Friday, August 12, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

This week has been long.  And depressing.  And long *laugh*.  We're all missing my husband this week around here.  The meet and greet at the school yesterday ended up being more of a marathon to drop stuff off, meet my daughter's teacher super quick and move along.  It was pretty busy at the school, the new nurse (oh I'm so anxious when I found out they have a new nurse this year.  Our old nurse understood my daughter's stomach condition, had battled right along with me when she first was diagnosed with the condition and knew what was needed when it was needed.  Now I have to start all over again.  Nerve wracking for sure!) was no where to be found, which was upsetting as I really need to talk long and lengthy about her about both kids, including my son's new medication he's going to be starting with the injections as they have to watch him for three days after each injection for signs of anaphylaxis.  I never even got to meet my son's new teacher as an aide wasn't letting me get near her (in the aide's defense the teacher was talking to someone who's child was going to be new to the program so she might have been trying to give them some privacy).  The teacher called me later and I talked to her a bit, but man...what a waste of time going up to the school yesterday.  I could have done everything we did yesterday on the first day of school.  Sigh.

There were some bright points to the week though, so let's get to that shall we?

1.  I have been scrambling trying to find my son water boots that would fit him.  No one in the local area carries them this time of year in his size unless they are like bogs and major super duper expensive.  I went to my last line of defense in these things, Land's End (the website) and found water boots in the next size up for 19.99 and I was also able to find my son a new winter jacket in the next size up as his other jacket the sleeves are going to be too short on him (he'll probably swim in the new one for a while, but that's just the way it is) for 40.00 on clearance (only in Alaska would you find someone buying winter gear in the middle of everyone else's summer I swear *laugh*).  I hated to pay that much for a jacket, but I have also been unable to find him the size I need for the past two years (yes, I buy that many sizes ahead when I pick up things like that for the kids), so I bit the bullet and paid it.  I paid 15.00 to get 2nd Day UPS shipping (which in Alaska is 3 days, but still good for sure) just to make sure we have the water boots for school as we're expecting yet more rain from the Bering Sea jet streams that are going through and holding strong.  I need to go to Sportsman's Warehouse this weekend and see if I can find the kids some rain ponchos or something to wear over their coats at recess, but at least water boots will be taken care of.

2.  I canned rose hip pancake syrup (seen up top).  I just replaced rose hip juice for apple juice in an apple cinnamon pancake syrup recipe from Ball's Book of Home Preserving.  It worked awesome and now we'll have some really tasty, and antioxidant laden, syrup for pancakes this winter :).
By the way,  by request *laugh* here's a quick shot of the ditch on the side of our driveway that I carefully worked my way down into to pick berries (the drop doesn't seem as bad in the pictures for some reason, but it is actually a pretty steep drop that goes down about eight feet or so).  I also found a bunch of watermelon berries while I was down there and now have a couple of sandwich bags full of those to hopefully turn into some juice here soon.

Lots of spiky bushes and plants down in there.  Lots.  And LOTS of dead wood.  I've been running into dead wood wherever I go.  No wonder we have so many problems with carpenter ants.  We have food for them EVERYWHERE!

3.  I went back to Carrs this week to pick up my son's epi-pen refill and while I was there stopped and found they had restocked the popcorn.  So, I was able to get 10 more boxes of popcorn for cheap as I had TONS of coupons from the company for being a customer and then I had some from mailers and things from them too.  All totaled I got 10 boxes of microwave popcorn for 2.80 after tax.  Yeah!!!  The cashier was seriously impressed *laugh*.  This will last us forever and both of the kids are thrilled with the find :).

I also found that Fred Meyer had ribs on sale during a 3 day sale last weekend (on Sunday I found this out which was the last day of the sale) for 1.88 lb.  My husband and I jetted into Palmer to see if there were any ribs left as that was an awesome price for ribs period, but for baby back ribs?  UNHEARD of cheap.  I found the "home" for the ribs empty, but from working at stores I knew there would be a sale end cap somewhere with the ribs in it and sure enough I found it with five packages left in it.  I cleaned out what was left as they were 5.00 per package!  We had ribs for dinner Sunday night as a send off for my husband and I immediately put the other packages into the freezer.  Yay for stocking up on cheap meat!

