Saturday, July 16, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 Oooohhh man I'm tired today.  My son hasn't been sleeping well and for some reason he's been kind of needy of needing mom the last couple of days.  So, I get about an hour (if I'm lucky) of sleep in my own bed and then it's a fitful night's sleep on the loveseat upstairs for the rest of the night in between taking care of kid.  Loveseats.  Who thought that making a piece of furniture that you can't sleep on without curling into a pretzel was a good idea?  Wish we could fit our couch up the stairs without destroying things in its path at this point.  I've been keeping my eye out forever for a nice couch from like the 40's and 50's type of style.  You know, still comfortable, but not hugely overstuffed, doesn't take up tons of room and it'll still be bigger than my loveseat so I can sleep on it without needing Ibuprofen every morning.  I can dream anyway *laugh*.

My son had his follow up allergist appointment this week.  Bright side is that the hives have been MIA since we upped his Zyrtec last, so the allergist was happy with that.  She then sat us down and gave us the low down on allergy shots for my son (five days a week with shots and such) and then suggested we try to get him approved with TEFRA/Medicaid for a drug that not only is good for allergies and hives, but also actually shows that it has helped eczema in patients.  The medication isn't made for children under 12 yet, so since she'd have to use a scaled back amount of an adult medication Medicaid sometimes won't cover it.  I then asked the logical question, as this has happened to us before, if Medicaid won't cover it how much it would cost out of pocket as we'd do pretty much anything to help my son's problems.  She then explained that without insurance the medication just plain isn't affordable.  Like 10,000.00 a MONTH cost.  And it's a once a month shot medication!  I just kind of blinked and went, "Yeah, that's not affordable all right" and now we're just hoping insurance approves it.  They also had us fill out financial "need" paperwork to process with the company who makes the drug themselves to see if we can get a grant/waiver from them to pay for the drug if Medicaid says no.  But, seriously.  10,000.00 per shot!  For allergy meds!!!  I'm still flabbergasted.

In other news, I found, much to my delight, that the raspberry bushes are doing really good this year despite the previous three summers and the moose and every other thing that got thrown at them.  The biggest problem is that the ones in the front yard decided to grow in the back of the "hedgerow", as I'm calling it since it really does resemble a wall of bushes, behind many wild rosebushes and some wonderfully spiky devil's club.  Not fun to pick them, but I've also found that I'm developing a thick skin the longer I work with thorn bushes, so I'm just ignoring the occasional scrape and if I happen to get a thorn that stays put, I notice that pretty much right away *laugh*.  We're not getting a lot of raspberries at one time, we usually don't since I'm pretty sure the raspberries that grow in my yard are wild, but we get a small bowl at one time (seen up top) that my daughter delights in devouring, so I'm not complaining :).

I also noticed that the rose hips are ripening early this year, which is both good and bad I guess.  It's bad because they really get that much sweeter after the first frost of the year, but it's good that they are ripening so early as I have a shot of getting them before the hornets, birds and other wildlife start to realize that they have that food source available and go for broke on them.  At least this year I'm not forced to pick them green and hard to avoid the blight that my rosebushes got last year.  Those rose hips were REALLY tart and made some truly interesting tea last winter.  The rose hips also seem to be pretty prolific this year (at least my eyes aren't deceiving me), which is wonderful as I will hopefully be able to gather enough to make numerous things out of.  Especially since the Johnny Jump Ups have barely come up this year (I think the sporadic weather is to blame) and when they do come up the bugs IMMEDIATELY just chew them down to nothing.  I noticed the same thing with my marigolds in the garden, which truly blew my mind as they are supposed to REPEL bugs.  This kind of dashes my hopes of wild flower jelly this year to add to my stores as the fireweed isn't doing great this year either.  Luckily I still have a decent amount of jelly left from last year.  Crazy bug problems we have this year.

A quick update on the garden.  I harvested TONS of lettuce this week, again, and am really working hard to keep on top of bolting lettuce plants before they go bitter.  I'm starting to lose that battle just because I can't eat the lettuce fast enough, but am glad that I've managed to harvest the majority of it either way.  The green lettuce is still doing alright in a couple of spots without bolting, so I'm hoping to keep lettuce going until the end of July.  Fingers crossed there.
The peas are finally producing in a decent volume at one time (above is a pic of one of the first harvests).  Notice the bag in the bowl and the not staged at all shot?  Why?  Well, my sink was full of dirty dishes most of the day and I'd finally gotten caught up on the dishes and just plain didn't want to dirty a bowl to take a picture, so I lined the bowl with the bag to save it from getting dirty.  Reality takes precedence over pretty sometimes *laugh*.

