Sunday, December 31, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Happy New Year everyone (well nearly...the East Coast will be ticking over in about an hour here)!!!

The post is late, I know.  I do realize it's not Friday, but this time I actually put off the post on purpose, since the end of the year was tonight and you'll be getting deluged with year end/beginning posts here in the next couple of days, monthly goals and all of that...well I figured I'd just try and get the entire week in on this one post and so I put it off for a few days :).

We celebrated my birthday this week and I have to say that it ranks up there with one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time.  The kids and husband didn't give me gifts on my actual birthday, but you know, it didn't bother me at all.  My husband insisted we get store sushi for lunch (which actually was up there with some of the best sushi I've had.  It was REALLY good!!!) and he insisted we get something for dinner that was easy to make so that I didn't have to cook.  I chose Maine Italian sandwiches (it's a certain type of sandwich that I grew addicted to as a child and continue to make to this day when I can *laugh*) and so we got a ham (since it was cheaper to buy a half of a ham instead of deli meat) and used the meat slicer I bought used earlier in the year to slice it thin after we cleaned the slicer to a fair thee well.  It worked FABULOUSLY and we enjoyed sandwiches for dinner and for lunches (and I'll turn the ham bone into some tasty beans maybe tomorrow).  Honestly, just being able to spend the day with the family, eating some of my favorite things we haven't had in quite a while (and avoiding heavy meals by getting take out, which honestly after the holidays I was kind of burned out on heavy meals) and being able to bake some bread and things at home made the day pretty cool.  And then, to top the day off, my step-sister gave birth to my new baby step-nephew!  Who can beat that for a birthday gift *laugh*!

My sister-in-law also gave me a really cool haircut for a late birthday gift to me today.  My hair was down to my behind and driving me crazy as it was so long I was getting it caught in everything, hair elastics were falling out of it all the time, it was getting caught in zippers and car was definitely time for a change.  See, most people don't have "Erika hair".  My hair is SUPER fine and thin hair, so while other people with long hair can put their hair up into elaborate hairstyles and things?  I can follow the same tutorials and my hair comes out looking like a tiny knot on the back of my head.  I do braid my hair, but it still looks kind of sad hanging down my back.  Hairspray lasts nearly an hour, hair gel lasts a good two hours and then everything I've done to the hair just falls out and my hair falls flat and straight again...all the while frizzing in every direction enough to snarl like mad and drive me crazy.  Oh yeah!  So, now I have a spiffy shoulder length hairdo and am much happier as I'm walking around without my cat attacking my hair swinging down my back *laugh*.

So, yeah, it was a pretty awesome birthday :).

Now, onto the money saving things that happened this week!

1.  My pot holders are looking...well kind of sad, although the ones I made myself a few years ago are still holding up okay performance-wise.  I decided for the new year I wanted to change a few things and one of the things I really wanted was some pot holders that actually matched my kitchen better.  So, I went against my own overly pragmatic nature and decided to make some pot holders that were bright colors, specifically a really light yellow color.  I got the yarn on sale at JoAnn's a while back with a coupon to make it super cheap and it had sat with me not doing much with it until this week.  With the Christmas rush over and not having any presents I needed to make, I didn't have anything to do at night when watching movies and things, so I sat down and made a pot holder this week (seen up top).  One skein of cotton yarn, which costed me about 2.00 and some change after coupons and things, is going to make me probably four pot holders, which should be enough to last me for a quite a while.  I am enamored with the color as it matches so much more in my kitchen and the bright color really helps to raise the spirits when it is so dark outside :).

2.  It was a good week on the freebie front!  I stopped off at Fred Meyer on Friday and got all of my Freebie Friday items that I had loaded onto my card and the ones I had left from their 25 Merry Days.  I was impressed that, for a change, Fred Meyer had everything!  The best part, for me, was that everything I got was things that we could use around the house, especially the chap stick and the pasta.  I had a coupon that had printed off at the register for another free Knorr Selects side and even found that they had a few more flavors in stock this time around and was able to get one that my family wouldn't mind eating.  It was pretty nice!
While perusing the Carrs ad and the coupons for this week, I was surprised to stumble across an E-Coupon for a free "Man Cave Bring Home the Bacon" meat tube.  I am NEVER one to turn down free meat, so I got the freebie while I was at Carrs getting milk and things for the week.  I was thrilled with the freebie because not only did the computer take off the 6.00 that the meat was on sale for this week, but it also took off the rest of the full value of the manufacturer coupon, so I actually MADE 1.99 on the freebie, which actually paid for one of the chunks of Lucerne cheese I got for 1.50 (on sale with a coupon this week).

The meat itself, I was going to make into burgers, but when I smelled the meat it didn't smell like it was going to make good burgers as it was REALLY strong smelling.  So, I made meatloaf with it instead and the verdict was that the husband and I really didn't like it, but the daughter did.  The meat, to me, tasted like they had mixed ground beef with ground up hot dogs and made a meat combo with it.  It didn't taste great to my palette, but with ketchup it was edible.

