Friday, April 29, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Starts

First, this is your last chance to enter the Invisible Glass Giveaway, so be sure to enter if you want to!  I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow!

Well, this week has been depressing on the money front.  The lack of work this month combined with my husband being sick with his teeth and foot and other things and our income was down by about half of what it normally would be if my husband was working.  Which means, we'll be able to make the mortgage and the care credit payment to get my husband's teeth done next week.  Past that money is going to be super tight till next pay period and even then I have to somehow start to make up ground to make the utilities, the insurance and then dig up money for residual bills that need to get paid like licensing fees and car registrations.  I know I'll make it work somehow, but I've been dealing with discouragement and "being broke burnout" this week for sure.

Anyway, due to money being non-existent (if you say that with a tinge of bitter sarcasm it somehow comes across as me I'm laughing in my own head) I quickly realized what few goals I had when it came to the garden were most definitely shot to the moon in a big ol' cannon.  Luckily, one of our awesome blog readers (really is there any other type?  I might be biased but you all are great :) reached out and offered me some seeds (thanks, Jeannie!)  and more important still advice and guidance from an experienced gardener (of which I still have a LOT to learn in that area).

The shot of the garden all worked over and about 3/4 planted is above.  Thanks to some of the really cool varieties of plant seeds that Jeannie sent me I got some neat "shake it up" fun seeds planted that I hope will bear fruit (or veggies in this case).

In the far bed (which you only get to see about 3/4 of here due to the camera angle) I planted peas (in the back so I can stake them later and grow them vertical), swiss chard in the center row and spinach up front.  This area of the garden tends to stay in shadow more than the other areas, so I'm HOPING the peas grow okay, but I'm pretty sure the chard and the spinach will do alright.

In the middle bed the garlic was already growing, so I stuck a couple of sprouting potatoes in the ground and then planted some bunching onions up front (think green onions).  In the third bed I have a couple rat tailed radishes (one of my "ooooo neat!" finds in Jeannie's seeds she sent), some carrots (a couple of small rows of them) and some Chinese varieties of cabbage (small varieties that don't take up much room).  I've still got a few feet of space left to plant some things in the actual garden, which I'm honestly hoping to just go and grab a four pack of lettuce at the green house and call it good for the time being.  I've also got some planters that I dug out of my shed that I'm hoping to plant some more cabbages in.  The front planters will house hopefully some herbs (basil I'll be growing inside this year after my disastrous failure growing it outside last year), some edible flowers and a few pansies (daughter's request as she REALLY wants flowers).

In the front bed (of which I was too tired to go in and get new batteries for the camera when the batteries died, so you'll have to wait for a few pictures of that *laugh*) the chocolate mint I feared to be a goner as it wasn't coming up at all, but I dug around a little bit yesterday and found some signs of life (yay!).  The chives are doing GREAT this year in that bed...they are already about 4 inches high or so.  I was thrilled.  The pineapple sage plant, of which I didn't like fresh for much and dried tasted like grass (grumble) ended up being a waste of money and it created such a tight and HUGE root system that I'm going to have to go down with my gardening tools and really do some work to get the soil ready to plant something there (I'm thinking rosemary as it will help scare away the MULTITUDES of bugs that accumulate in that area).    So, yeah, I'm probably looking at about maybe 8.00 in plants total for the garden and beds this year and the rest are going to be seeds.

And this also links into other ways I saved money this week, so let's get that show on the road!

1.  I went to Lowes last weekend and we picked up planters and dirt for the garden as well as the diatomaceous earth to spread around the house.  Well, we both had sticker shock at the total and when I got home I immediately started digging up ANYTHING that I could possibly use as a planter for the year (warning:  Some things I end up planting in this year you might find interesting *laugh*) and managed to return the planters to Lowes on Monday.  My husband insisted I keep the dirt as he was planning on renting a rototiller but in case he didn't he wanted me to have the dirt (I was thinking I'd dig up the yard with a spade if I had to, but we'll see how that goes).

So, due to money we realized the rototiller wasn't going to happen, so I was figuring I might as well plant the planters.  But, something told me to keep putting off planting and I'm glad I listened as today my husband and I ran to Home Depot to get parts for a job of his and I picked up the ad to find that dirt was on sale there WAY cheaper than what I had paid at Lowes!  We took the dirt back to Lowes and got a refund and ran over to Home Depot and were able to get double the amount of soil PLUS a bag of manure for the same price as I'd paid for that one bag of soil, which was doubly great because I realized that I was probably going to need more dirt and was trying to figure out where to find the money for it!  Glad I checked that ad :).

