Friday, July 29, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Well, this has been a productive week, despite some set backs.  I had numerous issues with getting the bulging tire fixed on my car (it was still leaking after we got the new one on, got that fixed and had to get sensors reset, etc) and my son was sick this week, but at least I was able to get things accomplished despite that.

So, onto the garden update.

The turnips are sprouting up and then just as soon as they pop up they are getting chewed on by something.  I don't think it's slugs as the marigolds planted near the turnips, which the slugs seem to LOVE, are actually starting to come back after I thinned the lettuce.  And there aren't slug trails near the seedlings...there's just chunks taken out of them.  I'm going to try spreading some coffee grounds in a perimeter around the space and see if it's ants eating on the plants or not as we've had a bad ant year on top of everything else.

I researched when to harvest potatoes to refresh my memory and found that the potatoes in the garden should be ready to harvest.  So, I went and dug them.  I am glad I did.  I had a lot of little potatoes on two of the three plants, but I also found that they were planted on top of a HUGE rock that's in that bed which I didn't know about.  So, that definitely impacted the growing of the potatoes.  I made a note of where the rock is as it's too big to dig up and I'll plant lettuce or Chinese vegetables on top of that space next year.  In the meantime I planted more turnip seeds and more carrot seeds after amending the soil in the bed just to try and get some small veggies out of the garden before the ground freezes.

While I was digging potatoes I realized that the garlic was definitely ready to harvest as the garlic plants were pretty much dead, so I dug them too.  And was in for one tremendous disappointment as the garlic was small.  Really small.  I was online a few hours after harvesting it and found out that our local produce stand had bundles of garlic for 3.00 per bundle so I went and got enough for (hopefully) a year (garlic quality up here is TERRIBLE no matter the time of year, so this year I decided to buy local instead).  Believe it or not, the entire bunch of garlic you see is only 3 bunches that I got plus my five (yes, five, I ended up with more than I thought when I dug the bed...glad I didn't pull everything up that I thought was grass *laugh*) bulbs near the top (that's where you are supposed to put your smallest bulbs).  I found that due to the weather everyone's garlic wasn't doing great this year, so that made me feel a bit better, but I also found that the variety of garlic I had planted (I got it at Lowes) wasn't really recommended for planting in Alaska because of it's long growing season and not liking cold weather, so one of the bulbs of garlic I bought is destined to be broken into cloves and planted in the garden for next year. 

I came home after buying the garlic and looked up a tutorial on how to braid garlic online so I could have it all in one place.  Fast forward to 30 minutes later with me having six bulbs all nice and braided looking only for the directions to say, "And continue to add 3 to 4 bulbs at a time per bunch and end with a nice looking bulb".  Now mind you, the instructions up to that point were really in depth so picture me sitting there, holding six bulbs of garlic complete with stems tightly and me using some colorful language as I tried to figure out the rest of the pattern.  So, the final results are above after a lot of pseudo braiding and knotting on my part was done.  It would probably make a real blooded Italian flinch, but it'll get the job done, I hope *laugh*.

The results of this week's garden haul, minus some more peas, is up top.  I am pleased as punch with how the carrots have done.  I have never been able to make more than stubby little 2 inch things that are supposed to be carrots, so to pull real to life, honest to goodness carrots from the ground is beyond thrilling :).

Past that let's get onto the rest of the money saving things this week!

1.  I ended up with a sick son this week as he was down with a cold, so overall we didn't go anywhere or do much of anything until today when we went errand running to go to the bank and the store.   So, I definitely saved gas and money by not leaving the house.

2.  I finished one Christmas gift this week (more on that later) out of materials I already had around the house.

3.  I shopped sales and used coupons to get the most out of my money at the store.

4.  I used a bunch of odds and ends of meat (some leftover Thanksgiving turkey from last year, one lone pork steak, some odds and ends of beef roasts I'd cut up for stew beef and some lamb necks) and some "not quite prime" garden produce (skeletal looking chard that had taken a lot of slug abuse before picking, the teeny tiny potatoes, some smaller peas) along with a few pieces of produce from the fridge to make a huge pot of stew for dinner tonight.  It was delicious and filling, even my husband was amazed how filling it was, so score there!  The leftovers will be lunches for the next three or four days.  To go with it I dug out my one lowly package of frozen bread sticks and made a garlic Parmesan bread stick recipe with them (didn't get a chance to make bread the last few days due to sick kiddo).  My son LOVED the topping and ate the tops off of most of the bread sticks, but the rest of us got one bread stick a piece and actually did enjoy our dinner (my daughter even ate hers, more's the miracle).