Past that for groceries this week I kept it simple as sales for things like soda and chips just weren't there (luckily we were still okay on soda and things for my son).  I got a big bag of Doritos and Cheetos and called it good.  Overall, my son has been eating more Goldfish and less chips (yay!) so I've been pushing pasta and rice more this week and trying to avoid the crap with him as much as possible.  It's worked so-so as he's turned more toward wanting french fries when I did that.

4.  I canned raspberry jam yesterday.  I didn't use pectin so it was just raspberries and sugar.  And I actually got a good set on the jam!  Woohoo!  Took a while but it got there.  This will come in handy this winter for things like fillings in cakes, in donuts, on toast (of course) and other things.  Super thrilled with how much it made. 

I've been really trying to harvest as many wild Alaskan berries as possible this year as I have been doing research and found that our berries up here are like super antioxidant sources.  Like on a normal scale a cranberry from the lower 48 would score about a 45 or something on the scale while our wild cranberries?  Score like 840.  That kind of super antioxidant levels.  Crazy stuff.  Since we're always so sick as soon as school starts, I figure the having antioxidant helpers in the pantry is DEFINITELY a good idea. 

5.  Didn't really go anywhere or do much of anything this week.  OT cancelled on us this week and things, so at least I'll have a near full tank of gas when school starts on Monday.

6.  Cooked meals at home instead of living at fast food restaurants this week, no matter how tempting it was to keep my son happier with his beloved french fries.

7.  I managed to find breaks in the rain to take the kids out to play a few times this week, which was good for both kids as it's been hard to get outside and do stuff this summer with the whacky weather.  Found out we had a ground bee's nest while I was walking the perimeter of the yard so we'll have to burn that out (I was wondering where all the hornet-like bees were coming I know).  This is the first year we've had any type of ground bees here, which is just so weird and I even found a couple of garden snails when I was picking bugs out of the garden.  I didn't even know we HAD those up here.  I'm praying it gets cold enough this winter to kill all of these bugs off, that's for sure.

8.   A quick garden update (or what passes for one).  I was trying to get the planter thing to work to move inside, but the dirt is still super wet and slugs are invading the planters as they sit so I'm worried I'm just going to be moving my gardening problems inside if I try the planter idea.  I dumped the soil back into the garden and I'm going to see if maybe I can still find some cheap bagged soil at the stores next week to use instead.

In the meantime though, Jeannie I just wanted to share this with you!

I have beet seedlings!  I am keeping them covered with things pushed down DEEP into the ground around the seedlings to avoid the darned slugs burrowing into the ground to get at them (obviously by the bites taken out of them one or two made it), but I am so thrilled that at least I got a few seedlings.  If I can JUST keep them alive till after the first frost they might have a chance (I'm hoping bugs will start to die at that point).  We shall see!

9.  I dehydrated a head of cabbage this week as well.  I just need to wash everything and then it's onto potatoes!

So there you are folks.  My week in a nutshell (with lots of screaming son and things in between).  How about you?  How did your week go?


  1. As a public school teacher, I strongly encourage you to put specific health issues and proper medical responses into writing. I would make sure both teachers and the nurse read the instructions in front of you, at a scheduled meeting, so you can impress the severity of the problems and the importance of a quick response. I would also ask the principal to be present. Someone from the districts central office may also be asked to attend.

    1. Oh I do. I get a bunch of print outs on my daughter's stomach condition from the Cyclical Vomiting official site (I just e-mail and ask them for hand outs to give to teachers and staff) and with my son's new medication I have a hand out on the medication to give to the nurse, but also had the allergist send over an allergy action plan, with specific instructions and things to look for and everything to the school front office, the nurse and his classroom for his teacher and support staff (he's only in the one classroom, which does help with watching and control).

    2. I just want to meet the new nurse to be assured that everyone gets it and knows what is going on as even with the hand outs and things when they read "give Zophran as needed" I've had some nurses not take that too seriously until my daughter was in a seriously bad cycle. At least with my son they are definitely taking it seriously. His new teacher even has a sign she's putting up in the room to educate people on the severity of my son's nut allergy. Nice that they are taking it that seriously.

    3. Even though I had a printout of all my son's meds from his doctor and I met with the camp nurse and went over them in detail his sleep-away camp did not give him one of his daily meds for the whole week he was there. He was a mess for them and then for us when he got home. I didn't realize what had happened till towards the end of the month when I noticed he had too many pills left. Arg!!! So yes, tell everybody, in every format you can think of (verbal, written...) and don't worry about being redundant or pushy.

