Saturday, August 27, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

As weeks go this has been a week of changes, restrictions and just plain busy despite it all.

First, the doctor's appointment.  Well, bright side is nothing is dislocated, nothing is broken and nothing is torn.  Bad news is that I have severe tendonitis in my left bicep.  The doctor gave me a script for an anti-inflammatory and a topical cream.  I got the anti-inflammatory, but the insurance company and the doctor are having a pow wow over the cream as the doctor feels I need it, but the insurance company wants her to try a few creams before that one (read: cheaper) and I can't blame them.  Price without insurance (because I always ask to see if I can save myself some headaches)?  2700.00.  For a topical cream.  Mind completely blown there.

Anyway, I got some exercises to do on my arm every day, am restricted in my activities (no lifting over my head with my left arm, no heavy lifting, very limited driving, etc) until I feel my arm is up to full power again.  The doctor offered me some pain killers for a few days to help me sleep as I haven't been able to sleep much since the pain really upped, but I turned them down because I like to make sure I'm with it for when my son wakes up in the middle of the night.

The ABA program moving schools is going...well about as well as you'd expect a school district to move something.  Found out earlier in the week that the district decided to reimage all 11,000 district computers and devices at the same time, so kids were without their talking devices at school and they were back to using PECS for my son.  Which his bad mood was then explained because that's like demoting a kid back to preschool when that happens.  So, after a lot of choice words about the district on my part, I started sending in his home device to school this week. 

When I brought it in I also brought in a bag of the reinforcers that I knew were on the LAMP program that I figured they'd need for him (Hersheyettes aren't sold in stores but once a year and such) and then got a call saying they were trying not to do candy reinforcers for the kids this year.  I have some serious misgivings about that when it comes to my son as candy and things are like the ONLY things we've found to be motivating for him.  We'll see how that goes.

I also called our lovely independent OT and after talking to her for quite a while (and my husband before her) we decided to give OT a break for now outside of what my son gets in school.  Since the OT office moved to another town, my son has just out and out hated it, it seems.  He would stay up ALL night the night before to avoid going all summer and last school year we had a lot of meltdowns going to OT and then the school would spend another couple of hours getting him settled and into the school day after I dropped him off there.  It just wasn't worth missing 3/4 of a day of school, not getting much work done while at OT itself and everything in between just for 1 hour of occupational therapy.  So, we called it quits for now.  It's upsetting to me, as we've been going to our OT since my son was two and he made a lot of good progress there on and off over the years and I will miss them.  Hopefully, this new decision will be a good one for him, though.  At least he's, so far, settling into the school routine and doing well all things considered.  I just pray that we made the right decision.

He did, however, wake up this morning with the first cold of the school year.  Sigh.

Anyway, on the frugal front, despite having restrictions and stuff going on, I still had things that needed to get done, so I ended up getting creative sometimes but it did get accomplished.

1.  I canned lemonade concentrate this week (seen up top).  I juiced the lemons in stages to avoid over working my left arm which had to brace the juicer container while I juiced them with my right hand.  It worked.

The canner I filled with the sink hose and then slid it over the counters to the stove (of which I am eternally grateful that my kitchen is set up in a way that things like that work), so that avoided me lifting it and then I worked in stages as I felt I could. The only part that really hurt was lifting the canner lid on and off as it's at my shoulder level, but at least I didn't have to do it constantly or anything.

I made the lemonade concentrate from the reduced bags of lemons I got at Fred Meyer cheap.  I managed to get 4 cups of lemon juice from the lemons, which I thought was pretty darn good over all.

I also canned applesauce.  This was one of the things that I knew I'd have to can no matter what this week as the apples had bruises in them (thus why they were cheap to begin with) and I didn't want an apple going bad down to the core and wrecking the whole lot.  Really, it was the same story with the lemons.  Produce waits for no man, unfortunately.

Once again, I just heavily acidified the water for the apples to prevent browning and took my time with everything.  I'm super happy with how much apple sauce I ended up with this year so far.  It's awesome :).