5.  I fixed the glider rocker in the den.  My son had somehow knocked something loose (honestly he's pretty good with the chair so I think repetitive motion knocked it loose) and the back was falling off when I found him rocking in it (luckily no one was hurt in the event).  I tipped the chair over and studied it carefully and found where a screw had fallen out of the chair and that the screw was really sub par to begin with, so I took my lowly tool bag, hammered the chair back together carefully and sank in a new, nice and meaty screw and made sure it made contact with wood securely where before the screw had kind of just pecked the wood instead of securing it.  I am hoping that will last a while, although in hind sight I should have used some wood glue first to help keep it secure.  Here's hoping.

6.  I finally got through more than one episode of "Tudor Monastery Farm" on You Tube.  Somehow I have had a harder time getting into this series than all of the other farm videos, but it is interesting to watch.  I do have to admit, I miss Peter's and Alex's chemistry.  Tom and Peter seem to fight more on camera even and it just doesn't come across as as much fun.

7.  Retro Ruth of "Mid-Century Menu" linked to this archive of books earlier in the week and I have to admit to getting a bit addicted at looking at random cookbooks and things when time permits.

8.  My husband while at his parent's house yesterday picked a bunch of raspberries for me off of my mother-in-law's bushes.  I'm thrilled as this easily tripled what I had picked wild from our yard in one fail swoop.  I'm hoping we'll be able to get more so I have enough for jam and muffins and things for over winter, but we shall see (and thanks for the raspberries, Stacey!).

9.  I've continued to pick rose hips from my yard and have resisted the urge to pick ones that I see nice and ripe in other people's yards.  I've already gotten several weird looks from neighbors harvesting mine *laugh*.  I think tomorrow I'm going to figure out how many I have and see if I finally have enough to do something with them (fingers crossed there).

10.  I continued to go through things and weed out things and am now, I think, finally at the point where I can organize the kitchen a bit better.  Yay!

11.  I added water to a shampoo bottle and to a soap bottle to get every last drop out of the bottle before giving it to my son to play with (shampoo bottle) or refill it (soap bottle).

12.  I made my husband his birthday gift from things I already had around the house and it was something he really wanted, so double bonus there :).  More on that later as well.  

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


  1. What a wonderful bounty of produce you were able to harvest from you garden, Erika! The picture looks lovely, too. Great job using up all those odds and ends to make a wonderful hearty meal your family loved (and sadly, I do know how wonderful it feels when everyone actually loves what you made for dinner). I'm really looking forward to your gift posts, though. You always have such wonderful ideas for gift making!

    As for my week, it has been productive in some ways and not in others. I blanched and froze 6 bunches of broccoli (bought on sale) and a whole bunch of green and waxed beans (some bought at farmer's market, some bought 50% off at grocery store and some from my garden). We picked our first 2 ripe tomatoes which is exciting. Most of the time, we pick green tomatoes when it gets too cold and wait for them to ripen on the counter. I also brought home 2 onions and some carrots, free from the gardens at work. The carrot still had the greens, which we will use to feed our Guinea pig (free greens, yeah!).

    I saved bits of veggies (like onion skins, carrot peelings, bits of bean trimmings, etc.) in a bag in the freezer for making broth later. We also save chicken bones, then when I get a chance, I boil up all the veggie scraps and chicken bones together. Once the broth is strained and cooled, I freeze in 2 cup portions in chicken broth!

    My husband and I spent a day at Canada's Wonderland as a fun adult outing this week. Not frugal at all, but our daughter is at camp, so we took the opportunity to have some fun. That's about it for me this week. Hope your son is feeling better. Have a wonderful week, Erika!

    1. I don't know if you know this trick or not, but if you have a decently warm place to hang them, if you have a ton of green tomatoes on your plant, pull the entire plant when the weather gets cold and hang it upside down in a warm location and the plant will continue to produce and ripen the fruit on it. My dad did that a lot when I was young and I used it a couple of times when I lived in our old apartment as I was given permission to hang the plants in the well house (which was obviously heated) and I ended up with tomatoes up into December :).

