Thursday, July 18, 2024

Where I've Been and What I've Been Up To

It has been a hot minute since I posted, I know.  I'm sorry to worry so many people.  I made a post on Facebook to hopefully reach some and put up a comment in response to a reader as well, but I've been so "hair on fire" hectic, blogging just was NOT on my radar.

First, I want to apologize to Ranee, as I did not respond to her comments earlier and it appears they have been deleted now.  I'm sorry I didn't get to them sooner and I hope you are doing well, Ranee.  I responded to your last comment that you deleted, so hopefully you can read my response.  Please feel free to e-mail me to talk if you need or want to (you can find the e-mail under the "Contact Me" page)...a lot of times that is the best way to get ahold of me as I check that a few times a day in case I get something important in.  Responding to comments on the blog takes me a bit as I have to set up my computer to do it as the blog comment responder thing doesn't work on my phone, but e-mail I can do on my phone when I have a second during the day.  I'm sorry about your loss and about having to go through all you have gone through lately.  Please, let me know how the whole insurance situation turned out.

Right, so let me get down to what is going on around here.

My father-in-law passed away in May.  He'd been in declining health for a while, but his final decline happened so fast, it was a shock.  We got through the funeral (I'm still not sure how much Alvah has processed about the whole thing as he was sick and he and I didn't make the funeral as a result) and my husband especially has been super busy trying to go through things with my mother-in-law to find homes for stuff that needs to be found homes for, and there is a lot of stuff to go through in other ways as well as my father-in-law owned multiple businesses.  We are slowly working our way to a new normal without my father-in-law, but it is like peeling an onion.  It always seems like there are more layers to go through.

All the while things were happening on top of that.  Our home owners insurance came and inspected our home back in March (you know, the guys that screwed up the insurance renewal process every year so my mortgage consistently went up?  Yeah, those guys), in the middle of a snowstorm, when you couldn't see much of anything because it was all buried in snow still.  They came back, in the beginning of May, telling us if we wanted to renew we needed to replace our roof (our roof is fine) by July (like even if we needed a new roof, a window like that wasn't going to happen).  

We sealed around the chimney so it was professional quality work to take care of that "loose shingle" issue they were claiming we had (two shingles...I mean, really?), so we got that done (which in the heat wasn't fun for my husband).

I had just said to heck with it and found someone to do our gutters beforehand and just put it on our home equity loan because the way finances were going I knew I wasn't going to get it done if I waited to just cash it out.  Unfortunately they were so booked and so busy that we had to wait and we ended up getting the gutters put in the same week my father-in-law passed away and everything was going on at once.  But, the gutters are in, the company did a great job (highly recommend Denali Gutters to anyone local), make the house look about 10 bazillion times better and I am so relieved we got them in before we had to worry about the roof rotting around them.  

After the gutters were in, it was time to fight the moss.  Moss had grown in the old broken gutters and was contaminating the garage roof, so I spent a ridiculous amount of time out on that roof in May and June, scraping off little bits of moss from around shingles and spraying them with a bleach solution (1/2 bleach to 1/2 water works!  It does kill the moss once you scrape it and stops it from coming least for the small amounts we had).  This was to cure the "active moss growing on roof" claims the insurance company was throwing out (the only real sizeable moss chunks we had growing were in the actual gutters before we got the new ones in, mind you).  Once we had cured what they had said leaded us into needing a whole new roof and had cleaned up the back area around the house (it did need it, so we cured that one right away without issue), I called the insurance company to see if they would reinspect the property.  Their response was "call us when you get a new roof".  So, yeah, at that point we were done with them.  It just got nuts after that as we scrambled to do as much as we could to the house to make it right so we could get new insurance without tons of issues needing to be cured to get insured.

Side note here in the current time:  Our only experience with home owners insurance was with SageSure/Occidental over the years and when we first got the place we had some pretty weird hoops we had to jump through to get insurance so we assumed we would have the same problem with all insurance companies.  Turns out that wasn't true and our new insurance company was WAY nicer and more laid back about everything.  I hope that continues in the future as well.

Anyway, that scrambling to get EVERYTHING done to the house that needed to get done well...cue, what I have been working on ALL summer long.   This is seriously the project that just doesn't seem to end.  I'll get to everything else we've been working on and all the things that decided to break and need to be fixed this summer in another post (it's been a bombardment and believe it or not I've gotten a bunch of other stuff done too), but let me give you the details on what I've primarily been up to.

The deck and front porch.  Yep, that's the big projects I've been doing.

Unfortunately, my husband hasn't been able to help me with this much at all, so I have done it all on my own.  He did replace the few rotten timbers we had in our front porch (the water from the broken gutters had just poured down for three solid years onto the front porch in one area and the wood just gave up).  He also helped me to chisel out the rotten wood as I'd find it on the deck and repair what we needed to (a few places where there were knots, and there was a LOT of knots in the deck wood, had just absorbed water the last few years and rotted around the knot, so we chiseled the wood out and put a paintable two step epoxy in the holes to stop it from getting worse and then I just painted over where the holes used to be), but otherwise he's just been busy with everything else, everywhere else.  Lucky for me Armina has turned into a really good babysitter for Alvah this summer (mind you I was right out the door, but he does need someone to help watch him) and I was able to work on this before everything just rotted was getting close, I'm not going to lie.  The wood on the deck and front porch that wasn't rotten and was still hard, was distressed to say the least.  

Bright side, I inadvertently stumbled across a great product that helped to make the whole thing work without me needing three different products to get it all done.  Last winter I had bought a five gallon bucket of "Dock and Deck Super Coating" from Sherwin Williams on super sale (it was down to like 120.00 from 400.00 normal price) and had grabbed it to work on the deck this summer.  I thought it was just deck paint, but I was wrong.  It is way more than that.  It turns out my husband loves this product more than I do because the stuff goes on SUPER thick, sets up super duper quick (so you can get this stuff down and have it dry before a rain shower wrecks it) and it cures into a kind of rubberized coating that is super tough.  It ain't cheap, but just the amount of cracks I was able to fill in with the coating versus having to go over everything with wood filler, waiting for that to cure and then paint it and hope it matches?  Worth it's weight in gold.  And it, of course, being dock paint, is textured (so I won't be sliding across the deck with a small layer of ice this winter if I need to go out there) and is waterproof (obviously), so hopefully it will last for quite a while.  Man, I hope it lasts quite a while as this has been so much work.  

Guys, I've been working on this project all summer long and I'm STILL NOT done!  I have gotten to a point where I need to paint between the slats on the deck (as it was starting to rot in between the planks, so I want to make sure that part gets sealed well) and the underside of the deck and stairs as well as hard to reach spaces and I'll finally be done.  I'm getting there.  I was able to work pretty constant up to the fourth of July and then it just started raining.  We've had a few breaks in the weather, but have been so busy with other things that I haven't had an opportunity to get back to the painting.  Hopefully I can get a bunch done this weekend as it is supposed to clear up, if it dries out underneath fast.  Here's hoping.  