  2. I wish you could send some of that rain our direction. We have not had much rain at all this summer and are now in a drought like situation here in Southern Ontario. There is a fire ban and we are being asked to reduce our water use by 25-50% in some area. We're on a well, so there is serious concerns that it could run dry. Our grass is burn to a crisp and the trees are shedding dried out leaves everywhere (the leaves have not changed colour, like in fall)! We're recycling water as much as possible just to keep some of our plants going (tomatoes, peppers and cucumber), but it's a huge struggle. We've even been warned that cost of food (both produce and meat) will be going up because the farmers have low yields in their crops this year. Supposed to rain tonight...hoping we don't end up with flooding!

    Great job with getting in more canning this week. That's impressive considering your husband is away. This was my first year to collect wild berries. Nothing beats free and healthy, that's for sure! I hope you are able to find lots of foraged food to help your pantry, Erika.

    1. Ouch. I understand on the drought type conditions. The last three years it's been like that during the summers up here. I believe last year about, no joke, 90% of the state was on fire due to dry weather and because we have such nasty easy to burn underbrush and spruce trees up here. The year before that pretty much the entire southern part of the state was on fire and it was actually raining ash up here and you couldn't go outside due to the smoke and poor air conditions. It was terrible. I follow a couple of Canadian farmer blogs, so I know what kind of struggle you guys are dealing with right now, including a good portion of some of the crops getting wiped out by freak hail storms. So sorry you all are having to go through all that!

  3. I had just sat down to read your blog when my husband asked me if I was reading your blog because he wanted to listen to me read it. When I saw that you had referenced ME, I got so excited. Son #3 came into the room to listen also. We all had to gawk at the picture of the cavern, admire the picture of the beet seeds, discuss the watermelon seed plants, Google them to see if we have them, nope, discuss the antioxidant levels of the plants plus I had to go back and read the other blogs from a few days back since Hubby had missed them.

    Now on to my news. I took your advice and tried your recipe for shoe leather beef. You had said if you cook it in wine it will become tender. It WORKED plus it tasted great.

    Shoe leather tough beef bought on sale at a great price
    Very cheap wine
    Chopped onion
    Chopped bell pepper (it was a small piece leftover from nachos and beginning to go soft)
    Mix all together in crock pot
    I cooked a big pot of rice using the extra broth then added the rice to the meat.

    We just ate it and enjoyed it. The only hang up was me going into a liquor has been a while. It went like this.
    Me to the lady behind the counter. “I need a very cheap wine for cooking.”
    Sales lady, “Here is a popular blah, blah, for $17 a bottle.”
    Me, “It is for a new recipe I have never used so I want a very cheap bottle. What do you have that is cheaper?”
    Sales lady, “This one is $14.”
    Me, “No, cheaper.”
    Sales lady, “$12”
    Me, “I mean really CHEAP!”
    Sales lady, “How about $7.99?”
    Me, “No thank you.” I began toward the door.
    Sales lady, “What about this one for $2?”
    Me, “Really! Yes, that is definitely what I want. (MD 20/20 $2.29 375ML)”
    She took the bottle rang it up and I said, “Did I get the “10% off on wine since this is Wednesday” like the sign on the front door said?”
    She looked at me shocked and then I saw her realize she was going to have to void out the sale, probably call over the manager who would not be able to find her register key or whatever and so on and so forth. Once again, I was being TOO CHEAP! So I just said, “State law says you are supposed to card anyone over 21. You did not card me.”
    She snickered.
    I said, “At least card me so I can go home and brag to my husband.” She rolled her eyes, laughed, checked my license and was surprised (I am sure she was surprised) I was as old as I was.
    Jeannie & Family

    1. I am laughing so hard right now as we're such kindred spirits when it comes to cooking wine. I usually go up and smile at the cashier and wait. When they ask the inevitable, "Is there something I can help you find?" I just say, "Yes, I need a cheap bottle of red/white wine for 4.99 or less. Can you show me those please?" I get such weird looks, but I absolutely refuse to spend a ton of money on cooking wine as it's really unnecessary in my experience :).

      A 2.00 bottle of wine though. Wow! I've never run into wine that cheap up here. Great find!!!