    2. Wow! Im going to try this!!

  2. Hi Erika,
    Your stew sounds delicious. I love things that are a little this and a little that. My tastebuds love the layers of flavor. I'm getting ready to plant my fall garden. We've been told that the beetles will be gone by the middle to end of August. I guess the beetles are to us what the slugs are to your garden.

    This week's frugal accomplishments were that I was home doing food preservation and some garden cleanup to get ready to plant again. So no gas used. Meals were creatively prepared i.e. I had a some cod in the freezer that I steamed, flaked and seasoned as if they were crabcakes. They went over extremely well and no one suspected that not one drop of crab was in them :) I continued to work on rearranging the pantry and used your idea of putting down cardboard so that I could actually store more. Doing this also allowed me to take inventory to see what needed to be used first

    I clicked on the link from Mid-Century Menu. Wow. I spent about an hour just going through a few things. I could become very addicted to just spending my time looking at them, if not using some of the recipes. I hope your son is getting over his cold and that you are getting some rest. Dorothy

    1. I know how you feel about food preservation taking up so much time. I'm doing it in my sleep even *laugh*.

      Nice trick with the fish. I might try that with some Tilapia I got super cheap. It always tastes fishy to me and is far from my favorite fish, but I got some for 1.00 per package on mark down so I wasn't going to pass that up.

  3. Don't laugh but I got one ripe tomato. Gave it to my dh, he loves fresh tomatoes and I really don't care. I have lost quite a few to black rot at the bottom. Am using a stop rot spray and try to save more. The basil looks good on one plant. Seems the Japanese beetles are eating the other one. We would starve with my gardening skills but thought I would try again this year. Cheryl

    1. *Laugh* I get it, trust me. My harvests are nothing compared to what my grandfather and grandmother could do. They stared at a plant and it would grow. Me, not so much. I feel like I'm putting on a helmet, grabbing a bug sprayer and a fertilizer jug and going to war every year when it comes to gardening. But, it is worth it in the end to just have some fresh produce on the table.

      Have you tried checking the PH of your soil to see if it is nitrogen rich enough for tomatoes? Tomatoes are HEAVY eaters (least in my experience) and like it hot and humid (why they do so well in green houses). The easiest thing to grow, to me, is lettuce. If you are worried about bugs getting to it, plant a lot and it'll just grow in a dense thick patch for a bit until it's well enough off so you can thin it down. Really, lettuce is usually the main reason I grow a garden. It is really cost effective to grow, provides wonderful flavor and nutrition that you aren't going to get from the store shelves and it just keeps growing all summer long :). Great stuff.

      Basil, I can't grow to save my life unless it's indoors. The weather and the bugs LOVE Basil in a bad way. Parsley is a really good one to grow as it is hard to kill (and the way my garden did so well last year I wonder if it's a bug repellent too), sage will help to repel bugs and I love to grow rosemary and thyme because I use them a lot.

      I don't miss Japanese beetles. My dad had two grape vines, one right up against our house and every year those buggers would come and we'd have to pick them off and drown them as much as we could so the grape vines could survive. It sounded like a jet engine wast taking off on the side of our house every year.

    2. Lettuce, I eat two salads a day so that will be the way to go next year. My basil only grew outside not inside. That tomato tasted pretty good though. Cheryl

  4. It's not too expensive to get some Sluggo on Amazon. a 1lb container lasted two years for me, and I just bought another becaues nothing else got them out of my strawberries. Got rid of almost all of our slugs after the second application last year, and now I'm a fan. We had almost no slugs this year. And doesn't hurt your stuff you plant.

    This week for us, well, dispite my saying don't put anything else on the credit card, my husband used his truck instead of our van to do a two hour each way drive, twice, and that was $60 of gad wasted. Grr. That wasn't in the budget. He also spent $24 when he went for one night to help out at scout camp to get himself a pair of lace together moccasins, and each of our boys a plastic arrowhead necklace. Which neither of them even looked at, and will be probably thrown out in a few years after sitting in the toy box. sigh. I appreciate him trying to get them something, but I think moms are better shoppers.

    The Target toy markdown was pretty crummy, but maybe that's a good thing because I only ended up spending $27, and it will be for christmas gifts towards my 3 year old.

