Saturday, December 31, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I was surprised when my slippers actually came in the mail on my birthday as they were cited to come in on Tuesday.  Behold the Smurf slippers!  Made from 100% real Smurfs!  Okay, so I exaggerated the last part.  These things are very, very blue though *laugh*.  Comfy, too :).

Right so past being another year older this week, some money saving things got done, so let's get to those.

1.  I spent a total of 54.00 on groceries this week.  We were expecting a big snow storm (we only ended up actually getting like about two inches instead), so I ended up getting eggs.  I also got frozen pizzas (they were on sale 3 for 10.00 at Carrs if you bought three of the Red Baron pizzas and then they had a 1.50/2 E-Coupon you could load to your card, so I got 3 pizzas for decently cheap...they will come in handy in the future for sure) and store brand french fries and tater tots (3 for 5.00 with an E-Coupon this week at Carrs).  I'm going to try deep frying them for my son if he REALLY gets a hankering for McDonalds the next couple of weeks as Ore Ida fries have gone up in price again and just wasn't in the budget this week (for the amount of ounces you get it just wasn't worth getting the Ore Ida ones).

I didn't grab the freebie from Fred Meyer yesterday as it was a sports drink and I knew we wouldn't drink it, so I just let it go.  I also didn't pick up the free Ranch dressing when I was in town grocery shopping, mainly to stay out of the store and away from potential clearance sales at Fred Meyer.  We are on a razor sharp edge this coming week financially and with my husband losing productivity this week being sick (which we plain could NOT afford to happen)...we're just massively broke.  So after Christmas clearance is out this year.  Oh well.  Having the heat, electricity and things turned on is more important.

2.  My plans to have my daughter invite her best friend over to go sledding this weekend went down like the Hindenburg when my daughter got the gift of the cold the rest of us have been fighting off for my birthday.  So, she's coughing, blowing through tissues and feeling cruddy right now.  Poor thing :(.  Every time she thinks she'll be able to have a play date with her best friend (who lives two doors down, which makes it even MORE pathetic) things have just been happening lately.

3.  My son's speech therapist gave us a bag of mini marshmallows as she had bought them to try on him for a reinforcer during speech therapy.  He didn't play ball, so she just gave us the bag as a way to say, "Merry Christmas".  They came in handy the last couple of days as a way to bribe my daughter to try hot chocolate to help her sore throat (yes, I actually had to BRIBE my daughter to try hot chocolate.  She's an odd one *laugh*).   It was a bonding experience ;).

4.  I managed to get my act together this week and pull meat out of the freezer to defrost AHEAD of time, so I saved having to defrost it in the microwave (a savings on energy...not much of one but a savings), the meat tasted better from not having to defrost it in the microwave and it kept me on task with the menu I had planned.  As a result we've had plenty of leftovers in the fridge to choose from, which has been good to keep lunches easy.

5.  I've been having fun watching "Full Steam Ahead" the new documentary the BBC put out with Ruth, Alex and Peter on You Tube.  It's actually rather fascinating to learn about how the railroad developed in Britain and how it changed the way everything was done, although I have to admit I've had a hard time seeing Ruth not in her Victorian clothes *laugh*.

6.  I took advantage of the gift card my mom and sister sent me this year and one of the things I got was a Kindle version of a pressure cooker cookbook.  The print edition was at least 10.00, but the Kindle version was .99.  I took the Kindle version and have been paging through it over the last couple of days (so far, honestly, I'm not overly impressed.  I think I just need to hit Pinterest for ideas.  If anyone has a good pressure cooker cookbook to recommend please share!) in preparation of Amazon one of these days getting my new pressure cooker to me (so far it's been "Shipping Today" for three days now *grumble*).

7.  I bookmarked several cookie recipes in Fred Meyer's 25 Merry Days Cookie Calendar and one of them is a shortbread type of cookie that you fill with raspberry jam.  Since I have a ton of raspberry jam in the pantry, I REALLY want to try out the cookie recipe.  I was hoping to make it over Christmas, along with a few other recipes, but I and my husband were sick and my daughter wasn't impressed with trying the recipes on her own, so I just decided to put off holiday baking till later.  I figured what was the point of doing Christmas baking if none of us could taste it anyway?  At least we got sugar cookies done before my husband got too sick and he's been enjoying those on and off.

8.  I finally came to the conclusion that this was the last year for extended family gifts from us for Christmas.  For the amount of time I have had to invest in making gifts and things, I could make my husband and kids some really neat stuff.  And when it comes to return gifts to one in the family has the time or the energy to devote to making gifts themselves and I just feel like the gifts they give us in return I'm almost forcing them to give us as we gave them something and that doesn't seem right to me (if any family reads this, please please don't think I'm upset about this.  I'm not!  Really!  I know written words can come across funky sometimes, so I just wanted to put that out there to let you know I'm not angry, hurt of weird about any of this.  Seriously!).  Which, I know, the giving is the most important thing and all, but I don't do it to make people feel put out.

I HAVE enjoyed making and giving the gifts, don't get me wrong, but this year I even made people feel bad because I put so much work into things when they didn't have the time or the energy to think about it (or the money since some members of the family have huge families on BOTH sides).  It's just not worth it and seems counter to the holiday spirit.  I'll probably make a couple of gifts to give in case we get gifts from folks next year (I refuse to not give gifts in's a matter of personal principle), but I think I'm going to focus my energy on my kids and husband and maybe even try and make some gifts to send to my family back East (who are always super generous to us on the holidays and who I always end up having to send a really pathetic gift in return to).  I especially want to put the creative energy into my kids while I have the chance...especially my daughter, who being my developmentally normal child is maturing faster in some ways than my son is.  I had a kind of "2x4 upside the head moment" listening to her playing in her room the other morning when I realized that I'm not going to be hearing that for many more years before she grows out of it and moves on to more teenage things like phones, friends and stuff.

What?  No, that's not a tear in my eye.  That's liquid emotion.  Completely different thing.  Ahem *coughs into fist*.

9.  I am so, so happy that I grow herbs every summer.  Folks, if you grow one thing in your garden and you cook a lot, grow and dry herbs.  You'll save more money than you know, they are easy to grow (except basil...that one is delicate and hates me some years) and the home grown herbs taste SO much better than the store bought "been sitting on a shelf for goodness knows how long" herbs you can buy.  Just saying :).  Oh and lettuce.  Grow herbs and lettuce or Chinese vegetables (thanks for giving me that lesson, Jeannie) as then you'll have salads all summer long.  Ever done the math on how much you spend on salad kits all summer?  Trust's worth growing your own and it's super easy.  You can even grow lettuce in pots :).

Anyway, I've been using herbs a lot in recipes of late including rosemary chicken (I'll have to share that recipe one of these days as rosemary is the main star in the recipe :) and it's been great to have the jars of herbs sitting in the cupboard waiting for me.

10.  Smiley 360 sent me some new Mucinex Fast-Max cold medicine to test drive and I happened to get it right in the middle of this cold, so I've been using it.  I've actually been impressed with the medicine itself, but man you think NyQuil tastes bad?  That stuff tastes like death on a half shell.  It actually cut through my congestion when I could taste NOTHING and let me know how terrible it tasted.  It is so bad I have to steel myself before swigging it down.  But, it does cut the congestion and helps to break up the phlegm so I say it's worth it.

