Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Shopping Goals: June, 2019

Well, the story behind this month's shopping goals is an interesting one.

Basically, in a nutshell, when I reimbursed us from our loan monies for things we had to pay out of pocket for after the earthquake, we had a bit of money left over so I thought I'd try and do a big Costco sized order of things from Amazon to help build up our food stores that took such a tremendous hit last year with everything that happened around here.  

Man, I had no idea how off the rails that whole plan would go.  

Basically, the normal pattern of events should have been this...

  • Step 1:  Put together a tremendous Subscribe and Save order so that I'd save a bunch of money with the 15% discount, in a lot of cases I had coupons on the items that helped to save even more money to make it even more worth my while.  I knew I would only pay off about 1/2 of the order with the reimbursed monies I had allocated, but I figured with the 5% cash back I got from my Amazon card I could pay off 1/2 of the bill, get some money back on the card from the 5% and then figure out a budget to get the rest of the money on the card paid off as quickly as possible.
  • Step 2:  Wait for the cut off point where they would charge my Amazon store card for everything and then wait for items to get here.
  • Step 3:  Get items in, prepare to put them into the holes I had sketched out on my pantry plan and feel great happiness at the state of my pantry.

How the ACTUAL series of events went ended up being this...

  • Step 1:  Put together Subscribe and Save order like planned.
  • Step 2:  Wait for cut off point where Amazon would start to charge my card for orders and send them out. 
  • Step 3:  Thank the Lord I stalk my credit card at all times because things quickly went South and I found at least three orders that I'd gotten tripled charged for and had to call Amazon and get charges reversed.
  • Step 4:  See where Amazon shipped things in boxes together that had me concerned to say the least.  Glass bottles with heavy flats of cans, etc.
  • Step 5:  Get items in the mail.  
  • Step 6:  Look at terrible state of box in some cases the items came in and know that the items inside are trashed, or open the box and THEN know what terrible state the items came in.
  • Step 7:  Call Amazon ticked as all get out after getting boxes of broken glass, SEVERELY dented cans, open and leaking boxes of dried items.   Lodge complaint against the incompetent shipping department and get refund issued.
  • Step 8:  Repeat steps 4 through 7.

This has been an absolute nightmare the last month.  You know it's bad when you get actual undamaged items in the mail and it seems out of the ordinary to say the least and you feel like you won some type of lottery.

Right, let me quickly go through my thought processes on what I ordered, because it seems like a weird conglomeration of stuff otherwise.  First I went through, figured out what I lost in the freezer and the pantry during the earthquake and ordered as close to direct replacements as I could think of.   Second I ordered things you can not safely can at home (dairy, bread, eggs, pureed potatoes and squash, not pickled cabbage, cured meats, etc).  Third I ordered things that I never really had much luck canning and having turning out with any success (greens for instance) and then the last category was things that looked kind of neat and exciting to add to the menu later on (I'll highlight those when I get to them).

So, let's get to the list of things I got.  I will list them separately with items that came completely destroyed to those that came in decent shape for anyone curious about ordering these items in the future.  I would get a refund in for an item and then look on Amazon for something to replace the item that I got a refund with in a lot of cases as I'd get, say, a few cans that were salvageable from a case and wouldn't want to take the chance on the item again, but would also have a few to try, so I would go and see if I could find something else.  This rarely worked as in a lot of cases the replacements came damaged as well.  The list I ordered though is long, I spent a lot of money, but am hopefully stocked up again for quite a while.  So, the fact that so much went wrong with everything was doubly upsetting to me as Amazon was definitely making money off of me last month.

Note:  No, the following items do not contain associate links.  I would feel hypocritical doing so.  I was that disappointed in how this went down.

Things that came in one piece:

I got all of the following canned puddings for about 5.00 a pop, which it surprises me how expensive they are now.   I ordered all of the following together, got it in one box and it all came in okay.
  • Glory Foods Seasoned Cabbage (Pack of 6):  There are cheaper options on Amazon in case you want to look, but they weren't peanut safe, so I went with these instead.  Used the quail egg refund to pay for it.  Cans came dented, but usable at least.
  • Jello Instant Pudding, Coconut Cream, 6 pack:  I can't find this flavor at my local store anymore, so I ordered it on Amazon.  Came with a couple of small dents in the boxes, but nothing leaking and in okay shape overall.

  • Read, German Potato Salad, 15 oz. (Pack of 12):  These Read products came packaged in special boxes called "Amazon can shippers"  which I think some companies are actually having specially made.  The cans were all braced apart with cardboard, had very nice buffers between them and damage and came in 100% perfect shape (for a change!).
  • Read, 4 Bean Salad (Pack of 12):  Read is made by Libby's by the way in case anyone is curious :).
  • Lucy's 100% Lime Juice, 1 Gallon:  Yes, I ordered a gallon of lime juice!  Limes are terribly expensive up here, this is 100% real lime juice and I love Brazilian Lemonade (which is just lime aide made with sweetened condensed milk) and so does the husband and daughter.  So, I bought this with the express plan to (when I open it) freeze it in muffin cups and ice cube trays to use in recipes later on :).  For 14.99 for a gallon of lime juice (you can also get lemon juice for that price), you can't really beat that.
  • Media Crema Table Cream Cans (Pack of 12):  Used the refund from the Sweetened Condensed Milk  to buy this and see how it came (I'm a glutton for punishment).  This actually came boxed like the Read products and all cans came in perfect shape.  So, yay for that at least.
  • Tamanu Oil  I bought this to try on Alvah's eczema as it got a lot of great reviews from eczema suffers online.  He seems to really like it and will ask you to spray it on his eczema.  It does seem to be making a difference in the patches as well, so I'm glad I ordered it.

Came Damaged/Destroyed:

Betty Crocker Loaded Casserole Potaotes, pack of 6 (two boxes had actually been opened and then taped shut and another box was open and leaking) .  Got refund.
Hunt's Tomato Ketchup No Salt Added, 12 pack (two bottles came with the lids broken, but at least they are usable and the safety seal wasn't broken) 
Del Monte Green Beans, 12 pack I got two flats of these as they were less than 12.00 when Amazon first listed them.  I got one flat that came in nearly perfect.  The other one looked like someone took a sledge hammer to the entire flat of cans.  They went in the garbage and I got a refund. 
Tiptree Apricot Preserve (came completely shattered) 
Tiptree Black Currant Preserves (came completely shattered) 
Solimo Honey, 32 oz. (Came broken and leaking all over the place) 
Butternut Mountain Farm, Maple Syrup, 32 fl oz.  (first one came leaking and awful, they sent a replacement that they shipped Fed Ex and came in one piece)

Right so the following came completely destroyed in one box.  Amazon shipped a replacement box, which came with only half the order being broken and destroyed over the other 1/2.  They shipped me a final replacement minus the liquid items as I demanded a refund on those to avoid more crap going into my dumpster and the third time the dry items all came in one piece, more's the miracle.