    My strawberries are still doing well, one squash plant seems to be surviving and we are starting to get tomatoes. I don't think we will get peppers this yeah, which makes me sad. I saw the neatest jam recipe for peach jam I think it was, but it was made with zucchini and jello mix! It was a taste of home recipe. But my husband insisted we not grow any this year (because fried some for himself once last summer while I was at a PTO meeting, and ended up getting sick because he has no gal bladder anymore, and friend foods are really hard for his stomach to digest) but I think not having the zucchini really made out squash not grow well, so next year, it's coming back! I also found out what happened to the peas and green beans I kept drying out for seeds, my husband kept tossing them!! So now, they have a note attached to the bowl.

    I had spotted a package of frozen break apart cookie dough in the freezer the other day, so last night pulled them out to make. They were from Feb 2014, so I was nervous, but they didn't taste bad. Not quite like new ones, but not like they'd gone bad, so I was happy about that.

    It's been an expensive medical month. but at least my husband shouldn't have to go back again to the doctor for his poison ivy problems. I hated to, but yesterday I started dipping into August's budget. I'll just have to be twice as careful, but August is such an expensive month, and so is from October on. I'm praying September will be kind to me!

    I've been loom knitting scarves, and finished up the ones for my nieces. I figured out I can actually get two scarves out of an inexpensive skein of yarn, (so the 2nd scarfs will be for kids I teach in primary, so they will be a little bigger) ut I still have enough leftover, so making matching teddy bear or doll scarves for my nieces. Just three rows across so only takes about 5 minutes. I've a bit of yarn leftover, so will probably use it to tie gift tags on bags or something.

    I'm proud I managed to come in my grocery shopping the last two weeks at $45, taking that extra $20 towards our bulk food storage, so if I can do that for the next 4 weeks, that will pay for it! It's been hard though, there are some things I really want to stock up on for school lunches, because unless it's pizza day my son packs, but I'm trying to be stern on myself.

    I hope your son is feeling better!

    1. I know how you feel about school. The kids start back in a few weeks and I'm like, "I've got to stock up on this, and this and this" and am trying to work it slowly into the grocery budget so it doesn't kick me in the tail, but so far I've not been very successful at it as stocking up on food storage has just been more important to me.

      With Sluggo, I started looking for some when it was mentioned before, but I need to crawl through the Amazon sellers to find one that ships to Alaska and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I'm hoping to have more time to check that out this week as my son is finally feeling a bit better. Thanks for the recommend!

  5. Just wondering if something larger is eating the turnip tops? Rabbits or similar diet rodents?

    1. I'm kind of concerned about that too as we had rodents everywhere outside the last few years and this year they are kind of hiding, probably because my cats wiped out a good portion of them the last few years.

      I'm really thinking it's ants, though. We have SO much dead wood left by the previous owners all over the property we usually have ants, but this year due to a mild winter that didn't kill most of them off, we're just nose to tail infested with bugs, including the ants. I caught one chopping away at a turnip top this morning, so I'm thinking they are definitely part of the problem. I have it on good authority that coffee grounds will help to repel the ants, so I'm spreading some around my seed beds, will hopefully have some Sluggo on order from Amazon here and if nothing else hopefully next year will be a bit better on the repelling of bugs front.

  6. I am continuing to harvest green beans, cucumbers and basil from my garden, and I am also planting new seeds of this as the heat don't seams to bother them and they keep producing.
    My tomatoes just start getting flowers and I am not sure if they will get any fruit since most of the tomatoes are harvested in June - July in Texas, and it may be to late for them. But will see, as long as the plants are growing and get flowers I will leave them in the ground. Did I mention I had about 20 tomato plants, with big plans for canning lots of sauce. That was my biggest disappointment this year. And all my potatoes, strawberries, cilantro, dill, parsley and other herbs died too before harvesting any. It was a hard year for gardening this year.
    Recently I start working in starting the brocolly and cabbage plants from seeds for the fall season, and the most exciting I start 2 pots with rhubarb seeds. I did some research and find out rhubarb can grow in south if started from seeds in the fall and grow it like an annual in the shade in the winter. So I will give it a try, I really miss eating rhubarb and it will be nice to grow it myself.
    I also miss your posts with the grocery shoppings and menues, but I understand summers are busy with kids home and pantry preparation

    1. I am hoping to get back to doing those posts soon for sure. Menu plan posts have been MIA because menu plans have been *laugh*. And with the shopping trips, honestly the kitchen table has looked like a tornado hit it so much this summer (my son has outdone himself with making messes this year) that I haven't had a place to take pictures. Bright side, the kids go back to school in a couple of weeks and things will settle down in that area, so I will be able to get more back on track with things. Summers are always hectic, but this year has been doubly so with everything that has gone on :).

