for canned salmon, mashed potatoes and white sauce to be steamed in a pudding type of format and then you eat it in whole grained sandwiches.  I got some home canned salmon from my sister-in-law in with the food she gifted me, so I thought it would be an interesting recipe to try :).

Monday:  Chicken Alfredo, peas, salad

Tuesday:  Waffles (or pancakes, depending how I'm feeling), sausages, fruit cocktail

Desserts:  Home made ice cream, Popsicles, Blueberry Clafoutis (use blueberries in freezer)

Snacks:  Apples, grapes, strawberries, granola and yogurt (note:  make yogurt), cheese and crackers

And there you are folks.  Our menu for the next little bit.  How about you?  Making anything good this week?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Man, blogging is so late this week.  It's just been one looooonnnnggg week this week and I think blogging kind of illustrated that.

I nearly posted this as "Frugal Friday Fails:  Money Spending Weekly Recap" but it seemed kind of dark and self defeating sounding so I decided against it.  If you can't look at the bright side of things, life gets a lot more depressing.

But, I do have to go through the week, because trust me, this week was an interesting one.

So, let us first start out with *does the dramatic sounding "Dum, dum, duummmmm" sound of doom* The Saga of the Phone!

So, the cell phone I ordered from Amazon that I mentioned last time came in, me spending 18.00 to expedite ship it and the new phone case for it.  And it did come within 48 hours, so kudos to Amazon for that.

So, I went online to Tracfone and went to change over my old number and my existing minutes onto the new cell phone.  Now in the past (mind you my old phone is like four years old now) I would just have to walk through a process where you put in codes on one phone and on the other and looked a few things up via the directions online and voila!  The phone number and minutes would be switched over in like less than a half an hour.  This time you were supposed to put in your number you wanted to transfer, so I did, and got an error message telling me to call Tracfone.   Not knowing what was going on, I call Tracfone.  TWO HOURS LATER after numerous times being put on hold as the guy with the heavy Indian accent who mumbled really bad kept telling me he was "finding a solution to the problem", I find out that the bloody Tracfone doesn't work in Alaska!  Now mind you this phone is available in brick and mortar stores up here, including Target and Wal-Mart.  Turns out the new spiffy smartphone cells from Tracfone run off of Verizon and Verizon is up here but doesn't run THAT system up here.  Tracfone did 100% nothing for me as I angrily asked how in the heck I was supposed to get my money back for a phone that was a glorified brick because they had the GALL to ship this phone to states that didn't support them. 

I then called Amazon, who, once I explained the situation were kind enough to at least refund me my money on the phone once I ship it back to them (which means I had to go and pick up packaging tape to tape up the box and then I have to somehow find time this weekend to print off a bunch of labels in color to adhere to said box and THEN find a UPS Store on Monday and ship the phone back).  The gal from Amazon apologized for them selling a phone that didn't work in my state and that they had shipped it to Alaska...she was actually baffled, but I then explained it was 100% Tracfone's fault as Amazon wouldn't KNOW the phone didn't work up her, meanwhile Tracfone bloody well did.  Oh and I couldn't return the case on Amazon's dime because the case wasn't defective.  The gal tried, but the computer kept telling her no.

So, let's keep score shall we?  So far trying to get a new cell that would actually, you know, work, I was already in the red 25.00.

I then ran to Target the same day, because I NEED a phone that would work, and the guy at Target was, in all honesty, wonderful and awesome to deal with.  He walked me through all the pay as you go phones and tried to convince me to switch from Tracfone.  And I would have in a heartbeat I was so ticked of, except all of the other plans were a set monthly amount you'd get charged for a phone.  Now mind you they weren't bad and I actually found a good plan that would allow my husband and I to both get phones and share minutes, text minutes and data and only pay 50.00 a month for both of the phones for a decent plan (once we actually get ahead, I'm hoping to go and do that).  The only reason Tracfone got my business this time around was because I could still do the non-monthly pay as you go thing.  I even bought a smart phone minute card just in case with everything else that had gone wrong with Tracfone thus far.  And he also pointed out all of the Tracfones that wouldn't work in Alaska and said that they kept asking that they not be sent those phones, but they kept getting sent them anyway.  Figures.