And finally, I grabbed the strawberries out of the freezer and made strawberry preserves yesterday too.  I almost didn't, but barring coming across a bargain I can't resist or something, this is the last big canning job I think I'll have this year, so I just wanted to get it done.  I purposefully wanted to make the mixture syrupy as my husband REALLY liked the strawberry preserves I made last time over ice cream, so I aimed for soft set.  I think I actually got syrup *laugh*, but I can dump it into a pan as I open the jars and boil it briefly to get the gel I want later if need be.  I'm not overly concerned about it.  At least it tastes good.

2.  I'm, shockingly, still getting peas off of my pea plants and actually in decent quantities too, despite the lower leaves being decimated by bugs and the powdery mildew going all over.  Those, what, six pea seeds, have definitely done good work this year!
3.  I dehydrated peppers this week to use in recipes later in the winter.  I actually have found myself snacking on them too.  They came out really sweet and peppery tasting.  Yummy to snack on :).  And they are pretty cool looking in the jar too.

4.  I ended up with an independent product testing company asking me to do a review of an alcohol mixer.  I agreed, picked up the alcohol, did a small trial (I'm not a big drinker by any means), submitted my review and receipt and have a full reimbursement check coming in the mail for the product.  I'm then going to use said alcoholic mixer to make Christmas gifts out of (including some for my husband).  I love it when things like that come together ;).

5.  Believe it or not, by changing out the paper towels in the bags and re-wrapping, we're still managing to get a few last lowly salads out of the garden lettuce.  It's starting to get a bit wilty, but still tastes okay.  I never thought I'd still be eating garden lettuce at the end of August!  Thanks so much for the lettuce seeds, Jeannie!  They sure did great work this year :).

Slugs are everywhere and I mean everywhere.  They've managed to burrow underneath my barricades around my beet and turnip seedlings and pretty much wipe them out, but a few are hanging on.  I'm hoping they can grow at LEAST big enough that I can harvest some greens to eat in a salad at this point, but we shall see.  I am hoping to plant onion starts today or tomorrow if the sunny weather holds that long.  Here's hoping.

6.  Grocery shopping this week consisted of milk and Flintstone's vitamins (trying to get my son up to taking those since they are really a good source of balanced nutrition).  And yeah, that was about it.  We didn't really need that much, for one and I wasn't up to lifting things, for two, so that definitely saved us some money.

7.  I ordered a few books from Amazon this week for less than 1.00 a piece.  One is a new canning book, which I'm looking forward to checking out for sure.  I love stalking Amazon until I can find the price I'm willing to pay for something :).

And yeah, that's my week in a nutshell so far.  How about you?  How did you do this week?


  1. Hi Erica, So sorry to hear about your shoulder and the limitations. I do hope it heals, though! One suggestion for your water bath canner, or any other pot you need to fill with water and move to the stove would be to put the pot on the stove and then fill a small pitcher or jar with water and carry the water that way to the pot on the stove. It would probably take more steps, but it may be easier on your arm/shoulder. I realize it will need to be a small container or it will be too heavy as well. Sending healing thoughts ... Chris

    1. Thanks. I've actually been doing that on the opposite end of the cooking spectrum. When I have a pot of really hot water after making like pasta or something and don't want to slide that back across the counter, I've been taking my gigantic 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup and filling it about 1/2 way and carefully pouring that down the drain until I can get the pan light enough to carry over. Kind of nerve wracking with the kids, but it works.

      The canner I just wait until it cools down, slide it back across the counter and just lever it into the sink. Definitely better on my arm.

  2. I've had bicep tendonitis twice. It is excruciating. Prednisone did the trick for me. It's so hard when you can't use your arm. But you still got a lot done this week. I didn't get as much done as I would have liked. Mainly because we have decided to home school for a while, which is a long story. Our mosquitos are terrible here and it makes yard work torture. So I've let the garden go and the morning glories gave taken over. I plan to douse myself with bug repellent and try to get a handle on it early tomorrow morning. Good luck with the chewable vitamins. If they only made ones that looked and tasted like Hersheyettes! On another note, maybe if you wrote to Hershey and let them know how well they work as incentives for your son Hershey might send you some... Might be worth a try.

    1. You know, oddly enough, while mosquitoes are normally a huge problem in the summers up here, we really haven't had that many of them out, it seems. Bees though, good Lord they are EVERYWHERE and ants, and slugs, and white fly and cabbage loopers and other invasive garden pests. Good luck with the garden!