  7. Erika ,
    Do NOT USE SLUGGO! MY FRIENDS CAT AND DOG WERE POISONED BY IT ! The label says it is safe but it is not! The hidden inert ingrediants in it kill earth worms and pets. Not to mention your son could pick it up. It is not worth it. They lie on the label. Dead pets are not worth it. I do not want you to have to deal with a poisoned pet. I love my pets and thought I would pass this on. I do not want to upset anyone but My friend
    lost her babies. I hope you have a great week. You are a great artist. You have soo much talent. I hope your son feels better soon.
    Have a blessed week.

    1. Yikes! Thanks for the info. I decided not to buy it due to cost of shipping, which I guess is a good thing. I also did the cost breakdown of buying an organic slug killer, but it was just as cost prohibitive. So, I bought a bottle of beer at the store yesterday, had my husband cut down some soda cans and set up some beer traps in the garden near my seed beds. Turns out the reason the cider didn't work is because the slugs are attracted to the yeast, not the sugar. So far I have about four dead slugs in the traps so so far so good!

  8. Money saving this week
    *Traveled to a local Amish community and purchased: 6 gallons of fresh milk at $2.00 each (skimmed off the cream, made butter and buttermilk), 1 HUGE watermelon for $5 (it won't fit in my refrigerator so I am going to cut it half and sit each half upright in a bowl with plastic wrap on top. If we can't eat it all, I will dehydrate it into a fruit leather. Tastes like candy), 6 ears of corn and three HUGE cantaloups for $2 each. I did not think I needed more since I had gotten such a large watermelon. When I went to Aldi's later in the day, they had the same size cantaloups for $.99 each. I flipped! I should have checked their sale online before I left home. I bought 4 more. My husband did a taste test and said he could taste a difference between the fresh cantaloups and the Aldi ones. If we can't eat all the cantaloups this week, I plan to freeze some. I just chop them into small squares and put into freezer bags.

    *Save-a-lot had beef bottom round “in a bag” for $2.29 a pound. I almost had a heart attack. I haven't seen beef at that price for YEARS! I did not know what “in a bag” meant until I got there. They were in huge slabs weighing about 20 pounds each and the “in a bag” was shrink wrap plastic. I bought one. Today I cooked part of it and found out why it was so cheap. It is tough as shoe leather. After 4 hours on high in the crock pot, it was still impossible to cut. I cooked it on high another 4 hours then added the vegetables. It finally got tender. It tasted good and my husband (the carnivore) was thrilled to have beef again.

    *Saved money by not going to the doctor and treating myself. I got an ear ache. Why? I don't know. I haven't had one of those since...gosh, I don't remember when. It was odd. It started as a tiny pain then grew to a painful pounding. When I realized I was really getting an ear ache, I began taking about ¼ teaspoon doses of Invive Colloidal Silver. This brand is the only one I use and it works on viruses and bacteria. It really does work. It is expensive to buy but one bottle (which will last a real long time) is cheaper than one visit to the doctor. On me it has worked on yeast infections, flu bugs, bad colds and sore throats. There are lots of crack pot brands out there. Don't waste your money on them. I do not get any money for this endorsement at all. If you are interested, Google Dr. Scott Johnson, Contending for Truth, Colloidal Silver and listen to his broadcasts. He believes in natural cures using herbs and such.

    * Stopped by, for the first time ever, at a pick-your-own peaches farm. The peaches were priced at $1.60 if they pick and $1.40 if you pick. I think that is a high price even though they were absolutely delicious. They tasted nothing like what you buy at the grocery store. They were worth the money because they were so delicious but too expensive to bother canning or freezing. Later, I talked to a friend who said her sister-in-law had gone to another pick-your-own farm further out in the country and they had better prices. I plan on trying them out this week.