And there you are folks.  A long, rambly, incoherent mess of a post going through my week (still not feeling up to 100% and have had kids distracting me every two minutes while writing it) and some of the ways I've saved money this week (at least I hope those are peppered in the post somewhere *sigh*).  How did you do?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

 Our holiday centerpiece above, after I put away the fruit on Christmas.  A .50 thing of holiday crackers (bought at the used store this summer) has lightened up the table and we've opened one so far and my daughter got a paper crown (obviously) and a little cloth measuring tape.  I think we'll have fun with the rest over the next week until New Years :).

So, I obviously didn't get a chance to post up that recipe I was talking about on my last post, but no worries as it's a recipe that will work all through the holiday season, so I'll post it up sometime this week.  The last couple of days I've been making it for the kid's sake, barely.  This cold is really taking it out of me, probably because I got it right after getting over another one. 

I hope everyone's holiday was a nice one!  Ours was okay, overall.  The kids liked their presents I made them and their gifts from Santa.  My husband liked his gifts, I got my pie bird and my tea strainer for Christmas, so I was happy and my husband even found me a in-brand-new condition spatula/turner at the used store and got that as a last minute Christmas gift (which was great since my other spatula has been melting a little bit by little bit every time I use it). Oh and he found me a Corelle coffee pot/tea pot with a LID for 1.50 so I grabbed it, snatched the lid off of it (the pot itself is thrashed inside) and put the lid on my sans lid in-brand-new-shape cornflower blue pot in my china cabinet (happy dance :). 

My family sent gift cards for Christmas, so I spent a lot of the last couple of days going through Amazon and finding things we've been needing but putting off getting because of money and such.  The kids will be super excited, I'm sure, to receive the socks and underwear (and my son sweat pants), I'm getting a new brush for my vacuum cleaner and my smurf slippers.  Living large!!!  *Laugh* really, though, I got some neat things for me in with the essentials, like some specialty ingredients that Alton Brown uses in his new cookbook.  Some of the recipes looked really good, so I decided that I was going to order some ingredients to make them. Overall I squeezed every last bit of use out of the gift cards I could, including getting paper towels, vacuum bags and some groceries and feel good about how I spent them.  My family definitely approved when I told them what the cards had been spent on and thanked them *laugh*.

Also, I want to thank everyone who ordered through my affiliate links the last like six months, as I finally got over the 10.00 associate fee limit and was able to get a pressure cooker for like 10.00 after I used my associate fees toward it (a birthday gift to me from my husband...which he knows he's getting it for me.  I told him.  He said, "okay" *laugh*).  Amazon has some REALLY good deals on 6 quart aluminum ones for about 20.00, so I ordered the Presto one.  Here's hoping I can master the skills to use it properly.  Everyone keeps telling me to get an Instapot (my friends all love theirs), but I just can't bring myself to shell out the money to do it.  Maybe one day, but not anytime soon with how much they cost even on sale (same with a stainless steel pressure cookers...those things are expensive!).  I'm looking forward to getting my feet wet when it comes to pressure cooking as seeing how much time and energy it saves, so I'm hoping I can make a go of using a pressure cooker decently often in the coming year (New Year's goal for me :).  I'd like to get away from the "baked chicken" monotony a bit more and I really do think the pressure cooker will help.

Anyway, total thought tangent aside there (sorry I'm feeling pretty cruddy right now), in short we got through the holidays okay and the kid's rooms don't even look like tornadoes hit them, so yay!  My daughter even asked to make handkerchiefs for my husband and I, so we took some flannel, a template cut from cardboard and some pinking shears (so she could do it without my help) and she made the gifts.  I was really proud of her as it was her idea, she picked the colors and she did the work.  Yes, they have character as the lines aren't exactly straight, but you know what?  You know it's home made that way :).

The monthly goals for this month were pretty much centered around Christmas gifts and horray I got those done, so hey, my main goal for the month got accomplished.   This week's goals are basically going to center around getting the house back up and running at close to normal and getting ready for my birthday and things.  So, let's get to those.

Sewing Goals:
  • Finish up the few gifts that I didn't get to finish for this year's gifts and put them aside for next year (a couple of pillow cases for the kids and things).
  • Mend son's comforter (again)
  • Fold and put away left over fabric from Christmas gift making properly (the inside of my fabric cabinet looks like the underside of a lot of children's beds....I was in a hurry what can I say).
  • Sew some reusable Christmas gift bags of various sizes and put them away for use next year.

General Goals:
  • Figure out side dishes for birthday (we are having the good steaks I got on reduced a bit ago for dinner, having cake from one of the free cake mixes for dessert, so I want to make sure I get my favorite sides to go with the steak.  I'm thinking home made rice pilaf, salad and whole grain rolls with home made honey butter...yum!).
  • Figure out menu plan for the week (chicken noodle soup is definitely going to be on that menu plan).
  • Start to take down Christmas decorations and take down and put away Christmas tree.
  • Keep on top of housework and get laundry sorted and put away.
  • Get better (this is #1 goal.  I hope I can accomplish it without aid of a doctor as my husband spent about 200.00 after insurance today going to the doctor himself and we didn't have that to spare.  Medical bills.  Blahhhhh!!!). 
  • Mail off insurance paperwork for daughter's insurance and see what happens (I hate waiting for approval/rejection on things)
And there you are folks.  My goals for this week.  How about you?  Got anything planned?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Merry "Nearly Christmas" to you all!  I'm planning on posting up a recipe tomorrow, but just in case I don't get to it, I wanted to make sure I got a "Merry Christmas" in there just to be safe ;).

Well, Santa was nice enough to grant me an early Christmas gift this year by giving me a cold.  Again.  So far I'm holding my own and am hoping I'm fighting it off *knocks on wood* but my husband is down with a bad sore throat tonight, so I'm hoping that he doesn't get worse over the weekend.  I'm not relishing the idea of trying to figure out how to pay for an ER visit since that's all that is going to be open this weekend (and insurance doesn't cover any of that), so prayers for good health would be appreciated right about now.

This week did see some money saving things going on, so let's get to that, shall we?

1.  Instead of spending a ton of money on different things for stocking stuffers, I hit the wonderful resource that is Pinterest and printed off a build your own snowman sheet, some Charlie Brown Christmas coloring pages and a couple super cute candy bar wrappers (I wrapped them around some Hershey bars we had in the pantry) and made one candy bar into a snowman and one into a penguin.  I also had gotten a really cute "Snowman Soup" (just a cute way to dress up hot chocolate) envelope template from a friend of mine sent to me (thanks, Paula) and I printed off a couple of those, attached a candy cane to each for a "stirring stick" and placed an envelope of hot chocolate from the pantry in the envelopes.  Totally adorable and it didn't cost me more than the ink to print all of it off as I took the hot chocolate from the pantry and the candy canes from the tree :).

Past that the kids are getting some fresh fruit in their stockings that I found in the 1.00 bags of reduced produce at Fred Meyer and are actually sitting the fridge right now...apples and oranges are always good :).

2.  I decided for my birthday that what I really wanted was a pair of slippers so I didn't have to wear my sneakers in the house all the time (due to a bad foot I can't walk in bare or stocking feet and I need something with a tread to go out on my deck to dump the garbage and things).  I added probably ten pairs of slippers that looked good to me on Amazon to my cart and waited until one of the pairs went for 9.99 and ordered them with a giftcard.  Sure the slippers are bright blue, but like I care if I'm walking around my house in bright blue slippers :).