3.  Rifftrax was nice enough to send out their yearly 10.00 credit to Rifftrax customers again this year.  We only had till today to use it or it would go away, so my husband and I went through the catalog last night and found a funny movie for 9.99 to spend it on.  I was okay letting .01 expire on the gift card to get, what looked to be, a really funny movie for free :).

4.  I baked whole grain bread, cranberry orange muffins, birthday cake and made beef stock from leftover beef ribs from Christmas dinner this week.  We had beef stew for dinner tonight using up odds and ends in the fridge. 

5.  I found a hanging basket system at the used store a while back for 3.00 and knew I had to get it as I had hoped to find something exactly like that to hang up in my kitchen.  I had my husband put it up in the corner that I had scoped out this weekend.  I LOVE it as now I can put my garlic and my onions up and out of the way, instead of having to rearrange a basket of onions all of the time.  Bonus is that it looks nice.  I am planning on using the bottom basket for things like sweet potatoes on the occasion I buy them for dinners for the week and things (please ignore the November calendar in the background...I never got around to making a December one *laugh*).

6.  I needed some new wire mesh strainers in a bad way for the house, but hadn't been able to find any good deals on some locally.  Just by chance I checked out Amazon's "Year End Deals" section this week and ran into a three pack of wire mesh strainers for right around 5.00 on a Lightning Deal!  They had good reviews, so I ordered them.  I'm hoping to run into an equally good deal on some serrated steak knives for the kitchen as mine are getting old and haggard (the ones I have now were a cheapy 3.00 set from Wal-Mart that I bought YEARS ago and they are finally just starting to fall apart on me.  They were great cheap knives, though, I got to give them that and have been used hard over the years).

7.  We were, once again, able to put aside gift bags and boxes to reuse next year for Christmas gifts.  We were even able to add to our stock this year as my daughter got a really nice big reusable gift box from a friend of hers with her gift in it this year and we got a nice gift bag with another gift.  I used up all of my Christmas themed gift bags for gifts under the tree this year, so it was great adding a few more to the stash for next year :).

8.  I spent a good portion of the week just trying to weed and organize to help things get a bit more streamlined for the coming year.  I'll go into detail more on those plans later, but so far so good on helping those goals along :).

9.  I managed to mend my sewing cabinet (lacking a photo, but I'll show the final results later on)!  I found some old plastic adjustable tabs that were in my desk, so I took four of them and set them up on the adjustable holes in the inside of the cabinet and then set up the shelf again that had caved in/broken earlier.  This time I put VERY little weight on the shelf to be sure it would be okay with plastic tabs holding it up, but BOY does it look better!  This should see us through until my husband has time to mess with the shelf and secure the shelf onto the cabinet properly and at least it doesn't look like a big old broken cabinet is sitting in the corner of my den.

10.  My wreath holder has been breaking for years and this year my son took a liking to it and was REALLY cracking the top half of it bad.  I looked at prices on a new wreath holder (I got the one I have now on 90% off at Target years ago) and wasn't impressed with the prices, so instead I did what any good Alaskan would do in that situation.  I took a roll of duct tape and just secured it to both sides of the cracks in the wreath holder.  It doesn't look great, but it'll hold and now I have (hopefully) held off trying to find another wreath holder or a new way to store my reusable wreath for a few more years.

So, there you are folks.  My week in a nutshell.  How about you?  Have a good week?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

First, thank you for all the Happy Holiday wishes :).  I hope you all had a great holiday! 

We were all sick through Christmas here.  Despite the husband sleeping through the entire weekend pretty much and even calling in sick to work sick on Christmas Day (I will never get tired of having the wonder that is sick pay with his new job), both kids having problems in the breathing category and me feeling like I was coming down with a terrible cold at any moment (still do, honestly)...we actually had a really nice Christmas.  We all really loved the gifts we received from each other, we watched a bunch of Christmas movies, had a nice roast beef dinner (I didn't do half the directions, went with a double layer of aluminum foil instead of a flower pot, and just followed the basic cooking worked great) Christmas Day with fruit salad (we didn't like it very well...I just used the dressing recipe, but it was...edible, but I won't make it again) and Yorkshire pudding (a vintage recipe I found and was very bland tasting, but not terrible) and just kind of took it easy over the weekend (the Christmas meal is seen above there).  The husband kind of had to enjoy leftovers the next day since he was feeling so lousy, but still...the daughter announced it was "The Best Christmas Ever" and actually I think we all agreed with her.  Our bodies might have been sicky, but our spirits were high and was a good holiday over here, believe it or not :).

As for the menu plan for the week, things get kind of funky the week after Christmas for me as by that time I have officially eaten way more rich food than I probably consume in a year and I start to yearn for healthier meals.  And yet that is the week that my birthday hits, so I kind of groan and put off eating healthy for another week *laugh*.

