Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Totally Saving Tuesday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This recap is times what, two?  Three?

It has been crazy, crazy busy around here.  But, in good ways for the most part.

It has been a madcap dash to our local mail depot to pick up package after package as school materials have come in the last few weeks.  We invested in a mail pick up service down the road from where we live so we can just go there and grab packages as they come in and that has been worth its weight in gold already.  The amount of time I have saved where I would have spent hours in line at the postal annex with two bored kids has been priceless.  Best investment I've made in a lot of years.

I went in for our contact teacher meeting to hook up the kids with home school curriculum and we found the daughter "Beyond the Page" which is a much more interactive way to learn things (which when I saw it I went, "I want THAT!  She'll do so well with that!" and I have, so far, been right) and paired that with a math program (math doesn't come with the curriculum).  With the son, that was harder as none of the "out of the box" curriculum were a good fit for him.  So, I ended up with "All About Reading" combined with beginning letter books and practice sheets, making up my own science curriculum for him as I go along and "Life of Fred" for math combined with "Touch Math" (a multi-sensory way of learning numbers) and am just basically making up my own curriculum for him, including feeding therapy.  It's been rough here and there the last week as I started to get more things done to work into the son's curriculum and the daughter and I found a groove in which to start getting her schoolwork done (her curriculum finally came in this last week :).

I went and spent more money than I ever have before at Michael's to get craft supplies for the kids for various projects.  I did, however, buy everything with a purpose in mind, so at least I wasn't randomly going in and just buying stuff :).  I was able to get a nice teacher discount at the register, since I guess I am one of those now.  Still getting used to that.

But, yeah, I'm kind of numb when it comes to how much money I've spent the last little bit.  Even though, up here anyway, we get an education allotment being in home school and I can put in for reimbursements for a lot of what I've bought, I still feel numb.  Spending large amounts of money goes so against the grain anymore, that even when I have good reason it still feels like I'm doing something wrong.  Probably not a BAD knee jerk reaction to have.

So in other news, one thing that has been able to happen the last weeks in home school is we are getting out and doing a lot more with the kids.  We don't want the kids to become shut ins at home and want to make sure they get a decent amount of social interaction and exercise.  The son has been getting a decent amount of social interaction at therapy and stuff, but we still want to make sure the kids get out and do things now.  So, I got busy finding things we could do.

So far, we have...

1.  Hit up a free event at our local experimental farm.  They ended up planting 144 different varieties of potatoes this year and did a bunch of irrigation experiments to see if it would help scab (spoiler:  It did) and now that harvest time for the potatoes were upon them, they took samples of all of the potatoes to study but they had a bumper harvest that they decided to pass onto the community if people were willing to come in and help dig the potatoes.  I IMMEDIATELY went and registered for the event as passing up free potatoes?  There was NO way I was going to miss that :).

They gave us a bag when we showed up, walked us through how the potatoes were laid out and let everyone go and pull the potatoes from the mud by hand (as we are now getting plenty of rain) and just go to work.  It was a lot of fun and everyone was polite and in a good mood, despite us all getting rained on.  The husband grabbed the kids, neither of whom wanted to help me pull potatoes and he walked them around the farm until I was done filling my bag.

My haul is seen above after I let the potatoes cure for a bit and then brushed the majority of the dried mud off of them.  Believe it or not you are looking at about 10 varieties of potatoes in that basket.

I found out that the local experimental farm tends to have free harvest events for the community after they donate a bunch to the local food banks if you are willing to show up and donate your labor, so I'm definitely keeping an eye on their events from this point onward :).

2.  Took the daughter to a free club that parental volunteers put together at the home school for kids around her age.  It was a GREAT way to get the daughter in with kids of her own age and they played a bunch of board games, did some art, talked a bunch, laughed a lot and overall had a great time.  The club meets several times a month, so I'm definitely making a point of taking the daughter to it.

3.  Took both of the kids to a free gym day for home school kids at our local Sports Center.  The daughter especially had a blast, but the regular gym class that the gym was pushing would have cost a fortune out of the kid's allotments to join (400.00 a quarter), so we passed on it for now.  We figure if we have money left of the allotment later in the year and the kids are going nuts we might sign them up for a quarter and get them extra exercise, but for now we decided to pass.

4.  Scheduled my daughter for a free dyslexia and learning disability screening at my son's therapy place.  I had seen online that they were going to have them at their Halloween party later in the month and texted my son's therapist (as she's also the owner) and asked her if I could schedule the daughter for testing.  She offered to do it for free this week instead, so wish us luck there.  I was able to cancel independent testing I'd scheduled elsewhere that was going to cost us 500.00 to get done (and was like me trying to pull out their teeth to get ANYTHING done in the way of sending me paperwork, giving me calls back, etc).  So, yay for finally, hopefully, finding out how to help my daughter to learn better.

5.  I was having major problems reading and so I ended up admitting defeat and scheduling an eye doctor's appointment when it got the point I couldn't read things I needed to (like receipts to double check what I'd bought at the store and things).  While cleaning out bookcases and cabinets in the den I found an old pair of prescription sunglasses that the frames were nearly brand new and decided to take them to the appointment with me in case I needed new glasses.

Good news:  My far sight is doing great and is remaining stable.

Bad news:  I needed reading glasses.

I decided to get reading glasses instead of bifocals because I can still read just fine to do things like drive, the only thing I can't do is read printed books without me having to find a sweet spot about two feet out from my body and that made reading fine print impossible.  I gave them my old sunglasses and asked if they could use the frames from those and they said sure!  AND they were able to make my new glasses at their own lab, so I only had to wait 15 minutes before I had my reading glasses in my hand.  Double bright side is that because I didn't need to pay the co-pay on the frames and only on the lenses I only ended up spending 25.00 on my reading glasses.  Definitely saved money!

6.  I took the kids in to get their flu shots.  They are covered by insurance so they cost us nothing and one more chore is done for the year.  Both of the kids did stellar at the appointment, which made me proud as the daughter tends to be terrified of needles.

7.  I ended up with a ton of bonus fuel rewards one week at Carrs and decided to use them at the pump instead of on food this time around as I have been doing a ton of running around to and from the home school and things.  I had so many fuel rewards from the bonus rewards (like I had 10x the fuel rewards if you spent 100.00 or more) that I was able to fill up my truck for a little more than 20.00!!!  I was thrilled!

8.  In other news, PFD's came in.  I used part of them to pay off the credit cards, pay for school supplies (things that I wanted to get, but didn't want to ask the school to reimburse me for) and used part of them to pay off my long standing dental bill that I've been paying on for YEARS.  It felt good to get at least one bill paid 100% off this year.

9.  I also used part of the PFD to get a few things we needed at the store.  Bright side is that due to the things I got earlier in the year I didn't need half as much as I would normally have needed.  I got pasta, some canned peaches (we were out actually out.  I only got 6 cans and will need to see what type of deal I can get on some bulk packages of cans), black olives and a few things like that, but overall we were pretty much stocked up on things.  It felt good to not have to spend a ton to stock up for winter this year, I have to say.

10.  I got the new love seat put together and got the old one ready to go to the dump, so that felt good.  Since the love seat ended up being white more than "cream" as they said it would be, I felt really glad that I bought a slipcover from Amazon (it was cheaper than through Target and had really good reviews) and put it right onto the love seat when I put it together.  The slipcover fits so well I swear it was made for our particular love seat so I went and ordered another one in a different color from Amazon so I will have a second one to put on the love seat when I am washing one of them (best possible way to assure that the new love seat stays in decent shape, I think).