I get home and walk through the online process and it states that my number should transfer to my new phone from anywhere from a few hours to a few days, but they stated it should only be a few days if you have something like a land line you want transferred to a cell phone.  Considering I was going from a Tracfone to a Tracfone, I figured a few hours tops.  I get a text on my old phone, which is BARELY working at this point, that the phone was going to be shut off at midnight and my new phone would be working at that point.  So, I go to bed with both phones plugged in and figure all will be well in the morning.

No such luck.

I wake up in the morning and my old phone is sure enough now shut off.  I find this out before the screen freezes up and it turns into a real life brick.  And my new phone still doesn't work!!!  Furious doesn't even begin to express the levels of anger I was feeling at that moment.  Thank goodness I couldn't set a corporation on fire with my mind.

I called Tracfone, went off on a rant and told them that if they didn't get the new phone turned on NOW that I was going to shove it back into it's package, return it to Target for whatever I could get and get a new phone through ANY other company.  And all I get after going on that rant is a gal with a heavy Indian accent saying, "I'm sorry you are disappointed with your new phone, allow me to connect you to the right person."  Get the guy in technical support, go on the same rant, and get another canned response from him.

Another hour on the phone with tech support and the minutes and texting were finally working.  The data took another three hours before it would work.  I even got a phone call to confirm the phone was working from Tracfone and the phone dropped the call.  Twice.  I found that ironic as Heck. 

But, yeah, I am NEVER buying a Tracfone again after this.  I'm done.  Totally done.  This was one of the most ridiculous experience I've ever run into in my life.

But yeah, after nearly a week of heartburn I finally have a phone that works. 

Then there was the husband.  He just wasn't getting any better and after missing three days of work this last week and him complaining about Urgent Care charging him and not giving him antibiotics, I took him back to the doctors yesterday.  He's now on antibiotics, nice strong cough medicine and nasal spray.  I pulled out the health insurance binder and found that our deductible was 250.00 per person and 500.00 for the family, so since the Urgent Care visit had been so much our deductible was met, so I went in with that knowledge and told them we only owed 20% of the doctor's visit.  Turns out that doctor's visits at mine and my husband's doctors office are up to nearly 400.00 per office visit (I couldn't BELIEVE it would be cheaper to go to Urgent Care than the actual doctor) and the 20% of the visit, after a credit we had on our account from overpaying, was still 72.00.  MAN!!!  So, yeah, there went another 100.00 (which at least my husband is STARTING to slowly feel better, poor guy!).   The only thing that was kind of scary about the visit was that his blood pressure was really high.  I kept telling the doctor that my husband had been taking WAY too much albueterol to try and breathe this week and I figured that was part of it, but the doctor was convinced it was probably due to the Sudafed that my husband insists on taking when sick.  So, we've got to go and get his blood pressure checked somewhere on Monday and see how it's doing (I'm going to try and convince him to stop by a pharmacy and have someone check it for him) and if it's not down he's got to go to a doctor and figure out what in the Heck is going on.  I just hope he's okay :(.

But, yeah, between all that, the kids starting school this week and the school district's "new and shiny, state-of-the-art online everything system" screwing up EVERYTHING, it's been a full week.  They had to retrieve my daughter from the bus one day and we had to get the kids pick up and drop off options straight (even though I fill in that on the registration forms EVERY year).  Then the medicine consent forms got way more complex so we had to fax things to doctors and get all kinds of stuff straightened out.  Top it off with my daughter getting the same teacher team she had in second grade which made the second grade year miserable (two hours of homework per night in second grade at least...I WAS burned out about 3/4 of the way through the year with that and them holding my daughter in from recess to finish work that they thought she should have had done, which led to a meeting, was not a fun year), so I'm nervous to how things are going to go this year.  So far she's assured the kids that they will only have  homework if they don't finish things in class, so we'll see how it shapes up in the next couple of weeks.  I'm praying it's not as bad as second grade anyway as with everything else I'm juggling anymore if there's like four hours of homework every Heck with it she'll be homeschooled by the end of the school year.