  • 3 pack of Kraft Parmesan Cheese (the second box of broken items I received the cheese was packed in a plastic bag, so actually survived, so I ended up with six bottles by the time it was said and done)
  • 4 pack of McCann's Irish Oatmeal.  I can safely recommend this item as the Oatmeal actually comes packed to survive a nuclear holocaust!  I would have saved the first batch of oatmeal in the first box, but everything was coated in broken glass, syrup, oil and everything and I just didn't want to get hurt.  The second box, the box was dented and sticky, but able to be salvaged, so I ended up with 8 tins of oatmeal by the end.
  • 6 Pack Smuckers Hot Fudge Sauce (came loose in box in both the original and the replacement box.  The second box, somehow, five bottles survived and only one got broken and went everywhere)
  • 6 pack of Smuckers Caramel Sauce (not as lucky as the hot fudge sauce...all broken in both shipments)
  • Smucker's Low sugar Strawberry Preserves (same fate as the caramel sauce...bought some at the store.  More money, but at least wasn't broken)
  • McCormick Taco Seasoning, 24 pack (survived the third replacement shipment and they accidentally sent me two, but let me keep the second one)
  • 32 oz container of olive oil.  Yeah, shipments one and two the item came dented in, broken and leaking, probably because EVERYTHING WAS LOOSE IN THE BOX and with all the broken glass flying around the darned thing didn't stand a chance.  Sorry, not upset at all.  Ahem.  Bought a replacement bottle at the store instead.
  • 12 packs of Blue Diamond Bold Wasabi &Soy Sauce Almonds.  Shipment one, destroyed.  Shipment 2, box opened and packs everywhere, but some are salvageable.  Third one came in one piece.
Sylvia's Mixed Greens (Pack of 12):  This looked great when I first got it in and then I actually lifted the cans from their case and found that every single can was dented, on the inside of the can, where you couldn't see.  The middle cans were SEVERELY dented to the point of ridiculous.  Managed to salvage maybe five cans out of twelve.  Got a refund. 
Roland Quail Eggs (Pack of 6):  I got these to use in salads and to use in some European recipes that called for them specifically.  I used money from one of my various refunds to pay for them for free (I ended up with a gift card on some refunds).  A bunch of the cans came damaged.  Got, yet another, refund, but got a few cans to experiment with I guess. 
LaLechera Sweetened Condensed Milk (Pack of 12):  Sweetened condensed milk is terribly expensive at our local stores and this seemed like a great deal to make Brazilian Lemonade with later on.  What a mistake that was!  Got a crushed box in the mail (after Amazon shipped it Parcel Pool and it took forever to get here) with loose cans in it and every single can was dented, all but one so severely there was no way I was going to chance using them.  Got a refund. 

Farmer's Market Organic Sweet Potato Puree (Pack of 12):  6 out of 12 cans came severely, severely dented.  All cans were loose in the original shipper box with a shipping label slapped on top of the other shipping label and a nice "heavy" sticker slapped onto the box.  There was a hole in the box that I really think came from the warehouse as it looked like an old hole and there was an old, dirty, dent in the can beneath it.  Salvaged a few cans and got a refund.
 Now the damaged goods, also take into consideration that I got refunded for the wrong thing on TWO occasions and had to get that fixed, got actually charged instead of refunded on another order (which baffled the person who then fixed it because they couldn't figure out how that happened) and other fiascos.  Like I tried THREE times to order chutney because I've always wanted to try it.  One order got lost in the mail somewhere, one order got cancelled because the item got sold out before they got to shipping me my order (got to love Amazon Prime and how they treat Alaska) and the third one got destroyed in shipping to the point that the post office actually rejected the shipment as hazardous and shipped it back to Amazon themselves before it even GOT to me.  That's when I gave up on that.

I learned my lesson well.  If I can find something local (or in the case of the chutney I can't even FIND it locally) I'm buying it that way or probably doing without.  It's worth the extra money to not have to worry about something potentially coming in completely destroyed and unsafe.  My dump bill was TWICE what we normally pay due to the extra weight from everything I had to throw away.  Wish I could charge Amazon for that.  

Anyway *ahem* I am hoping to pick up a few more things around at the stores like black olives, frozen fruit, vegetable oil and the like, but I am definitely done ordering stuff from Amazon in the way of food for goodness knows how long.  I used the last of the refund Amazon credits to buy myself some new sneakers (which I did definitely needed) and got the son some underwear and I'm just going to work on paying off the Amazon card and not worrying about using it for anything other than Christmas gifts and things.  So, so done.  Which is sad, in a way, as I've ordered things from Amazon for years, but I'll tell you what.  It's like as soon as I started paying for Prime, my satisfaction level with Amazon has gone through the floor.  I can't complain about the customer service, I guess, as they issued refunds without complaint (although I was nearly begging them to let me ship things back to them after the third or forth item came in destroyed so  I could show them how terrible of a packaging job they did) and gave me canned apologies every single time, but I kind of just want my items to get to me in one piece and things to be done right the first time if possible.  I get that mistakes and accidents happen, but this goes beyond the point of ridiculous.

So, there you are folks.  My "Amazon bulk order" experience.  May you learn from my folly!  

Monday, June 3, 2019

Money Saving Monday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I'm proud of myself.  TECHNICALLY I'm only a day late in posting this since I posted so late last week.  Hey, I'm counting it *laugh*.

Life has been insanely busy of late.  We had Alvah's psychology check up last week and his doctor was happy with how he was doing so we don't go back for another three months.  Therapy last week was a huge screwy mess as the owner/boss was on vacation, was the only one with access to the computers and the staff had no idea who was scheduled for what and when.  We went for Alvah's first appointment last week and they had to scramble to find a therapist to take him because he wasn't even on the schedule.  When his second appointment of the week rolled around, I called the office that morning and found out that he was on the schedule...completely at the wrong times (yes, times, they had him in at multiple appointments) and he was double booked with another kiddo on his one therapist's schedule so she asked if we could just cancel Alvah for that day.  I was okay with that as we had a lot going on last week and I could use the reprieve of one more thing to do.  I finally sat down and thought about things as Alvah had to get up early about 85% of the time last week and decided that this week, with no appointments looming over our heads, that I was just going to cancel therapy this week and try and give the guy an actual summer break for this week. 

Next week we start therapy four days a week for two and a half hours at a shot and then the week after we stack that on top of summer school starting so the guy is going to be in therapy and summer school essentially an entire school day for three days a week.  This also means an insane amount of pick ups, drop offs and getting him to eat lunch in between therapy and summer school, so I'm going to be running around like mad trying to get things done around his schedule for the next month.  It will be worth it if  he doesn't lose any skills this summer, or better yet makes some forward progress.  I just feel bad for the guy as it's going to be intense and I doubt he's going to like it.

I made an appointment to get our sewer pumped this week as well, so it'll be good not having to run to therapy as the septic pumping outfit couldn't really give us an exact time they'll show up.  It is on a therapy day so at least we'll be here when they arrive.  I'm praying that they'll be able to pump the septic as we have a camper that is in the way of them getting really far back into the yard on the one side of the house and the other side they can drive down into the yard but the husband is worried they'll stick the truck if they try it.  The gal who scheduled us made a note for them to bring extra hose and was totally confident that they'll be able to get it done, so let us pray.  We're overdue to get it done and I'd like to get it done before it becomes a problem especially with all of the things that went down the drain, literally, with the earthquake.