2.   I went to the Cooperative Extension Service this week and turned in my one All American (I was mistaken in the brand last time I posted) canner to get tested for free.

While there I ran into a cool find.  Well several as, like every time I run into the Cooperative Extension Service, I raided their publication wall *laugh* so I got a ton of cool papers with recipes and advice on different things on them.

I have kept putting off finishing the bag holder for the pantry and I kept going back and forth about just making some reusable shopping bags as I was just getting tired of the store bags falling apart all the time.  But, I didn't want to pay .99 a piece for the reusable ones at the store and while I love the idea of sewing some of my own totes for the store I wasn't really keen on using up my material right now to make some.  So, I just ended up in this weird holding pattern on what to do.

But, while I was at the Cooperative Extension Service (getting back to the story at hand now that you have a major plot point there ;) I saw that they had just BOXES of reusable green shopping bags.  I asked the gal at the desk how much they were, hoping they would be cheaper than the store ones and her reply was wonderful, "Oh they're free.  Take as many as you want!"  Those words made my day!  I grabbed six of them and I think I might grab a few more when I go to pick up my canner after testing (as I tend to lose at least two while grocery shopping just to milk and Coke right now).  It was great being able to fit all of my groceries in a few bags and haul them all in at once without worries of things breaking on me.

Also while having a conversation with a friend of mine I heard about a program through the department of agriculture that you could get a grant to build a hoop house (unheated green house).  My husband and I went and checked out the preliminaries while we were at the cooperative extension service, stopped by the USDA and got the paperwork started on getting one.  It's a reimbursement grant (they will repay you like 90% of the cost of the hoop house though), so I'm thinking it's kind of a hopeless dream for a few years, but at least we have a farm and tract number for future reference now.

3.  My son's new communication app came with a program to share the settings between I-Pad's, but I only had it for a week and it was going to cost me 50.00 to pay for a year of it.  I wanted the school and the new I-Pad to match, but I wasn't sure if the 50.00 would be worth it with how little of the school year was left and all.  I was blessed in that my son's teacher got the assistive technology person to come in and they got the I-Pad's matching today and they said that so long as school was in session I could bring the I-Pad in any time to update the two I-Pads so they matched.  So, that event definitely saved me money and made me feel better as LAMP is based on motor memory, so me messing with keys and things could really confuse my son.  So having the keys match was definitely a good thing.

4.  My daughter went to a free event at the school with my husband last night for a reading camp.  She got to see a great horned owl from the zoo and have the gal tell the kids the story of how the owl came to be homed there and everything.  My daughter, who is currently obsessed with all things animal, LOVED it!

5.   My friend gave me her Freebie Friday things from Fred Meyer, so I grabbed those this week (thanks, Stephanie!).

6.  I have spent a good portion of the week cleaning out things from the freezer that needed to be used up, which made me feel good to get those used up before they went bad.

7.  I decided, due to lack of money and me knowing we aren't going to able to do anything for Mother's Day (again *sigh*) that the best thing I can think of to do is that we're going to work on the yard.  It'll make me feel good getting something accomplished, my son will hopefully have his first dose of allergy shots down him so hopefully won't be breaking out in welts and he can play in the yard with my daughter and maybe we can start to reclaim some of the yard and make it bigger.  It would at least make me feel better knowing something got done for a change and all it will really take is time and effort to get it done...which THAT I can afford!

8.  I used up a lemon and made lemon blueberry cake (this recipe is easy.  Take a boxed cake mix.  First, zest a lemon and put the zest aside.  Whatever water your cake mix calls for, like mine called for 1 cup, juice one lemon into a measuring cup and then fill the rest of the way with water until you reach your liquid measure for your cake mix.  Once you've mixed up the cake mix according to package directions add the zest to the batter and mix again.  Now, if you want blueberries that are really tasty but don't turn your cake blue, take 1/3 to 1/2 cup dehydrated blueberries (depending on how many blueberries you like in your cake) and toss them lightly in flour for a few seconds and then mix into the cake batter (this stops them from sinking to the bottom of the cake).  Bake the rest of the way according to directions.

Then take one block of softened cream cheese and throw it into a mixer with some schnoz to it and add 4 cups powdered sugar.  Mix until combined.  This is the BEST cream cheese frosting (really!) and is really easy to remember how to make it *laugh*).  Put that on top of your cake and enjoy!  My husband and I keep resisting eating more and more cake ;).