3.  One of the electrical suppliers in the area gave my husband's company a huge basket of Alaska goodies and my in-laws split up the basket among the employees.  My husband's portion of the basket is seen up top.  I'm looking forward to eating the goodies for sure, and am really intrigued to try the smoked mustard.

4.  My daughter really wanted to give her friends at school gifts this year.  Normally I wait until we are gifted something to return the favor, but she has never asked to give gifts before, so I got a list of people she wanted to give gifts to.  She's got a group of girls she hangs out with all the time at school, so her list came out to a total of like four girls as well as her one boy friend she's had for three years now.  For the girls, I took the "Hello Kitty" Bath Kit I got on clearance after Christmas last year (if anyone of you remembers those, I give you kudos *laugh*) and opened it.  I then divided the contents into four different gifts, which my daughter was happy with.  Some empty parts boxes on my husband's part and some wrapping paper and her friends were thrilled with their gifts.  For 2.49 I'd say that getting four gifts from the one kit was pretty good overall.  My daughter's best friend also got one of the extra scarves that I made last year when I made my niece her dress scarves as my daughter's best friend is pretty girly in some ways, so I thought she'd like it (which she did).  My daughter claimed the other scarf for herself *laugh*.

5.  We spent last night driving around after dinner looking at Christmas lights.  We went back to the fairgrounds to see the "Light Up the Night" display (this time we followed the right entrance and went through it the right way *laugh*, although we did have to turn around and go back through the exhibit because they had closed the back gate to get out again).  We then went to a subdivision in our local area that has the entire neighborhood rigged with Christmas lights and they have you turn your radio to a certain Christmas music station and the lights move to the music.  It's a really impressive display and has become a tradition locally for a lot of people to go and see it.  We drove through some of our local towns and saw how they decorated the city centers as was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast.  I wasn't feeling great, so honestly I was happy when we finally got home, but I'm glad the kids had fun :).

6.  My friend gave me her freebies for the free cake mix and the free Tim Tam cookies, so I got those this week (thanks, Stephanie!). 

7.  Got our new insurance activated for next year.  I got the plan that was available up here next year and while it is about the same price we were paying for our current health care plan (MODA pulls out of Alaska at the end of the year) I know the deductible is higher and from what I see the coverage isn't close to great.  I need to make a point to make time to read the plan, though, so I'll go into next year educated about what we have going for us (or not).

8.  My son's speech therapist actually thought to ask him what he wanted for Christmas and he used his talker to answer!  I was speechless as he asked for something to "read" (he's been liking flipping through books lately, so his speech therapist is pretty sure he's got some reading going on and him picking that out on the talker reinforced it), something to "hug" him (I got him a big throw for Christmas, so score there), something to "hug" (plush truck will fill that need I think), some bubbles (I always have bubbles for him at each holiday, so that was covered) and some pretzels (his speech therapist got those for him and they are hidden as he was trying to eat them all before Christmas).  I wanted to cry as this was the first time my son had been able to tell me what he actually WANTED versus what I thought he might want.  Moments like this one really give me hope for his future and his being able to adapt to the challenges he's been given.

9.  When my son mentioned something to read, I decided one of the things I wanted to give him and my daughter was something to read in their stockings.  My son is getting a really cool construction alphabet book (which I bought with a gift card last month for him), but my daughter I wanted to get the first Harry Potter book for as she loves the first movie and we are really trying to encourage her to read more challenging books.  I looked at the used stores and the used book stores this last week and have found nada in the way of Harry Potter books, so I finally decided to just give her my copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" for Christmas.  I had bought myself a new copy when the original one I had started to fall apart (back before I had children I read a lot *laugh*) and my copy is still pretty new looking and hey it didn't cost me anything this way, too, so score.  So, here's hoping she likes it.  I then made some pom pom book marks (thanks for the link, Sheila!) to go with their books.  My opinion on the bookmarks?  They look really cute and are REALLY easy to lose yarn out of if you pull from one side or the other.  So, I am giving my son's bookmark a few days, tops, but I think the kids will like them while they last (and hey they took about five minutes to make).

10.  My daughter's teacher gave her a 5.00 gift card to one of our local bookstores for Christmas, so I'm looking forward to going and getting her a book sometime soon.

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas 2016: A Sensory Cube

Well, this is the last gift I'm posting about (I hope *laugh*) in my line up of gifts I've made this year.  This one is another repeat from last year, but with a few changes.

I made a sensory cube for my son last year (just a stuffed cube with different textures on each side) and he LOVED it and has since worn it out, plain and simple.  The cube is now pretty much flat he's used it so much.  So, I definitely wanted to make him another one this year.

This time around I just used fabrics I had around and then to make it crinkle I washed and then crumpled up an empty Doritos bag and stuck it in the middle of the cube when I stuffed it. 

I used part of the leopard print material that I made the pillow for my half-sister out of as my son really loved the material when I was working with it (it's got an interesting texture I guess *laugh*), so I was even able to use a remnant of fabric left over from making that for this project.

Total Time to Make Gift:  About an hour and a half.  I had to rip out the pieces about three times because I kept stacking them together wrong to sew them together (me and geometry are life long adversaries).

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Nothing as I had all the materials around here to make it.

Christmas 2016: Canned Goods

I decided, in what passes for wisdom (har!) to just lump all of the canned goods I gave as gifts this year together into one post.

First, is the gift I made above and ended up dragging my canner out to can.  It is a gift for my father-in-law.

See, my father-in-law drives pretty much everyone crazy, so I normally don't do much in the way of thinking of something to get the man (he really does work at making the holidays miserable most years, which doesn't help this apathy).  This fall, however, I ended up at his office and we ended up talking about rhubarb.  How we got onto that topic of conversation, I'm honestly not sure, but I do remember him getting all kinds of excited, almost like a little kid, as he remembered the rhubarb syrup his aunt would make him every year during rhubarb season.  He even dragged me around the yard trying to find allusive rhubarb plants he swore that they had planted somewhere (turns out talking to my mother-in-law a bit later that the rhubarb had gotten dug over when they were putting in something and had been dead for years) as he was that excited about the prospect of rhubarb syrup.  I don't know why, but the memory kept resurfacing and bugging me a bit as he looked so disappointed when he found out that he didn't have any rhubarb to make into syrup.  So, when I was digging around in the freezer and found what I had left of my rhubarb from when I harvested what was left at the end of the season, I knew what I was going to do with it.