So, other than that, I was super busy (and super sore as a result) this week, so let's get to that!

1.  Shopping went super awesome this week.  We didn't have a lot to get this week with the exception of boy food and milk, so I ran into the store to get those things and while I was there I couldn't BELIEVE the deal I ran into.  They had 3 lb tubes of hamburger on reduced for 6.99 each on manager special and THEN the tubes were marked down 50% off!!!  They came to 3.49 each!!!  I grabbed four as getting hamburger for about a dollar a pound?  I couldn't beat that if I tried.  Honestly, if I'd had more room in the freezer I would have bought more, so I'm kind of glad we didn't have the room in the freezer as we went 3 weeks in between pay periods this time, so money is going to be tight for about a month to recover from that, unfortunately.  I'm trying to be really careful to keep the loan monies as loan monies and not have to borrow from them to keep the trains running on time as the loan is supposed to be used for only certain things and I think that it's important to stick to that.

2.  The super big project I did this week was getting the pantry rearranged and BOY was it an undertaking that took a lot of thought, a lot of effort and a lot of days where the den, bedroom closet and pantry were completely torn apart.  God bless my husband for just rolling with things as I worked on that because that meant that the son had run of the upstairs and it showed by the end of the day.

3.  The first thing I did was to finally muck out and try to reorganize the bedroom closet.  It hadn't really been done since the earthquake.  My husband and I were kind of in the "out of sight, out of mind" phase with the closet as we had so many other things to do, but I had a plan and I needed the closet to do it.  So, I rearranged the closet, got things put back up and put back away and then I grabbed a big Rubbermaid dresser we had in the closet that I had used for years to store various items and I emptied that out to get space (we put the Rubbermaid dresser into the daughter's closet where her dollhouse used to be to get her more storage space...she loves it :).  I then emptied off one of the wire shelves in the pantry (into the den) and moved the wire shelf into my closet.  Then it was a lot of crouching and crawling back and forth under the stairs as I grabbed all of the long term food storage cans and put them onto the shelf in my closet.  The pantry was just too damp to store the cans long term and I was worried they would rust, so I think they'll be a lot happier in their new home.  I'm hoping to store a bunch more emergency type of supplies on the shelf (crank flash lights, sleeping bags, etc) and maybe even store a few blankets and things on the top shelf on top of the boxes.

4.  Next up, I took the buckets from underneath the shelves in the pantry that were by the door and pulled them out and then started stacking up all of the boxes of canned goods I had (I'll go more into all of that later on with the shopping goals post I'm working gets complicated).  I then took the other wire shelf I had in the pantry and put different things on it (since the big #10 cans of food storage were now in my bedroom closet) and then just generally started rearranging things a bit better.  My goal was to make it so I had to duck down under the stairs less, mainly because I'm getting older and my back is protesting (and my knees a lot more) every time I have to spend any significant amount of time ducking under the low part of the pantry. 

The buckets of flours, rice and sugar I put right by the door so I have easy access to them so I can refill my kitchen containers easier (the cat is sitting on top of the front ones).

5.  I put as many home canned goods into boxes and labeled them so I'll know what I have and what needs to be used up.  Unfortunately, I'm probably going to have to use them up rather quickly.  I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably going to have to replace the majority of my mason jars as it seems that the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks have caused more damage than I at first thought (I'm checking the jars pretty much daily anymore).  I'm finding more and more jars that the seals suddenly fail and then when I check the lid and the rim of the jar I find that the rim of the jar has tiny small chips in it, hidden by the lid.  In some cases it seems like the adhesive on the lids manages to suck the lid down and hold the chips in place (for a while anyway) and then the jars fail.  So far I've still got some jars that seem to be holding up, but I'm not sure how long I can count on them to do that, so I'm using up anything with a good seal as quickly as possible, checking the jars for damage when empty (I'm even finding small hairline cracks in jars and things, so I wouldn't want to put them back in a canner for's depressing) and moving on from there.  So, at least by not canning this year I'll have time to start rebuilding the amount of canning jars I have and just start from scratch again next year, hopefully.  I'll have to start small and build up from there, but I've done it before, so I have faith I can do it again.

You'll notice the cats decided to help me with the photo taking this time.  Since they would NOT stay out of the shots, I gave up and just let them photo bomb.  Enjoy that ;).

So, yeah up above there is what you see when you walk into the pantry. 

This is where the first wire shelf used to be on the back wall.  I put some emergency water storage by the pressure tank (which I'll rotate out on a regular basis, and I'd like to get a few more packages of water on top of some actual gallon jugs as well).  The Rubbermaid containers house things like dehydrated potato type of sides, pasta, baking mix...things I don't want mice even THINKING about getting into. 

So, here's the other shelf as it sits now.  I've got a bit more stuff I'm hoping gets here in one piece from Amazon, so I' have a few holes in the shelf and I plan on canning sauerkraut this year no matter what (I'm blowing through it and need to start more soon), so I made sure to keep enough room open for those jars.  The Rubbermaid container by the shelf actually pretty much holds just lightweight pasta (manicotti noodles and such) that takes up a bunch of room so it's out of the way for when I occasionally need them.  I also decided to store my super cheap cooking wine down in the pantry so it stays decent tasting to put into things like beef bourgignon. 

On the wire shelves right now I have a 12 pack of BBQ sauce, applesauce, tomato sauce (I'm trying out Amazon's brand because they had it on sale super cheap when I ordered it...believe it or not those jars are plastic...blew my mind), grape juice (I got huge family sized Welch's grape juice containers for 3.14 on clearance, so I stocked up) and a few home canned goods.  The big box contains canning supplies.  A few flats of jars I picked up a bit ago, some spare rings I had, etc, in the hopes I can try to keep things somewhat organized.

This area got a bit more built up than I would have liked, but the cats still have access to the lowest point under the stairs and I have a nice gap around the one wire shelf I have left so the cats have in and out access to the outside wall, so here's hoping between them and the steel wool I won't have problems with rodents from now on.

6.  The condiment shelf remains where it was, a bunch of Tupperware and things to put in here for storage and I put the one box of chunky Musselman's applesauce I bought last year in here too to later use as supplemental apple pie filling.  We went to eat it and it was literally like eating a finely diced apple...I couldn't really distinguish any "sauce" in the applesauce.  None of us were overly fond of the consistency, but I thought it would make a really nice, finely diced, apple pie filling.  I made pie with it a few weeks ago and everyone liked it, so that's how I'm going to use it up.

7.  I harvested rhubarb this week.  Basically the only thing I'm seeing myself harvesting this year as the moose killed as many raspberry bushes as they could get their big old teeth into last year and I have very short tiny little bushes now.

8.  You'll notice I didn't harvest a bunch of rhubarb.  That is because I had a plan for these stalks.  I had some heavy cream left over from a recipe I made a couple of months ago (yes, months...heavy cream actually lasts for quite a while in the fridge :) and realized I needed to use it up, so I decided to use about 2/3 of it and some rhubarb to make Rhubarb Cream Scones.  I made a double batch (I actually made two batches in different bowls to make sure they'd come out well and just measured everything twice) so I'd have one batch to freeze for use a little later on.  They turned out awesome and so, so yummy!  I'm actually snacking on one as I type this...excuse the crumbs on the keyboard *laugh*.