9.  Now that the light is coming back big time, it's been really easy to keep the lights turned off during the day and instead of turning on the children's lights in the morning to get them up all I have to do is open their curtains.  This is also stopping my daughter to fight her natural instincts to cloister herself in her room like a vampire, which is a double benefit.

10.  I used a couple of tips on making printer ink last longer to get more ink out of my printer which allowed me to print the necessary ream of paperwork that I need to fill out to get a new case coordinator in the works for my son's insurance.  Now I have a fun thing to do while my husband is in having his root canals done next week.  Half hearted "yay" here.

11.  Instead of paying for at tire change over (of which we can't afford right now) I asked my husband to check my tires and see if there are even enough studs left to bother with getting said tires changed.  We think that there are so few left it's probably going to be best to pull the studs and just have to buy new winter tires this year.  Sucks, but with two winters of not a lot of snow and this winter had good amounts of ice...the studs did their job and just got shot doing it.

So, there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week (and I'm sure I'm missing some honestly).  How did you do?


  1. That was so nice of Jeannie to share those seeds with you. One thought on the herb garden...have you considered putting in dill? I think I recently read that dill repels spider mites and you can use it to make dill pickles or dilly beans! You can also dry it for use in dips or sauces.

    As for the reusable bags, I think most of the ones we have were free. I'm glad you were able to find some. Keep watching any you'll have more than you ever thought possible! I have several that fold up into a built in pouch that I carry in my purse, so I have them with me all the time. They're my favourite!

    I'm not sure if it is only here in Canada, but all mothers get a free ice cream Sunday at Dairy Queen on Mother's Day. They do the same on Father's day. It's become a nice little treat for us to do each Mother's Day!

    Loved reading your frugal recap this week, Erika!

    1. Jeannie sent me some dill seeds, actually. I need to research what the root system is like on it before I plant some, though, as my flower boxes I plant herbs in might not work. Dill might be something only growing in green houses up here, but also if it roots too deep or something it might not get tall enough (the dill I see at the store up here is about 3 feet high or so). Thanks for the advice though! I'll look into that. I might be able to fit it in little gaps in the garden if nothing else :).

    2. I've grown dill in a hanging plant container for the last couple years. I haven't had huge plants like some I've seen in gardens, but it did grow enough to use for a few jars of pickles and dilly beans. I also collected the small amount of seeds it produced and put them in my spice cupboard. Could have dried a little, but I'm still learning about how to dry herbs and didn't have the confidence to try it yet.

    3. Go for it. Plant the dill. The roots are shallow and the plant, even though it gets tall, is feathery and open. If it starts to shadow something, cut it way back down. After it seeds, it will die anyway. It can't take frost but if the seeds are in the ground, they seem to be able to take cold nights.

  2. I think garlic also repels spider mites, so glad you're able to have that.

    As for whatever you use for planters looking "interesting"...I think once you see how well random item works you'll never want to spend money on planters no matter how much $$ you have. All the experienced gardeners I know, even who are quite wealthy and have it as a hobby only, not to save $$ -- and who need to use A LOT of planters -- never spend $$ on planters, preferring to save it for seeds in the future or anything else. Looks like your garden is off to a great start!

    1. Good to know that I'm not the only one who is looking at things and thinking, "Hey, a plant can grow in that" *laugh*. I imagine really serious gardeners would need a LOT of planters. Oddly enough my grandmother and grandfather ran a greenhouse for years and they had all the pots and everything that you would see at a nursery that they used. They took gardening very seriously, but it was always done the "professional" way, so I assumed that is what you had to do. Glad to know that there are serious gardeners out there that look at it like I long as the plant is growing and healthy and producing that's the most important thing right?

      Good to know about the garlic too. Right now I'm hoping the spider mites won't hit the garden as on one side is the paved driveway (they don't seem to like to cross pavement or concrete, preferring to move over plants and dirt) and it is surrounded on all sides but ONE by pavement. On the other side where the grass is right now my husband has ladders and pallets stacked against the house, so I'm hoping those objects deter them and they decide to just veer off into toward the tree line. Ha! I'm herding spider mites! I am now officially laughing at the idea of herding pinprick bugs where you want them to go *laugh*.

      If you can't amuse yourself, who are you going to amuse right ;).