The 4 cups of rhubarb, once made into juice and with some unsweetened apple juice to pad out the juice a bit, made one pint of rhubarb syrup.  Well, I should call it thickened juice, really.   See my father-in-law is diabetic so I ended up using Splenda instead of sugar in the recipe and I found that Splenda doesn't seem to cook down and thicken the way sugar does (good to know for future reference I guess).  I ended up letting the mixture cool, adding a tablespoon of pectin into it (whisk and whisk some more) and then heating it up to boiling until I HOPED it would thicken up to a nice syrup consistency.  It still ended up being a bit thin in the end (probably should have added a few teaspoons of lemon juice to aid the gel), but my mother-in-law can always add some corn starch or something to the mix when she goes to serve it to make it thicker.  I tried anyway *laugh*.  It does, at least, taste like rhubarb (in a big, tart way).
I also gifted a can of strawberry rhubarb pie filling to my one friend who works all the time as she loves home canned goods, but can never find the time to can when she works seven days a week.  Instead of giving her a mason jar with a fancy label on it or something, I decided to take some of multitudes of Christmas fabric I had gotten for 90% off at Jo-Ann Fabrics a while back and make some reusable gift bags.  I just eyeballed what I thought a mason jar would fit in, cut it out, put the right sides together, sewed around the three sides of the rectangle and then folded over the top fabric around a long length of ribbon (I refuse to thread elastic or things like ribbon through a tube, like when putting in a waistband, I just fold the fabric over the elastic or in this case ribbon, give it extra fabric and sew it around and then cut it at the end.  I'm lazy when it comes to those things).  I then just tied the two ends of ribbon together and voila!  Drawstring gift bag.  That took me literally four minutes to make (I timed it).  I used one of the bags for each canned good I gave as sticking the jars into a bag was SO much easier than trying to wrap them (seen above is the gift bag, with the mason jar and some extra padding in it :).

I gave a few jars of preserves to my son's aides at school and voila!  Canned goods given as gifts out of the way!

Total Time to Make Gifts:  Well, the preserves was done during the regular canning for the year, the syrup took about two hours, including heating up the canner (with a lot of breaks to take care of my son), and the rhubarb pie filling was done during canning season too.  So, overall I'll give it 2 hours and 10 minutes, if you include making gift bags :).

Total Cost To Make Gifts:  Well, the rhubarb was growing in my yard, the Splenda I had (I buy one big bag about every four years because I kind of like it in iced tea sometimes)...I'll go with about 1.50 per gift once you include supplies and the jar (since they go for .50 at the used store).

Christmas 2016: Plush Trucks

First be prepared.  Today you are probably going to get hit with the rest of my Christmas gift posts.  I want to post them in time for people to be able to use them for inspiration (if they can) and also I'm finally done with Christmas gifts (well except for some handkerchiefs, but that won't take me long to make) and am so happy about it I just want them over and done with *laugh*.

So, this is next gift up is a gift for both my nephew and my son.

I found a pattern for .25 at the used store over the summer, a Simplicity pattern, and it was probably from the 80's.  You could make a stuffed car and camper, a stuffed train, a stuffed phone, a stuffed clock or a stuffed monkey (the monkey still throws me in that mix).  I thought, "Oh this will be great!" as the camper and car I could see could EASILY be converted to a big rig and I really wanted to make one for each of my young nephews, and of course my own little guy.  And converting it did work really well.

I burned out after two of these.  Not to mention ran out of batting.

Anyone who has used patterns for a while will usually tell you, "Oh, that whatever-it-is-you-are-making is going to turn out smaller than the pattern looks.  Trust me."  I can't even count the amount of times I went to make something that looked huge on the pattern and when it was all sewn together I looked at it and went, "Huh, it looked bigger on the package."  In this case the trucks actually came out really big compared to what I figured they'd come out like, which wasn't bad, just unexpected (thus they blew through more batting than I thought).

And then there was the pattern itself.  Pattern was fine, cutting instructions weren't but you could figure it out.  But the sewing instructions?  Downright terrible!  If I hadn't had experience making some stuffed animals in the past I would have been doomed trying to figure the instructions out.  They were not in depth at all, assumed the person involved knew what things like darts were and quite literally skipped steps (like telling said person that they needed to flip the cab pattern around so you'd get your window on the right side when you went to sew it together and things).  Thus why I'm NOT sharing the pattern here as I refuse to give it any type of publicity.  I was not impressed.
I did finally get the trucks together, taking my step mom's suggestion and assembly lining the process, which worked REALLY well.  As I'd make a mistake on one and rip it out and do it over again, it would still be fresh in my mind for when I did that step on the second truck.
The only place the trucks deviate in construction is that the original instructions called for buttons to be sewn onto the trucks for hub caps.  I wasn't keen on that idea as my son would just immediately chew the buttons off to swish them around in his mouth and my nephew is young and has younger kids yet in the house, so putting any choking hazard onto a toy was out for me.  So, one truck I made the hub caps by embroidering them on and the other one I used some white fleece I had and traced a button onto it and cut out the hub caps that way.  Both ways, I think, turned out pretty well overall.

By the way, if you have older kids in the house that might like to build things, there are, I found some really cool free paper model kits you can print off to build all kinds of things.  Might be a neat thing to search for and print off (just use photo paper or card stock to print on) for a cheap last minute Christmas gift for the boy in your life :).

Total Time to Make Gift:  Six very long hours, which includes cutting time.  The embroidered wheels also took an extra hour to get done on the one truck.

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Nothing.  I had the material in my stores and I had the thread.  The batting ended up being the inside of a big pillow that a friend gave us that we never used as it was just too oversized and not really bulky enough to use as like a body pillow.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas 2016: A Princess Starla Cape

Every year I ask my daughter what she wants for Christmas.  Year before last it was a stuffed unicorn.  Last year it was a Elsa bear.  And this year it's a cape that she can wear to play Princess Starla.

Princess Starla, by the way, is a character from a cartoon from the 80's titled, "Princess Starla and the Jewel Riders".  If you have a daughter this cartoon has flying horses and unicorns, talking animals, princesses, enchanted gems and pretty much everything "little girl oriented" stuffed into one cartoon.  So, if you want to look it up on You've been warned *laugh*.

My husband introduced my daughter to the cartoon (he found it searching for girly things for her to watch) about a year ago and she LOVES between watching reruns of "Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors", watching James Bond DVD's and other things.  My daughter...I really do love the wide variety of things she likes :).

Anyway, I watched an episode of the Jewel Riders to figure out said cape and found that Princess Starla just wears an ankle length pink cape, so I did the best I could using myself as a model (since my daughter is tiny for her age).  I sized it up to the back of my knees, hoping that would be about floor length for my daughter and then made sure to give room for shoulders in the collar tie, but also allow for it to be tied tight so it won't slip off of her (I hope).  I found a "jewel-like" fabric in my stores, lined it with some pink cotton from my material stash and basically sewed a big rectangle and then affixed some pink quilt binding to the middle of the rectangle to make a tie for said cape.  It's probably NOT how you are supposed to sew a cape, but it worked, especially since it'll be for dress up purposes.

Total Time to Make Gift:  About an hour and a half as I kept sizing up the collar ties to make sure they were even before I sewed it on.  And I quilted the top fabric to the lining of the cape as the shimmery material liked to slip and make weird poofs in the cape, so that took a few minutes too.

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Nothing.  The material was gifted to me and the quilt binding was left over from another project from years gone by.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This was a week with some curve balls thrown, but not in a bad way, so let's get to it shall we?

First I got some freebies this week, so I'm going to break them down by point here :).

1.  I actually, in an act of OCD about not missing out on freebies, plugged reminders for the 25 Merry Days with Fred Meyer into my phone, so I made sure to get my 7-Up coupon and my cake mix coupon loaded onto my card immediately.  When I went to the store I also found that they had the peanuts back in stock (and I got 4 oz free too!  Woohoo!), so I got those while I was there.  And I also got the freebie Friday freebies too of the Tim Tam cookies and the Werther's caramels (I didn't realize I grabbed sugar free, but I'll eat them either way).  My friend then contacted me and gave me her freebies for the BBQ sauce and her 7-Up, so I grabbed those while I was at the store too.  The peanuts immediately went into the "peanuts go here" area high up in the garage to make sure they are FAR away from my son.