9.  I realized my old rag mop was on its last legs, but I decided it needed to do one more job for me before it got thrown into the trash.  I used it to mop the pantry floor and made sure I went over it twice to get everything nice and sanitary and get all of the broken glass up out of the knooks and crannies as well as anything nasty and/or sticky (of which there was plenty hidden, believe me). 

And so, with a bit of a salute, I put the rag mop out onto the deck to dry and go off to it's final resting place.  I wish I could have recycled the handle, but it was a one piece mop, so the head of the mop was attached, hardcore, and wasn't going to be separated from the handle.

I'll go more into what we have been up to in another post (trust me it'll make sense when you read it), but yeah, that's a bit of what I was personally up to this last week.  The pantry is pretty much done at this point and I have to say it feels good to be done.  Now I can clean up the den with all of the plastic and cardboard in it from me organizing things (doh!).

How about you?  How did your week go?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Super Savings Sunday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2)

I actually had to double check the calendar and the blog to make sure that it had actually been two weeks since I blogged.  I've been so busy I'm lucky my head is attached or I would have misplaced it a good week and a half ago if that makes you feel any better *laugh*.

Things have been crazy here with the end of school closing in like the Great White from "Jaws".  We got a letter in the mail from the school saying they had concerns about the daughter's grades and I was worried when I saw she was getting a "D" in math and was actually failing her handwriting course (which was just basically a fluff class that the kids were supposed to take for fun).  When I confronted the daughter it turned out she was behind in the handwriting class, which led me to having to basically drag her by her hair through the two packets of work she had yet to do for the class as quickly as humanly possible.  That took a good week of time.  Then I looked at her grades in Math and was disappointed to see that while she was making a very solid "A" on classwork and homework there were exactly two quizzes, which she failed, and they counted for so much of her grade that she was getting a "D".  When she failed her last quiz which led us to panic as she would have gotten an "F" at that point, I took her and talked to her teacher after school.  He was really nice and I explained how much work Armina had been putting into math including looking up YouTube tutorials and other educational materials on her own to try and improve her quiz grades.  He let us make up all three quizzes for extra points at home and told me how proud he was of Armina for trying so hard and he could see how much she was, indeed, trying.

I have to say, in a side note, that the quizzes we had to find the correct answers for and show the work how we got those answers?  Those suckers were HARD!  I feel for the daughter as I would have failed those quizzes too in high school, let alone in junior high.  Getting the daughter to turn in the corrected materials was like pulling out her toe nails, but we got there.  Man, Junior High and the attitude that comes with that age for kids...ugh.

We got over those hurdles (she got an "A" in the handwriting course after getting caught up by the way *laugh*) and then got slammed with another surprise.  She had told me that she had a project on National Parks for science class, which confused me as I would have thought that was more of a social studies thing and then she told me that they had to do a diagram for the project, which confused me further.  Ya know, it would have helped a LOT if she had actually told us that all of the instructions and things were online about a month ago.  But, nope, she waits until the project is actually late to tell me that she had to do a diagram, a 3-D Model (which all I could think of was we had to do a relief map, which totally panicked me as she chose Acadia National Park, which is over 40,000 acres and encompasses islands, mountains and other things) and she had to do a slide show.  When she FINALLY led me to the instructions online I completely panicked when I read what the project entailed.  You were supposed to do a diagram, a 3-D model and a slide show, quite true, but it was on three different geological forces that helped to shape the park of your choice, not on the park and it's touristy bits.  So the daughter's slide show had to be completely redone (thank goodness so much can be done online now a days), she had to do a diagram of the life cycle of rocks (which I have to say turned out well) and we were supposed to help her make a 3-D model of something else that helped to form the park.  We went through a bunch of different things that formed the park and finally, after a lot of thought, settled on glacial forces.  We also had to do the project in a weekend versus over the course of weeks because of the daughter getting confused about how it was all supposed to go down.  If we'd had more time we could have come up with some pretty awesome stuff for how glaciers formed the landscape (the husband had a really neat idea for an actual moving example), but we were already late turning the project in so we did the best with what we had in as short of a time frame as humanly possible to get the project in at least CLOSE to when it was due.

The final results on the model of glacial advance is seen up top there.  We used paper bags for the frame for the mountains and then formed them with lots and lots of home made salt/play clay and used a ton of food coloring of various colors to make different shades of brown.  I think all totaled it amounted to about 10 cups of play clay and you could still see paper bag poking through in parts.  I used polyester fiber fill for the snow, the daughter colored some paper in various shades of blue to help make the actual glacial part of the equation, painted the sky (which she didn't have sky blue, so she made due with aqua) and helped to paint everything (thus the kind of odd pattern the paint takes in the background), we used glue and sand to help give texture to the ground and just did the best we could with what we had at hand.  The finished project was not light and I ended up handing it to her science teacher when he came into school instead of just leaving it in his room as he came in kind of late (which after hauling it across the building twice and then having to hold it for 20 minutes until he came into the school...I was tired and a bit cranky, so when he offered to carry it to his room I was only too delighted to shove it into his arms *laugh*), so I was happy to see that he really liked the model and was showing it off to teachers and the principal when I left.

School is over for the year as of Thursday and I have to say that it was a heck of a school year and I'm glad it's over.  We are going to take a few weeks to just try and take things a bit easy and then I'll work on getting the son into more intensive therapy for the summer  and summer school will start in a month, but for the moment, I'm just taking a deep breath and feeling glad that we made it through the school year and it's over.

Right, so the next big thing to happen is due to the disaster loan we have through the Small Business Association.  We're grateful to have the loan and we have a ton to do with it, but there is a catch in that you are supposed to spend the money within one year and anything you don't spend you are supposed to return.  Which "one year" by Alaska terms means we have about three to four months to get everything done outside that needs to be done (or at least buy the materials necessary to do the rest of it should we fall short of time) period.  Working in the winter up here just doesn't work.  I sat down and had a long talk with the husband about what to do about that as normally I'm running around like mad during the summer trying to get foraging done, getting produce bought and canned, getting things grown and preserved for winter and just tons of stuff.  We tried to figure out where I could put in a small garden to grow even potatoes or something, but we just couldn't find a good spot as with the gutters needing to be replaced, a new chimney needing to be constructed, a shed and barn to tear down and something built in their place the sewer to pump (after all the broken glass and other stuff that went down into the septic we figure it's definitely going to be needed) and just tons to do around every part of the yard and house (including cutting down trees that the spruce beetles have killed)...canning, dehydrating, going to the You Pick farm and the produce was just going to add so much to our already jammed work load that we just couldn't see it happening this year.

A side note, though.  I am hoping to get some lettuce seedlings and find something around here and at least make a small container garden so we can get some fresh greens in our diet this summer, but that's still in the "if I can find time to do it" category (yes, we're that busy).