I found, much to my delight, that I'd actually purchased sweet pea seeds at the store for the upper planter on the deck as I got a couple of peas this week off of it.  I THOUGHT the peas I'd planted in the actual garden were regular peas, but no, I didn't read the package well and had bought edible pod peas, which  my husband and I don't like as well as they just plain aren't as sweet (and honestly I will chew on the pods from the sweet peas and then just get rid of the fibers that are left after I chew the sweet stuff out of them *laugh*).  Kind of disappointing, but at least I know I have sweet pea seeds for next year.  My tentative plan for next year is to plant peas at the back in one part of the garden and then plant runner beans in another part and just trellis them up all over the back of the garden.  Great.  Now the season isn't even over yet and I'm planning the garden for next year *laugh*.   I'm not sure how many more peas I'm going to be getting out of the deck plant as it's in a planter with my potato plants and the potato plant seems to be dying back early (probably because it's in a planter).  I'm really thinking to harvest the potatoes successfully I'm going to have to dump the planter, so the pea plant might be on borrowed time.  Still great that I got any peas off of it at all, though :).

The hanging basket that I'd planted basil and spinach in just didn't do anything this year.  At all.   I finally just called it quits and dumped the soil into the garden to help amend the soil a bit with some manure in a spot where I ripped out some lettuce and called it good.  So, processing basil into pesto pucks for the freezer this year is out, but honestly I'm okay with that.  My husband says that pesto is starting to give him bad acid reflux anyway, so it might have all worked out for the best that it didn't grow well this year.

The rest of the herbs, though, are doing great, and I'm very thankful for that.  I'm filling up my sage, thyme and rosemary containers in the kitchen and will happily move onto other containers as I fill those.  This will save me TONS in the long run instead of buying dried herbs at the store.  Rosemary alone at the store is ridiculously expensive and never comes CLOSE to tasting as good as the home dried.

The carrots are doing good, growing big and I'm starting to see shoulders developing at the surface of the soil.  I'm all excited and hoping I can get some decent sized carrots out of my small itty bitty little patch :).

And the rat tailed radishes are trying to take over the universe as we know it I think.  It's like you blink and more radishes are there to pick.  I've been harvesting daily.

The baby rhubarb plant that my son's OT gave me is doing GREAT by the way (I really need to take a picture of that).  It's already about the size of my other rhubarb plant and continues to just grow away.  I'm definitely excited to get the other rhubarb plants from my friend now as I really do think putting them up by the house instead of down in the yard is going to make a HUGE difference in how they grow!

It has been hot this week again.  As a result the garden has been getting watered again, sleeping has been hard a night or two and my son (who hates heat and cold...really if it's between 40 and 60 he's good.  Anything outside of that he's not too keen on) has been breaking out in heat rash on and off.  It also meant getting up early (and I mean early) on Thursday to get some radishes canned before the heat started shooting up again in my house.  I made a sweet and spicy pickle this time by using cider vinegar instead of white vinegar for the brine, along with the sugar, and then I added a tablespoon of mustard seed to the brine as it cooked , along with some powdered ginger, and put it all in with the pickles.  The brine tasted really good, so I'm hoping it complements the pickles well :). 

So, anyway, now that the "yard" update (I guess?  *Laugh*) is out of the way, let's get to the rest of the post shall we?

1.  Fred Meyer had some crazy awesome sales on meat this week (thank you, Lord), so I decided immediately it was a good stock up week for certain items.  They had bratwurst on sale for 2.50 per package (and some 1.00/1 coupons my mom sent me to make them 1.50 per package...woohoo!!!), polish sausage or smoked beef sausage for 3.00 (I had a couple 1.00/1 coupons to make the packages 2.00 a piece from mailers Fred Meyer sent me with personalized coupons in them), Oscar Meyer hotdogs for 2.00 per package (I got a couple of them for my daughter since she doesn't like bratwurst) and most importantly lovely thick cut bacon packages where it FINALLY went down below my target price and was 3.33 lb if you bought the 3 lb package.  I bought 9 lbs at that price as that will last us a long while.  I bugged the meat manager, who was nice enough to let me dig through their packages of bacon to get the best looking ones, including ones he dug out of the back that he thought looked pretty good.  It's amazing how nice those guys will be if you just ask really nicely and have your cute little daughter with you waving shyly at them ;).  I also got my free juice from the freebie Friday a couple of weeks ago (they FINALLY got it in!) and the free soda from this week.