    2. Erika, can you use the wood from those pallets to build your own planters or raised garden beds? There are lots of tutorials on-line on how to do this.

    3. I asked my husband about that, but he's planning on other projects to use them for. He did agree to remove a few slats to help me build a twine trellis for the peas though, which is going to save us some money as I won't have to buy stakes this way :).

  3. Ok, I haven't even ready this post yet, but I actually have been in my office this morning looking up some things related to dentist fees I have paid over the last few years. When I saw you said $19,000, that just really stuck with me and I've been thinking about it. So I have been in my office pulling out old quotes and seeing what I paid, because I've had a lot of dental work done. In 2014, I had two crowns done - actually redone. They were $1100 each, with an additional $125 fee for 'diagnostic casts'. These were porcelain crowns for my front teeth. A few years ago, I had to have two root canals done. I must have been able to pay for them with medical reimbursement money, but I can find one record where I was paying $480 for one, which would have been 50%, as my insurance covers 50%. So that would have been $960. One of the two root canals I had done was even what they call a surgical root canal, where they couldn't do it drilling in to my tooth, but had to drill into my gums to get there, and that's more expensive, but I feel certain neither of the two was much over $1,000. I found this site which lists average costs for root canals, along with some other related services that usually have to be done (fillings/crowns). What I was thinking is this: is there any way it would be less expensive to come to the lower 48 to have this work done? Lots of people here in Arizona drive down to Mexico for dental work, because they can save so much off prices here, but I think travel prices would be crazy for you to do that. But I wonder if it wouldn't be cheaper for him to travel to get this work done, even when you add the travel costs back in? I say this with some idea of how difficult this would be, for sure :), but $19,000!!! Holy cow!

    Sheila, crazy lady in AZ who worries about everyone, I guess. :) It really is so weird and I guess somewhat creepy that I actually worry and care about people I've never met and you know nothing about me! I want to say, I'm not really a crazy person! :) But I have such empathy over worrying about money and family, and worrying about your money situation gives me a break from worrying about how we are going to pay for the truck we just bought my husband! Ha! I just liked your site facebook page, so you can 'see' me if you want to. (Did that make it sound even weirder? I hope not.)

    1. Aw, thanks I really appreciate all the homework you did! That was awesome of you!

      When it comes to root canals and things, the actual root canal isn't what is costing us so much money. I believe that two root canals is going to cost us like 2000.00 or so, which would be about what the average would be (and one of them is a molar so more roots to dig out), but it's the CAP that they put on top that costs a mint. A porcelain cap plus the root canal you're looking at anywhere from 2000.00 to 3000.00 a tooth. Right now we're just getting the root canals and the "build up" to put the caps on as the caps are what is really going to cost and then we're just going to pay down the bill as quickly as possible and put on one cap at a time (poor hubby as I know what it's like to have to bite on a spot where you just have a build up and no cap).

      When it came to getting dental work done in the lower 48, we thought about that and called around to areas where I had family back East as he could stay with them while getting his dental work done, but as soon as they found out we didn't have dental insurance and once the cost of a plane ticket was figured in (1800.00 or so) it just wasn't worth the cost. We thought about sending him to Mexico on the border there as we have known people who went and got dental work done CHEAP, but we decided with the way things are down there that it was worth paying the extra money for my husband to stay alive *laugh*.

    2. Have you looked into the cost of having the work done in Canada? With our dollar being so low compared to the U.S. right now, it might work to your advantage. Canadians tend to be pretty nice too (please leave your guns at home though...we're not allowed to carry them here without a lot of paperwork and following a lot of very strict rules).

    3. We've traveled through Canada with a gun before (it was a gift from my husband's grandfather). It was a rifle luckily, so the checking through customs went a lot easier for us.

      I'm not really sure about how we would go about doing dental work in Canada. We'd have to get my husband a passport, which would take a while to go through and stuff like that.

      Biggest problem we've run into about going out of state (or country) is cost. We don't have money for plane tickets and hotel rooms and we SURE can't afford for my husband to be out of state not working while getting the dental work done.

      Right now we're figuring on getting the next leg of the dental work done (the two root canals and build ups for the caps with them) this week which will run about 2000.00. Between that and the other root canal we just got done, hopefully Care Credit will give us 18 months interest deferred to pay off the amount (fingers crossed), which I think we can make okay. I'd feel a lot better about bills period if we had a lot of work lined up for the year, but right now we just don't. So, it's worrisome.