First there was sanding the deck.  I had to sand in between the railing uprights by hand as I didn't have a sander that would fit in an area that small, but otherwise I used a belt sander or a detail sander to do it all. 

I killed two belt sanders working on this sucker (my husband is not pleased, but it was truly accidental) and ended up finishing it up with a SKIL detail sander (I really like that little sander and they are pretty cheap to get as well).  Thank you again to those who buy through my Amazon link on the blog as the associate fees from that helped to pay for the detail sander, which really helped, especially with the stairs as I was out of other sanders to use by then.

Sanding took forever.  There was wood that had become saturated with water and had to be sanded down until I could find hard wood to dry out (thank goodness the weather got nice, or I don't know if it would have ever dried out).  The uprights on the railing...Lord those things take SO LONG between sanding and painting.

And then the painting started.  It took a long time as I had to do the deck floor, each of the uprights on the inside AND the outside and in between (I still have to take a ladder and get the very bottom of the outside as I can't reach between the uprights from the deck landing itself).  

I also had to take a break in the middle of painting the deck and switch to the front porch because my husband decided we needed to get a new insurance company lined up ASAP for our home owners insurance (I wanted to get as much as I could done and THEN get a new insurance company, but he won) and the front porch looked...well terrible honestly and needed some serious work.  So, after my husband fixed what was in big time need of repair (ironically the old insurance company never mentioned the porch or the deck and I was like "What????"), I got to work sanding and painting it.  We used the same coating we used on the deck to do the front porch and I have to might not match our original paint (it used to be yellow and brown just like the house), but I think it turned out looking really nice.  Oh and please say "hi" to our cat Sepp who decided to photo bomb the picture I took.

I also, when I was out front painting, now that the weather was actually not raining and snowing constantly, started to clean things up.  The sod from the yard, with little maintenance being able to be done to it the last three years, had overgrown so it was up against the stairs and completely wiping out our front concrete walkway.  I am still ripping up sod, in places, but I got a lot of it taken care of.  Please ignore our overgrown yard.  With constant rain the last few weeks, the yard weeds have gone bonkers and started to take over again.  Our yard WAS looking nice up until now.

Bright side, the home owner inspection guy showed up in the middle of me painting the front porch (after the major stuff was take care of and looked WAY better), so I was happy that the insurance company would at least see we ARE actively working on the house...maintenance got delayed for sure (earthquake, Covid, weather, not to mention finances), but it IS getting done now.  We passed the inspection (thank goodness) which is the most important thing for me and our new insurance policy starts today (yay!!!).

Here is a shot of the deck at about 80% done (since I'm still working on the underside and stuff)...

And another angle...

If the deck looks speckled in the photo, by the way, it is because it is raining again today and I took the picture in the rain.  I moved the wood furniture (I bought a set of chairs and small table to match our ones from last year with a Christmas gift card and I'm so happy I did as it allows us to sit on the deck together as a family) under the eaves to protect it from the rain the last bit as the old set of furniture needs to get treated with oil before it sits in the rain too long.

I moved the grill around so that we have the nice wide open space on the deck to sit and eat dinner. I found a side benefit of moving the grill to its new location is that I can see it from my kitchen window so I can run in to work on getting the table set and things while, say, chicken is cooking, and be able to quickly see if the grill is having a flair up or something, which is great.

And here is a shot of my own version of "The Exorcist" stairs.  I had to show my daughter the actual "Exorcist" stairs as she didn't get the joke.  The deck is on the second story so we have a lot of stairs and when I was sitting on the stairs working on them I'd look up and think, "Gee, those suckers are steeper than I thought they were".

I'm really glad I got the stairs done as they were really starting to suffer from the water damage even as I was working on the main part of the deck as we'd get rain storms and things.  I'll feel tons better once I have the underside of them completely painted and sealed (I'm about 3/4 of the way done with that), but at least I made it better than it was.

I've  been grilling a lot out on the nice painted deck the last bit (it's been hot a bunch this summer) and it is supposed to get hot again this weekend, so I'll be grilling out there again so I don't heat the house up.  It is nice being able to enjoy the deck without feeling sick about how it was just was getting worse and worse and worse.  I'll probably do a final reveal of the deck when it is 100% complete, if for no other reason than to document my progress and what I've gotten done this year.  So far.  I'm actually impressed with how much I've gotten done so far this year, especially with all the stuff that has happened.  For now, though, I'll leave you with the mostly done pictures of what I've gotten done so far.

I hope you are all doing okay with the hot weather that has been hitting down south and are able to have at least somewhat of a good summer.

I'm off to bake bread before the heat picks up again tomorrow.  See you, hopefully, soon!

Friday, May 3, 2024

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Recap

When it comes to saving money around here, it...well to put it bluntly it just frustrates me.  It seems like every time you save even a TINY bit of money, something happens and poof, the money is gone.  For instance, I have been working my butt off trying to save up enough money to get the gutters replaced on the house, which desperately needs to be done, and was just starting to make some progress toward that goal and suddenly my truck started spewing antifreeze.  Turns out it is leaking from the gasket around the water pump and we are probably going to need a new water pump, but with the way costs have gone up for labor and parts (my husband can't do it himself right now as he's still laid up with his shoulder being jacked up)...all the money I've saved up is going back out the door toward that.  Ugh.  

Then, speaking of my husband's shoulder, my husband has been in pain for over a month now and was trying to use the free medical service available to us through our union.  Turns out they are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine, insisted my husband become an established patient before they'd even do anything about his shoulder that might, you know, help it, and so they put him out a month before they could do a physical and bloodwork.  My husband suffered all that time (I did tell him more than a few times to go see our old doctor and we'd just pay for it, but he was determined, God bless him) and called last week to confirm his appointment ONLY to be told that they had no record of making an appointment for him!!!  Grrrrrrrr!!!!  So, finally, my husband went to our old doctor's office and we resolved to just having to pay for medical care.  He's on a steroid now and is supposed to take a muscle relaxant once the steroid is done and we'll see how it goes.  If it doesn't fix it, it is off to physical therapy for him.  So far, he's still in pain, but a LOT less pain then before, has more range of motion and is hopeful.  Praying for sure.

One bright point to the visit was that he found that with having to take a lunch every day (to save the aforementioned money) and the way we have been watching what we eat, his blood pressure is fine and if it keeps up he'll be able to stay off of blood pressure pills.  Yay for SOME good news anyway!

It's been rough going getting stuff done around the house.  Despite the weather actually being pretty nice (we are looking at chances of rain in the forecast now, but it's been pretty nice weather the last few weeks anyway), we still have snow on the ground, which is rapidly melting (at the time of writing this I THINK we finally might lose the last chunk of snow in our back yard, yay!).  Then, Alvah has been going through a really rough go with his behavior and is in a perpetually bad mood for reasons unknown to us.  I know part of it is his eczema has just exploded the last bit, which it hasn't been this bad in a long while, so I know that is not helping.  And looking back, this time of year is the roughest for him behavior-wise.  I'm not sure if it is the returning daylight, just being fed up with school for the year, or what, but it is rough with him.  