I sat down and did the books and reimbursed us from the loan monies for money we had spent for repairs and temporary heat and things (I just took the average of what we spent for the electric bill normally over the last two years by month and then deducted that from the huge electric bills we had and put the difference down as "temporary heating costs", which it absolutely has been).  I was able to pay off the husband's last three teeth with the reimbursed monies and we had a bit left over, so I used that to make a huge Costco type of order through Amazon for food and household goods (plus some that I put on my Amazon card and will pay off over the summer).

I'll go more into what I got and why later, but I have to say this was my first time making a huge order of this scale through Amazon and I will NEVER, EVER, EVER do it again!  It has been an utter nightmare!  Getting triple charged for orders, refunded for the wrong items (when things went wrong and BOY did they go wrong), lots of broken glass and disasters when I opened boxes (my dump bill is going to hate us this month), lots and lots of upset calls to customer service, LOTS of complaints filed by me about their shipping department and lots of apologies and refunds from Amazon's end.  Never again will I put in a huge order through Subscribe and Save where I don't have the option to cancel orders when things start to go wrong from the start of things shipping.  I still have a few things I want to order and get in, but I'm making sure I order ONE thing at a time, wait for it to ship and then order the next item.  Anyway, I'll go more into that in my Shopping Goals post and my Monthly Goals post (I'm kind of combining May and June since it's been so hectic and I have so much to do, so June's will probably be early and May's will be well...nearly into June *laugh*).

So, yeah, that all happened.  Let's get onto the money saving aspects of the last couple of weeks!

1.  Shopping has gone okay the last bit and I've been able to work some of my food storage items into the regular shopping without taking significant hits to the grocery budget (like the couple of containers of boxed milk seen in the bulk purchase picture and things).

I also got some freebies.  Carrs had a promotion last week that if you spent 100.00 in one shopping trip you'd get 10 fuel rewards, which we did our big shopping trip that week so I had a ton of fuel rewards between those ten rewards and bonus rewards they gave me for shopping in like the meat department and things.  I was able to use some of the extra fuel rewards to get 7.00 in free meat (which I picked up two things of hamburger to use in meals later on and only paid .28 out of pocket for it) and then I used one reward to get a free dozen eggs.   Neither of those things are shown because I forgot to take pictures of them.

My friend sent me a bunch of freebie coupons for the Monopoly game, which I was thrilled to get, so I went and redeemed those and the few I had left to redeem as well.  I took the free salad and really stretched it out by adding a ton of lettuce to it to make a big bowl of salad.  The dressing included with the salad was more than enough to dress the big salad and the entire family really liked the salad flavors.  It was definitely a nice change of pace :).

The bagels are slowly being defrosted by the daughter and used as basically rolls when she wants a high carb snack and everything else was definitely used.  The strawberries were in the picture because I had cashed out two fuel rewards to get 3.00 off of a produce purchase of 3.00 or more and the 2 lb thing of strawberries were on sale for 5.00 as part of 5.00 Friday.  The daughter just washed them and ate them as snacks over the next few days and it worked out well.

The other news on the freebie front was that I ended up winning not one, but two 5.00 grocery gift cards with the Monopoly game.  I asked the manager of our local store if I could redeem both of them and she got the answer that you could only win one of each prize, so I gave the other pieces away to someone who could use the 5.00 grocery gift card.  I used my 5.00 gift card to help pay for weekly groceries, which worked just fine and helped to save me a bit of money.  I had a coupon loaded onto my card for a free 4 pack of batteries (it was just on Just 4 U for me to load), but the batteries were sold out, which was a bit of a bummer, but oh well :).

Overall, I have to say that this year with the Monopoly game I didn't win as much of the instant win paper prizes as I did last year, but with the second chance game and things I was able to more than make up for not winning those prizes.  I was able to get 25.00 in free groceries by redeeming codes for gift cards, was able to get some free groceries on top of it and yeah...I was happy with how it all worked out this time around.

2.  My husband and I went used store shopping last week and as a surprise to both of us we fell in love with a painting they had there.  It was painted by someone in '66 and we just loved how the boats looked on the water.  It cost us 20.00, which is more than I would normally pay for anything like that, but we both decided we needed to buy it.  It was filthy, so I carefully cleaned it when we got it home and it lightened about three shades and it still needs a frame.  The canvas is actually stretched and mounted directly to plywood, so it's hefty.  Luckily I was able to find studs in the wall really easily as the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks have pretty much popped all of the nails in the walls through the sheet rock, so who needs a stud finder?  We'll have to build a frame for it eventually, but it's up and looking nice in the meantime :).

3.  While at the used store we also found, of all things, a silver ware case for 4.00.  It was a small one, but I bought it because the basket holder I had for our everyday silver ware was just not in good shape after the earthquake.  It leaned, a lot, and kept falling over.  The new case is a bit small so we have to lay the butter knives down below the silver ware slots, but overall I am really happy with it as it is definitely protecting the silver ware from dust and things a lot better than the old system.

4.  So, Mother's Day.  Really, the only thing I got for Mother's Day from the daughter was a hard time, which I have to say irritated me a lot as I was behind on everything household related due to her school work debacles.  The son wasn't feeling great, but for the most part was in an okay mood, which was enough of a gift for me from him.  The husband though was super nice and picked me up a small bouquet of carnations on his way home from work.

He was also able to find me something that we had been looking for for a long, long time and meant a lot to me.

Right, story time.  Get a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy ;).

When my husband and I got married many years ago we quickly decided to forgo the big church wedding in favor of a simple Justice of the Peace type of wedding instead, figuring we'd save the money for things more important (which, when he got sick later that year ended up being a REALLY wise choice).  As a result we got next to no wedding gifts.  Our neighbor at the time, however, was one of the few who did give us a wedding gift and we received a beautiful glass candy dish.  It was really a beautiful piece.  It was shaped like a basket, was one solid piece of red glass that had been shaped (complete with handle) to resemble a flower harvesting type of basket (by hand from what we could see of the glass work).  We treasured the gift, but unfortunately, we also lived in a small apartment with no space for anything like a curio cabinet or anything and one fateful day the dish got broken.  I was heartbroken as not only did I love the dish itself, but we also lost one of the very few wedding gifts we received.

Believe it or not, even though it has been many years since the dish got broken, we have been on the hunt for another dish that looked like it ever since.  We knew that the odds of it being one of a kind were high and didn't have much hope of finding a dish even CLOSE to what it looked like, but we kept looking.

This Mother's Day my husband gave me a red glass basket candy dish that he had found at a local antique and consignment shop while hunting around for a Mother's Day gift.

No, it's not anything like the old one was shaped.  This was one is much smaller, has embossing on the glass and was probably mass produced.  But, you know what?  I'll treasure it just as much as the original, or more, as it showed the culmination of a lot of years of searching on mine and my husband's part and really I was just thrilled to get it.  I immediately knew where I would put it and I finished up the top of the new bathroom supply cabinet with it.

I think it's lovely and I definitely treasure it.

5.  I dug around and managed to dig up 2.00 in change so we could take the loads and loads of cardboard we had to the recycling center.  Considering how much that would have taken to throw out in the landfill it was DEFINITELY worthwhile to recycle it and hey, it stopped it from having to get thrown into a landfill too!