      By the way, how is your husband's job searching going? Well I hope?

  4. I am praying for you and your family. You are so faithful to use creativity to stretch money, and I know you get tired. I am sure your husband must be discouraged too. I am praying that God will provide for all of your needs and fill you with joy in the middle of it all. You are really doing a fantastic job. I so enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

    1. Thanks so much for the prayers and the encouragement! I really appreciate it :).

  5. I am so with you on feeling good about what you can accomplish with what you have when you feel overwhelmed! You make good progress on your yard! I realized this week I have all or most all I need to paint the utility room cabinets, so I'm planning to work on that week after next when I'm on 'vacation', but with no money to go anywhere. Honestly, that's okay - I have been craving peaceful at-home time, so I don't even really want to go anywhere. We have those laminate cabinets you see all over. A while back, I had bought some primer that would paint over them (supposedly), and we have enough left-over trim paint to paint them the same as our trim. The only possible purchase would be some foam roller pads, and I stopped myself from buying them at Lowe's the other day until I can make sure that I am actually out of them (was proud of myself for that, actually!). I would very much like to also add some pulls to the cabinets, but I priced those while I was at Lowe's and will probably wait for now.

    My biggest money savings this week was just in forcing myself to use pantry items instead of hitting the grocery store early. We had a pot-luck to go to Thursday evening, and I shop on Fridays. My go-to for anything like this is usually a big fruit tray of whatever is on sale, but I had hardly any fruit or veggies left and no grocery dollars left. I finally decided to make some pizza roll-ups with homemade pizza dough and other stuff I had on hand. When I went shopping on Friday, I did find some good mark-down beef buys and got some of those for the freezer. I had to resort to full Walmart price for hamburger the other day, and I was happy to see that the hamburger price at Sam's had dropped to close to $3/lb for 90% lean, so I bought a pack of that as well. I got a roast at Sprouts for < $4/lb, so that will be something different and should be a couple of meals. I'm at the point where I think under $4/lb is a pretty good price, but the biggest thing is is a nice enough meal to include others (usually my daughter's boyfriend), but is so much less than eating out!

    1. We end up in this funny "pocket reality" up here as I like to call it where from time to time it's actually cheaper or just about the same on eating out and eating in in price. When I first moved to Alaska my husband and I found that eating out for the two of us was actually cheaper than making meals at home. Right now, I'd say eating in is DEFINITELY cheaper now that the kids are here and the price on everything has gone up. We went to McDonalds the other day when my son broke out in welts and needed a cheer up and wow...the cost of meals went up even further and they were already gold plated there (sticker shock occurs for out of staters when they see how much it costs to eat out up here...McDonalds will cost you about 9.00 a meal or so on the value menu). I'm starting to think for the occasional eating out it is going to be cheaper (and better food) to eat out at Red Robin soon. Weird how things work.

      And yay for mark down beef!!! I love it when that happens :).

  6. Oh dear. Have you never heard of the "old wives tale" that says if you thank someone for a plant it will die? Perhaps that is just a southern saying; however, I don't know if that applies to seeds...hmmm.
    Anyway, now that I have gotten to see your garden, wow, you have alot to work with. More suggestions:
    1. Don't even waste your money buying those six packs of lettuce plants from Loews. For what they charge, you could buy a whole pack of seeds. Plant some lettuce seeds in with the Swiss Chard, or around the garlic, or on top of the potatoes you just put out. The lettuce will be long finished before either one of those are ready to dig, plus they will help to keep the weeds down by blocking the sunlight.
    2. Take the bok choy seeds and put them around the green pea seeds. They too will be finished before the peas are ready.
    3. If you have summer radishes, throw them out there anywhere and they will be ready soon also.
    4. I also saw a dandelion in your picture. They are edible. Use the leaves for salad and roots can be roasted for tea. I use them to make a tea for my oldest son as a treatment for gout.
    5. You could use one of your planters as a "nursery" meaning you will throw lots of all kinds of seeds in there and then transplant them to the garden as empty spots appear.