But yeah, despite feeling like I"m in a battle to save money and get stuff done, I have found things I can do around here to hopefully improve our situation a bit.

1.  I painted our landing and downstairs hallway, hung stuff up, rearranged furniture, and made things pretty with no cost out of pocket.

I've been sitting on the paint for this project for quite a while, but kept putting it off because the landing seemed like an impossible obstacle for me to get past without my husband's help and a REALLY long ladder, as the landing's ceiling is about 20 feet up.  I finally got tired of looking at lines of white where our new paint met the old nasty original house paint and tried to think of a way around my husband helping me to get that chore done.  My husband had some paint poles to put a roller one and one of them was a telescoping type, so I grabbed my husband's 8' ladder, the pole, the one roller I had left from painting the rest of the house, the paint I had left and I got to work.  

I determined very quickly that I really couldn't afford to spend money on this project, so I got creative to not have to go and buy materials for it.  I only had a bit of viable painter's tape left (a lot of it was so old it just plain would NOT stick and would bleed through if you weren't careful), and nothing to wrap the railings with in the way of painting paper.  SO, I used paper bags to wrap the top railing and then carefully removed said paper and reused it for the bottom stairway railing as well.  I would paint an area, wait for the paint to dry, CAREFULLY remove the painter's tape and then reuse it somewhere else that I need it (like in small, narrow areas around doorways).  I was able to successfully paint everything I needed to this way.

The roller I had BARELY made it through the entire project.  It was in rough shape when I was done and threw it away, but one roller made it!

For the corners and areas where the roller could not reach, I had to get creative.  I did not have a ladder that was safe enough to get up to the ceiling and get everything done (we have an extension ladder, but there was NO WAY I was going to use that in a stairwell...I want to see my kids grow up), so I came up with an idea.  I scoured the house and finally found some viable rubber bands and used a bunch to secure my paintbrush handle to the telescoping part of the painter's pole.  I made the pole, essentially, into a REALLY long handle for the paint brush.  

It was slow going, I'm not going to lie, as the handle would move despite the rubber bands after a bit and I'd have to pull it down to straighten it again and again, but I DID get it done!  And it looks good!  My husband was dumbfounded that a trick like that worked and turned out looking nice, but it worked.

The only part that I wish had turned out better was around the chandelier on the ceiling.  I tried my hardest to paint around it carefully, but with the extensions I had to work with, I still managed to get paint on the cowling where it met the ceiling.  I did get creative and sprayed some cleaner on a paper towel and attached it to the extension pole with a rubber band (repeat about 18 times to get all the paint) and cleaned it up slowly and carefully as well as I could.  My husband thinks he can reach that part of the ceiling with a scaffold ladder he has and can clean it up when he changes the light bulbs in the chandelier that are burned out, so hopefully he can clean that up.  Here's hoping, as it bugs me that there are still paint streaks on it.

I even took some paint and painted the inside of the front door as it needed a coat of paint badly.  I painted around the windows in the door as well in the hopes that it would help re-seal them a bit (the horrible wind storms we've had in the last three years or so took their toll on the seals around the windows), so we'll see it works next winter.  I think I'm going to save up for some brown paint and start painting the trim around the windows inside the house to see if I can help seal them a bit from the weather until we can afford to replace them (hopefully soon).  

I carefully hung back up the pictures and the children's artwork in the stairwell and downstairs hallway to try and make it look more organized and...well...more put together.  Over the years I just tried to line things up and hung things up where they would work, more than making it look like an organized gallery space.  I WAS going to put up a certain amount of items and rotate them out like a couple of times a year, but I got outvoted by the daughter and husband, so I hung everything up instead.  It is a bit busy for me, but it works a lot better than the old system so I'm okay with it.  And, most importantly, I was able to hang up photos and artwork that had gotten put aside as I didn't have a good place to hang them before.

The finished hallway came out looking nice.  I had to replace the front door mat.  The old one was a carpet sample that the old owners had gotten somewhere and was just...done.  The stains weren't coming out, it was worn down in spots and just looked awful.  I looked around for a while trying to find a mat that would work as the front door has pretty tight clearance to the floor and I wanted to make sure it would open unencumbered, but I finally found one a while back and put it aside to use when I was finished painting the space (no comment on how long ago that was...absolutely no comment).  I am still working on getting it flat as it has sat rolled up in its wrapping all this time, but I am happy that it works perfectly in the space.  

I've actually wanted to find a hallway table for the landing since we moved in over a decade ago, but haven't had any luck finding one at yard sales or used stores, so I was actually contemplating buying one and crying at the price.  However, fate had other ideas.  I have an old antique dresser I refinished in college that we had in our old farmhouse in PA.  I fell in love with the desk topper on the old dresser and was determined to finish it and make it pretty again.  I removed about 20 layers of old paint from said dresser (not kidding) and then the base coats of shelac, but finally got it looking nice.  But, the downside to it is that the dresser is just thrashed.  It was worn out and brittle when I redid it.  I've babied it over the years, but I finally decided to move it into the living room so I could get rid of the big entertainment stand we had housing our DVD player and things (it was just WAY too big for the space).  The first thing that happened a few years ago was the top drawer's bottom fell out of it, but I just put the pieces aside and made it work until my husband could find time to fix it.  Then, a few weeks ago, my son dropped his I-Pad by accident behind the dresser and leaned on it to reach it.  And the poor dresser didn't take it well.  I heard a sickening crack and after getting Alvah settled I checked it out and found that one of the back casters had just plain given up and rolled completely under.  

At that point, I decided the poor thing just needed to retire.  I carefully moved it down onto the landing and decided it would be our new hallway table (the desk it was a part of was actually built by my great grandfather an apprenticeship project he was doing for his adopted father, who was a furniture maker and he made it as a hallway desk, so it was made to go in small spaces).  I shored up the back leg with a block of wood until I can carefully take the wheels off (seems to be the best thing for the poor old girl).  I then moved a 1970's cabinet that I was using as a bedside table that is built like a brick house up into the living room to house all the things the dresser was holding originally (it's even smaller than the dresser and is working just fine) and am just using an old fold up end table we had around the house as my nightstand until I can find something a bit bigger and sturdier (I barely have enough room for my glasses and a few small items on the thing).  I put an old phone we found at a thrift store on the dresser as a prop phone (it is wired backwards compared to our phone lines, so it doesn't work least I think that is what my husband said) and moved a cute frog accent lamp my husband bought for me years ago and put it on the dresser as a prop lamp (it used to be on my desk).  I never really used said lamp as it doesn't really light just tends to sit and look cute, so I thought it would work well as a prop lamp (our landing has 100% no power on it anywhere and nor does our downstairs hallway...drives me crazy, but putting outlets/receptacles on the landing isn't exactly high on the priority list...just makes vacuuming the stairs a real pain).  I then took a fake plant that used to sit on the towel cabinet by the bathroom, as well as the cloth panel I had on it as well, and put it on the dresser to complete the look (I'll show what I did with the towel cabinet another time).  