I spent more than I should have this week on groceries...well I guess more than I wanted to, 30.00 over budget (80.00), but I ran into some really good sales on meat, including Butterball turkey for .99 lb at Carrs, so I grabbed one for next Thanksgiving (sad, but true *laugh*) and I got some good steaks on reduced at Fred Meyer (which is so totally going to be my birthday dinner treat to me).  I also got butter (2.49 per lb with in-ad coupon at Carrs), flour (1.49 per 5 lb bag at Carrs with E-Coupon, limit of 2) and a bunch of other regular groceries to try and get us through as long as I can without going to the store again.  The kids only have a four day week next week, of course, and I just plain want to stay out of the stores with the kids through next weekend if possible since the stores are going to be REALLY busy I'm sure and my son doesn't take large lines very well.

2.  My vacuum cleaner blew a belt this week and I ended up flinching and then calling my husband and asking him to go and get me a new belt at the Kirby store.  We didn't have a lot of money, at all, but I knew I needed that, so I figured I'd just have to deal with it.  My husband told the Kirby guy that he could install the belt himself, but he needed a replacement for the vacuum.  When the Kirby guy heard that my husband would install it, he just gave it to him for free =D.

3.  I had placed an order with Jo-Ann Fabrics at the end of November for some unbleached muslin.  It wasn't the type I really wanted, but the price was right on an online sale and the shipping charges were cheap, so I swallowed hard and spent about 13.00 to get 10 yards of muslin. 

I e-mailed them a couple of days ago as my order had never gone beyond "processing" even though I knew that the cloth was still available online and I had already been charged for it.  So, I just asked if the item was going to be shipped anytime soon.

Suddenly the next day I get a package from Jo-Ann's with an apology letter saying they were sorry that my order had been so delayed, that it was their fault and that, get this, they rushed my order to me FREE OF CHARGE and were refunding my money from my original order as their way of saying, "sorry".  THAT is above and beyond customer service!  I'm thrilled that I got 10 yards of fabric for free, I have to say :).

4.   I didn't go anywhere and worked at home all week, which definitely saved us money.  I only shopped once this week and made sure to combine it with errand running day on Friday to conserve gas, as well.

5.  I pulled out a thing of hamburger from the freezer and split it in half right away.  One half I used for tacos, using ground turkey to pad out the hamburger to last three meals and then used the other half to make hamburgers for dinner tonight (to treat my husband as burgers are his favorite meal I think).

6.  I made Christmas gifts out of materials I already had in the house this week.  I used a pillow that we never really used (a friend gave it to us), cut it open and used the nice new stuffing in it to fill other things I was making (more on that later).  

7.  I grabbed some change we had in the change jar and went and donated it to charity.  It wasn't much, but it was what I had.  I figure if everyone does that, we could help a lot of people :).

8.  I looked up a bunch of stuff online to print off for stocking stuffers for Christmas as I didn't want to go and spend the money on them (and honestly, this was more fun, anyway).

And there you are folks.  Some ways I saved money this week.  How did you do?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas 2016: A Sensory Bottle (Snow Globe)

A couple of these gifts that I post might seem a bit familiar to those who have followed the blog for a while.  Well, the reason for that is simple.  Some of them are actually duplicates to things I made last year (with a couple of small changes) as I found my son LOVED a couple of the gifts I made last year.  One of those gifts was a sensory bottle.

Last year I made two bottles.  One with a regular shaped bottle and the other one was a globe shaped apple juice bottle.  He quickly ditched the regular shaped bottle, but the globe shaped sensory bottle he plays with CONSTANTLY to the point that the plastic is actually crinkly where it used to be stiff.  Thank goodness the bottles are double reinforced plastic, or I might have had a mess at some point *laugh*.

So, this year I made another sensory bottle for him, but instead of purple (the only color food coloring I had in the house at the time), I made it in blue.  I used a combination of distilled water and corn syrup for the liquid.  I filled it probably 1/3 of the way full of corn syrup, added 1/2 of a container of glitter (silver in this case) and then filled the bottle most of the way full of water after that.  Screwed on the lid and shook the contents to see how suspended the glitter would become and I ended up adding some extra corn syrup until the bottle reached the right consistency that I liked (I like the glitter to suspend for a while to create a really interesting sensory experience before settling back down).  I then added about four drops (next time I'll start with two I think) of food coloring, shook it to incorporate into the liquid and then added distilled water (which was just a maybe a teaspoon) to make the bottle full and then super glued on the lid.  And voila!  A really cool sensory bottle.

For anyone who might want to create something like that, but isn't keen on using corn syrup, you can create a sensory bottle using Elmer's Craft Glue (you can look up the tutorial online), but I liked this method better for me. 

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Probably about 2.00 overall.  The juice I bought on sale (to get the bottle) for 1.25 (although we drank the juice, so really I could consider the cost less than that, but I'm counting it since I bought the juice JUST to get the bottle) and the corn syrup I bought on clearance a while back.  The glitter was left over from making sensory bottles last year.

Total Time To Make Gift:  About ten minutes (not counting the washing out and drying the bottle time).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas 2016: An Unstuffed Pillow

This is kind of an odd gift, but a gift none-the-less.

This is a gift for my half-sister who lives on the East Coast and who LOVES leopard print.  Loves it!  When I saw that some of the fabric I was gifted had a leopard print on it, I HAD to make a pillow for her.  My half sister is delayed (brain damaged at an early age) and has motor apraxia she fights on a day to day basis and honestly she's one of my heroes in this world.  She's dealt with abuse (from her birth mother) and then her mom dying of cancer when she was ten and at that point she learned to talk and start coming out of her abused shell.  She had her struggles, including our dad dying and lots of other issues and she still smiles and has a good heart in her.  So, when I found an opportunity to make something for her that I knew she'd like, I knew I was going to get it done and shipped one way or the other.

My step-mom came up with the idea to not stuff the pillow and leave the hole for the stuffing to be put in and she'd stuff it when the pillow got to them to save on shipping charges.  Which, I'm glad she came up with that idea as just shipping the envelope with the pillow cover, I had to ship first class as that was as fast as my budget for shipping could get me.  It might be late, but I think it'll be appreciated :).

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Well, I'm calling it about 5.00 as that is what it cost to ship.

Total Time to Make Gift:  About an hour between cutting the fabric and sewing it and such.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas 2016: Corn Husk Angel Ornaments

First, if you are wondering where my monthly goal update is this week...I decided not to do one.  Why?  Well, last week I worked on cleaning the house and making Christmas gifts.  That's it.  This week is going to be the same.  So, I really didn't see the point in posting that especially since all of these gift posts will tie in with the goals anyway.

Now some of you might remember the corn husk angels I made over the summer and put away for Christmas gifts.  This is how I finished them.  These are destined to go to my son's therapists at school (speech, occupational therapy and adaptive PE teacher) and my daughter's math teacher.