      *Laugh* yes, in some less lucid moments I have nearly written to cardboard manufacturers and suggested they put vitamins and flavorings in packaging material so that the material wouldn't go to waste. With my paper eating son, it just seemed like a naturally good idea *laugh*.

      I have written to Hershey. They gave me a nice "thanks for writing we're thrilled you love our product. You can buy Hersheyettes all year round from Hershey's Chocolate World..." and so forth, but that was all. Like you said it was worth a try :).

  3. Erika, do you think you could do a recap of all the food you were able to preserve this summer? I know it was a lot, but I've lost track of what all you were able to do.

    Although it would be better is nothing was wrong with your arm, I'm glad it's something that will heal. The cost of some meds are just outrageous, though! Hope everything feels better soon.

    Are those peas an Heirloom variety? I sure hope so. They're worth keeping seeds for next year if they are! Good to hear that your garden is still feeding your family. Also nice to hear that you felt you didn't need to get groceries this week. That's a good way to tell your pantry is well stocked!

    Can't wait to hear what you have planned for that Alcoholic mixer. I'm rather curious what your going to make for your husband for Christmas with it. You have my imagination on overtime with that one, Erika!

    As for my accomplishments, I was able to can 6 quarts of peach slices, 5 1/2 pints of peach jam, and 2 ½ pints plus of peach mango jam (using mango I froze earlier in the summer). I bought a big bag of bananas on clearance for $1 (definitely more than 3lbs in the bag) which we are eating fresh for now, but will use some to make muffins for my daughter to take to school. I bought 6 blocks (450g) of cheese 2 for $9 to stock up the freezer and 6 cases of bottled water for $0.97/15 bottles to restock what we used throughout the summer. I like having bottled water stocked for emergencies, but we rotate it by using it to take with us when we go places in the summer. I'll be going grocery shopping today, so more deals to come. Anyways, that it for now. Have a great week, Erika!

    1. Sure, I can try and do a recap like that. I can't guarantee I won't be missing some things, but I sure can try *laugh*.

      Yup, the peas are an heirloom variety, but harvesting the seeds this year isn't going to happen. I've been trying, but if I leave the peas on the plant until the peas start to get big the bugs just eat them, so I've been picking them and blanching them at about snow pea stage. They taste good and all, but no seeds yet. At least I have two packets of seeds to go through, so if I can't get seeds this year I'll try to harvest them next year.

      I made the alcoholic Christmas beverage last night as it has to sit for a while to mellow out and cure. I'm figuring by Christmas people will love it, right now it tastes like burning to me *laugh*.

      Great work with the peaches! That was a lot of canning you got done! I envy your find on the bananas too. Up here they are .89 lb right now and if you get the reduced bananas you are still paying .69 lb for them.

      I need to rotate out my bottled water soon, come to think of it. Thanks for that reminder.

      You have a great week too =D.

  4. I'm glad it's nothing worse on your shoulder, I hope the medicines help.

    This morning after a couple of hours of just feeling so sick, I managed to find a sub for my primary class, and my kids are playing video games while I try and feel better. I've had a headache for days, which turned into nausea and muscle spasms in my nack and back and I just feel terrible. My husband has church meetings anyway, a few hours before church starts, so that's where he is, and I'm hoping to feel better. Part of it might be I took medicine on an empty stomach. I hate a few crackers to see if that would help, it has not though.

    Today is an extra 10% off at Target on national target run day, so really hoping I can feel better enough to go and take advantage of a few things.

    This week I had a lot of luck at the grocery stores actually. My mom gave me a big jar of change for the boys savings' accounts, and I've learned the easiest way is to take it to coinstar, get a amazon gift card, and just deposit the coin ammount from our checking into their accounts, but use the gift card for groceries or whatever. Well, in our town only the more expensive (really nice, but expensive) grocery store has a coinstar that actually has Amazon cards, so I went there and much to my surprise, a $10 off of $10 at that grocery store coupon printed off! My youngest and I decided to get a few things and I stumbled upon a small section of marked down produce, including red and yellow bell peppers! Since ours didn't grow AT ALL this year (well, they grew about half size, but njo flowers which was horribly disapointing) I bought them all, and a 3lb bag of going soft limes, some regular priced bananas and 4 a lb of butter sticks. Out of pocket was around $1.50. The peppers took forever to cut, and it was about 3 days before I could get to them, so I ended up losing 2 (though they might have already been gone, they WERE reduced) but I got 4 quart sized freezer bags filled with pappers, so I am really happy.