I think it turned out looking nice and the items on the dresser help to stop the 20+ pound cat in the house from jumping on the dresser and causing more harm.

2.  I cleared our deck in preparation for sanding, filling and resealing.

This is a project that should have been done three years ago, but the weather just has NOT cooperated in allowing us to do it.   Last year I even got enthusiastic that maybe the weather would break and when a really good sale at Sherwin Williams popped up for stains and deck paints, I went and got a five gallon bucket of deck paint to get the job done.  And then the weather didn't break.  With the nice weather we've had the last few weeks, everything was finally able to dry out and I was able to go out and evaluate the deck and front porch.  The front porch was not as bad as I thought it was when it was soaking wet, but the deck...the poor deck.  It is a mess.  We have cracked wood where it got over saturated with water and then dried out, we had moss growing in between the cracks in the deck that I had to go out and meticulously scrape out.  I got so many splinters just because the wood is sending out cries for help.  

Finally, this week, I decided that the chore I kept putting off in the hopes my husband would recover from his messed up shoulder and neck and be able to help me was probably not going happen.  So, I resolved to do it myself.  We had a bunch of blocks from when we had to tear down the old chimney after the earthquake that were still stacked around the deck.  My husband had come up with reasons why they were there and why he was not moving them, but honestly, I think it was because he had to remove WAYYYY too many heavy as heck bricks when he ripped out the old chimney and he was just burned out on lifting heavy objects (understandable).  I knew they could not remain on the deck, however, because if I went through all the effort to sand and seal the deck and then tried to move the blocks around to do the areas where the bricks were, I'd just rip up all the nice new paint I'd gone through the trouble to put down.  The bricks were just too rough and heavy to stay for the good of the deck.  

So, I, taking it slow with respect to my bad back, drug the bricks one at a time to the edge of the deck, slowly rolled them down the stairs and rolled them across the lawn and put them by our shed.  Those suckers were HEAVY, so I would only do a few a day when I had time and I'd try to take a break in between each one even if I was feeling okay just to make sure I rested my back.  I still felt the activity for sure as my back is sore, but I feel like it would have been much worse if I'd tried to do it all at once.

The deck looks so big without the garbage cans and the bricks on it now.  All I got left is the grill, a smoker a friend of my husband's gave him last fall (forgot to take a pic at the time for you guys to see) and a few easily moved items.  I feel pretty good about that.  

Now I just need to take inventory of what we have for sanding equipment and I can get started on stage two of this way overdue project.  Praying the weather is good this summer to get it done before my entire deck just rots away.

3.  Made more breakfast items for my husband.

I found out from my husband that he was out of breakfast bowls in the freezer and was out of pancake wraps, so I took a day last weekend and got those two things done for him.  I still want to make him some biscuit breakfast sandwiches, but haven't had a chance this week.  Alvah has been in kind of rough shape, so he's taken more energy than normal.

4.  My daughter went to prom.

We, of course, had some last minute problems with prom stuff.  Turns out not only does Armina have teeny tiny feet, but trying to find shoes that fit those feet is going to be a challenge.  Ankle boots seem to fit her okay, but regular dress shoes?  Not so much.  I ended up taking the third pair of shoes we'd ordered (kept having to size down), and padding the shoes out to fit her feet so she could walk properly.  I also ended up styling her hair myself as other plans for people do it had fallen through, so I ended up doing about five hair styles on her until we found out that everyone, especially Armina, liked and went with that.  Total cost for prom hair ended up being about 10.00 between the bobby pins and the hair spray, but totally worth it.  Her and her boyfriend had a good time and his mom and me ended up geeking out a bit about how cute they looked (neither one of us went to our proms, so we were happy to see our kids able to go). It went well, overall, thank goodness!

5.  Got the process of using home ground flour in bread down.

It took a bit, but I finally got a good process for making my sourdough bread with home ground flour, to a point.  I am up to using 1/3 home ground flour to 2/3 unbleached all purpose and the bread turns out just as well as if I'd used all unbleached all purpose from the store.  I found that I really needed to weigh the flour to make it work right.  I use 200 grams of home ground flour and add it to 1 cup of sourdough starter and 1 1/2 cups of warm water, mix it really well with a spoon until it's a very wet batter and then let it autolyse (basically let the flour sit and absorb water) for 10 minutes.  Then I add the 400 grams of all purpose flour, the yeast and salt and proceed as normal.  I always end up adding about 1/3 cup more all purpose flour to get the dough to the consistency that I like (it just ends up being too wet to handle kneading) and I do mound up my 2 tsp of yeast so they are more of a heaping tsp of yeast and overall I'm really happy how it turns out.  I actually need to grind more flour this weekend as I ran out in the middle of the week this week, so using up the wheat berries around here continues!

6.  Used up more things around the house that needed to be used.

I am on a mission to use up things in my pantry and freezer that need to be used.  I used up a single layer chocolate cake from the freezer that had been in there since my daughter's birthday and we turned it into dessert for a few nights.  I took some bananas that were left from grocery shopping that were going too dark and used them to make banana cake, which I made home made vanilla buttercream frosting to go on it instead of the cream cheese frosting as I didn't really have the cream cheese to spare.  It turned out awesome and my husband and I really enjoyed eating through it.  Luckily with the fridge being empty before grocery day, the 9x13 pan fit in the fridge perfectly fine until we could eat through it all.  And double bonus, not only did it use up bananas that needed to be used, but also used up the last container of frozen buttermilk from the freezer that kept falling on my foot and was going to get broken eventually.

7.  I cleaned around the house.  A lot.

Now that the weather has been better I've been on a mission to get some Spring cleaning done.  I took down all of the upstairs curtains and washed them before hanging them back up, shampooed the heck out of my son's carpet to get all kinds of gunk out of it (still need to finish laying the carpet in his's on my list for this summer), took things off of shelves and dusted them (not something I do regularly as I'm so busy...just a disclaimer there), and washed the upstairs windows, closets and other things.  

I also started condensing the pantry and satellite areas that have food in them (like moving snacks from the hallway closet to the pantry as well), trying to organize things better and making sure I use everything up.  I don't have the money to buy food in bulk anymore, really, with how inflation has been (and sales are non-existent on food items it seems unless there is a limit of like 2), so I am determined to just be content with downsizing things and making it all work.  I am planning on buying meat in bulk when needed (mainly hamburger) as that is something I can save for and just try do okay in this economy.  My husband and I are revisiting the idea of getting a Costco membership to buy things like bulk flour as they are now offering delivery in our area, but we need to go in and take a look at what is available and prices before we decide to commit to anything.  I am working on getting us down to just stocking staples in bulk around here (flour, sugar, rice, etc) and working on making things from scratch to save money instead of worrying about stocking satellite items (like cake mixes) as I think times are just going to get tighter and I want flexibility in what I am going to make and what I am able to do around here.