11.  I found that I could listen to the soundtrack to "Poldark" through Amazon Prime, which thrilled me when I found out that a lot of the songs that were sung on the show were part of the soundtrack.  The daughter and I have been having a good time listening to the soundtrack during snack time and things while we are working on schoolwork.

12.  I've been watching horror movies and Halloween themed things since well...it's October and all and I got to see a pretty decent documentary on how we got some of our Halloween traditions and myths and just the general history of the holiday.  The daughter actually enjoyed it more than I did, which surprised me and made me happy that she was enjoying learning about things.

I also watched, "The Woman in Black" a horror movie starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.  I didn't dislike the movie, but having watched some truly spooky and just out and out scary horror movies in my time (might I suggest the classic, "The Changeling" starring George C. Scott if you ever want to sleep with the lights on for a few days *laugh*) the movie was so slow getting started I nearly gave up on it.

For fun I also watched, "Clue" a movie that I have seen tons in my time and I NEVER cease to laugh while watching.  The daughter especially loved Tim Curry in it.

13.  I used a coupon I received in the e-mail to get money off of some Christmas gifts from Land's End for the daughter and son and was able to get free shipping with said code as well, no minimum purchase.  I was really thrilled to get the discount and the free shipping as it really made the clothing and shoes I got for the kids (including some new winter boots for the daughter) decently cheap.

14.  I also took advantage of an online sale at Target.com that if you bought 50.00 in toys you would get 10.00 off.  Since I spent over 35.00 I got free shipping (I made sure all the items I bought qualified before buying them) and essentially got a 10.00 toy for free after the sale.  Since with our schedule and the fact that I have at least one kid home for the most part now (with the exception of club meetings and other outings) I figure buying Christmas gifts online was the best possible option, I am really happy to stumble across good deals when I find them to help keep the costs down.

15.  One of the things that our new home school is great at is doing various field trips, but with a lot of kids in our area enrolled in said home school, our local field trips tend to fill up FAST.  I was having no luck signing up for the ones that popped up when we first signed up with the home school, but once I got my e-mail through the home school and talked to the field rep who told me she always posts up field trips on first thing Monday morning in her e-mail, I am totally on it.  So far, I have been able to sign up for my daughter and my mother-in-law to go and see a stage play next year for super cheap compared to normal prices (the theater is doing a special showing just for the home school at an extreme ticket discount).  I'm super excited for my daughter as I know she really loves plays and the ballet and things and she will have a blast at the event :).

And there you go folks.  Some of the ways we've saved money the last bit.  I hope your money saving efforts have been going well too.  I DO have plans to get back onto a more regular blogging schedule now that we are finally getting into a decent rhythm when it comes to school, so stay tuned for that, hopefully really soon :).

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Please Excuse Our Mess!  We Are Under Construction!

I looked at the date on my last post and feel terrible that it has been so long since I last blogged.  It's just been so crazy busy around here that time has passed at warp speed.  Or so it seemed to me.

Geez, what has been going on around here.  Lots.

So, let's start from the first things that pop into my mind.

One of the big ones, for me, is...

We finally have a working chimney!!!!!!!!!!!  Woohoo!!!!!!

The past couple of weeks my husband has been burning the candle at both ends getting the chimney done and the furnace up and working again and it was so awesome to fire it up.  It is making more noise than it used to (I desperately need to deep clean the furnace and we might have to jack it up to get it more level as I think the earthquake knocked it off of some shims it had under it.  It's doing its job, though, so I'm happy :).

The second thing that has been going on is that we are still not officially starting home school yet.  It has been a crazy last few weeks going to one appointment after another, one meeting after another and getting the paperwork all in and processed to begin home school officially.  With Alvah being special needs the process takes a lot longer with the sheer amount of paperwork attached to him.

And then, long story, but after a lot of talking and a lot of soul searching and then more talking with the daughter, we finally decided to home school her as well.  She has a lot of holes in her education that you could drive a truck through and struggles with math and reading.  I've tried to get her tested for learning disabilities, but the school has always said that since she wasn't flunking they weren't overly concerned about it.  Even though she still has letter reversal and other problems going on.  I was going to go and get her independently tested as she's behind in reading and math, but I was going to keep her in school for social interaction.

And then she was listening as my husband and I were talking about the field trips and other get togethers that the home school does on a regular basis and asked if she was homeschooled could she go to those get togethers and make friends.  I was confused and drilled her about her friends that she had kept since elementary school that were in school with her now and in some cases were in classes with her and she explained that she never really got to talk to her friends or do anything with them because of the way the school was run.  That scratched my brain and I remembered talking to her about her friends and how they were doing more than once, only to have her tell me that she had eaten alone at lunch because she couldn't find any of her friends even if she was in the same lunch as them and stuff.  I realized very quickly that my little girl had been really lonely since she had left elementary school  (which she also explained after we got her to open up about it) and had been toughing out the feelings of social isolation so she wouldn't bother us with stuff like that.  At that point we were done and enrolled her in home school last week.  I go in this coming week to order curriculum for the kids with their contact teacher (which I already got Alvah a really good reading program called "All About Reading" and stuff, but am looking forward to the help with putting together a learning program for Armina).

I have been working on researching everything and working on learning "units" for the kids so I can teach both kids with similar topics on the surface but then go in different paths to better teach their different needs.   I'm actually kind of enjoying it.  I'm determined we are going to learn, yes, but we're going to have fun while doing it!  And I'm incorporating cooking lessons and feeding therapy into their lessons, so both kids will pick up life skills (I hope) while we are learning about standard and metric measurements and mainstream schoolwork types of things :).

Right that leads into the next thing that has been going on which is that I had to think of a place to set up a school room area that the kids could concentrate in.  I immediately realized that the den was the best, and only really, choice to do it, so I've been working on repairing the walls and ceiling and then repainting the den.

This is a huge undertaking for painting and things as the den is pretty much the same size as my kitchen and living room combined and is our catch all room, so it's got a lot of stuff to move around.  After painting is done we are going to get rid of the falling apart couch, get rid of some other stuff and then build bookcases everywhere to turn the den into a library and school room.  Bright side, I'm nearly done on the painting end!  So, yay for that!!!

Now that both kids are home, I've been waking up early the past few days and getting as much done as I can before the kids wake up for the day, which has helped me to get painting done or household jobs before I have to worry about juggling other things.  I'm hoping to keep up the schedule (which is kind of hard as I've been staying up really late too), as I find I like the alone time to get things written down for the day or other things and, of course, just getting more stuff done period.

Right, so a few frugal things that have happened the last couple of weeks.  I'm just going to cover a couple and see about going into more detail, perhaps this coming Friday as there's a lot going on around here and I haven't had time to make a list of it all.

1.  I took advantage of a free event in our area and we went and took a walking tour of our local experimental farm.  The son had a blast, the daughter got cold and was having a hard time concentrating (the temps were in the 30's and there was a lot of standing around and listening, so your ears and nose got cold if you weren't moving and then her feet got cold and she was cold by the end of the tour for sure), I learned a lot and got excited about some of the stuff they were working on, the husband had a good time as well.  While there I learned of another free event happening this week that I've already signed up to attend.