    2. And now I totally have the old Muppet Show sketch in my head with, "Do you have anything cheaper???" Good times *laugh*.

    3. Oh my goodness Jeannie! You just made me laugh so hard I spit my coffee out in my lap (good thing it's laundry day!).

      I think I'm going to have to try this - we have a couple of venison roasts and a partial bottle of wine leftover from something or another in our fridge plus we love our crockpot!


    4. Son #2 came home from his summer internship this afternoon and I had to sit down and read the blog to him. He was surprised I stopped at $2.00. Then he had to go into the kitchen to find the bottle to "check it out." He refused to even tastes it. The name of the wine is called "MD 20/20". We can't figure out what the MD stands for.
      Then we had to Google the old Muppet Show sketch to see what was stuck in your head. Now it is stuck in mine.
      Jeannie and Family

    5. LOL! Jeannie, I think the MD stands for Mad Dog. When I was in high school some of the kids drank it or Boone's Farm because it was cheap. Paula in Kansas

  4. Busy week for you!!

    This year, they aren't doing the meet the teacher and drop off the school supplies thing like they usually do mid day. Instead, they are doing 2 one hour scessions of talking over what the new year will be like. Since my husband will be giving one of those, I have no one to watch my little guy, so as much as I hate to do it, I think we will have to skip it, and I was feeling bad that my son wouldn't have a chance to find his desk ahead of time until you mentioned first day of school. Duh! I'll just take him in then! And walk him in! I hate not going, but at the same time, I'm not sure little man can handle it. We will see.

    So this has been the busiest week ever, I swear. And no sign of it stopping. I might have mentioned that we are fighting Verizon taking our culdesac and putting in a 199 foot cell tower, in an 80x80 fenced in equipment area. Well, I've been doing emails, and petitions, and flyers, and etc, and was able to get most of that done, because today was my husband's first day of work. Wednesday night was the county meeting. So many of us got up and spoke, (night before we had had a neighborhood meeting, and my topic was children and safety) and we actually had so many questions that Verizon asked for more time to answer it. 6 weeks! So the county has posponed the permit for them, though it's probably going to go their way. In doing research, I learned just how much of a crook that company is. any yet, it's out ONLY internet and phone choice here. Sad. Anyway. So since then, been endless emails, phone calls, researching, etc... A real pain in the rear.

    to top it off, since I was asked to do the Women's craft day at church (all free crafts, and breakfast for about 50 women) I've been going crazy on that the last month. It's in October, but I only have one person on the whole committee helping me and it's beem awful. What's more, is it's a $100 budget. For 50 women. And 6-8 crafts each. And breakfast. Yeah. I got frustrated and said I can't walk on water people, but somehow, after weeks of worry, looks like it's starting to come together.

    I guess I'm just feleing fustrated, and a little surprised too, because it seems like as of late, everyone is coming to me, emailing, or phoning, or in person asking and expecting, and I cringe to day it, LOOKING to me to lead them in various things. I'm actually a really shy person, but I've had to just cram all of that into a little corner and just go and do it, or it won't get done. But meantime, when my husband is playing video games for a couple of hours at night? yes...I do get annoyed. Especially, because our youngest is turning 4 in a few days, PLUS week after, hosting a join bday party for him. Ugh. Miracle I'm not falling over from all of the stress.

    Anyway. Sorry! LOL

    one week after school starts here, my toddler will be in mornings PreK. I'm kind of nervous. I hope he likes it. And it's going to be strange not having him for those few hours. Next year, if he's still enjoying it, and will go again (I'm worried he won't want to go and it will be two years of tears like with my oldest) I might start dipping my toes into the substitute teacher thing, so that year after, I can find a job. Not wanting to, but you know how it is. People like to eat! And have clothes, and toys and stuff! But anyway, hoping to take those few hours and get things caught up around here, and also work on my writing so I can maybe one day actually sell some of it!

    i hope your week goes better. I think it's so sweet when you talk about how much to miss your husband. Means you guys have a great marriage! It's going to be 15 years for us in Nov, but I swear, about a month into summer vacation, and I'm getting frazzled from all of the people and all of the messes and the expectation that MOM will do it all. Even if I'm not someone's mom. Grr! I'm going to raise my boys differently, lol!