I'm sorry, by the way, about lack of pictures on that trip, but it was kind of "get it home and get it in the fridge/freezer immediately" type of temps in the house, especially last night with the Fred Meyer trip.  The power went out in the store half way through me getting my order checked out (as my husband said when he came walking up with my son as I was standing there, "I knew I'd find mom at the check out.").  The computer freaked out and froze up, so we ended up messing with that with a new cashier trainee at the register, they had to switch his register, etc etc etc.  It was a mess.  Everyone kept up a good sense of humor about the entire thing, though and I kept the cashier from freaking out by telling him about my experience with a possessed register at Disney (where we had 27,000.00 banks some nights) and how I was about ready to flip out by the end of the evening, accounting had to do the register reports for me, etc.  I smiled at him and told him if he made it through this it was like cashier basic training.  He'd do okay after that.  By the time we got home, after getting take out for dinner (since the trip to the store took nearly two hours all said and done and everyone was starving *sigh*) I just needed to get the groceries put away and that was that.

I also went to Carrs and got a few sale items there when I went to pick up my son's prescription yesterday.  I got chips for .99 per big bag (this is to supplement sandwiches with my husband's lunches and stuff), eggs for .99 a dozen and the big find was marked down milk!  I got 3 gallons for 2.39 per gallon (I got 6 half gallons on 50% off).  Trust me, we'll go through it before it goes bad around here :).

All totaled I spent about 125.00 on groceries this week. I had meat money to cover the meat portion of the bill, so the final bill only ended up being 63.00 after that was applied.  Not too shabby!

2.  I found a couple of boxes of condensed mince meat at the store while I was there for 50% off (about 2.00 per box).  The expiration date was 2018, so I'm not sure why they were on reduced, but my husband and I both really like mince meat around the holidays, so I grabbed them to make into little pies or cookies later on. 

3.  I finished a gift this week out of materials I had around the house (I'll be posting up pictures as soon as I can get good lighting set up to take a picture of it), so one Christmas gift down :).

4.  I made onion soup mix this week (thanks for the recipe point, Dorothy!) as I'd been needing some and the price on it is just...holy cow!  I made a triple batch and put it in the cupboard for future use (I like to add it to roasts and things in the crock pot for a change and my husband loves to make dip out of it once in a while). 

5.  I found some zucchini at Fred Meyer in the little 1.00 baggies earlier in the week when I ran in to get milk.  I bought a couple of them with the biggest weight to them.  I immediately went home, shredded the zucchini and froze it (got six cups out of it).  Dorothy sent me a really interesting looking recipe for cream of zucchini soup, I can make zucchini cheese bread or other applications with it.  I am determined to give zucchini more of a shot in my life as I can get it so darned cheap up here come fall (like baseball bat sized ones for 5.00 type of cheap) and I've been reading up on how to grow it in a planter to maybe try next year.

6.  I received a bunch of fabric and patterns from a blog reader (thanks, Heather!) and found a new dress pattern in with it all that I MIGHT just be able to make work for a dress for myself :).  I'm going to pull out the pattern and really look it over, of course, but I'm kind of hopeful as the other patterns I have just aren't ideal.

7.  I signed up to be a taste tester this week with one of my favorite product companies.  I'm all excited to try some new products in the coming weeks (I'm sworn to secrecy about the company or the products, so that's all I can say :).

8.  Carrs doesn't offer freebies as much as Fred Meyer does in the E-Coupon way, but this week showed how nice they could be.  They gave me Rana brand refrigerated pasta AND sauce for free and a free Kashi bar.  I got some cheese filled ravioli and some Alfredo sauce and then threw in a can of chicken one night and voila!  A quick dinner that didn't heat up the house and it was rich enough that it was able to fill the family up as well.   I love freebies like that =D.

So, there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week.  How did you do?


  1. I haven't even read your whole post yet, but wanted to say I'm relieved to see a post! I was worried things weren't going so well, as you haven't posted in several days. :) Regarding sleeping on the love seat, have you considered a small blow-up bed? I ask that because I just ordered one from Amazon to use in my daughter's studio apartment. She has a bed, but I will be able to use this when I go visit, and so will her other friend who come to visit her. It was only about $27, and has the built-in electric pump. We have had one of these before for visitors, and it's actually fairly comfortable, and you can deflate it and put it away when it's not in use.

    My few frugals this week: scheduling the dog's annual appointment on Wednesday afternoon to get half-price shots, and spending very little at the grocery store this week (because I spent almost all my grocery money last week!). To keep the family happy, I cooked several things this morning to have on hand, so it won't feel like there is nothing to eat. We have plenty to eat - it's just that they are mostly ingredients.

    $10,000/month is mind boggling. I hope that gets approved quickly! But wow, that's crazy. Does he do okay with shots?