2.  I went and looked at a few places before purchasing some school things for the kids so I would get the best price.

3.  I found some textbooks I wanted to buy for myself on feeding therapy (I couldn't find anything at the local library in the vein I wanted) and asked on a Special needs group I belong to if anyone had a copy of the books I could borrow.  One of the ladies in the group had both books I wanted to read and was super kind enough to convert the books to PDF and e-mail them to me!

4.  We got to start swimming again the last few weeks.  The kids are loving being back again and I'm super glad that the son hasn't lost any skills while we were on break.

While talking to her swimming teacher my husband found that she is going to have a "boot camp" for people interested in becoming lifeguards where they will learn CPR and things.  My husband, knowing how much my daughter loves to swim and how much she loves to teach others, brought up how good of a job being a lifeguard is again to the daughter.  Their swimming teacher, who considers the daughter one of her favorite people, offered to let her come to the boot camp for free and learn CPR and just see what the program is like so she's informed for the future.  We're really encouraging the daughter to go if for no other reason than knowing how to do CPR (even if not certified or anything) is a really valuable skill to know.  And to learn it for free would definitely be worthwhile!

5.  One of the things I found that I really wanted to get the son for homeschool was a device that integrates technology and it called for an I-Pad or a Kindle.  I didn't want to use his talker I-Pad for it and our other I-Pad is way too old to be compatible, so I decided to get a Kindle and was able to jump on a sale where the Fire 7 was on sale for 29.99.

6.   I made banana bread tonight to use up a couple of bananas that were definitely over ripe.  The daughter was at a friend's birthday party with her dad and the son acted interested in what I was doing, so he helped me make banana bread :).  He even smelled the bananas!!!  I know a lot of people would be like, "Smelling?  Really?" but seriously with him just letting it near his face was a big deal, so I am super happy and proud of him.  And hey, the bread came out awesome, so well done, Alvah!

And, yeah, that's about where I'm going to call it good.  Sorry I don't have more to wow you with, but it's been crazy busy around here just covering the few projects I mentioned above.

How about you all?  How are things going around your places?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Frugal...Um...Wednesday! Money Saving Weekly Recap

Okay, first I gotta admit I don't remember how long it has been since I posted up a recap, so I'm just going to go with what has happened lately and go from there :).

Well, the first big news that I can share is a big first for me.  I am in the process of enrolling my son in home school.  The change wasn't something I just came up with on the spot or anything, but things have fallen into place in a way that I was finally convinced to make the leap.  The biggest thing that helped push me over the top was that his therapist started her own home school tutoring program where you can bring in your home schooling curriculum and the kids work in basically a classroom together during as long of a school day as you'd like them to work, but each student is one on one with a therapist and they work on therapy AND school work together.  This all the while they are working on your custom made home schooling curriculum.  That is so much like what I've been wanting for my son for a long time now as I know how bright he is, but in his current class environment I felt like he was just kind of stagnating, so this new way of doing things might very well help him to break out of his shell more.  Which would be a wonderful thing indeed.

I'll be home schooling him at home as well as them working with him at therapy, so I'm hoping between the two environments we'll be able to push him in a new, and good, direction.  Wish me luck there!  I'm scared, but excited at the same time :).

In other news, despite back to school germs and things hitting the kiddos, we have been getting stuff done around the house and things, which I'm feeling pretty good about, I have to admit.  I'll get more into what I'm working on in my monthly goals post, but yeah...it feels good to be getting things done and accomplished.  Baby steps truly do add up to big steps once they are all added together :).

So, yeah, let's share more good news shall we?

The husband got the bottom half of the chimney on last week!  He's still got to put flashing up around where the chimney went through the roof, but yay for getting there!!!

We are finally getting the rain that would have normally fallen in August any other year, which has definitely been helping to get the wildfires under control, which was wonderful news for everyone around here.  I've never seen so many Alaskans thrilled at rain falling from the sky before.  I've been doing what I can for food drives and others things in the area to help aid victims of the fires as a bunch of people have lost their homes to the fires, especially in the Talkeetna area.

So, now that I've shared a bit of local news, let's get to the money saving things that have happened the last bit!

1.  Well, we got the Halloween decorations put up last week.  With the husband's work schedule, I found that he doesn't get to celebrate Halloween much with the family before it's just over (it's hard to watch movies with the family when you work nights and all) and since Halloween is one of his favorite holidays, I figured two months of Halloween decorations would definitely be a good idea.  We put up the same Halloween decorations we put up every year, but with the few new editions from drawings or projects the kids did last year, so that was fun :).  We ended up retiring a few decorations that just died due to age or whatever, but overall, it's looking pretty Halloween-y.  Well, upstairs anyway.  I'm figuring on doing the big open main part of the house last when it comes to painting (since it's all going to be white), so I figure putting the decorations up there will save me from having to take decorations down and putting them back up later on *laugh*.  A shot of some of the decorations are seen up top :).

2.  I noticed that the living room curtains were pretty much officially dead.  Between just age on them and then having the electric heat going all winter last year, it seemed that the curtains didn't take it well and were all discolored on the bottom because of it.  I tried taking a few things to them to see if I could shift the stains, but they didn't budge, so between that and the big blind in the living room having issues due to probably age, I figured I'd have to try and find some thicker and better looking curtains for the living room.

Now mind you, I have searched for YEARS at the used stores for curtains that would fit this window as the window is huge and hadn't had much luck, so I was kind of resigned that I would have to buy panels full price and flinch while I did it.  I dropped off a bunch of donations at the used store last week and decided to stop in really fast to see if I could find anything on my list of things I needed and I hit major pay dirt!!!!  I found some nice, thick, machine washable curtains and between the four panels they had the curtains would fit the window!!!!  Oddly, probably due to different employees finding the curtains at different times, the curtains had four different price tags and four different measurements on them (I ended up doing a crude "move the curtains through my arms after putting them together to see if they were the same" test and found that all four panels were the same size...whatever that size happened to be in the end).  I took them to the front and the gal decided to give me the curtains for the cheapest price tag on all of the panels!  So, I was able to get all four panels for less than 20.00!!!  And they are in brand new shape!!!  I was more than a little thrilled =D.

And the various shades of gold and things in the curtains goes with the house and furniture well, which was a double bonus!  A close up of the curtain pattern is seen above there, but the curtains are actually dark brown, not medium brown.  The only way I could get the circles to pop was to lighten the picture :).

I did hem the curtains by about four inches to get them off of the floor and such, but I was really happy with that purchase.

3.  I mended two shirts, a pair of pants and a comforter.

4.  My sister-in-law gave us a bunch of clothes that no longer fit or were not to her husband's taste.  As a result we got a bunch of men's jeans in brand new shape and I got a few shirts and some jeans that fit me well as well :).  I will have to hem some of the pants to fit my husband a bit better, but it was definitely a nice windfall!

5.  My step mom sent me another pinata box.  The most welcome thing in it was some hats and a scarf that she crocheted for the kids.  The kids have been growing like weeds of late and had outgrown a bunch of winter hats and things and I was wondering if I was going to have to get some yarn and knit them some new ones, so that was not only really cool of her, but it also saved me a bunch of work :). 