Two of the four angels kind of shrunk and looked odd in the skirt area (luckily the rest of the doll body turned out fine, it was just the skirts) once they'd dried and cured, so I took a few cotton doilies I had and wrapped them around the angels as a secondary skirt and tied them in place with some white thread (not that it matters since I ended up having to tie ribbon around their waists anyway, but ah well).  I then took some ribbon (I was hoping to find yellow to match the embroidery floss I used to make them, but I was out of yellow ribbon completely, so I ended up using a light green) and wrapped it around the angels arms and trunk a couple of times to make a mini-brace for them and then tied them in the back, made a loop over the top of the head and voila!  Corn husk angel ornaments.  I hope they like them *fingers crossed*.

Total Time to Make Gift:  About two hours total for all four ornaments as it took me a while to get the "corn husk doll making process" down.

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Nothing.  The corn husks were left over from husking corn (go figure), the embroidery floss I had and the doilies were gifted to me in I THINK one of my step-mom's pinata boxes.

If you want to make these now, since it's not exactly corn season anymore, head over to the Mexican food section of your local grocery store.  They sell the dried corn husks (which is actually what corn husk dolls normally call for when you make them) in big bags for Mexican cooking and from what I've seen they are pretty cheap :).

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas 2016: A Fabric Necklace

Be prepared for a kind of deluge of Christmas gift posts here in the next little bit.  I'm kind of behind in the gift making department after us being sick and/or lamed up (on my part) for months, so I'm kind of in a crunch to get things done here in the next little bit.

So, first up on the back log of gift posts (yes, I now have a back log *laugh*) is a gift for my niece.  One of our readers was cool enough to send me some ideas for cheap Christmas gifts and she sent me a link to a necklace made with marbles (thanks, Dorothy!).  I immediately knew I wanted to make at least one of them for my niece, but now that I've made one, I really want to make one for my daughter too (as my son tends to destroy her necklaces for her, poor kid). 

The necklace was pretty simple to make construction-wise, but it did take a while to turn the fabric right-side out as turning tubes of fabric is kind of a pain.  Luckily I have small fingers, which helps a bunch when it comes to a project like this.  I also found that fabric weight is definitely subjective.  I grabbed a medium weight fabric (by my standards) to make the necklace and when I was done via the tutorial on the amount of marbles and knots involved my tails when tied are a bit shorter than I would have liked and definitely shorter than the ones she shows in her photographs.  This necklace I might end up putting some tiny velcro dots on the back of to help close it instead of leaving the tails to knot to make my niece's life easier.  Next time I think I'll see about making the necklace a bit longer as a precaution.  Overall, though, I thought it turned out really cute.

Bright side, too, is I had a ton of marbles around here.  I bought them when the kids were tiny thinking that I'd play marbles with them someday, but then my son got older and started sticking things like that immediately into his mouth and since marbles are a poster child for choking hazard, I put them in a jar and just moved them from one spot to another over the years.  So, it's nice being able to use them for something :).

Total Time to Make Gift:  About two hours (LOTS of time taken to turn tube right side out).

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Nothing.  The fabric was gifted to me (thanks for all the fabric, Heather!), the thread was gifted to me (thanks, Rox!) and the marbles I had hanging around the house.

So, there you are folks.  One more gift down.  Making anything cool this week?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well as weeks went this one was kind of a mix.  I was able to not spend much money at all this last week, which was good because we didn't have any money to do anything with anyway (which is bad).  My husband came down with a really nasty cold Thursday evening, which was bad.  He managed to drag himself to work yesterday (which was good), but today he's spent the entire day in bed and not able to do much at all (which is good as it keeps him from doing too much, but bad in that he feels icky).

We've both really been trying to make sure he gets plenty of rest because we really can't afford for him to be down, for one, and for two we can't really afford to go to the doctor right now, so it's lots of rest, vitamin A and C and just general TLC as much as I can give him.  My daughter's concert for chorus is at the beginning of next week, so I'm praying he'll be up to going, else I'm going to be taking a lot of pictures and hoping that is enough for him to experience the concert.  And my only option at that point would be to leave my son home with him, so I'm hoping he's up to keeping an eye on him if nothing else.

I got a lot done when it came to Christmas gifts this last week and I got the Christmas decorations up.  And I got the house pretty much cleaned and was able to continue to clean it through most of the week, which was definitely nice.  Unfortunately I woke up with an infected toe on Wednesday due to an ingrown toe nail I didn't realize I had (gotta love a high tolerance for pain), so I'm kind of limping around in between epson salt soaks and I have a wad of band aids on my toe to cushion it after I took care of it.  I think it's finally starting to improve, so yay for that!  And bright side, it's like all the pain centers are focusing on my foot instead of my shoulder, so my arm hasn't been feeling too bad the last few days *laugh*.

I also managed to get some money saving things in this week, so let's get to those!

1.  I finished a Christmas themed table runner out of some vintage looking fabric I got at the used store for .25 and some fabric I already had on hand.  Even the batting was a scrap of leftover batting I had from other projects.  I thought it turned out so pretty.  I actually put it down on my coffee table in my den, but I couldn't get a good picture to turn out with the lighting, so you get to see it on the kitchen table *laugh*.   Seeing the photo made me realize that I REALLY need to throw out that pizza box in the's been there for a while after my husband brought it home from lunch one day and I keep forgetting about it.  Oops.

2.  I went shopping once this week (yesterday as a matter of fact), to Fred Meyer and Carrs.  Fred Meyer was out of the Planters peanuts freebie that I had an E-coupon loaded for, but I did get a free bag of Craisins.  I also found that they had a bunch of different spice blends on sale for 1.09 each (I think I got five total).  I got one of each they had, so now my entire spice rack is full of different spice blends that I can use to "mix up" the meals around here that I've picked up over the last few months (or made myself).  I was really happy.

Overall I ended up spending 80.00 on groceries this week, but 30.00 of that was actually set aside for Christmas things I needed to get, so I was able to get the ham for Christmas (beef is just too expensive this year) and a frozen lasagna (it was actually cheaper than buying the materials to make one and it's a tradition to have one around here on Christmas Eve :).  Overall it was more than I really wanted to spend, but I ended up with a huge heaping cart full of groceries after coupons, so I couldn't really complain too much and we really needed a LOT this week.  The biggest cheapie highlight was a .19 brownie mix after coupon from Fred Meyer.

By the way, does anyone know if brownies will freeze alright?  My husband could take or leave brownies overall, but I'm thinking my daughter with her love of chocolate will really like them, but I know we won't be able to eat them in one sitting, so I was thinking about freezing them individually for her lunches at school.  So I'm trying to figure out if brownies will freeze alright.

3.  I used some scraps of freezer burned meat to make a HUGE pot of stew tonight and threw in some veggies that were getting past their prime.  I'm hoping this will make at least four meals for us if I do different things with the stew and hopefully I can freeze a couple of bags for my "soup stores" in the freezer as well.

4.  I worked on Christmas gifts and used materials I had around here to make them (more on that later).  I've actually gotten quite a bit done so far, which is a nice change of pace.

5.  My daughter was given a pair of shoes by her best friend at school as they were too small for her.  My daughter has been happily clumping around the house in them even though they are about three sizes too big because they were a gift from her friend.  It's really cute.