8.  A frugal fail combined with no added loss.

Instead of taking a trip and wasting gas, I called our local appliance place and asked them about a refund we were supposed to be eligible for after five years on our extended warranty we had purchased on our oven.  When we bought the extended warranty, we were told that if we didn't use it in five years we could get a full refund on the warranty price.  That was all we were told, so we took the chance we weren't going to use it.  I waited those five years, holding onto my receipt and once the five year mark had passed, I called them and asked about the refund.  I was half expecting it would come in the form of a gift card to the place, which I was okay with as we do buy cooking and baking stuff from there on occasion, but nooooo, not even close it turns out.  If I am found eligible (which not sure what that means from the stuff I was sent), I could get a voucher toward another major appliance or another extended warranty and I would have to use said voucher right away.  I honestly felt ripped off as that is NOTHING like I was told when I signed up.  But, I know now.  No more buying extended warranties.  I'm done with that bit.  They seldom pay off in the end.

Sure that was a frugal fail, but at least I was able to find out the disappointing stuff over the phone and e-mail instead of going into the store, wasting the gas, waiting in line and everything just to find all of that out.  So, at least I can say I didn't compound the loss.

9.  Got done with school for the year.

After a lot of work, my daughter is officially done with her junior year of high school.  She actually finished all of her school books this year, which is a HUGE accomplishment for her as she's never finished her math book before.  I am so proud of her for doing so well at her school work this year (and honestly, proud of myself for not losing my sanity as sometimes you just end up having to drag kids through schoolwork during the school year).

10.  I keep decluttering areas of the house and organizing as I go.  I'm super happy with the results as I'm so tired of feeling like I'm just battling a cluttered mess all the time and it is nice being able to access things I need quickly without having to move 18 things to get there.

11.  Moved some more furniture around.

One of the things I did end up doing was I moved. a really hefty dresser that I was using in my bedroom and switched it out with my old spindle legged dresser I was using in my son's room.  I had moved my old dresser, which I loved dearly, into his room to make it so I could vacuum under his furniture easier to keep mess down, but he was so hard on it that I noticed it had a crack in a back leg.  I moved the dresser back downstairs and moved the sturdy (and heavy...good Lord was it heavy) dresser I was using upstairs for him instead.  It is a bigger dresser, which works for him as he's well over 6' now and needs the extra room for clothes, sturdy, and while I hate moving it to vacuum under it, at least I know it can handle abuse.  He seems happy with it and now I can baby the dresser I love dearly in my room where I can take care of it and it not get abused.

10.  Watched free videos for school content

I wanted to do some fun things for my son's fourth quarter of school when it came to history.  So, I went and looked on YouTube for videos he could watch that would match his curriculum.  I found that both "Wartime Farm" and "The 1940's House" are both on YouTube to watch for free, so we've been working our way through those for the last part of his school year and we've also had a good time watching videos on what is going on in astronomy by checking out NASA videos and others on YouTube as well.  It's been entertaining AND educational.

And there you go folks.  A small synopsis of what I've been up to around here.   

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

What's for Dinner: Our Weekly Menu Plan

Here's something I haven't done in a while, but I thought I'd share what our menu plan is looking like for the week.  This "plan" is just that...a plan.  We'll be getting paid this week, which means we'll be picking up our groceries this week as well, so depending on availability of items I might have to change up what we are eating to adapt.

Can I just say, though, how much I love doing grocery pick up?  The biggest advantage I've found is that I can start adding things to my basket two weeks before I actually have to go grocery shopping, so I have plenty of time to figure out needs versus wants, if I should pick up a couple more of certain items or not (depending on how much the final bill will be and how much we need to put into savings that week) and most importantly I can make SURE we are living within our grocery budget, so rises in prices are calculated online for me so I don't have a shock bill when I go to the store and trying to do it all on the fly.  I don't have to worry about dragging Alvah through the store and having him get grumpy waiting in long lines.  I can just go, pick up groceries and go home.  Really if there is one thing that came out of Covid that I appreciate it is the entire concept of pick up and go groceries.

Also, please enjoy the kind of sparse fridge shot above.  It is pay week, so it gets kind of empty as we prepare to fill it up for the next couple of weeks of meals at the end of the week.  

In other news, I want to thank everyone for supporting the blog that orders through my associate links for Amazon.  It has really helped me to get things we need around the house.  Like our fridge is slowly breaking from age as the shelves and plastic give out from plastic fatigue and things just get too old and brittle.  One of the things that broke a long while ago was our deli drawer.  My husband looked at it and kept trying to figure out a way to fix it, but really he was figuring it was a losing battle.  I saved up my associate fees and was able to find these drawers (associate link) and ordered them.  They just clip onto the underside of the fridge shelves and they are kind of small, but they get things like boxes of butter or little bits of cheese or my daughter's deli ham off of the fridge shelves and I'll tell you what it makes things so much easier and less awkward.  I can even fit a few containers of left over veggies and things into them so they don't get buried into the back of the fridge.  Weird the way you don't miss things like a deli drawer until it's gone.

Anyway, onto the menu plan for this week.  

Weekly Menu List 

Grilled chicken, coleslaw, Mac and cheese

Cuban sandwiches, roasted carrots, canned pears

Hawaiian chicken, coconut rice, tropical fruit

Pizza night (Friday)

Burgers, coleslaw, oven fries

Greek chicken, greek salad, Tzatziki sauce, pita bread

Salmon, Japanese style, miso soup, rice, fruit (fruit cocktail)

Days for Dinners:

  • Monday:  Grilled Chicken (marinated in Italian Dressing), coleslaw, Mac and Cheese.  

The coleslaw recipe was good, but I am going to add more vinegar to it next time as we like a more tangy coleslaw.  But, I was able to use up the cabbage that was left over from St. Patrick's Day that has been sitting in the fridge.  I think we are going to eat coleslaw more this summer as it really hit the spot.

  • Tuesday:  Hawaiian Chicken, coconut cilantro rice and tropical fruit (this stuff, associate link)...the tropical fruit is one of our favorite side dishes to have and I do try to ration it as it isn't the cheapest thing to have in the pantry...good stuff though.
  • Wednesday:  Cuban sandwiches on sourdough bread (use ground Cuban meat in the freezer), roasted carrots, canned pears (we have a bunch of pears to go through)
  • Thursday:  Burgers on sourdough buns, oven fries, coleslaw (I have more cabbage, so I am going to make more coleslaw).

For the salad I will be using yellow onion as that is what I have, black olives instead of Kalamata olives and crumbled feta instead of chunked as that is what I have on help keep costs down as the produce alone will cost enough.  I haven't had Greek salad in YEARS and it sounds really good, so I am going to try and afford the produce to make it...we'll see how expensive the groceries get by the end of the week as I might have to cut it out...we shall see).

  • Sunday:  Japanese style salmon, rice, miso soup, fruit cocktail or fresh fruit (depending on availability).