    1. Wow you sound frustrated and overwhelmed and with good reason. That's a lot to juggle. Hope everything works out okay for you and you'll get a chance to breathe :).

      I remember when my kids went into preschool. Because of my son's delays he got into preschool RIGHT when he turned three and I had enrolled my daughter in preschool that year for social interaction as with my son's eczema and things she just really needed to make some friends. Losing both kids to school in one year was SO hard. I dropped them off at school and just cried and cried in the parking lot. It got easier after a few days, but it was so awful. Especially when I picked the kids up at their different schools and they were like, "Yeah, hi, whatever" when I'd pick them up *laugh*.

    2. Hi Erika,
      Even with the stress of your husband gone, the rain, etc. you still managed to do an incredible amount. The good news is that his absence for work, the rain, school stuff, is just a temporary bump in the road.
      Great find on the ribs. I was wondering if you knew if the rosehips have to be from the rosa rugosa species or can any rosehip be used? I currently have two knock rose bushes, which I'm sure are hybrids. My prickly pear cactus has a mega amount of pears on it so I'm looking forward to making prickly pear syrup and jelly as soon as they ripen.

      Count me in as a cheap wine kindred spirit. In places we've lived before there was always a Trader Joe's. They sold a wine that we all called two buck Chuck. It was just $2 a bottle. Great wine to cook with. I sure do miss Trader Joe's prices and variety. The closest one to us is over an hour away and in heavy traffic.

      So what got accomplished this week? The book "How to Cook A Wolf" came in
      at the library and I'm thinking I probably want to own the book. It's a great read. It has been revised since 1942 but not much. I highly recommend reading it.
      The heat index here in the northeast is 112. The okra are thriving and I've dehydrated tons of it. Unbelievably, the zucchini is still producing so there's more opportunity to dehydrate more for winter and to make some more cream of zucchini soup base for winter. I made a cherry cobbler, which half was supposed to go in the freezer, but it somehow got completely gobbled down by family and guests. For one of our meals I used some of last years dehydrated apples to make applesauce and made a very wonderful discovery that the water they were sitting in made fantastic apple juice. Next time I rehydrate apples I will probably make apple rosemary jelly from the water.
      Two beautiful heads of cabbage survived the beetle onslaught and after I make some coleslaw with part of one the rest will be dehydrated. This wasn't a grocery shopping week, so no news there. The orchards a few towns over are having their peach festival and since the frost didn't effect them there may be some local peaches. I'm going to skip the festival this weekend and try to get over there the first of next week and see what they have. I'd like to put some pies and cobblers in the freezer, can some and dehydrate some.

      It's so hot here I'll be staying in all weekend and hopefully work on Christmas gifts. Dorothy

    3. This was a busy week here in Pa as it is Dauphin County 4-H fair week. We live very close to the Farm Show building where the fair is held. My son did well at showing his rabbits and even overcame his anxiety to compete in Showmanship (he had to present one of his rabbits to the judge and go over the rabbit as if he were judging it. He also had to answer questions about his breed of rabbit and rabbits in general.) maintaining eye contact with the judge is one of the items kids get scored on and is particularly difficult since my son has autism. He says it is one of the hardest parts for him. This year he improved so much with his knowledge skills and didn't lose any points for lack of eye contact!! All this to say most of my week was consumed with preparing for and being at the fair. Fortunately we were in an aircnditioned building as we are in a heat advisory here.

  5. It sounds like your week is going as well as it can go. Hopefully, your husband will be home soon to help out. I know when mine is away for any reason, I notice the 1000 little things he does so much more, because I have to do them!

    I'm loving seeing your canning. I love to can, but am not doing it this year, as my things are still in storage. We bought a house, but there are some renovations that need to be done before we move in, so my things are still "lost" to me. Soon.....

    It's amazing that school starts so early there. I know every place does it differently, but ours doesn't start until after Labor Day.

  6. It's so hard when the husbands are out of town. It seems like you got a lot done though! Here's my list for the week!

  7. My husband is always out of town (he's a commercial airline pilot), so I'm used to it. In fact, when he has too many days off in a row, I'm like "PLEASE pick up a trip!!" He's super helpful with the kids when he's home but he also creates a lot more work for me. Plus, this girl craves her alone time! 😁

    How frustrating about not getting to see the nurse or your son's teacher while at the school. That would aggravate me as well.

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