6.  I made all of our meals at home this week, which definitely saved us money, although it did elicit some ire from my son who wanted to go get french fries a couple of times, but I didn't have the money or the gas to do so, so he had to deal without his beloved McDonald's french fries.  He survived by the way *laugh*.

7.  I was able to save some time this week as well.  I'll admit it.  I love wrapped packages under the Christmas tree, but I HATE wrapping with a passion.  So, when I knew I could get away with it, I let the over enthusiasm of youth take over and let my daughter go to town wrapping some gifts.  It was a win-win as far as I was concerned.  It made her super happy to contribute and it made me happy not having to do it  and I was able to concentrate on other things, like making dinner*laugh*.

8.  I mended a few pairs of pants this week while I had my sewing machine out working on gifts.

9.  I've been getting things done despite being really tired as I've been giving my husband the bed and crashing on the loveseat upstairs to hopefully have him be more comfortable and my son hasn't been sleeping well either.  Getting stuff done sometimes was through sheer force of will, which is free, but hard ;).

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Shopping Goals: December 2016

This is one of those lists that took me a lot of thinking and redoing this month.  The biggest thing holding me back was money, of course.  After the really short month last month and medical bills and everything (of which I just got another in the mail *sigh*) money is pretty much non-existent.  I still have a few gifts to buy for my family back East too, so money gets even tighter.  But, I'm pretty sure if I'm careful we can make it through okay, even if we are off to a slow start monetarily this month.

So, when it comes to my shopping goals, there aren't going to be many of them.  Luckily I don't need much either, so that helps to cut the list back as well.

Regular Stores:
  • Butter (if sales are good)
  • Ham (hoping for a good sale as I want to get one for Christmas this year)
  • Chicken (hoping for a good 5.00 Friday sale when we have some money...yes we are FINALLY running low on chicken *laugh*)
  • Toilet Paper (they had a really good deal on toilet paper, so I'm going to buy it there instead of at our bulk store)
  • Doritos (snack sized bags):  These are already paid for via giftcard, so that is definitely a load off of my mind.  I got these to try portion moderation for the son unit and get him to hopefully be hungrier for real food as a result.
  • Coffee

 And that is about it when it comes to shopping goals.   How about you?  Hoping for good sales on anything this month?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monthly Goals: December 2016 (and a Couch Reveal)

You know, I've been so preoccupied worrying about making bills and getting things accomplished that I completely spaced it was December and I needed to make out my goals lists for the month until yesterday.  Oh yeah!  If anyone is with it this time of year, it's me! 

Bright side, it was REALLY easy to figure out goals for this month as Christmas preparation is definitely taking precedence over everything else.  So, that made for a quick list to make.

I was saving the couch reveal for the "Monthly Goals Update" post for this week and then realized I wasn't going to have one because it's a new month *laugh*, so a picture of the finished couch is up top there.  I ended up using a red pleather suede type of fabric for the cushion covers as it was one of the few fabrics I had that was big enough to make three slip covers from.  It's not the heaviest materials in the world, but I had it and it looked good with the grey, so I went with it.  Hopefully it will live for a while.  I find it funny that all through the project my husband didn't seem at all happy with what I was doing, but when it was finished he said, "Everything looks good together."  So bwahahaha!

I'm going to add the love seat repairs to this month's goals, but I'm dubious in my ability to get to it as I still have gifts to make and baking and things to do, so yeahhh...we'll see how far I get.

The video shelves are now in their new home up in the living room and three boxes of videos are parked in my living room waiting to be put away (honestly after doing video moving for three days straight I just burned out, said "To heck with this!" and moved the rest of the videos upstairs.  I'll get to putting the rest of the videos away in the next couple of days.

And really, looking at the monthly goals I wrote last month about the only thing I didn't get done was the master bedroom closet (I DID start on it, though) so that was a good feeling!

Now onto this month's goals!

Sewing Goals:
  • Get Christmas Gifts Made (or "Sew woman!  Sew!!!")
  • Sew new table runner for den
  • Work on other projects if I can find time (like love seat repair)

General Goals:
  • Get Christmas Gifts Made
  • Wrap Gifts and Get Ready to Give them out (nearly done with wrapping up what I have done so far)
  • Donate to "Toys for Tots" (I was only able to get a couple of new videos to donate this year that I found out in storage of all places...I'm thinking they were future Christmas gifts that I forgot about and ended up buying the videos later on after we moved...but it's better than nothing :).
  • Donate a few things to holiday food drive
  • Bake and have fun with kiddos
  • Get kids through dentist appointment at the end of month
  • Figure out something fun, but preferably free, to do for my birthday at the end of the month (we're going to be broke again this year for my birthday, I can just see it, so I need to plan ahead).
  • Get back to menu planning (I NEED to get back in gear with this as it helps so much to take the worry out of what's for dinner).
  • Finish putting videos into the shelves in the living room.
  • Work on getting master bedroom cleaned up and organized.

And there it is.  My goals, such as they are, for this month.  How about you?  Got a list going yet?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas 2016: Mittens, Boy Gifts and Teacher's Gifts

Gotta love bulk posting *laugh*.

The last little bit I finished a few Christmas gifts, so I figured I'd just post them all at once for the sake of simplicity (and for the sake of time since I'm pretty busy right now).

So, first up is...

1.  Wool Mittens (seen above there)

These I've shown before, but I finally got them done.  Don't ask what is up with the mini-embroidery on the left hand mitten in the picture.  I'm not sure WHAT happened there, but I just ended up going with it since I redid it three times and each time it got worse instead of better.  At least they came out okay looking at the end.  And after reaching into the mittens repeatedly to work my embroidery needle through the fabric and things, I can safely say the mittens are definitely warm to wear *laugh*.

Total Time to Make Gift:  About five hours I'd say overall.  I worked on them late at night or early in the morning when I had a few moments to myself on the embroidery end and the mittens themselves took me about an hour to make.

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Nothing.  I had the embroidery floss in my stores, I'm thinking probably gotten originally from one of my step-mom's pinata boxes.  The mittens I made from a wool coat (a very cheap price-wise, very good quality, but very very awkward fitting wool coat that I couldn't make work for my wardrobe)  that I'd bought at a used store years ago, so it wasn't like I was out any money at the present time for it.  The design elements for the embroidery I got off of Pinterest.  I just looked up "Swedish embroidery" and started looking at mittens to find elements I liked.

Here's hoping my niece likes them.  I thought they turned out cute myself :).
2.  "Treasure Bottles"

When it comes to boys gifts, man I struggle every year to think of things.  Some of my nephews are getting older and so it makes it harder and harder for me to figure out a gift that fits in my "darn I'm so broke" budget as with the older kids get the more expensive gifts seem to get. 

So, when it came to some of my older nephews I started thinking about just making them some food for Christmas as boys and food tend to go together pretty well.  But, I started to get worried about the gifts staying fresh as sometimes it takes my sister and brother-in-law a bit to pick up gifts and/or takes us a while to get them their gifts and I didn't want home made gifts tasting stale or something.  So, I came up with this idea instead.

My husband had gotten some water bottles for free earlier in the year and while we used a few for the kids I did have some extra and they are nice quality water bottles that hold a decent amount (they are actually a bit big for my daughter's needs, thus why I don't have her use them for ice water at night).  So, I figured that was a good start to make some "treasure bottles" for my nephews.