I'm not sure if I have enough frozen salmon to have it, so I'll have to check the freezer, so I might have to change the plan, but we shall see.

So there you go folks.  Our tentative menu plan for this week.  I'm hoping I can use up things in the freezer that need to be used up (like the salmon) and just keep getting things more and more streamlined and organized around here.


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Some of My Favorite YouTube Channels

Behind on blogging again.  Story of my life.  Bright side, for the most part I've just been really busy around here.  I'll get more into that in a bit, but for now, I thought I would answer a question I got a while back.  

Someone left a comment on a post asking what some of my favorite channels on YouTube were, or what were my favorite things to watch online...something along those lines.  While I do have some things I like to watch on Amazon Prime video from time to time, for the most part now a days, I mainly watch YouTube.  So, I thought I would start with some of my favorite things to watch on YouTube today.  

So, here you go folks.  Some of my favorite things to do on the YouTube.

My favorite things to watch are mainly homesteading, cooking and just daily life vlogs.  Don't know why on some of them...I just find them relaxing.  Now, mind you, before everyone goes "Good Lord, all she must do is watch TV..." no, not that's not the case at all.  I actually barely watch TV during the day.  I'm too busy during the day.  But, when you have a kid that doesn't sleep and will wake the entire household if you don't keep tabs on him, you end up watching a lot of stuff to keep yourself awake.  So, that's where I found most of these channels...late a night.  But, I do admit that a few channels, like Three River's Homestead, I try to watch the day the video comes out and enjoy it as she's one of my favorite channels to watch.

In no particular order:

Three River's Homestead Trying to find inspiration on how not to waste anything?  This is the channel for you.  She also has a child with anaphylactic dairy and peanut allergies and she herself is gluten free (and on the GAPS diet sometimes) to help manage her Crohn's disease, so if you are juggling dietary restrictions and trying to figure out how to manage that, she might be a great resource to check out.

Farmhouse on Boone I follow this channel mainly for sourdough inspiration, but she's got a great channel all the same.  Her recipes are top notch (I always add instant yeast to her recipes to make them into sourdough highbred recipes to save time and sometimes I add more flour for that purpose as well, but they have all been delicious that I have made).

Seed and Sparrow Homestead. She has some of the best bread recipes that aren't sourdough around and she has some great all around recipes as well.  I also love her kids running around in the background making noise know...real life *laugh*.

The Hollar Homestead I really love this family and their hard working, get-up-and-go attitude and they do a LOT.  I've actually learned quite a bit watching their channel this last year about everything from what pigs to raise (if I ever do that), how to make different recipes, how to make and cultivate's amazing how much they learn and share with others.  And their daughter is absolutely adorable and loves to help her parents, which I find so stinking cute.

Celebrating Appalachia.  This is one of my channels that I seldom miss an update when she posts up a video.  I love this family and their love for the place where they live and everything that goes along with it.  I even bought her cookbook with some of the gift cards I got at Christmas and use it quite a bit.  Her recipes are simple and delicious and she loves to garden and work the land.  Her family reminds me of my family back in PA and I have an genuine affection for the channel.

Acre Homestead. I used to watch Becky all the time, but I've found as my financial situation gets tighter, that the last thing I want to do is watch someone put together elaborate dinner parties and things.  It's not that I don't think she has a right to do that or something, don't get me wrong, but she's just in a completely different stage of financial life than I am right now and the length of her videos (a lot of them almost an hour or more) are just too long for someone like me who gets to wrestle time in minutes from the day, not hours.  So, now a days I tend to just watch her freezer cooking videos to see if she tries any new recipes that spark my interest and that's about it.  But, she's fun to watch, so I wanted to include her channel here for others to check out.

Little Mountain Ranch.  I started watching this channel as she's in a growing zone that is similar to mine and I wanted to see if I could pick up some tips on varieties of things to grow in my area.  She cooks and does other stuff, of course, and that has me going back to see what her and her family are up to.  It's a fun channel and I enjoy it.

Sarah Terese Co. Sarah Terese's energy is infectious and she's actually been a good motivating channel for me when it comes to detail cleaning things as she's kind of type A when it comes to being neat and tidy.  It is good for me as I tend to go for big messes first and will overlook the minutia in the cleaning department.

nyangsoop.  This is one of my favorite "happy place" channels.  It is a Korean vlog of a gal who lives in the Korean countryside and her interior decorating is absolutely gorgeous.  I love how warm her house is (lots of wood), how pretty her scenery is and her cat Taco is a cutie.  It is a nice laid back channel to watch.  She doesn't update too often, but when she does (and as soon as she gets the subtitles working in English, which sometimes takes a couple of days) I watch the video immediately.  It is truly one my favorite spaces on YouTube.

Nami's Life.  A Japanese vlogger I subscribe to, who has a really nice, laid back channel.  I enjoy her videos for sure and have picked up a lot of ideas for Japanese cooking from her as well.

Cecilia Blomdohl. Ever wondered what life was like on Svalbard, an island close to the North Pole?  Well, now you don't have to wonder!  I love this channel for her eye for photography and scenery, her love for the outdoors and her cozy cabin and life.  I also love to compare what she pays for groceries compared to us to see what the differences are (oddly enough, not too far off in some cases) and also watching someone who understands what it is like for the grocery store to be out of a bunch of things when the plane or the boat is late *laugh*.

Choki. A vlog about a Japanese woman and the life of her and her cats.  I love her cozy interior decorating vibe and she's another channel that I've picked up a bit of Japanese cooking from.  I want to try her recipe for Japanese milk bread one of these days.

Imamu Room I started watching this channel for the bento boxes she would put together for her husband, but have stayed because the family is cute the way they interact with each other and her way of vlogging is funny and real.  

Townsends. I've learned a lot about the 18th Century through this channel over the years and 18th Century Cooking is still one of my favorite things to binge watch on YouTube when Alvah isn't sleeping.  I'm hoping I can learn more about cooking over open fire and on wood stoves through the channel in case of situations where it will be needed *laugh*.

And a few others:

Moomin Official.  I absolutely LOVE the Moomins!!!  I linked to the Official Moomin Channel for the sake of simplicity, but I tend to watch the straight playlists of the 90's Moomin anime on YouTube that others have posted up (they have a playlist of the Moomins 90's Full Episodes and Compilations on the Official channel to start with, though...I just prefer a straight playlist without the Compilations part).  I watch the Moomins a lot and watch them quite a bit.

Lofi Girl. I listen to Lofi girl a lot late at night when I'm trying to hopefully get the son to relax and go to bed.  

Vintage Music Channel. I listen to older music a lot as I appreciate it and enjoy it quite a bit.  This is the best channel I've found for great playlists that have a nice variety of music on said playlists.  Right now we are binge listening to the Vintage Spring Music Playlist and the kids and I all enjoy listening to it :).

And there you go folks.  Some of my favorite things on YouTube.  I know it is kind of a long list and in no particular order, but my son isn't feeling good today so the idea of doing alphabetical order and separating into categories just is not going to happen.  Sorry.  