    apple juice was $1 eack at Kroger, so I bought 15 to hold us a while, then picked up some crackers and what not for our school's clinic to donate. I got a few good deals on some Christmas gifts for people this week and my youngest starts school this Tuesday and I am near sick over it, because he's heard his brother having some severe bullying problems and my husband talking to someone about "Bad kids at school" in his own class, and now he's terrified, and refusing to go and all that...and I really dread the whole idea of it, but I know he really needs to go, and will enjoy being around other kids, even if its really hard for him at first.

    We are going to save a little money though this school year because 1. We finally broke down and applied for reduced lunch. Its not like my son buys often, but he could buy 5 lunches reduced for the price of one regular lunch, it keeps going up so high. We've paid full for the last 3 years, but that will help make a small difference. 2. I've been a member of our PTA and an active supporter for 3 years now, donating this and that and spending a lot of money on it, but the last two years I've disagreed on where the new president has taken things, and now her best friend is president, and they will do things for some teachers (who are their friends) but ignore things like the library and all, so I'm not going to be participating in their fundraisers, including their back to school picnic night, where they sell sandwiches for $4, and slices of pizza for $3. Crazy overpriced! We will do the school carnival at the end of the year, and support individual grade or library fundraisers, but not so much the PTA, since I've had concerns the last two years that a lot of the money raised, has gone "missing" or was "given to teachers" and they aren't being honest about what it's gone to.

    I hope your week goes well!

    1. Wow! That was some awesome finds, Sarah! I know how you feel with the peppers. A couple of mine were just gone as well, but I got a TON of peppers out of the bags I bought so I'm definitely not complaining :).

      I wish you the best of luck with your son. I had much the same issues getting my daughter to go to preschool, but she so desperately needed social interaction and to make friends that I made her. It was totally worth it, but hard sometimes.

      I'm joining the PTA for the first time this year as both the kids are finally in the same school. Supposedly they have things you can just do from home to help out, so we'll see how that goes. I want to get more involved in the school as I am having some misgivings as to the direction the school is taking. Wish me luck on that.

      I hope your head, back and neck feel better :(. Those types of headaches are the worst as the back just makes it worse. Sending up a couple of prayers for you!

    2. Thank you! Yesterday turned out to be a horrible day, so could use all the prayers I can get!

      The PTA always has tons to do, and I am sure you will be a huge help to them! Chances are you CAN help influence the direction of things. Sometimes people just get stuck. I'm looking forward,to in 2 years when we get our old president back, she's a lot like you, and did so much good! You have such a talent for making so much, so creativly, that it will be a bonus for whatever you do!

  5. Sarah,
    I hope this doesn't sound critical. I am genuinely curious. It seems obvious you are an active member of the LDS church. Do you really go to the store on Sunday (target)?

    1. Hi Lynn, much to my dismay, I didn't get to yesterday, but probably all for the best budget wise! And yes, I do go, not every week and often we dont get anything, but sometimes we do. Im of the keep an eye out and pounce when it goes on sale sort. With my husband's schedule, he gets home week nights around dinner 2 nights a week, the other 2 are meetings at work or required school events, the last he has scouts, squeezes in home teaching, and works on his computer on his part time film work then, he is often gone all day on Saturday or working on his computer for the film stuff, then Sunday 6-7 hours at church with 2 small kids (we live so far away, it's easier to just all go in together at the same time) and yesterday just found out about more meetings, this time for me, on top of three callings I already have, so that two hours before I make dinner on sunday is the only time we have to browse around together.

      My mother in law wouldn't go to the store if she had a raging fever and needed medicine, but she would call around and find someone to get her some, but my sister in law, while she wont shop, has been known to hit the drive through for a coke. Another sister in law will only drive to or from church or family on a sunday. I guess each person is different! I just do it my husbands way!