    1. Sorry I haven't posted. I've just been super busy this week. I didn't even attempt a meal plan...that's how busy *laugh*.

      We have several blow up beds. They last a total of one evening and as soon as my son comes out and finds you on one, he immediately kicks you out of it and bites a hole through it. It just doesn't work. I tried sleeping on the actual floor, but it just KILLS my hips and back after having kids to do it, so I just jam myself onto the love seat. I might have to unbend myself in the morning and take painkillers, but at least I can function the next day, where the floor it just doesn't work that well.

      The son has so far done okay with shots, but I don't know how well he's going to do with allergy shots...basically getting shots every day. And then you're paying roulette with the hives and praying that they don't occur while they are getting the shots because if they have ANY occurrence of an allergic reaction they have to quit the shots. Today, on that front, was TERRIBLE. My son's face swelled up and he's got hives on his chest and everything, to nearly the point of going to the ER, and we have no idea what caused it to happen. Allergies. They'll drive you nuts.

    2. That would be both frustrating and scary on the hives. I hope they figure out what is causing it very soon.

  2. I am amazed that such an expensive shot that insurance doesn't cover exists. A yea ror two of those and even a millionaire would go broke...geez.

    This was was pretty good with our garden growing, not tons and tons of harvest yet, and my squash are growing slow, but I've sort of got a sneaking suspicion that someone next door has been taking a few.

    I managed to stay on target with the grocery shopping, and today hit Target for the 90% off summer stuff. The big stuff was gone by the time my kids would leave the house, but I bought dozens of packages of glowsticks for 10 cents each. I'll keep lots for us, but also I'll give some to my primary class come October.

    Its been a crazy week, (like, taking my car in for a recall, and then pulling up into the parking lot to see it RUNNING with the windows rolled down, middle of the city...miracle it wasn't stole or out of gas (though, about a quarter of it was gone) or stuff stolen out of the inside, and being told oh... your battery died. And then taking it Advance Auto and being told it was totally fine, and they prob just left my lights on and etc because they get a lot of that) and other minor stuff like that, but not as rough at yours. I'm glad youve had some good spots!!

    1. Holy cow!!! I would be ready to kill someone if they did that with my car. I'm glad the Good Lord was watching out for you and stopped anything from happening to it. People. Seriously!

  3. That's so shocking about the allergy shot. I'm praying that the powers that be come through for you.

    This week was almost a no shop week as the garden is producing. There was a crazy meat sale here too with sirloin tip roast at $2.89 a pound. I bought a few and cut it into steaks, meat for kabobs and stew. One of the family owned grocery stores here buys their meat and chicken from the farmers locally and I was able to get some roasters for 99 cents a pound.

    I had to chuckle about your zucchini bread experience. The only way I'll make zucchini into any kind of bread is to make it chocolate with chocolate chips. Also, did you know that if you have a carrot cake recipe that you like you can sub zucchini for the carrots and it will still taste like carrot cake? As far as growing the stuff in containers I have successfully grown it using an old large rubbermaid tub filled with amended soil at least 12 to 24 inches deep. I had my husband drill holes in the bottom of the tub for drainage and then covered he holes with some old panty hose. (You could use screening too, but I had the panty hose.)
    We then added the soil and added extra fertilizer to it. I used the bush type zucchini seeds.
    Tonight I made pizza for the troops and a watermelon salad. It's so danged hot here in the northeast. I've also got summer sausage and pepperoni marinating in the fridge to be baked tomorrow. Dorothy

    1. Wow!!! 2.89 for BEEF?!? That is a crazy sale! Awesome you were able to take advantage of that =D.

      I have found that zucchini is like the Houdini of the vegetable world. You can turn it into a dish that tastes EXACTLY like an apple crisp, you can make it into carrot cake, bake it into bread, turn it into different flavors of's actually pretty versatile. And you made me go and find chocolate zucchini bread recipes on Pinterest *laugh*.

      Thanks for the advice on the zucchini. I copy and pasted it to my garden documents, so I can keep it for future reference :).

  4. I am trying to keep the deer out of my garden, this year it's been a disaster, we got heavy rains and storms all month in April and May and that kiled half of my plants, then when finally the rain stops and the plants start growing the deer comes and eat most of the tomato flovers, green beans and cucumbers.
    I was so disappointed since this year I put a big garden and so far I only harvested some cucumbers and, green beans and basil. We will have to put a fence in the future, in mean time I am trying the dryer sheets trick.
    I did manage to can cherries, peaches, tomato sauce and few jars of strawberry jam so far, but I really need to can more tomato and pizza sauce ( I was hopping to get all tomatoes from the garden, but I had to buy them instead ).
    Also I like to freze peppers, green beans, eggplant and berries for the vinter, so I have to work on those too.
    Luckly here in Texas we have two growing seasons, so I will try to grow tomatoes again and I will try broccoli, lettuce, kale, radishes and other cooler whether vegetables.
    I never heard about the radishes you grow, how do they taste ? Are like other radishes ? I will like to try them too if they produce that much.
    Like always I think you did great with your shopping and garden.