Hope you find something fun or new in the list!  What are some of your favorite channels to watch?

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Farmer's Loaf: A Freezer Cooking Recipe

Right, be prepared for a post that is not mine, but just a recipe I wanted to share.  This recipe, however, is worth sharing, as it gives you the most moist, yummy meat loaf!  My daughter absolutely adores this recipe.  The only thing I'll change the next time I make it is to cut down on the onions as the recipe does end up rather onion heavy for me and my husband.

So, let's get to it!

This recipe comes to us from, "Hazel Meyer's Freezer Cook Book", which was published in 1970 (I'd share a pic of the cover, but it is just green with simple text on the binding as the book is missing the dust jacket).  My husband got this cookbook for me for Christmas and I've had a ton of fun, so far, with it.  It is a cookbook that is all about food you can freeze (obviously) so it was an obvious book for me to reach for when I wanted to try some freezer cooking meals this last January and February.

Nice thing about this recipe?  Not only do you get meat in your diet, but also a bunch of veggies as well, so it's a nice "one pot" type of application.

I put my veggies through the food processor instead of a meat grinder and it worked, kinda.  I ended up with a bunch of potato chunks at the end of it.  I think next time I make it I'm going to par cook my potato a little bit to make it easier to process.  The chunks of potato I ended up with DID bake and were perfectly find in the finished product, but you did end up just biting into a chunk of potato which was a bit distracting while eating it.

So, onto the recipe!

Farmer's Loaf

  • 3 large white potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 large onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large green pepper, seeds removed and quartered
  • 1 eating apple, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage meat (I used Italian sausage)
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs or cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or undiluted evaporated milk


1.  Using medium or coarse blade, put vegetables and apple through a meat grinder (I used the food processor and just processed things till really fine if I could get it to that point).  Combine the mixture, including all of the juices with the other ingredients.  Mix thoroughly.  Pack into 2 buttered bread pans (9x5x3") and cover both pans with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

2.  Freezer portion:  Remove 1 pan, cool, chill in the refrigerator, then freeze.  Store up to 3 months (we've already gone through both loaves, so I say 3 months works *laugh*).

3.  Serving the unfrozen portion:  Uncover and continue to bake for 30 minutes.  Unmold, slice, and serve with tomato sauce or brown gravy (we used ketchup and it worked great).

4.  Serving the freezer portion:  Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.  Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 40 minutes.  Serve as above.

So, the next time you are looking at making a new meatloaf recipe, give this one a try!  It turned out really well for me and I plan on adding it to my freezer cooking rotation!


Quick Life Recap

Please enjoy the unrelated stand in photo above, mainly because I'm really wishing it were Spring instead of it snowing like mad out today.  And really, it was a huge dragonfly and really impressive to take a photo of before it flew off (nature hates me photographing it and things will immediately take off when I get near them, so I was impressed this came out *laugh*).

And now, onto our regularly schedule posting.

Okay, for those wondering where my frugal Friday post was for last week and the aforementioned extra post I was planning on doing got in the way.  It was a week.  My husband pulled something in his neck/shoulder the weekend before Easter doing something and has been in severe agony for nearly two weeks now.  I've actually spent a lot of time while he's home helping to get him fresh ice and things so he doesn't have to get up from a chair in the hopes that I'm alleviating his pain even a little bit.  He went to the doctor's last Friday and ended up on muscle relaxants and icing orders, which he's been doing religiously, but it hasn't gotten any better, so he's going to try the chiropractor next after he talked to my sister-in-law, who is a massage therapist, for advice.  

Then, my cat Prince was on my lap last Wednesday night and he just went nuts licking the chair of all things and I was trying to figure out what was going on when I realized he was bleeding everywhere!  I thought it was coming from his tail end, so I ended up taking him in as soon as we could on Thursday to the vet (we don't have any vet hospitals open anymore near where we live) and I was really thinking we were going to have to put him down (although what drove me nuts was that he hadn't acted all!).  My husband ended up taking the day off and staying home with the kids while I went in.  The vet, fortunately, came in and seeing all the new blood on Prince's tail looked at him considering and quickly came to the conclusion that she thought it was an injury that had gotten infected.  Sure enough, she checked and found said injury at the VERY base of his tail, so where I thought he was bleeding internally, he was bleeding externally after all.  She shaved the area, gave us a script for some pain killers and anti-inflamatory drugs and gave him a long lasting antibiotic shot and irrigated out the wound as well.  Cost me a decent amount (ended up putting that on the credit card, unfortunately, as vet care costs have gone through the roof the last couple of years), but at least it wasn't something really, really bad, so I'm counting my blessings on that one.  We are now over me having to shove two pills down his throat a day and he's begging for food again (the antibiotics started to get to him and the pain, I think, and he was out of it for the early part of this week), so I'm glad he's on the mend.  Trying to keep him away from any fights with Belkar for the time being as this whole experience has spooked me to what two house cats can do to each other in a normal everyday cat fight.  Yeesh.

So, when it came to frugal stuff last week, there wasn't much to report, but a bunch in the opposing direction (sigh), so I am just adding things to the money saving list and will share it, hopefully this weekend, if nothing else goes wrong.  Here's hoping.

So, yeah, consider blogging a work in progress at the moment and hopefully I can get caught up here with life getting in the way.

Oh and one other thing that I'm not sure where to post it up at, Julia (if you read this) I got your comment e-mailed to me by Blogger so I could post it, which I did (supposedly), but for some weird reason it does not show up on the blog.  It shows published on my blog end, but not on the public end.  I'm baffled on that one.  I e-mailed blogger about it and am waiting on a reply from them to see if they can figure out what is going on with that.

So, now that you guys are somewhat caught up, I'll post up some more upbeat things here *laugh*.  

Monday, March 25, 2024

Money Saving Weekly Recap

This blog post was delayed until today due to the fact that my weekend was super busy.  We had OT appointments to get to, Special Olympics swimming program kicking off this last weekend and just tons of stuff to do.  I kept trying to find time to post up a blog post, but there always seemed to be something else to do (I’m sure you all relate), so enjoy two blog posts this week as a result!

So, let’s get to the frugal stuff I did this last week.

1. Combined old and new to make dessert.

I decided to make cobbler for dessert one night, so I pulled out the  home made pear pie filling I had made out of the freezer.  Then, I went to the fridge and pulled out about a 1/2 pint of blackberry pie filling I had left from making a trifle for dessert one night and added that to the fruit mixture.  Gave the cobbler a nice flavor (albeit out the ordinary for something I’d make) and used up some pie filling that would have gone bad otherwise.  Worked well.

2. Paid a bill and didn't forget about it.

I paid our insurance bill online for our policy that only renews once a year and paid it as soon as the bill came through online.  Main way that saved us money was that I got it done and didn’t forget about it, which is always a good feeling.