    1. 6. Think of your garden has having four levels. Level 1 is underground and that is for your root vegetables like carrots. Level 2 is the first 6 inches which is a ground cover. That would be like lettuce or swiss chard. The third level would be about 2 -3 feet above ground. That would be like a tomato plant. The fourth level would be tall high plants like runner beans or vining cucumbers.
      In a one foot square spot your could plant: Level 1 - carrots. Level 2 - spinach. Level 3 tomato. Level 4 vining malabar spinach.
      This is how nature does it. No monocrops. Everything is mixed in together. When you pull a carrot, you plant something in that spot. Then when the carrots and spinach are finished, plant your winter cabbages (which will be just inches tall) under the tomato plants. The tomato plants would shade the winter plants in the summer then when the first frost hits, the tomatoes will die (cut the vines off at the ground) and then watch them take off in the cool weather. I have read about companion planting but have not really been able to figure it all out. I have just planted everything together and seen it work. Don't be afraid to squish things in together. You will need to really feed your soil well but it is so much less work weeding and watering.
      7. One year my brother did not have time to dig his garden so he took his weedeater and used it to clear a spot in his yard. He cut down everything and churned the dirt up about one inch down then threw down a handful of mustard seeds. To his amazement, they sprouted and grew. He had a mustard patch right in the middle of his lawn. I am sure they would have been bigger and nicer if he had plowed, fertilized, watered and weeded. But, it was more that he had expected and enough for him. So think outside the box and ignore all those beautiful pictures in gardening magazines.
      8. As for the hoop house, this is what I have done and it works GREAT. Don't use plastic. It will heat up quickly and burn your plants. Think of getting in your car in the summer time...HOT! Same thing happens to your plants. Use another product which is like the interfacing you have in your clothes. It is a white, thin nylon/polyester fabric and it allows your plants to breathe while protecting them from the wind. The plants are not shocked daily and are able to adapt to the winter cold. Their composition changes and the flavors get sweeter. It will probably cost you about $20 to cover the area in your picture. To keep it off the plants, you could use sticks pushed in the ground with plastic cups on top to prevent tears. I will do another post with more details and website links with more information. Right now it has stopped raining and I need to get to the garden to pick dinner (which will be stirfry) before the crew gets home.


    2. I'd never heard about not thanking people for plants. In the past though I can safely say this hasn't been the case as I have gotten plants from people before and they grew fantastic *laugh*.

      Thanks for the advice on the gardening layers. It makes sense. Now to wrap my "am not spatially talented" head around that *laugh*. I never figured that you could plant so much in a small space before, but I am constantly finding that I can plant more and more in my small space available. Cool :).

    3. As for dandelions, I used to harvest every part of the dandelion plant to use until I found out last year that my son is DEATHLY allergic to dandelions, so I am working on keeping them pulled around the garden as much as I can (the one in the picture is poking up in a crack in the pavement and it won't pull or be dug out, so I left it :).

    4. Oh my. My yard is covered in dandelions. However do you do it. Will the allergy shots help him I wonder?

    5. I wanted to share more information with you about winter gardening like I promised. The following link will tell you everything you need to know. I followed her advice and had quite a bit of success last winter. I spent about $25 on the row cover and harvested at least $100 worth of food deep into the winter. This year I plan to expand and put up another row.
      The spot in the picture you posted looks like it will be a great place. The side of the house and the paved driveway will hold thermal heat. This should keep the dirt warmer longer.
      More ideas. I like to grow a huge variety of a few plants. That way we can eat something different every night. As an example, I might plant just two quick maturing bush green bean seeds in the dirt right beside something that was almost finished (like lettuce about to bolt). When they mature, they would be enough for about three or four meals. I would harvest the beans, pull up the plant and put something else in that spot. I am constantly rotating.
      You have so impressed me with your positive attitude. I know it is hard with everything falling apart around you. I have been where you are and looking back I remember how hard it was. My first harvest was a hand full of lettuce that I used on sandwiches. I realized that one harvest saved me the cost of one head of lettuce and that paid for my seeds. Every time you do one thing to save, you are adding one stone to a mountain. That mountain is your dream of what you want for the future. I recently ran into some friends who had it easy when my husband and I were struggling so hard years ago. Even though they started out making WAY more money than we were, my husband and I are WAY ahead of all of them financially now. We learned how to manage our resources better than any of them. You are learning to do that today. Proud of you. Keep up the good work.

    6. Awesome! Thanks for the site and the advice! My mom told me how her grandmother used to keep a winter garden today. She'd grow carrots and when they were mature, she'd just plant some bales of hey on top of the carrots to protect them from mice and pests. Mom said she'd harvest root vegetables through a good portion of the winter doing that. I'm definitely intrigued with the idea of a winter garden and would like to give it a shot since we have SO little fresh produce around here during the winter time.