The son had an appointment with his psychologist this week.  We talked about options for his OCD type of behaviors (he's been turning the inside of his bottom lip into hamburger for a long time now...the Stritera helped with that, but just didn't agree with him so we're looking at a different option), so we started him on a low dose of essentially Prozac.  Bright side is that she's had really good luck with the med helping with those things, but the downside is that we're looking at  six weeks about until the meds build up into his system and we start seeing results.  So, I'm praying we're on the right track and everything works and we're not wasting six weeks of our time.  Fingers and toes crossed.

To top everything off this week the local news station that did the work up on the drug treatment center going in next door called and asked me for a follow up interview.  I told them no.  I explained that there was no point in doing a follow up interview.  My concerns were definitely still there (actually by the way my concerns on their Facebook page were completely blown off, I'm even more concerned than I was), but at this point the community council thought it was a good idea for it to go in, the borough thought it was a good idea for it to go in and we'd exhausted all avenues we knew of to relocate the thing, so there was no point in doing an interview as it would just give the ruddy thing free publicity and I didn't want to do that.  So, yeah, they interviewed me anyway it turns out.  They did a big story on the treatment center that night and they just used the whole of the original interview I did months ago.  So, the next day I ended up getting some dirty looks from a few people as I was out and about and a lot of people coming up to me and saying, "I saw you on the news!" and a LOT of them were furious that the treatment center was going in where it was and that the local news stations didn't do a big story on it ages ago so they could protest the center going in equal distance (and easy distance at that) from three schools.  So, yeah, I wasn't pleased that the news gave the center yet more coverage at this point and used me to help, but not a lot I can do about it at this point since they reused old footage.

So, anyway, in the middle of the stress and panic of the week, I did manage to actually get some things accomplished. 

1.  A pregnant lady who was a friend of a friend of mine asked for help harvesting potatoes as she is nine months pregnant and on pretty strict rest due to a kind of hard pregnancy.  My friend called me and asked if I could help her dig the potatoes as she had twisted her ankle the night before and she could use the help.  Since I had an hour window in between other things I was doing, I gladly gave her an hour.  The ground was so wet I was worried it would be hard to dig the potatoes (not ideal and both my friend and her friend both knew it, but the potato plants were getting blight so she wanted to dig the potatoes before they were affected), but it actually went rather well.  The gal we dug the potatoes for cured them in her garage for a few days under a fan (or friend wowed me with the details, but for the life of me I was so worried about getting Armina off the bus I didn't hear half of what she was telling me) and my friend handed me a bag of potatoes as the gal had given her a big bunch of potatoes as a thank you for doing the work and she wanted to make sure I got some.  I was happy to accept them as I was going to need potatoes here soon, so that worked out (the potatoes are seem up top there).

2.  My mother-in-law called me and said that some freeze dried snack packs I'd asked her to add onto her next order had come in in the hopes the kids would eat things like freeze dried yogurt and things for a snack (still trying to get them to try them, but we're getting there).  I managed to stop by to pick them up and she told me to not worry about paying her back for them (thanks, Stacey) and I got to sit and visit with her for quite a while, which was a fun time.  She even let me pick over her raspberry bushes again.  Between what I got from her bushes and mine I'm up to two freezer bags full of raspberries now (woohoo!!!).

3.  The son grew again suddenly in the torso and his fall jacket was riding a bit high.  I looked over the jacket and figured out I could let out the bottom seam and add onto the jacket by a few inches while I looked for a new jacket for him, so I picked out the seam and did a quick extend on the jacket with some blue nylon that I had (that actually was so close in color you could only tell it was there if you really looked at it).