6.  So, I mentioned on my last post about more things breaking.  Well, this time it had nothing to do with the earthquake...least I don't think it is.  The numerous repairs I've done on the love seat and the couch downstairs over the years were just finally not enough and the pieces of furniture just decided to start self destructing on me to the point that I wasn't going to be able to repair them (support wood is cracking and things...not pretty).  I was so worried that I was going to have spend a ton of money to replace said furniture because we definitely use it and I was stressing about the debt I was going to accumulate as I couldn't find any great deals locally.  Until my mom, bless her, turned me onto Target.com and I found, awesomely enough that Target will ship a bunch of stuff, EVEN UP HERE, for free if you spend 35.00 or more!!!  So, I have a love seat, bought on clearance and a couple of club chairs (which will replace the couch downstairs and hopefully give us more room in the den) getting delivered by the end of the month (with some generosity on my family's part as well for ordering some things for me) and for a lot cheaper than if they had been purchased through a store up here.  Hopefully it is furniture that will last a while :).

7.  Here's a tip for people trying to save a few pennies.  I NEVER go through my virus scan to renew for the coming year.  I always go through Amazon and see what a download of said software costs (and in the case of mine I just purchase the new "software package" and then just get the new product key, input it into my software and I'm good for another year) and go that route.  Better still try not to buy new virus software at the beginning of the year, but toward the end of the year.  The virus scan will update when you purchase it and you'll pay a LOT less than if you buy it as a new release at the beginning of the year.  So, I needed to renew my virus scan, went through Amazon for my new product key and saved myself 100.00 in the process.  Just wanted to pass that along.

8.  Carrs gave me some awesome deals the last bit, mainly through giving me tons of bonus gas rewards points.  Like they gave me 10x the gas rewards points a few weeks in a row and I accumulated a ton of them, so I cashed in a bunch and got some cool free groceries.  I got:

A free gallon of ice cream
A free package of breakfast sausages
A free container of sour cream
A free thing of cream cheese
A free loaf of whole wheat bread

The ice cream and the sausages were put into the downstairs freezer so they didn't make the photo :).  The half and half is in the picture because Carrs gave me a personalized price on it of .85 this week!  I was thrilled to be able to add half and half to my coffee again and in a way that fit my budget!

We are also eating a ton of bananas this month as Carrs gave me a personalized price of .51 lb on them this month!  Since bananas are running .95 lb regular price up here, I am happy that banana snacking and banana bread are budget friendly this month :).  The bananas didn't fit in the picture up above, so I left them out as well *laugh*.

9.  My husband and I were at the used store one day and found another thing on my list of things we needed.  My daughter had plain outgrown her desk that she had and desperately needed something a bit bigger to do homework on and loe and behold we found a desk at the used store for 15.00!!!

My husband had to tighten up a bunch of stuff on the desk when we got home and I cleaned it really well and waxed it, but we were both thrilled with the purchase as the desk is real wood and should last for a good long time.

Course typical kid, as soon as she had a new space, she filled it *laugh*.  I ended up rearranging her room and moving the bookcase from the laundry room into her room so she had some extra space (I forgot to take a picture of that) and had to get creative storing kitchen things that used to be on the shelves in the pantry and kitchen, but I did it and now she is much happier with her room and homework environment.

10.  I've been working on repairing and patching cracks and things so that I can paint and such and was wondering how to do around the door in the den as the door, for lack of a better word, shifted in one direction in the earthquake while the wall went the other direction and both things just mutually decided to stay in their separate locations permanently.  As a result I had a pretty big crack around the door that I didn't know how to patch without some major work involved.  Studying how things had settled, though, I realized that if I took the trim off the frame of the door and moved all of the trim over that I could substantially cover the crack on the side of the door to the point that I could patch it as the door was still working okay.  So, I did.  And after a couple of tries it didn't look off kilter and worked out okay.  I repaired the crack to the point I can paint over it and we are good to go on that part of the den. 

And I'm sure there is more that I'm forgetting about, but for sure I'm going to leave it here as I need to start dinner soon.  Side note as well, I AM working on back e-mails to people, so if you have e-mailed me in the last bit and I haven't responded, be patient as an e-mail will hopefully be coming your way soon :). 

So, how have things been going with you guys?  Well, I hope?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

End of August Trip the Portage Wildlife Center (Plus, notes and updates)

Well, Happy September everyone!

I was going to just go ahead and post up a "Frugal Friday" recap post for the last...um...however long it has been, but instead of going through my crazy life at the moment, I thought I'd share something fun we were actually able to do last week.  Since the earthquake I've felt like I've been trying to play catch up on a global scale and at times failing miserably and the last bit more things have been breaking, things I'm going to have to go into debt to replace (yay more debt) and I have really found myself singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.   This part really got caught in my head (with a slight lyric change by me)...

"Is this real life?  Is this just fantasy?
 Caught in a landslide (Note:  I replace "earthquake" for "landslide"), no escape from reality"
Anyway, warped humor aside, it's been crazy around here.  My husband really wanted to take a trip, but where do you go when 90% of the state is on fire (no, seriously, the majority of the state was on fire as of last week...it's been crazy and smokey and scary...we even had a fire down our road one day which made over an acre go up before the firefighters could contain it)?  Well, my daughter really wanted to go to the zoo, smoke or no smoke, but my husband really wanted to go to the Portage Wildlife Preserve.

The day we were going to go, I checked the weather/smoke reports and found that Portage, due to a change in wind direction was going to be relatively smoke free for that day while Anchorage was supposed to be REALLY smokey (which here are some pictures showing the smoke in the Anchorage area...they don't look too bad, but keep in mind these were the only pictures that showed up on my phone with any decent resolution to them).  So the husband and I convinced the daughter to go by saying we were going to the "big zoo" instead of the "small zoo"...it worked fabulously.  But, yeah, it was smokey on the drive until we got past Anchorage.

I even tried to take a snapshot of the inlet where the smoke was thick to make a "smoke on the water" type of joke, but the pictures didn't come out.

Anyway, after a well-enjoyed-by-the-son drive we arrived at the wildlife preserve, bought our passes  and somehow found a parking spot (which was a miracle with how crowded it was).  The son immediately went, found a shady spot at the food court, sat down and didn't want to move.  Not a great way to start a trip.  In his defense the eczema on the bottom of his foot has been awful of late and he was limping from it, so I imagine the idea of walking around all day was NOT what he wanted to do.  The husband took him for a walk to see some of the animals and I guess Alvah maxed out after a few of them and wanted to go and sit in the car and play on his I-pad for a good portion of the rest of the trip.

Meanwhile the daughter and I split up from the son and husband team and went looking at the animals...

We had obviously gotten there at feeding time because the porcupine kept trying to show everyone its empty food bowl.

It was really up close and personal and would give me great photogenic poses...until I would click the picture.  So, I did my best *laugh*.

The poor black bear was panting and just wanted some water.  It was very personable and really wanted someone to feed it or give it a drink.  They were coming up with the equipment to feed it as we were leaving, so I was happy to see it would get relief from its predicament.

I'm honestly amazed that so many of my photos came out.  I was using my phone and it was so bright that I couldn't see ANYTHING when trying to focus my camera when taking photos.  Sometimes it worked out well (like above) and other times I had mixed success...

If you look WAYYYY at the top of the photo you can make out part of two brown bears.  I got a great shot of a tree though *laugh*.