      I look forward to one day when my husband starts making decent money. When that happens I KNOW we can start saving money again and really work on getting debts paid off as I'm learning more every day on how to live more frugally than I ever thought possible :). Thanks for the compliment too. It made me tear up a bit :).

  7. Good luck in your garden!! We have had something digging up the seeds I plant before they take!! Peas, pumpkin, squash and green beans. To the point, I am out of all those seeds now, and hardly any shoots. And three packs of lettuce seeds and they refuse to grow. Im about reasy to call it uust a tomato and pepper year. Yesterday saw something broke clear off the few bean shoots I had. Nearly cried. My mom says its probably a rabbit. :(

    Hang in there with everything thats going on in your life. You do a good job counting your blessings, and thats going to help you stay positive. Rough times dont last forever. I think thats why my husband is a grouch, he never sees what we DO have. You set a great example for your daughter, and I know I enjoy your blog so much, its so nice to be "around" others with the same things in life happening but still being positive throughout.

    1. Wow, that stinks :(. Know anyone with a catch um alive trap? My grandfather caught a lot of groundhogs that were out to destroy his garden in those things. Hope you can get some things out of your garden this year. I'll send up a prayer for you :).

  8. Hi. I've had wonderful luck with lettuce seeds and spinach too. Dill is my favorite. The fresh dill doesn't get real big maybe a foot tall at the most. I can with it and use it fresh in dishes. If you have a problem with a dandelion that is in a crack put vinegar on it. The stubborn ones take 2 applications but usually with in a day or two it will be dead.

    I used an old book case to make a raised planter with backing on the shelves that already had holes for drainage. I put it on top of cinder blocks. It kept the plants in their own little space. Use what you have that's my motto. Got to get over to Home Depot. The soil is on sale here until the 8th of May.

    My grandpa and I planted a few pansies every year when I was a kid. I loved going to the store with him to pick them out.

    1. I'd forgotten about using vinegar as a weed killer. Good idea! Thanks :).

      I am trying to figure out where to put some planters right now to keep them away from spider mites, but also not getting in the way of other things we might need to do. I think I'm just going to place them all up on the deck for now (it's a second story deck off of my kitchen). At most I might have to move some planters around to eat out on the deck if the weather permits for us some days. Which, really, isn't that big of a deal :).

  9. I have great luck with dill. It grows about 3 feet tall here or more, but is easy to pull out, not invasive like mint. It even re-seeds itself sometimes.

    The dental issue: I got a crown done here in Oregon about a year ago. It was about $1,000 TOTAL, including the crown itself. It was a porcelain crown. Our dentist even gave us a discount from that because we have no dental insurance, so our final cost was around $850. I did not have an abcess, or anything, though. And, I'm not sure if it would be cheaper to fly down here and stay in a hotel, or not. I hadn't even thought of that option until someone else mentioned it.

    Your garden plans are awesome. I can't wait to see how your garden does. I don't know if you have slugs there like we do here, but don't forget to sprinkle that around tender things, such as lettuce sprouts, etc., if you have the problem we have.

    1. Slugs aren't near the problem here as at my last place, but I think part of that is the pavement...the slugs seems to avoid going over it too much due to the heat from the sun heating up the black pavement. I also sprinkle epsom salts around the garden. Slugs hit that and works to dissaude them let's just say that. And when the salt gets wet and absorbs down into the dirt it just acts as another supplement to the garden soil (tee hee).

      I've got dill seeds, so I might just plant them and see how they do. Seeds make me SO nervous as we have such a short growing season here that I keep thinking, "will it grow before the weather kills it?" I'm thinking what I planted this year will do alright though, so we'll just have to wait and see (hopefully the seeds germinate :).

      My husband and I sat down and looked over the dental quote with a fine toothed comb last night and found that the 19,000.00 quote also includes three bridges that they want to put in, which has different phases for build ups, doing the bracketing work and blah blah blah. Not something we had agreed on in our original quote they gave us, so my husband is going to tell them to forget those until a much later date. The worst part with the root canals with my husband is they ALWAYS cost more than the book says they should because his teeth are deep rooted and super tough (which actually did him a benefit when the acid reflux destroyed his teeth in that his roots are still good in most of them). So, quotes on dental work with him tend to go awry very quickly. But, yeah, I told my husband to question everything with the dentist as the office staff were just confused as we were trying to question what was what. We'll hopefully have more answers after the beginning of this week when his dental appointment is.