In each bottle I stuck a summer sausage (gotten for free after coupons earlier in the year and are perfectly fine till next year on the expiration date so they can keep them in the bottles to go camping later on or something), a fold up knife to cut said summer sausage (left over from Christmas gift stockpiles of yore), a tiny jar of jam (taken from the pantry) and a few envelopes of some to-go drink mix (to add to the water in the bottle to make a yummy drink on the trail).  As an added bit of fun I am throwing in a bag of gummy bears into each gift (gotten earlier in the year free with coupons). 

Total Time to Make Gift:  Well, that depends.  If thinking time on what to get/make for the boys counts, I'd say about ten months of time went into thinking about this.  The actual time to make the gifts I'd say about an hour as I kept rearranging how things went into the bottles to get the most out of the space involved.

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Well, I had everything on hand to make these, but some items (like the to-go mix) did cost something to get, so I'll call it about .75 per bottle.

And last up is...

3.  Teacher Gifts

And no, I haven't forgotten that I made some other items earlier in the year for teachers, but I have found that my daughter has an additional teacher this year (math) and my son has three aides in his class, so the ornaments I started earlier in the year will be going to them.  So, I was trying to figure out what to do for the two main teachers this year (my son's and my daughter's teachers). 

So, here's the idea I came up with.

I stalked the used stores until I found some nice, in brand-new shape travel mugs for cheap (one was .75 and one was 1.00) and then I filled the bottles with what you see here.  One K-Cup of coffee (got both k-cups free with a free sample earlier in the year), one tea bag (out of my personal store of tea) and one envelope of hot chocolate (also out of my pantry).  I'm hoping ONE of the items I put into the travel mugs will be a hit and if not...well they get a mug either way I guess :).

Total Time to Make Gift:  About two hours, once you include the times I stopped in at the used store to look for travel mugs and just other residual things (like trying to figure out where in the Heck I'd put the k-cups for safe keeping).

Total Cost to Make Gift:  1.75 for the mugs.  This is actually more than I normally would spend on a gift, but both teachers have done really good jobs with the kids this year, so I always figure this is the ONE time of year I have the opportunity to say, "Thank you."

And there you are folks.  Some of the things I've gotten done lately.  How about you?  Made anything neat lately?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

On the money saving front this has been a pretty productive week, which was good because money is really REALLY tight right now due to the super short month last month and the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and all.  I'm kind of looking forward to hibernating through December for the most part, staying at home and working on Christmas gifts and baking.  It'll help save money and keep my holiday spirits up.

We awoke yesterday to winter being officially here in the form of snowfall, which the kids got a HUGE kick out of.  And for once, today, we're getting a decent amount of snowfall and for a change we don't have to go anywhere this weekend, my husband is having to worry about snow blowing the driveway to get to work and we're saying, "Let it snow" and worrying about cleaning it up before Monday.  It's a nice feeling.

I'm hoping to take the kids out to play in the snow tomorrow, although the weather forecast was calling for the temperature to start to massively tank here this weekend, so I'm hoping we get the chance.  I'm praying that the lows in the negative fifteen category by Sunday are exaggerated, as my electric and gas bill will not love that.  At all.  For now though, the snow sure is pretty falling outside (seen from my deck door above there).

When it came to money saving things this week, though, it's been pretty productive in a lot of ways, so let's get to that!

1.  I spent a good portion of the week just plain cleaning around the house, trying to prepare to get the Christmas decorations up this weekend and working on getting the couch done.  And for a change, I am happy with all I'm getting done!  So, hey, it's cheap and it makes you feel better about your house when that happens :).

2.  Grocery shopping went well this week, although today I spent more than I wanted to.  I was hoping to spend about 20.00 and get out of the stores, but my husband went with me (my arm, in the dropping air pressures, is hurting pretty good and so he went with to help lift things and to drive).  And as any woman knows there are two universal givens.  One is to never start a land war in Asia and only slightly less known is "Never go shopping with a man when meat is on sale" (Princess Bride reference there for those curious).  I ended up walking out of the store with a big container of pork chops that were on sale as my husband LOVES pork and it was on sale relatively cheap.  I know it'll last through three meals, so it was worth the 15.00 we spent, but I still wasn't planning on spending it.

In other shopping though, I went to Fred Meyer and picked up some of the freebies from their 25 Days of Merry going on earlier in the week and then went back to pick up freebies and the "son food" today for next week.

Freebies and general good deals on groceries are seen above.  I went to Carrs and Fred Meyer.  At Fred Meyer I got the free Starburst storybook that was part of the Merry day deals and the free Dove Ice Cream bars (which my husband, daughter and I ate carefully one night this week for dessert, making sure the son was elsewhere so he wasn't exposed to anything potentially dangerous).

Also, remember how I really wanted to get some puff pastry, but figured we couldn't afford it?  I was thrilled with this one.  One of the deals on the Merry Day deals was a coupon you could load for 2.25/1 box of puff pastry and they were on sale for 4.49 per box at Fred Meyer this week.  So, I got cheap puff pastry =D.

Carrs had sugar on sale for 1.49 a bag with an E-Coupon, limit of 2, so I got my two bags.  I also had a coupon for 2.00/1 Kraft dehydrated marshmallows things that my mom had sent me from some mailer or peelie or something, so I used that to get some cheap marshmallows for hot chocolate for the kiddos.

The Gatorade drink was a freebie with an E-Coupon at Carrs and the tuna salad we just needed and I had a personalized price on it to get it for 1.89 per container this week, which was the cheapest I could find it.
At the store today, I also got the free BBQ sauce from Freebie Friday today and the free Kraft Snack Trio as well (seen above).  Okay the snack trios.  Who in the world would pay 2.00 or upwards for one of those things?  You get a tiny bit of cheese, a tiny bit of chocolate or other sweet and a tiny bit of dried fruit.  Seemed more than a little steep to me.  But, I'll eat it because it's free, of course ;).

Overall I spent 73.00 on groceries this week (ouch), but 9.00 of that was garlic stuffed olives for the son (I nearly have a heart attack when I have to buy those) and of course getting the pork chops for the husband.

3.  I managed to finish my couch with materials I had around the house, so redoing the couch cost me nothing but time, labor and about a pint of blood sacrificed to the furniture reupholstering Gods (pictures of that to come).

4.  I mended a couple of my shirts this week, in between other sewing projects.

5.  My son has been having problems with the eczema on his hands bothering him, so I switched out his gloves for another pair to see if that would help, making sure they were more cold weather friendly.  I always keep a good store of gloves and things for the kids around, always making sure to pick them up cheap when there are sales during the summer months at lawn sales or at the used stores.  This came in handy this week as I was able to just grab another pair of gloves out of the box instead of having to run and buy them full price from the stores.

6.  My husband and I spent a lot of time this week watching old shows and movies on the internet, which was fun and free.

7.  I made meals at home this week, which saved us money.  The son was even nice about eating the store bought french fries versus his beloved McDonalds french fries.  He even tried an orange today at school!!!  That is  HUGE deal as he doesn't eat much resembling food.  And one day he even ate half of his tuna salad at school too, so my husband and I are feeling pretty good about things this week!

8.  I took a survey with Fred Meyer one day to get more fuel rewards, which definitely came in handy when I went and had to get gas earlier this week.  

And there you are folks.  Some of our frugal adventures this week.  How did you do?