Some animals were nicer than others about getting their picture taken.  The moose refused to pop out of the barn and parked himself against the wall so you couldn't get a picture of him if you tried.  The reindeer stayed in their barn and weren't coming out in the sun and heat for anything.  The guys above were just kind of "meh" about life in general, but were at least out in the open.
The wolves tried their best to remain hidden in the weeds as they slept.  Not the best picture since I had to focus in so far to get them to pop out from the weeds, but hey, I found them!  It was like a grown up game of "Where's Waldo" with a lot of the animals.  The arctic fox alluded me completely even with a nice gentleman trying his best to point out its tail in the rocks to me.
We checked out a few more of the animals and then, finally not able to find the husband or the son anywhere, called to find out where we could meet up with them.

We found them over by a boardwalk that led to a nice walkway overlooking the inlet.  From the information boards I guess you can whale watch from the platform during high tide, but we were definitely there during low tide during a really dry year, so all we really got to see was a bit of water over lots of mud.

This was BY FAR the son's favorite part of the trip.  The wind had picked up a bit and started blowing wild growing grass around (which my son loves things like that) and he loved the play of the water over the mud.  I think we spent about an hour on that stretch of boardwalk with the son running back and forth laughing and having a great time while we chased him to make sure he stayed safe and didn't try to get down to the water or something.

I even got a good shot of the glacier from a different angle up the mountains.  I was totally mean and quizzed my daughter on glacial advancement and what the different parts of the glacier were called as we looked at it.  I was happy that I actually remembered so much of it...my daughter wasn't as thrilled with my memory *laugh*.

The husband the the daughter then took a side trip while I waited in the car with Alvah and warmed myself up (the wind was colder than I thought it would be and I hadn't brought my coat to walk around) to go and see the remains of Earthquake Park.  Earthquake Park is an area where during the 1964 quake an entire town had sank into the ground and had been abandoned.  The remnants of the town have been around ever since and they made "earthquake park" around it.  Unfortunately we checked for the remains of buildings that even I had seen when I first moved up here, but the buildings are pretty much gone, rotted, decayed and fallen in.  All that was left was pictures on the information board for the most part.  The husband was disappointed there wasn't more to see, but was able to explain to my daughter about the severity of the earthquake and things that had happened during it.  He even shared with her stories of his grandparents being in the J.C. Penney building in Anchorage during the 1964 quake (the building lost a side in the earthquake).  She was suitably impressed and we talked a bit about our own earthquake experiences on the way home, which was good for her to work through some of the trauma she's still dealing with on and off by talking through it.

Overall, I think the kids had fun on the trip, the husband probably didn't have as much fun as I would have liked (but did enjoy his buffalo bratwurst he got himself for the ride home) and I had a pretty good time.  I'd like to go back again and hopefully get some better pictures next time :).

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times...whatever)

First, I want to thank everyone who has written me the last few days to make sure I'm alive and to apologize for not getting back to you.  I'll e-mail you back as soon as I have time to breathe regularly again.

It has been crazy the last few weeks around here.  And, unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of good that came out of it.

Let's start with the top photo shall we?

Our small block freezer died and took a bunch of food with it.  That was not a good day.  The bright side to that train wreck is that I was eating down our freezers and had transferred most of the meat out of the small freezer into our larger standing freezer downstairs.  So, at least we didn't lose tons of meat.  Enough to make things depressing for sure, but not enough to justify a nervous breakdown.  I was able to save a few things from the near bottom of the freezer that were sitting on top of the bag of ice left over from when our ice maker died and we had ham for a few meals (since it was a whole ham it didn't defrost too much), my husband had a steak for lunch at work that night and we had tacos for dinner that night instead of the pork chops I had planned on.  We also had some Otter Pops in the freezer for when the husband or the daughter get sick as they like them for sore throats and since they were in plastic tubs we dumped the entire lot into the bathtub with some hot soapy water, washed them all really well and then dried them before putting them into new freezer bags and placing them in the freezer downstairs.

In the money saving department, I quickly decided to not replace the freezer and am just going with what else we have around the house.  I'd rather save the 200.00+ a new one would cost to save for the next thing that breaks.

In other news we are developing our own junkyard out on our back deck as things just seem to keep breaking around here.  I'm getting tired of it.

The other things that broke were my son's old rocker recliner and my husband's recliner.  Mind you they were both old.  We got the son's chair used and had repaired it multiple times, but it was still a recliner from the 80's.  The husband's chair we had bought new when my daughter was a baby, so it's over a decade old now and it has been used hard over the years.  The earthquake was just too much for the son's chair after it got an entire bookcase of stuff dumped on top of it and buried it, I think.  I thought there was only a main spring in the rocker that needed to be replaced but when I started looking at it I realized that it was one of many problems, including springs popping through the upholstery and things, so I finally realized we had to replace it.  I couldn't not replace it as the son has become dependent on that chair over the years for sensory stimulation.  So, we went to our local furniture clearance outlet and ended up getting two floor model recliners (it saved us even more money buying the floor models) that had a few small imperfections.  They don't match at all, but the son is happy with his rocker recliner that swivels 360 degrees and the husband has a recliner he can sit in with the kids again without someone getting hurt and supports his back, which he needs.  The son's new chair (seen above) I am counting as personal property replacement on the disaster loan, but the husband's chair was already splitting and having multiple problems before the quake, so that one I put on credit and am paying it off.  The husband took the old chairs to the dump last week as they were in too bad of shape to donate to a used store (we did ask them, though).

The next thing that has been going on is that the son came down with a stomach bug with staying power.  It's all lower intestinal problems so far, but I ended up sleeping upstairs for a good week out of necessity to be able to jump up when the son would need help and I'll be bedding down upstairs again tonight, unfortunately.  School starts tomorrow...I'm seriously wondering if the son is going to make it.  Not a good start to the school year.  Sigh.

Then there was my Prime Day order with Amazon.  I am so fed up with Amazon at the moment that I'm not ordering anything from them unless I absolutely can not find it locally, no matter how much more it will cost me buying it local.  Stick a fork in me.  I'm done.

Amazon shipped my Prime Day orders in one box...a big one I'm assuming as it had pillows, lights, toys and other things for the kids for Christmas and such.  The package hit the internal Amazon shipping lanes in Kentucky and then proceeded to disappear off the face of the planet.  I ended up having to call Amazon who then replaced nothing in my order, pretty much, because it was Prime Day deals and they couldn't match the prices on the replacements.  So, refunds again.

I then sat down and ordered things as close as I could to the Prime Day things I had gotten, trying to keep within the budget of those items as I didn't really want to spend more than what I had already spent.  And Amazon shipped me items that had been obviously opened, leaking (I ordered a small paint set for my daughter) and a mess.  I ordered a 12 pack of 1 subject notebooks for school on an Amazon warehouse deal as the price was good enough that I wouldn't have to go to the store for notebooks and would still get about the same price for the notebooks.  I got a pack of 8, not 12.  Refunds again.

After that entire sequence of events I'm just determined to get what I can locally for gifts this year and if I can't find it locally I won't be ordering it from Amazon.  I'm done with them unless I can't find it anywhere else and it is worth the gamble that I'll actually get the darned things I order in decent shape.