3. Stretched laundry detergent.

I found some odds and ends of laundry detergent in my laundry room when I was organizing it.  I have been using those up to stretch our other laundry detergent as far as I can (that stuff has gotten expensive!).  I am making sure to rinse the clothes with an extra rinse cycle just to make sure it doesn’t flare up the kid’s eczema, but so far it is working well.

4.  Used things I had to do some organization.

I organized my den freezer.  I found some heavy duty boxes we had fit perfectly into the space and were decently tall boxes at that, so I used those to organize the freezer.  When we get some more I’m going to cut down the boxes height for the top layer and stack them on top of the bottom layer.  This way things won’t get buried in the freezer and we will know where everything is.  Total win-win and it didn’t cost me anything (okay, maybe a few blisters having to cut the boxes tops off as those boxes are heavy duty for sure) but my time and energy.

5.  Used up freezer burned meat, so it didn't need to be thrown out later.

I found a pork roast while organizing the freezer that had lost part of its seal and was getting pretty freezer burned.  I threw it into the crock pot this morning with two jars of sauerkraut and am going to cook it low and slow all day until it falls apart.  Makes a wonderfully flavored pork roast, a nice moist texture and, most importantly, saves the pork roast from possibly getting wasted because it tastes like freezer.

6.  Did some mending.

I mended another couple pairs of pants for my son and husband.  I’ll share a quick tutorial later on about how I make patches out of old clothing and how I’ve found works best to mend actual holes in jeans  (versus tears) here, hopefully next week.

7. Used up things that needed to be used up.

I used up a bunch of home canned goods this week in meals.  I took a jar of canned French fried potato pieces (Alvah does NOT like those when I fry them, unfortunately), drained them and then just cut them into bite sized pieces, added a can of carrots and  a jar of pork chunks and then added some curry blocks to make a big pan of Japanese style curry.  I love that stuff, so I’ve been eating it for lunches this week and been greatly enjoying it :).

8.  Bought used clothing instead of paying new prices.

I had some jeans that were beyond worn out and a couple of more pairs of my jeans were really starting to show wear.  I went to the used store on Friday and got two pairs of jeans and was happy I was able to find some Gap jeans cheap.  I’ve only had a couple of pairs of Gap jeans I’ve been able to find at the used stores over the years, but the few pairs I’ve had have lasted for YEARS of hard wear and were super comfortable.  I’m not sure about the new pair I got as they seem like they are cheaper quality than the other ones I’ve owned, but I guess time will tell.  

While at the used store, I looked up and found they were having a sock sale on brand new bunches of socks (like still in the package socks) and they had 6 pairs of men’s socks for 2.29 each.  I got two packages of six as Alvah can always use more socks (he’s hard on them with his eczema and sensory issues).  For 4.58, getting 12 pairs of nice, heavy duty, cushion crew socks, was totally worth it to me.  If he is good on socks, for now, I’ll put them aside for his birthday or Christmas (I haven't had a chance to check yet, honestly).

9.  Made my own seasoning.

When I ran out of fajita seasoning, I just made my own instead of having to go to the store and buy some.

10.   Took a shortcut to making creamy limeade, aka Brazilian Lemonade

We usually really start getting into drinking creamy limeade this time of year and into the summer, but citrus up here right now is ridiculously expensive.  I found the “Simply Juice” line of juices at our local store go on sale pretty darned cheap regularly, so I have been picking up 4 at a time the last couple of weeks (two fruit punch and two limeade) on sale because if you buy 4 you save 1.00 per container.  I add the limeade to the blender and add 1/2 of a container of sweetened condensed milk and blend it all really well together.  It makes a pretty darned good creamy limeade to go with taco nights and things, but for a fraction of the cost of what making the limeade would cost me.

11. Been working on trying to get the electric bill down.  

I have been working hard on turning off the electric heat during the day the last bit as our temps have been in the 40s the last few weeks on and off.  Between that and the sun coming back our upstairs is actually getting pretty toasty by the afternoon.  So I’ve been having a good time opening the deck door (after putting the screens back in) and letting in some fresh air again and was even able to grill out on our deck yesterday.  It was wonderful.  We are all looking really forward to Spring and days like the last couple of weeks make you realize that it is, indeed, coming.

12. I made some new curtains for my kitchen.

I received a tablecloth as a gift a while back, but it was a really awkward size and just wasn’t going to work for any tabletop I had.  It was also pretty stained up, but I held onto it because it was good material.

Finally this week, I decided I wanted to hang some curtains in my kitchen window so that I could open the window and let in a breeze, but still block some of the afternoon sunlight from cooking the kitchen (the blinds I hung are great, but they are so thick they actually block fresh air from coming into the kitchen).  I had an epiphany and took out the tablecloth from the closet and found it was the perfect sized material to make the curtains from.  So, I made some curtains.

First I threw the tablecloth into the laundry with some bleach to try and bleach out the stains as much as I could.  I managed to at least fade a bunch of them and I figure while the curtains hang in the window the sun will bleach out the rest of the stains better than any synthetic bleach can.

I used a tension rod to hang the curtains so I didn’t have to drill anymore holes in my window frame and this way too I can hem the curtains shorter and move the curtains down the window if I want (I’m tempted as I keep clanking pans whenever I close or open the curtains right now) and I can just take them down if we need to put in the air conditioner in the window this summer.  So far I’m really liking the curtain and think it helps to brighten up the kitchen a bit :).

13.  I took out my wheat grinder yesterday and ground a bunch of wheat into flour.  

I took some to use as whole wheat flour and put it into the freezer, ground up some more wheat and put it through my Bosch sifter and made it into more of an all purpose flour consistency and I then went and ground up some of the hull-less barley I had bought and turned it into barley flour to use in baking as well.  I do a lot of baking anymore, so I’ll definitely use it.

14.   Made breakfast items for the freezer.

I made my husband some more pancake sausage wraps for his work breakfasts.  He really likes them and it saves me money from him going out and getting breakfast at some drive through.

15.  Shredded/grated my own cheese.

We had a big block of Tilamook cheddar in the fridge that I was slowly cutting chunks off of to use in meals or to feed to Alvah shredded.  I was in the fridge and noticed some green showing through the end of the wrapping on the block, so I decided it was time to just shred up what was left of the cheese.  Using the food processor makes this SO much easier by the way.  I put the cheese into freezer bag and froze it for future use.  And now Alvah has shredded cheese ready to go for a while.

16. Made bread crumbs.

I had odds and ends of sourdough loaves sitting in my freezer that needed to be used up, so I cut them into chunks, put them in a 250 degree oven for an hour (sourdough is so dense, I've found it can take a while to dry out), waited for the bread cubes to cool and then put them through the food processor to make bread crumbs.  I've found I LOVE sourdough bread crumbs as for some odd reason they come out perfectly seasoned and with just the right hint of salt in them.  I'm going to use some of the ones I made this time to make schnitzel a bit later in the week for dinner :).

And there you go folks.  Ways I saved money the last week.  Hope money saving endeavors are going well for you.