I found a replacement jacket on Land's End in their clearance and found a code for 30% off your order while I was on their site, so I used the code on the jacket, which actually paid for the shipping plus a dollar or so.  All totaled I spent 27.00 on a new jacket for him and it should be in the mail in the next couple of days.

4.  With my husband's new job he's shaving every day and had finally blown through all of the razors I had accumulated in my couponing hay day.  I went and explored all the options and finally signed him up for the Dollar Shave Club.  He, so far, likes the razor and every month he'll get four refill blades shipped to him, so that should take care of his razor needs.  And it's a LOT cheaper than going through the stores for razor refills, for sure!

5.  I made a recipe that called for green onions.  I subbed out chives as my chive plant has definitely recovered from when I harvested on it earlier in the year.  It worked great and I was out no money for doing it :).

6.  Grocery shopping went well this week, especially since we were waiting on three of my son's meds to get delivered so I was at the pharmacy at LOT this week between my husband and my son's meds, so I could have gone over shopping pretty easy if I'd slacked off thinking about it.  I managed to get a good deal on beef roasts as Carrs has them on sale this week for 2.99 lb, so I got three.  The more broke we've gotten the more I've gotten to liking beef roasts vs. steaks as the beef roasts go so much further and can be turned into a lot more dishes.

7.  I used some clear nail polish to fix a small tear in my daughter's umbrella caused by an overly enthusiastic cat who thought it would be fun to crawl into it until it started opening and panicked.  It actually worked rather well.  I was nervous about it as I was worried the chemicals in the nail polish might melt the material in the umbrella (because who KNOWS what's in nail polish really).  So far it's holding up well and it cost me nothing to do the repair.

8.  I took some bolted lettuce one day for lunch that was really bitter tasting and instead of eating it cold, I actually took it and prepared it like you would a really bitter dark green (boiled it briefly in some chicken broth and then sauteed it in some garlic and olive oil).  It actually worked and I ate the "lettuce saute" for lunch one day :).

So, yeah, I'm sure there is more there, but I'm really shot energy-wise right now and I'm praying I'm not fighting off my husband's cold, so let's get to the garden update!
I went out today when we had a bit of sunlight to do the part of gardening I hate the most.  Basically I'm not an expert so I end up having to pull up a few veggies with the root vegetables to see where they are growth-wise, so I get a better idea of when I'll need to harvest them.  I always hold my breath and pray before I pull them out, hoping that everything is going okay below ground where I can't see.

The turnip I pulled was depressing.  There's definitely bug damage on the root where things have munched on the turnip while it was growing and for the size of the greens the root was still awfully small...I'm hoping that now that the weather has gotten cooler maybe I'll see better progress on root growth.  But, yeah, I'm not sure how well the turnips are actually doing overall.  At least I know if they don't do well I can go to the you pick farm and pick some, but I'm really hoping to avoid that expense. 

The carrots though I went to just thin some out and figured if I had some baby carrots I could throw them into stew and they'd be yummy.  I was REALLY surprised at the size of the carrots that were coming off of even the little greens I was pulling!  So, I'm hopeful that the carrots are jetting right along, anyway :).  I did pull the volunteer carrots from the beets and the corn patch as the carrot in the beet row was right up against a beet and I had so few beets actually germinate that I want to give the beets every opportunity to grow and the one in the corn patch was getting run over by the cat as he was going to eat grass every day so I just wanted to pull it up and give the poor thing a break *laugh*.

I also harvested a few green beans and a few peas from the garden this week as well.  And I harvested the few remaining chard plants as they were going to bolt...and they were tiny...disappointing!  All of them went into a bag in the fridge and my plan for them is to go into a beef pie next week.

So, there you are folks.  My week in a nutshell.  How did you do?

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 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 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?