Oh and Amazon had me send back the opened and leaking paint set and the notebooks, which I could understand the notebooks but was baffled by the paints.  I didn't get my refund back until, believe it or not, the big box of Prime Day orders that was out in limbo finally hit the postal system and USPS sent the box back to Amazon.  As soon as they received that yesterday suddenly my refunds are going through.  Between that and the one Amazon associate I had to deal with trying to get my order replaced when it originally got lost and his attitude like I was stealing from them...I am ticked.  Pure and simple.

I've been burning the candle at both ends and that candle is broken into about sixteen pieces of late.  I'm tired and my son hasn't been sleeping well, but I'm still having to function like a human being.  I'm stressed and trying to get things done around the house so at least we are making forward progress on our disaster loan things we have to get done.  Doing that stretches my back in weird ways so I end up hurting on the nights when I'm actually able to get some sleep.  It hasn't been a lot of fun, but it's getting done whether it likes it or not.

For instance, I got the master bathroom repainted.  We sat down and realized that our home just has too many design elements from the 70's in it (which is when the majority of it was built) and we finally decided to just go with it instead of trying to make an old home look modern that would just end up looking weird in the end.

So, the master bathroom got to be painted burnt orange.  I know, it sounds odd (and might look a bit in the pictures), but the orange looks really good in there!  It goes with the floor well and the real upper to the color is that the light in the bathroom has improved about 18 bazillion times.  Don't worry.  I'm not going to go crazy with avocado green anywhere.  I swear *laugh*.

While I was painting I repaired the shower.  I had to adhere tiles that had pretty much come off the wall by the bath tub there and then I dapped/caulked around the tiles after I stuck them back to the wall so that the tiles would be protected from mold.  The sheet rock was cracked along the baseboard and the paint had started to come off from the wall in a few places, but I managed to repair it and make it look pretty good I think.  We still have to hang up new hardware in this bathroom, but overall I'm happy with how it turned out as there was a lot of nails to put back into the walls  and a lot of cracks to deal with.  I REALLY need to remember to take more before and after pictures just for the sake of having a record and making me realize how much I really did get done in each room, but hey I remember to take a couple of pics of the kitchen before I started on it (that's my newest work in progress)...

Sneak peak of one of the cracks.

Anyway, I think that gets us somewhat up to speed when it comes to our lives around here.  So, let's get to a few things I did to save money the last, what, three weeks?

1. I made the mistake of washing the kid's shower curtain again.  Every time I did that I'd forget that the thing would shrink EVERY SINGLE TIME you washed it and this time it got short enough that I wasn't too keen on putting it back up.  So, instead of going out and buying a new shower curtain and rug, I went and raided my closet to see what I had put away for spares.  I found a tan bathroom rug (that is now downstairs in the master bathroom) and the old striped shower curtain I had in my master bathroom for a while.  So, I put the shower curtain up in the kid's bathroom (sorry for the pic with all the wrinkles in it...they steamed out pretty fast with everyone taking showers upstairs while I painted the bathroom downstairs) and then took the dark grey rug from my master bathroom, replaced it with the larger tan one, and put the dark grey on in the kid's bathroom instead.  I think, overall, everything works okay together and I didn't have to spend a dime to get there, so I'm happy.

2.  Carrs had blueberries on sale for 5.00 per two pound container.  Since blueberries were one of the things I lost in the freezer dying, which depressed me, I was happy to find them for that price and got three containers.  I now have enough blueberries for a while to make things like blueberry muffins with, so that was a good purchase.

3.  Carrs had a bunch of different things you could buy with gas rewards this month and they had given me four times the normal amount of gas rewards one week so with our two week shopping trip I got like 11 fuel rewards.  I cashed in some of them to get a free gallon of milk, a free pound of butter (which I needed both) and 7.00 worth of meat (which I got some chicken and steaks on reduced with it) and still had enough fuel rewards left that my husband was able to get a decent amount off per gallon of gas.  We were running really low on meat, so I was really happy to add more back into our stores.

4.  I watched a bunch of free programming on the internet, including going back and watching some episodes of "Victorian Farm", which was a nice distraction from a sore back as I was trying to sleep on the love seat in the living room when the son kept stealing my makeshift bed I made on his floor.

5.  As the son has battled the stomach bug, instead of running out every time I think he might be better and getting new toothbrush heads, I instead have been just sticking the heads in boiling water to sterilize them.  Since they are nearly brand new I figure this will be a good way to get us through without reinfecting ourselves until he's officially over it and I can replace the toothbrush heads for sure.

6.  The daughter's Kindle stopped playing Prime videos for some reason and we tried trouble shooting it with Amazon to no avail.  I finally talked it over with the daughter and we just reformatted the Kindle back to factory defaults.  That fixed it and stopped me from having to buy, yet another, new Kindle.

7.  I cleaned out my e-mail and managed to get the thousands and thousands of junk mail messages out of the e-mail.  It's nice being able to log in to the e-mail to a whopping 30 mail messages you have to go through and delete off before your inbox is clean again.

8.  I had my daughter go through her school supplies from last year.  We cleaned her old pink erasers really well, got binders relabeled and checked lead levels in her mechanical pencils and things.  I doubt we saved a ton of money doing that, but we did save some money, the daughter is happy with how things look and I'm happy we saved some pennies.

9.  I read some books through the Gutenberg project for free.

10.  When trying to figure out colors for the rooms in the house I went online and found that Sherwin Williams had an online paint simulator where you could see what the paint would actually look like on walls when it was done.  After the upstairs bathroom I was happy to find it and was curious to how accurate it would be when I did the downstairs bathroom, but am happy to report it worked well and the paint came out looking like it did online.  I'm going to be curious to see if the rest of the paints come out with a similar level of success as the master bathroom.

11.  My vacuum cleaner started having some major issues the last week and I was really worried I would have to go and get a new vacuum somewhere.  My husband stopped by the Kirby store in town and found that we could get ours serviced and get all of the replacement parts that we know we need right now 150 to 200.00.  Since a new vacuum would cost that or more and I'd have to gamble on the new vacuum not dying on me in a year or so (I have TERRIBLE luck with store bought vacuum cleaners.  I even ended up getting refunded for a couple under lemon laws my luck was so bad) and this vacuum has lasted about a decade with constant use and abuse, I'm going to gamble on getting the Kirby serviced and pray that it will fix it and bring it back up to snuff.

I am sure there is more in there that I plain forgot as I'm writing this as things are nagging the back of my mind, but I passed tired about two weeks ago and my brain is pretty much shot by this point.  If I remember some other things I'll snap some pictures and do some recaps, but for now I'm going to call it good and try to get the daughter to bed since she has school tomorrow.

So, yeah, I hope you guys have had a decent run of time since the last blog post and have great things to report :).  How did your three week stint go?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Totally Saving Tuesday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (x2)

Okay, since it's Tuesday it would TECHNICALLY be times 3, but I'm calling it two as I'm hoping to get another Frugal Friday post up this Friday, so it'll all work out in the end.  *Messes around with beads on abdictus* yeahhhh...we'll go with that *laugh*.

Anyway, what have we been up to the last few weeks.  TONS would be the short answer.  Some good, some bad.  So, let's break it down.

First there has been my husband's health, which has been crazy of late.  First he went to the free clinic that his union provides to get his ankle checked out.  He'd folded his other ankle when he was climbing off of a ladder, so he was worried he'd hurt the other leg somehow, but found out that basically he's getting older and just needs better inserts in his shoes.  While he was there, however, they took his blood pressure and it was pretty darned high.  He felt fine, though, so the doctor on duty told him to go home, wait a day, take his blood pressure and if it was still high to go and see our family doctor.