6.  We have been exploring more and more the shows and titles we can watch as part of our Amazon Prime membership and I have found some really neat things to watch.  Some of these include:  "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" 1981 BBC TV series (I love the actor that plays Ford in that series), the "Little Women" anime cartoons from the 80's, which my daughter has been loving to watch, "Word World" and "Sid the Science Kid" which the son has been loving watching and Rifftrax movies that we we can watch and not have to buy to watch.

7.  Speaking of Rifftrax, I've been SLOWLY using up the 10.00 gift card they give out as a Christmas gift to their customers combined with the 5.00 credit I got for shorts we already owned with the Kickstarter campaign this year.  They finally came out with an App so we can access our library with the Roku box and our smart TV, so it's been fun buying a new short here and there and watching it together as a family.  And free is a great price tag to watch new things I have to say.

8.  My daughter ended up with a Sharpie mark on a pair of her pants that she loved.  The mark looked ugly and nothing was removing it, so instead of throwing the pants out or something I just embroidered a flower over the mark in a darker color (in case the sharpie bled into the embroidery floss).  It worked just fine and the daughter was thrilled that I saved her pants from ruin.

9.  I have spent a bunch of time while the son is in therapy to work on menu plans and I have been having decent luck sticking to the plans, which is doubly  nice.  Now that school is finally over I'm looking forward to blogging the menu plans for the week again as putting them up helps to keep me motivated (and keeps my links to online recipes in one place ;).

10.  I added water to the soap containers and shampoo when they were getting low.  I reused hand soap containers and refilled them with soap from another brand of soap refill that I got cheap.  Instead of using expensive tub and shower cleaners, I used dish soap and a scrub brush and lots of elbow grease to clean the tubs and showers.  I  washed out and reused water bottles, refilling them with water from the tap until the bottles started getting kind of brittle from reusing them and only THEN did they go into the recycling box.

11.  I demanded the daughter deep clean her room or the next larder beetle I found I was going to put directly into her room (she was the last point of resistance I was meeting to be able to deep vacuum the house every day).  She not only cleaned her room, but started going through her things and picking out toys that she no longer played with and wanted to donate to the used store.  We ended up giving a few smaller toys to my mother-in-law for my niece to play with when she came over, but the rest my husband and I ran to the used store.  It was nice getting it out of the house and I'm sure other kids will love being able to get the toys to play with.  And my daughter is thrilled to have freed up some space in her room for more art supplies and books (both of which I approve of ;).

And there you are folks.  Some of the events that have happened the last bit.  At least we've been decently healthy *knocking on every wooden substance around*.  How about you?  How has your life been going?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Frugal Friday (late and early): Money Saving Weekly Recap

The last two weeks we've been sick.  Again.  This time the son brought home the cold and was down with it all last week.  The husband, who has managed to skate through most of the colds and things this school year, came down with it next.  Remarkably he and the daughter were down for only a couple of days and then they rebounded from it.  Me, not so much.  I went down with it hard, started to get over it and then it came back, which I knew was not a good sign.  I was so horribly fatigued all weekend I was up to doing not much of anything and I crawled through the beginning part of this week.  When my chest started hurting and my cough started sounding really bad I decided enough was enough and it was just time to suck it up and spend the money to go to the doctor.  Luckily the husband was up to driving me to the doctor or I honestly don't know how I would have gotten there.  I was really, REALLY out of it.  I honestly think after an entire school year's worth of viruses and other stuff my body had just plain had enough.  I mean I haven't felt good since Valentine's Day...that's not a good thing.  After an exam and a chest x-ray to make sure I didn't have pneumonia (which the doctor was worried about) I'm now on antibiotics, a decongestant and lots of water and tea.  My first round of antibiotics was yesterday and I have to say that I'm feeling better than I have in months, which is definitely an improvement, and now I'm just trying to rest today even though my nature is screaming at me to get stuff done.  So, for a change, I finally have some energy to blog.  Yay!!!!

You know it's kind of sad to write that.  Yes, I've been so horribly tired and sick the last couple of months I have had to dig up energy to do anything at all and blogging was on that list.  It's nice being able to think clearly instead of through a fog.  I think I was a lot sicker than I thought.

Anyway, this week's post is early, but is late from last week, so I figured I'd just combine them together.  I'm working on other posts for monthly goals and shopping goals (yes I have long lists for both).  Unfortunately, the frugal accomplishments post for the last two weeks is going to be kind of short as I just wasn't up to doing much at all, so things just plain didn't get done.

But, let's get to the short list I have!

1.  The Monopoly game this year is now ended, but last week was double (or triple, who knows) game pieces week, so going shopping I ended up with just piles and piles of Monopoly game pieces.  I wrangled the husband the daughter into helping me go through them all to see if we won anything good (note:  We didn't), and then I spent a good couple of hours online redeeming tokens and spending them on the second chance game site.  I managed to score two 5.00 grocery giftcards the last couple of weeks doing that (since they opened that section back up) and those are now sitting in my purse waiting for the next time I need to go shopping.  I redeemed what I had left for a free box of tissues (seen up top there) and a free bottle of water.  In the piles of game pieces we got we also got a few freebie coupons.  I redeemed a free box of water crackers, a free loaf of french bread, a couple of free bottles of water, a free can of green beans (it was actually for a free can of vegetables, but I picked green beans), a couple of free bagels, another small thing of sour cream (which I'm hoping that stuff will stay good for a while if you don't open it as I have a bunch of it now) and a free Refreshe Ice drink.  I THINK I got them all written down, but I might have missed something there (note:  I was out of it).

Overall, shopping went alright.  It probably could have gone better if I'd been well, but I was able to buy meat that was already defrosted and ready to use when I realized I was getting sick, so we had meatloaf one night, spaghetti another night (which I then forgot about it and had to throw away as I was so sick, which still upsets me...I have wasting food) and lamb roast (which I threw in the crock pot).  With the lamb roast, since I have a bunch of canned corn to use up (I still have a bunch from when my in-laws moved that they gave me and I want to rotate them out for more current cans) and some russet potatoes that were going wrinkly (by the way the potato basket is working AWESOME!  I'm really happy with how the potatoes aren't going green and they aren't sprouting that much), I decided to make Quick Potato Corn Chowder.  I added some Bacos to add a bit more flavor and then threw in a bit of garlic powder and a few seasonings, but overall as a base recipe it was really good and the husband actually really liked it (score!).  We had free bread and oven roasted potatoes as our other two sides (in case the other family members didn't like the soup).  Overall it was a pretty simple meal and came out well.

2.  Speaking of the Monopoly game a friend of mine sent me a nice little care package and she included some more Monopoly freebie coupons, which is awesome :).  It was definitely an upper to a pretty miserable and sickness driven week.

3.  I FINALLY got a refund check from the hospital for my overpayment back in October!  The head of the billing department called me again, apologized profusely, and issued another check as the one they sent (supposedly) back in March hadn't cleared or anything, so they stopped payment on that check and sent me another one (I still have my doubts they sent the first one, honestly, but whatever) and it came in this week.  I immediately went and put it into the bank.  I'm so very glad to get that whole super huge mess out of my hair and resolved and BOY if I EVER have to use that place again I am NOT paying them a cent until insurance gets done, no matter how much they try to bully me.  I'm done with that for sure.