    *My wonderful Kitchenaid mixer (that I love and have had for 25 years) began screeching when I used it this week. Hubby watched a Youtube video on how to fix it and has it torn apart on the kitchen table. I am so proud of him for doing this since this is something he has never worked on before. We don't know yet if it is fixable.
    To be continued...

    1. * Early voted for my Representative who keeps voting down tax increases. Met and talked to another candidate who was conservative. I hope our votes count.

      * Went on a date with my husband. He wanted to go to another restaurant for a change. We decided on Cracker Barrel even though it was a distance away. When we got there, the front parking lot was full and the huge back parking lot was full also. There was one space beside the dumpster. We did not want to wait an hour to eat so we drove to the next town.
      There is a little hole-in-the-wall-meat-and-three dive right off the town square. The last time we were there, the food was delicious and cheap. We wanted to go again. When we arrived, it was dark inside, had candles on the tables, liquor bottles lined the bar and the jukebox was blaring! Yikes. It had changed ownership and was not what we wanted. Since we did not want to drink our lunch nor could we see or hear each other, we left.
      Next stop was an other restaurant around the corner on the square. It was packed. The menu had pages of choices, we were happy. I ordered an appetizer as soon as we sat down since were were starving. I explained to the waitress that due to allergies I am unable to eat any sugar and wanted fettuccine alfredo since this was always safe.
      She returned and said, “The chef puts sugar in all the pasta noodles.”
      I said, “Really? I have never heard of that. I will take the homemade pizza.”
      She returned. “The chef puts sugar in the crust and the tomato sauce.”
      I said, “Oh? I will have the homemade vegetable soup or any other soup.”
      She returned, “He puts sugar in all our soups.”
      I said, “Oh my. I will take a plain old baked chicken breast.”
      She returned, “All our chicken is marinated in a sugar sauce.”
      At this time the appetizer I had ordered earlier arrived. It was a spinach and artichoke dip (made with sour cream so it is always safe) with their homemade bread toast???? I had never seen that before. Restaurants always served it with corn chips. I asked her to substitute the bread for corn chips.
      She returned and said, “We don't have corn chips so I got you these.” It was potato chips from a vending machine. Bless her heart. She was trying so very hard and we were going nowhere.
      I asked, “Is there ANYTHING AT ALL I can get that is not cooked in sugar?”
      She returned and said, “Only a lettuce salad without dressing.”
      I gave up. I nibbled the artichoke dip with potato chips (yuk), paid the bill and left. We came home and ate leftovers. It was a disgusting cheap evening, well except for the gas driving around, time wasted, and the large tip I gave the waitress for trying so hard.

      * Also, did all the usual money saving activities like washing out baggies, using less detergent by stopping the washing machine and soaking clothes overnight, cutting out coupons, closed three bedroom doors during the day to save on electricity, fixed lunch for son #3 when he went to work, harvested from the garden. The list goes on and on...

    2. Seriously? What cook puts sugar in everything??? I have NEVER heard of that before. You should probably be glad you couldn't order anything. It sounds like the food would have been awful there. Putting sugar in soup? I mean, seriously!

      Good luck with your representatives. I think I've talked to pretty much all of ours the last few months. Some of them have been really cool to talk to and have their heads sitting squarely on their shoulders and will definitely get my vote. Others were jerks, pretty much told me how awesome they were and blah blah blah and I will rejoice in hopefully helping to vote them out come November. Now I just hope we kick our Governor out of office via petition sometime soon.

    3. Usually there is at least one thing on the menu I can eat. The restaurant was packed and later I wondered if they just did not want to fool with me since they were so busy. We won't go back, ever.
      It has got to be hard to eat out with your son's allergies. I do hope he gets to feeling better soon. It is so hard when a little one is sick. It just does not seem fair.
      Do post if the coffee grounds works on the ants. I have plenty of grounds I could use. Right now I am just throwing them in the compost pile.

    4. Don't feel bad about the eating out. We have the same issues we go out once a week on Sundays but find we have to go to the same places and eat the same food or we have issues. Great thing is if you work at it you can get up to three or four places and three or four menu items and your family can eat. I have one diabetic, two on diets just trying to loose weight, one highly allergic to nuts one highly allergic to dairy and I get really sick on any sauces so I always have to do just plain stuff. Can you begin to imagine serving us!