    1. They actually taste like a rather spicy radish, but with a fresh taste to them that is all their own. They are a pretty neat, very old, variety of radish that I guess were really popular in Europe for a long time and then fell out of favor. And yeah, they definitely produce a LOT. I have a few more pints of radishes to can from the harvest today and when I went out tonight there's a bunch more nearly ready to harvest. It's amazing. I'm going to harvest over the next couple of days and make radish relish out of them :).

      My neighbor has the same problem with the moose. The last couple of years his big garden has gotten decimated by the buggers to the point he's joking about putting in a moat to deter them. Or pit traps. I feel for him. I'm kind of lucky in where my garden is right up against my house the moose tend to not want to jam themselves into the small location to get at the garden and since it's right near humans I think that dissuades them a bit.

      I've heard that deer HATE rosemary if you can get it to grow in your garden around the perimeter. They hate it so much they won't cross a patch of it. Not sure if there's absolute truth there, but it might be worth a shot. I knew a lot of gardeners in PA who used it as a natural deer barrier and had good luck with it.

      I have peas to can from the garden in the next couple of days. I'm kind of excited as I've never had enough peas out of my garden to do anything with but put into salad before :). I'm going to blanch them and then I can use them in soup or in stir fry over the winter. Woohoo!

    2. Peas to freeze. Not can. Duh...too tired tonight :).

    3. Kristina S...
      Here in Indiana I haven't had many problems with deer eating my garden but I have heard that you can use human urine to deter them. So if you have any boys in your family just have them go out and do their thing around the perimeter. I have also heard of using human or dog hair. Good Luck!

  5. Hi. Just wanted to let you know about an easy way to make bed. sew 5 pillowcases together at sides to make long row. put pillows in and you have a comfy bed for nights. you can pack away or put under your sons bed out of site. My daughter uses one for when her daughter wants her in night. hope this helps. Ann

  6. I was thinking about your Christmas gifts. Since your radishes are doing so well, could you give some of the canned ones away as gifts. Or variations of zucchini bread since it's affordable to purchase?

    1. I'm at a point right now where I've given canned goods to family so much in the past for gifts, that I doubt they'd appreciate me giving them more, so I just concentrate on canning things for my family for winter instead. I know that sounds weird, but true :).

      I am planning on giving away some baked goods this year, but probably not zucchini bread as it's one of those breads that you either love or you hate and since I'm not really sure of family preferences on the subject, I REALLY don't want to give a gift of food that someone wouldn't want to eat *laugh*. Thanks for the suggestion though :).

  7. Writing from Fairbanks here...Have you made sweet zucchini relish? YOu cannot tell it from cucumber relish. I also have a recipe for turning zucchini into fake pineapple that you can then use for things like pineapple upside down cake or in various Asian sweet/sour recipes. I have been overloaded with zucchini this year, 89 pounds harvested already and counting. I froze a lot of it, shredded, that we use for latkes (great, healthy and cheap dinner. Or, if you like potato pancakes, substitute half of potatoes with zucchini and you will still love it)but comes a point that you need the room in the freezer for upcoming hunting season. Also have a bachelor friend and he agreed to trade me salmon once a week until the season ends, in exchange for a loaf of zucchini bread and some latkes he could just nuke and eat. I think I got the better end of the deal, so I have also been throwing in a jar of something I canned---like zuke relish or dill fridge pickles that do not need canning or baggies of frozen basil pesto he can thaw and use this winter. One week instead of a jar of jam or something, I just gave him a vase of flowers that he could give to his girlfriend...Are you sure your friends don't want to keep getting your canned stuff? Ask and you might be surprised. One year I didn't give my usual jars of home canned stuff and two people said they were sort of disappointed because they wait for my jams instead of buying them in the store!

    1. When it comes to canned goods, my friends LOVE it, family I just end up going over to houses and see canned goods I gave them years ago still sitting on shelves and go, "Oh, they didn't really want that. Ooops" and put it away for future reference. I think my mother-in-law has jam I gave her from 2012 in her spare fridge.

      I'd love it if you could share the recipe for the pineapple substitute with the zucchini. That sounds neat!