4.  I got some more Spring cleaning done (albeit not much) the last couple of weeks.  I got the stairs deep cleaned and shampooed them once.  I still want to go over them again, but hey progress is progress!

5.  I rearranged my kitchen drawers to accommodate losing the old knife drawer because the oven door sticks out more than my old oven.  What I have now works alright, although I do feel the pinch of having one drawer gone in the kitchen.  And I am wondering how long it will take before I stop smacking my poor oven trying to, once again, open the old knife drawer like a dummy.

6.  My son actually found some shows on Amazon Prime that I didn't know we could get for free.  He's been having fun watching old "Word World" episodes, which hey I'm not going to complain about as maybe he's moving forward on communicating :).  I have noticed him babbling more complex sounds of late.  I keep hoping he'll talk, but I also am just happy that he's finally got the whole concept of nodding his head yes and no and what it means.  It's made offering him choices on things a lot easier and stops him from getting frustrated so much.

7.  The new medications the psychologist put the son on are working well!  She upped his Risperidone to a higher dosage disintegrating tablet, which is made by the same outfit that his old pills he used to take well are made by!  He might gag a little on one once in a while, but he's taking the new pills SO MUCH better than the orange pills he was on.  I'm thrilled as it really does help his concentration and mood to be on the higher dose and it is a huge relief to me to not panic every time I have to give him medication on whether or not he'll keep be able to gag the medicine down or not.

8.  My husband traded out his skills for some free swim lessons for the kids.  The lady who owns the pool is closing it for the summer, so they only have the rest of this month for lessons, but it has been nice not stressing about how to pay for swimming lessons the last bit and I am grateful for how far the kids have come in their swimming skills while being in Ms. Tina's classes.  She's got Alvah swimming to the point that he's swimming well in the Special Olympics this year and is actually actively enjoying the water, as is Armina.  I never thought either one of them would get to the point they would enjoy swimming, so I really am grateful for how far they have come :).

And there you go folks.  That's about it that I can remember at this point.  How have you all been the last couple of weeks?  Okay I hope?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap for the Second 1/2 of April

Man, this month has gone by so crazy it's a miracle I'm getting any blogging done NOW. 

Good, bad or indifferent, here's a short list of things that has happened this month.

1.  We got the disaster loan finalized and now have the funds available to finally fix the house and yard up (yay!).  We had to run back to the FEMA center to do the closing documents one day and then last week I had to call Alvah in sick to therapy because we had a final walk through inspection by the Small Business Association (the ones who give out the disaster loans) to confirm damage to the property.  The guy who walked us through the damage was actually thinking we might need more money and was thinking of requesting more, but we told him we'd be okay with what we got.  If you go up over 25,000.00 in a disaster loan they require you to put a lien on your property to protect their end of the bargain, but since we borrowed less than 25,000.00 the loan process was a lot easier and had a lot less steps to go through before you could have funds released to you.

Which it turned out we needed to get the loan in as soon as possible because....

2.  The oven stopped working right again and was just acting crazy and defying the laws of thermodynamics.  After a week of avoiding using the oven unless I absolutely had to we went in to our local appliance store (Allen and Peterson for those in the Valley and Anchorage area) and I found a really good deal on the oven I'd had my eye on for quite a while but always figured was out of my price range.  They were running a special on appliances as part of an Easter sale and the gal who helped us was nice enough to give me a quote on the stove to lock in the price for 30 days for us.  Found out that night that the loan had gone through, so we went back the next day and bought the oven and it got delivered this week (a shot of it after the husband had managed to struggle it up the stairs with me helping on the last leg of the journey and had gotten it into its new home is up top).  We finally got it all hooked up and ready to go yesterday.  I'm so insanely excited to start using it!  I am so happy that part of the loan they gave us was to cover personal property loss due to the quake, because the oven was definitely a tragedy of the earthquake and I feel really blessed that the old girl lasted, or limped along depending how you look at it, until we had the loan and could afford to replace her.

The new oven pops out more than the old one (since that's the style for ovens now) and so I ended up losing use of my knife drawer because you can't get it open now.  The husband has plans to redo the kitchen and is trying to figure out the best way to do it (the counters got gouged and beat up in the quake, the linoleum has holes and slashes in it, the drawers got bent by stuff falling into them...the kitchen survived, but definitely has some problems)  so we'll see how that goes in the following months.

3.  The husband hasn't had time to work on much of anything this month, which is upsetting since we finally got the money to try and get the chimney fixed ASAP.  He's been working on his days off for other people, so he gave up trying to get the chimney done by himself and called a general contractor he knows and likes to come and help get it done.  They are hoping to start next week (the husband is working overtime this week and the general contractor is trying to finish up another job), so fingers and toes crossed on this one as my electric bill is giving me hives every month.

4.  The son's eczema flared bad the last bit and he ended up with really messed up feet as a result.  He's been a walking pile of band aids the last week or so as I've really fought to keep his feet from getting infected and him having to go on oral antibiotics.  And, I PRAY it has worked.  He's still got a couple nasty fissures on a few toes, but old skin is starting to peel off and new healthy skin is starting to shine through.  He's been limping around and pretty miserable, the poor thing, so I'm so happy he's starting to feel better.

5.  Speaking of the son his sleeping medication just out and out stopped working last week, which was a whole lot of not fun for anyone involved.  Between that and the fact that the Risperidone generic switched from a white pill that Alvah had taken for the last couple of years and done fine with to a orange pill that he could barely get down (gagging, vomiting it back up on you...the whole nine yards) and he was a mess behavioral-wise.  I took him to him in to see his doctor and she started trouble shooting the problem and we PRAY we're on the right track.  We go in next month to see how he's doing, so pray with me that the new format of Risperidone (higher dose pill so we only have to get one pill versus two down him, which doubles my odds and upping his Clonodine dose as well) and things work out well and he's back to fighting fit by then.

6.  It's kind of Spring here (we keep getting snow in the mornings but it'll be melted by the afternoon, which is pretty typical for Alaska this time of year) and as a result the darned larder beetles are invading again.  I've been busy Spring cleaning and fighting them taking hold in the meantime, so it's been hectic and frustrating.  I think I'm making progress getting rid of them, though, before they can really spread like mad, so hopefully I'm not being overly optimistic and it's going okay this year before I end up in an out and out war with the suckers again.

7.  We've been fighting colds and other sickies as well as just seasonal allergies around here, so it's been a battle not feeling exhausted all the time.  I just feel plain worn out and I think a lot of that is because we haven't been WELL all school year...I think I'm feeling worn out because I am.  I'm really looking forward to summer break and us being able to get and stay well for a while.  Luckily we're in the final countdown as school ends toward the end of May, so yay for that.