Well, in short he checked his blood pressure as directed and it was still really high, so he went into our family doctor.  He then told the doctor all of the things I'd implemented to keep our diet decently low in sodium and the doctor pretty much told him "congratulations, you're a victim of genetics" and put him on blood pressure medication.  Which, after messing with the dosage the last couple of weeks, I think we are on the right track and his blood pressure is doing a lot better.  Bright side as well is that they did a bunch of blood work on the husband and found that his cholesterol and sugar levels were good, so all of the effort I've put into keeping our diet decently healthy seems to be working :).

Then last week rolled around and the husband woke up on Wednesday to find one of his eyes all swollen up.  He tried Benadryl and that didn't seem to do much, so he went back to the doctor to find out what was going on with it.  The doctor was pretty sure it was allergies, but put him on antibiotic drops just in case there was an infection.  It seems like his eye is finally doing better *knock on wood*, so hopefully we're on the mend with that.

Then there was the home front stuff on top of that.  I went downstairs one night to see the cats doing their best to dig through the walls at the bottom of the stairs.  I was kind of confused at first, but when I went into the laundry room I found the distinctive pile of mouse droppings.  I looked and sure enough there was a hole around where the stairs met the floor at the bottom of the staircase.  I immediately went and shoved aluminum foil into every gap and hole I could find, much to the vexation of my cats.  The next day I went outside to try and figure out how the buggers were getting in this time.  Well, I definitely found it.  The earthquake really moved the front of our house, I guess, and the front porch acted as added weight to move the house back and forth.  As a result under the front porch, where the mice got in last year, was woefully unprotected.  The brick I had put over the hole had moved a good foot off of the hole, the aluminum foil, though, was in place.  The biggest problem, though, was that the foil was now useless as there is a good sized gap between the dirt and the foundation where the earth had gotten compacted forward during the earthquake.  I went and grabbed gravel and filled up the hole down as far as I could around the ground wire hole (where they had gotten in last year) and planted the brick over it, but otherwise there isn't a whole lot I can do at the moment as we have fencing around the bottom of the porch with gaps just large enough for me to fit my arm through, but I can't reach as far as I need to to fill in the gap that developed.  So, I did the best I could and will make sure to be vigilant looking for any telltale signs of mice.

Bright side is that I DID go in and look around the pantry and didn't find any evidence that the evil disease ridden creatures were getting into the pantry at all, so at least the steel wool and aluminum foil are doing their job so far.  For the time being, however, the door to the pantry is wide open so the cats have full access to ANYTHING that they might need to deal with.  I'm taking no chances.

There was also my truck.  The service engine soon light has been on in the truck pretty much since the moment we bought it as we have a fuel vapor leak in the truck somewhere.  It hasn't been a problem in the truck running, but it does make the service engine soon light come on and stay on.  Then we went to go out last week and the truck just ran awful and now the service engine soon light was blinking.  Not good.  The husband went and plugged in his code reader and found that the 8th cylinder was misfiring.  He then started trouble shooting the problem, found it was the coil, went and got parts and fixed the truck.  We spent about 65.00 between the part and buying a testing device for the coil, but if we had brought the truck to a garage we would have paid at least 100.00 just to diagnose the problem.  Once again I'm so thankful to have a husband who knows how to do things :).

So, yeah, this is definitely going to be a year where I'm going to be trying to figure out how to access our health reimbursement account through our health insurance as I'm going to need it to pay for all of the medical bills that will be coming down the pike.

1.  And then there was my big project over the last couple of weeks.  I've been really kind of frustrated and helpless feeling that I can't help the husband with the chimney and I kept trying to figure out how to help him get things done as we have so much to do.  So, I figured I could take a nail set around the house, start nailing nails back into the ceilings and walls, patching the holes and then start painting one room at a time.  So, this week it was the bathroom.  Since I'm the one painting, I'm picking the colors.  Bwahahahaha!  When we bought the house the entire house was white inside and textured.  I hate textured walls by the way.  Anyway, I made sure that the rooms for both kids were painted before we moved in as I wanted to them to feel like the rooms belonged to them, but when it came to the rest of the house everything remained white.  I'm still going to be stuck with the main part of the house being white as it's such a wide open area I really don't have much of a choice, but I figured I could at least paint the other rooms.

So, I went and nailed all of the nails back into the walls and ceiling, sealed up the cracks in the drywall (let's hear it for DAP, or bathroom rated caulk for those who don't recognize the brand) and then applied a good coat of oil based primer (basically Kilz, but the store version of it).

And might I just say that this process took FOREVER with the texture on the walls.  I ended up with two days just into putting primer on the walls.  The texture and old paint on the walls just absorbs paint, so it took a lot longer than I had hoped.

Bright side once the primer was on the paint went on great.  I had picked a light silver color.  I ended up with a blue grey color instead (why doesn't the paint ever match the color on those little sample cards?).  Bright side is that it still matched at least one shade of grey in the shower tiles and on the floor, so it worked out.

Ways I saved money while doing this project?

  • I did the work myself instead of hiring a contractor to do it.
  • We got a discount on our painting supplies by getting things on sale.
  • The only brush we bought was a four inch brush and we bought some inserts for our paint roller.  Otherwise we used tools we already had around the house for everything else. 

The final color on...

And how the bathroom looks now after a good thorough deep cleaning (and scraping off of the tiny little dribbles of paint that always seem to find their way onto objects no matter how well you put down drop cloths...

We also ended up getting a new towel rack and things for the bathroom as the old ones were cheap  wood ones and were REALLY falling apart after the masses of pounding they took in the earthquake.  The vanity is also going to need to be replaced as the bottom is falling in bad since the quake (not sure why, but it was cheap to begin with as well).  I screwed the vanity back tight to the wall again and then took an oak board I had and put it across the bottom of the vanity so I could at least put things under the sink again without them trying to fall down into the middle.

2.  I went out and foraged in the yard and did find we had a few raspberry bushes actually produce some raspberries (more is the miracle with how low they got chopped down by the moose last year).

I picked enough for the daughter to have a small snack and while I was out I picked some rhubarb and some wildflowers.

3.  I attempted to make Old Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake with the rhubarb I picked.  Attempted should be the word of the day there.  I was distracted by my kids.  My daughter forgot how to do everything on her own but breathe, so it seemed and the son was running around like a maniac, dumped a DVD into my cake batter...it was nuts.  So, I read the recipe completely wrong and put the cornstarch and sugar concoction on the fruit instead of over the batter (I'm sure my mind went to pie making and was like, "Right, rhubarb pie filling on the bottom...").  Turns out if you do that you end up with an odd tasting rhubarb cobbler instead of a cake.  So, now you know.  Anyway, I ate a bunch of it myself as my family wasn't keen on eating it, but I did find the almond extract to be overpowering in the recipe.  So, I'm going to try the recipe again, but I think I'm just going to double the vanilla extract and call it good.