    2. We are LDS also. Everyone's sunday activity list varies admin what they will and won't do. Hello from VA!

  6. Erika,
    I'm glad your shoulder can be fixed and that you are finding a way to get your things done despite it! Never a dull moment, right?

    It's great you are getting a lot preserved. I am finding lots of jars of canning as I unpack my boxes and plan on using it up this winter and getting to do more next summer. It's driving me crazy to not preserve, as I love to can--kind of a useful hobby with me--but it will be excellent to start fresh next year and use up all of the older items.

  7. So sorry to hear about your arm. Haven't you heard? Mom's are not allowed to get sick, against the rules.
    Yeah for the lettuce and peas! I consider your garden this past year to be a success. I tell myself if I can get back the cost of the packet of seeds, I have won. You have WON!
    My Money Saving this week:
    *Cooked more of the shoe leather beef in the crockpot using the cheap wine. This has really been a success.
    * Returned stuff to Goodwill that did not fit and purchased a work pair of jeans for Son #3. They were a bit short, 32 instead of 34 length, but for work, it will do.
    *Kroger, receipt was $140 but then $47 after discounts.
    I used online coupons along with Sunday newspaper coupons (my Mom saves them for me. I refuse to subscribe or even read her newspaper since it is too liberal for me and makes me mad. She gets it for the crossword puzzles.) Anyway, I purchased items that were on sale and for which I had coupons. It took hours to cut out coupons, coordinate and make a list but it was worth it.
    I used a $20 check for cash from points earned using my Kroger credit card. It is the one the whole family uses when we purchase items online; this way no one's checking account gets hacked.
    I took an online survey and earned 50 points toward a gas purchase.
    They had peaches for $.88 a pound and I wanted to freeze some but they just did not look good. I think they were picked green.
    Got the free candy bar but not the chap stick. It was all gone.
    *Went to Dollar General's 50% off clearance junk weekend and did great. I ended up going to three different stores. At two stores I was also able to use the $5 off $25 coupons I had gotten the week before. Each store had entirely different stuff. I got vitamins, lotion, spaghetti sauce, soup, macaroni & cheese, matches, candles...and the list goes on. The down side was that in each store it was a HUGE messed up pile of stuff that you had to dig through and they would have it in several spots through out the store. Non-sale stuff would have been dropped in the piles plus very few things had price tags. You would have to fill up your basket then go up to the register for them to scan everything. Then you would have to decide if you wanted it or if you wanted to go back and get more. When macaroni and cheese is $.19, you load up. The upside was that the sales clerks were all so gracious and helpful. I am sure they snickered at how cheap I was when I left since I also used coupons on some of the items.
    *Harvested from my garden: okra, tomatoes, peppers, lima beans, green beans, cabbages, ground cherries, sugar beets, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon (very tiny but it counts), was gifted from a friend's garden, watermelons, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and purple hull peas.

  8. Epic Fails
    *Went to the food auction and bought nothing. This spring it was very dry then it started raining and would not stop. The produce has just rotted in the fields and the prices were OUTRAGEOUS. Last year a 10 pound box of tomatoes sold for $7 but this year they are $30. Yikes! I will continue going just to see if I can snag something. I am so glad I put up so much stuff last year.
    *My husband and I went out on a date and drove out to the peach orchard. My plans were to fill up the freezer but when we got there, something has happened to the peaches this year and they are falling off the trees before they are ripe. We got some but I don't know if they are going to ripen before they rot. All of them are bruised and I was surprised they did not lower the price.
    *Thursday I went to my ladies garden club and had a wonderful time. The lady (“B”) hosting the event lived in a beautiful old house that she had completely restored. Everything was perfect for us. She had even made sugar-free jello for me! YES! JUST FOR ME!!! She knew about my food allergies (everyone knows since I can't ever eat the refreshments) so she did this JUST FOR ME! I was so honored. Saturday while at Dollar General I ran into one of the other garden club ladies at Dollar General and the night before “B” and her husband had gone to the local church singing. While there a bad storm blew in and lightning struck her house and it burned. A neighbor saw the house blazing, called they fire department then went to get them at the church. The whole top floor is gone. It broke my heart to see it. It made me realize nothing is safe here on this earth and ONLY what we have stored in heaven matters. It has been a sobering week.