8.  The blogging is late due to all of the above and the daughter horking my computer the last couple of weeks getting caught up on school work that she didn't bother to get done until midterm grades came home and we had a long, LONG talk about getting work done on time and how there is no excuse for getting bad grades like this a month and a half after being on the honor roll at school...none.  She's getting there on getting the school work caught up, which is good, but this weekend we have to get a book report done that is due early next week, so I figured I'd betting grab the computer while I still could to get blogging done and assure you all that I am, indeed, still alive :).

9.  I'm still fighting with the hospital to get my money refunded to me.  Supposedly they were supposed to get a check out to me March 18th and they told me to give it a few weeks.  I gave it a month, called the guy back and told him that I hadn't gotten it.  He told me he didn't know what happened to it, he'd get a hold of the check writing company and blah blah blah.  He told me he'd give me a call in a few days and if I didn't hear from him to call him back.  I didn't hear from him so I called him back Wednesday.  Still didn't hear back from him.  Called him back today and left a message asking the serious question of do I have to sue them to get my 99.00 back.  I also told them that all I wanted was my money back and it would be beyond ridiculous if I had to sue to get that type of money back.  So, we'll see if I hear back from him after this or if I have to go and find a lawyer.  Not only a pain, but kind of insane that it has had to get to this point.

And, yeah, now that I think you're mainly up to speed on things (I swear I'm forgetting a few things, but I think that's enough really), let's get to the money saving recap, shall we?

1.  Grocery shopping has gone pretty well the last little bit.  I have to say that the second chance Monopoly game has been a real benefit for the most part, although the last leg of it here has been really disappointing.  I had been saving up tokens (you win tokens by imputing codes online from the Monopoly game pieces and then you can redeem them for prizes) to get a 10.00 grocery gift card only to find that there is a maximum amount that the Safeway franchise would put into certain prize categories and the maximum (I think it was like two million dollars nationwide) had been reached, so I was out of luck there.  I finally decided to redeem the tokens I had for free products as that was really the only option left, but I assumed that you could redeem the codes for free grocery products more than once.  Nope.  You can get one of each food prize and that's it.  So, I took what I had from my tokens last week and just got every product that I thought was worthwhile off of the list and than I'll redeem the codes I have in my  newest Monopoly stack (a lady in front of me at the store gave me a big pile of them when she saw I was playing) and see if I can get the rest of the food and grocery items.  After that I'm probably going to just stop doing the second chance contest...not that there is much time left in the game anyway...I think it ends in a few weeks time. 

I also redeemed a few bonus fuel rewards for free products as well this last week, so I got a free dozen eggs for one fuel reward and two boxes of pasta with another fuel reward. 

The other box of pasta, the french bread, the sour cream and the aluminum foil were all from the second chance Monopoly game redemption.  The aspirin, the bagel and the hot dog buns were wins from the printed Monopoly instant win game prizes. 

Oh and I forgot these...
That was another second chance token redemption with the Monopoly game.  This week, after all of the freebies and coupons I had loaded onto my card I spent less than 50.00 on groceries.  I was happy with that.

Last week I also had some freebies to redeem, so here you go.  I redeemed a few bonus fuel rewards to get a free thing of ice cream and to get 3.00 off of produce (which I spent to get a cantaloupe for .99 after coupon) and also redeemed some printed Monopoly coupons (I had actually gotten a small stack of game pieces on the previous visit, so was shocked to find so many instant win tickets in them :) to get some freebies.  The big one was I had a coupon for a free thing of Frenches yellow mustard, but it was 20 oz.  I looked and looked through the mustard on the shelves and finally found the 20 oz bonus container and also found that the mustard was buy one get one free.  So, after coupon I got two containers of mustard for free (which was pretty awesome).  I also got a coupon for a free can of vegetables, so I got a free can of green beans and I also got a free 10 ct box of waffles, so that was a nice little bonus as well.

I also had a couple of coupons for other freebies, but I took a different picture of those since these items went upstairs while the others stayed downstairs (I was lazy what can I say).  I was online one day and found that they had a coupon I could load to my card for a free one pound bag of shredded Lucerne cheese.  I was thrilled to load that and redeem it for sure!  I also had some printed coupons for a free thing of macaroni salad, a free thing of sour cream and a free bottle of water, which were also welcome. 

Overall, I was happy with grocery shopping the last few weeks if nothing else :).

2.  With the larder beetles coming back I became a bit obsessed with getting things like towels and blankets into protected areas where larder beetles couldn't go.  I decided to order the cabinet I had talked about earlier off of Amazon for the hallway, but they were sold out of it and didn't know if, or when, it might be back in stock,

I looked around Amazon and finally settled on this cabinet (associate link) as it would fit in the spot I had depthwise and it seemed like it looked nice online.  My mom even sent me a small Amazon gift card to help me pay for it.

I have to say that when I put it together I was impressed.  The cabinet is actual real wood, not particle board and even the back, while thin wood, is actually wood, not cardboard.  It looks nice and does what I needed it to.  I wish it was about twice as tall, but at the same time that would probably make it tippy since it's decently shallow, but I'm happy with it overall.  A shot of it while I was in the middle of stocking it with towels and bathroom supplies is seen above.

3.  I signed up for a free magazine subscription to "Real Simple" magazine and got my first issue in the mail this week.

4.  I watched a lot of different free things on the internet lately, usually late at night while the son isn't sleeping (see the whole his medication stopped working thing). 

5.  I found I needed a word processing program for my computer and didn't have the money to spend on Microsoft products (and really I didn't want to spend the money anyway).  I went and downloaded Open Office, which is some really nice freeware that does basically the same thing as Microsoft products, but for a lot less money :).

6.  As I said earlier I've done a lot of Spring cleaning of late.  I still have a bunch to go, but I'm slowly but surely getting there.  Doesn't cost much money, just time and is super rewarding when you get this or that done.  I rearranged the son's room this week to not only deep clean his room, but also to make it easier to battle larder beetles by freeing up the edges of his room.  It was a pretty nasty couple of days until he got used to the new layout, but he seems to have finally gotten over it and is actually enjoying the new layout to his room, so I'm calling it a win (I'll try to take a picture later when I'm more with it and thinking of such things).

7.  I mended a few holes in my bedroom comforters.  Unfortunately I still have more to go, but progress is at least being made :).

8.  Darned a few of my son's socks to make them last a little bit longer (he drags his feet along the floor when they itch and so he just wears holes in his socks SO fast).

9.  I signed my husband up for the Dollar Shave Club a while ago, but they raised their prices on pretty much everything this last month and I decided to look at other options as they weren't really cheap anymore and I found some cheaper solutions.  I ordered some for the husband to try and cancelled his subscription.  I figure if it doesn't work out I can always sign him up for it again or we can still buy products as we need them, just not at as good of a discount (whatever that means) if need be, so we'll give it a shot.

And there you go folks a quick look at what's been going on around here of late.  How are you all doing?  I know my blogging schedule has been horribly erratic for a bit here, but I'm hoping that I can get back onto an even keel and back to regular blogging here soon.  If nothing else I'm thinking I'll be able to do that once school is over for the summer since I won't be running around like mad every day and hopefully we'll be able to get some major repairs done on the house here soon as well, which would help alleviate not only stress but craziness in my general life.

So, let me know how you are all doing in your lives!  I hope everything has been going well for you all!