3.  So, Prime Day came and went last week.  I actually, for a change, found things that I needed.  I made out a list beforehand to see if any of those items went on sale decently cheap on Amazon, and was actually able to check a few things off of my list.  I got a two pack of gel pillows (which I have one that my husband and I end up trading off, along with the down pillows and then we end up compromising on who gets what when he has his nights off) for less than 20.00, got a six pack of battery powered, motion detecting LED lights (for the pantry as one of my battery powered lights got crushed in the quake and the other one doesn't really light up the entire pantry all that great), an art kit for the daughter for Christmas and some toys for the son for Christmas as well.  I was even able to find the husband a watch that they had on special for 28.00.  I know it's not a GREAT watch by any stretch, but he hasn't had a working watch in a while, so I figured it'll do :).

I also took advantage of Prime Day sales on Seventh Generation products to get some super concentrated laundry detergent for less than 10.00 for a bottle.  It's scented, which I normally don't get, but I'm looking forward to trying it as I haven't bought scented anything in YEARS.

4.  Used shopping went well a couple of weeks ago (I am still searching for a new shower curtain for the kid's bathroom as the one we have in there right now keeps shrinking every time I wash it and it is developing holes...it's really old and I got it for free years and years ago, so I can't complain, but now I need a new shower curtain.

I did, finally, find some prints to replace the prints I had made for Alvah for his room as they got wrecked in the earthquake.  I found these really pretty sailing boat prints, so I got them and hung them up where the old prints used to be.  Since I'm thinking of going for a "things that go" type of theme for his room, I think the prints will work well in there when all is said and done.  With the race car banner I made it looks like there's a regatta going on instead of a car race, but it'll do ;).

5.  While at the used store I also ran into a nice fake plant that would fit on top of the towel cabinet in the hallway.  I was thrilled as I really wanted something like that to finish up the look of the cabinet and I could put my stereo away unless I was using it (thus saving it from getting dusty).

6.  Shopping went well this week.  I had a personalized price on Rotisserie chickens, so I took advantage of it as they were giving them to me for 5.00 a piece.  I went in and got four of them, two of which were on reduced for 50% off (who can beat 2.49 for a whole chicken????).  I put them into the freezer whole in freezer bags and will take them out when I want a quick and flavorful dinner.

There was also a coupon online that you could load to get a container of ice cream for 1.49, limit of one and while at the store getting milk I got a coupon that printed off at the register for 1.25 off of the new style of ice cream for Carrs (the not-quite-half-gallon size).  I combined the coupons together at check out to get a thing of ice cream for .24!  Yeah!!!

Just4U also offered me a free box of blueberry Cheerios this week, so I picked those up yesterday as well when I went to get groceries.  My husband refuses to try them as he doesn't like fruity cereals, but I'm kind of hoping that the daughter might like them.  I'm curious to see what they taste like myself.

7.   We got our refund check in from our home owners insurance this week.  I get mad at them for doing invoicing our bank for the full amount and then proceeding to send me a refund check, but they have been doing it so long it ceases to surprise me when it happens.  I talked to my mortgage company on online chat and asked if I put the money back into escrow would it make a difference when they went to calculate the mortgage payments at the end of the year and he said it wouldn't make any difference as they go off of the invoice that was given, how it compared to last year and then they figure out the difference between the home owners insurance and the property taxes, add a cushion in on top of it, recalculate the escrow and then the mortgage payment comes out of that.  So, I decided to just bank the refund monies and use them to go toward school supplies and back to school clothes for the kids instead.

I went online one day and found that Land's end was having a sale of 40% off of regular priced items and they also had some really good clearance sales on t-shirts and things.  Both kids needed clothes and rain jackets.  Between the discount code for 40% off I was able to get rain jackets for less than 25.00 a piece, got t-shirts for about 5.00 a piece in different colors for each child and other things (like another bathing suit for Alvah and another in the next size up for him).  I spent more than 75.00 so I got free shipping on the clothes as well.

The daughter needed a new lunchbox and desperately wanted another back pack as hers was falling apart even after light use last year.  Her aunt had gotten one for her for Christmas, but it is still a bit big for her (the daughter inherited my short gene), so I went on Land's End when they were having a 50% off sale on backpacks and lunch boxes a few days ago.  I was able to get a back pack that I THINK will fit the daughter well (I hope it's not too small for her...she's at an odd height at the moment), got an embroidered unicorn on the pocket for her as well (she saw one in the catalog and fell utterly in love with the idea of having a unicorn on her back pack) and got her a new lunch box and I still, even after shipping, paid the same amount as the back pack would have been normal price WITHOUT embroidery or anything with it.

8.  I mended three t-shirts that had holes in them this week.

9.  We were invited to dinner by my in-laws and I got to see one of my sister-in-laws and her children as she was invited too.  It was a lot of fun, the kids had a blast and I didn't have to cook.  Always a nice change of pace :).

10.  I darned one of my socks.

11.  I cleaned out the drains in the bathrooms to make sure they continue to flow well.

And there you go folks.  A quick recap of what has been going on around here.  How about you?  How has the past couple of weeks treated you all?

Monday, July 8, 2019

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

Yay!  I got the menu plan done for this week!  I'm feeling all accomplished!

The pressure cooker is definitely doing it's duty the last bit with the severe heat wave we have going on around here.  I love that it doesn't heat up the house, which is a Godsend at the moment.  We are actually breaking temperature records up here right now and we finally broke record summer heat records that were set in 1964 (I believe it was '64, but don't hold me to that as I didn't double check it).  Note:  I could have lived without us having to do that *laugh*.

Bright side is that the heat wave is supposed to start breaking toward the end of the week and we go from a 0% chance of rain to about a 60% chance, so I'm hopeful that we'll get rain up here sometime soon and the thousands of acres that are currently on fire in every direction can finally start to get under control and eventually go out.  Here's hoping.  Anyway, with the weather predicting a lowering of temperatures back down into the 70's by the end of the week I'm going to have some faith that it is actually going to happen and plan for some more oven friendly meals.  Let us hope that the weather is going to go the way the weathermen think it will.

As a side note I am still working on Monthly Goals and things, so I haven't posted those yet and I haven't forgotten about the recipe I wanted to post, so here's hoping I can get those done here soon.

Right, onto the menu!
Monday:  Pressure Cooker Meatloaf (I'm just going to pressure cook the recipe I normally use via instructions I found online).  Once done, pull meatloaf out and drain liner and then get potatoes on for pressure cooker mashed potatoes (I would do the two together, but all I have are russet potatoes, which take a lot less cooking time than Yukon Gold or other boiling potatoes).  Serve with gravy (I have some really nice gravy I made with beef roast the other night that I'll use) and green beans.  Dessert:  S'More pudding cups (I have a bunch of graham crackers that came kind of crushed so I'm going to smash those into crumbs and then layer them in some sundae cups with chocolate pudding and then put mini marshmallows on top). 
Tuesday:  Spaghetti.  Salad.   Dessert:  Watermelon
Wednesday:  Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches (if I can bake and/or pick up some bread at the store as we are currently out). 
Thursday:  Ham.  Salad, Home made bread.   Dessert:   Lemon tart (canned lemon pie filling, make shortbread crust). 
Friday:  Home made pizza and breadsticks. 
Saturday:  Roast chicken.  Stuffing.  Scalloped potatoes.  Corn. 
Sunday:  Leftovers (maybe chicken salad sandwiches if we have enough chicken left).
And there you are folks.  Our dinner menu for the week.  When it comes to breakfast we've just been eating cereal (due to the heat) and for lunch we've been having whatever will bake or cook quickly or we are eating things like tuna salad.

How about you?  Got anything good planned for your menu this week?