So, let's get to this week's menu...
Wednesday:  Cheeseburgers with spinach (instead of lettuce) and home made coleslaw

Thursday:  Meatloaf, mashed sweet potatoes (I can hear the protest section now with the family *laugh*), salad

Friday:  Orange Chicken over rice, salad

Saturday:  Beef Stew (use ribs from beef roast on Christmas for beef stock), biscuits

Sunday:  Leftovers

Monday:   Bratwurst with sauerkraut (for good luck in the New Year)

Tuesday:  Lemon Garlic Chicken over noodles (use broccoli called for in recipe for veggie).  I'm trying to give some of the freezer meals for the electric pressure cookers a shot to see which ones we like and don't like before I try to make them to actually use as freezer meals later :).

 Desserts:  Birthday cake (cause the kids won't let me get away with not making one, I know *laugh*), Quadruple Ginger Cookies (my birthday gift to me.  I'm going to make ginger sugar like you would cinnamon sugar instead of the ginger infused sugar they call for in the recipe, though),  sugar cookies and the decimated remains of the gingerbread house (that sucker was stuck together better than some homes I've seen!  I had to take a pan to it to get it to come apart enough that you could unstick some of the candy.  I was impressed with my construction skills ;).

I'd go for breakfasts and snacks, but honestly I haven't gotten that far yet.  I know I'm going to be making bread, hopefully tomorrow in between cleaning and things, so we'll have whole grain toast to eat as part of the breakfast rotation and I'm hoping to make crackers so we can have crackers and cheese with fruit as a snack option, but yeah...I haven't gotten as far as I would have liked on the planning front this week, yet.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Just in case I don't get online later on (since we'll all be busy this weekend, my husband has officially come down with the kid's cold and the kids are still sick too), I just wanted to take this opportunity to say, "Merry Christmas" to you all and I hope you have a GREAT holiday!

This week has been a pretty full week.  I ran to the store to get last minute essentials, had to run to the postal annex and wait in line for nearly an hour one day (which barely got me through 1/3 of the line to the window) and then I went back the next day an hour before they opened and managed to get the package I needed to pick up (our insurance benefits binder that somehow our postal worker couldn't fit into our nice package boxes that we have down at the end of the road again...grumble) without waiting in line for three hours.  Goals for next year were worked on.  The menu plan for next week is about 1/3 of the way done and then I ran out of ideas and stared into space for a while...need to get back to that here.  Debating what to do for my birthday next week so we can do something fun, but's been a week of thinking and running around really.

We're still trying to figure out how to get back to two working winter-time able vehicles as the husband is starting a four ten hour work week come January 1st and depending on what the 10 hour shift entails for hours...only having one vehicle might very well not be viable anymore.  So far, things aren't really working in that area (trying to find a new vehicle and getting a good loan that we can afford the payments on, that is), but I'm continuing to be hopeful that it'll all work out in the end.   We're going to be going and exploring options after the holidays are over and things get back to relative normalcy.  Here's hoping something works out.

So, let's get to the money saving things that happened this week.

1.  The winter solstice hit this week, and not only are we starting to now, officially gain back seconds of daylight each day (woohoo), but the winter solstice was nice enough to gift us with a BEAUTIFUL sunrise (seen up top as I stood in the store parking lot with 15 other people all of us taking a pic of the sunrise with our phones *laugh*).  I kept thinking, "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning", but luckily the weather wasn't too horrible that day...not sure how great the weather was at sea though.

The picture really doesn't do the sunrise justice, but I figured I'd share it anyway.

2.  Shopping, speaking of store parking lots, went well this week.  My mother-in-law gave me a Fred Meyer gift card for my birthday, so that paid for some of the groceries.  All totaled I spent about 45.00 on groceries over the gift card, but was able to get a ton of fruit and things to see us through the holidays, so I was super happy :).

Highlight of the shopping trip was probably getting a pound of butter for 2.88.  Not the best price by any means, but it was certainly better than nothing.  I could have gotten two for that price, but it just wasn't a good enough price to make me excited about it, so I got one.
3.  We decorated Christmas cookies and the kids and husband have been having fun eating them (I'm just not a huge fan of sugar cookies), although Alvah just eats the frosting and sprinkles *laugh*.  Thanks to all of the sprinkles that friends and family who were moving gifted me we DEFINITELY weren't hurting for Sprinkles this year (which was good the way the son was eating them ;).
4.  We visited a local neighborhood that decorates all of the houses with tons of Christmas lights and sets everything to Christmas music.  It was a lot of fun and the kid's favorite display was the house/business that decorated their entire dump truck with lights (seen above).

5.  I turned down the heat at night when the husband was working to try and make up the fact that I can no longer turn off the heat in my bedroom during the day when the husband is sleeping.  I'm still trying to remember to do it on a regular basis, but I figure something is better than nothing at this point.

6.  I made Christmas gifts out of materials I had on hand (and I personally think nice ones too ;).

7.  Our Christmas tree starting listing (don't ask...the son is hard on these things).  A length of ribbon tying it on the sly to the wall and all is right with the universe again.

8.  I waited a bit before adding the batteries to the nativity scene and the wreath for the front door this year, which will save me at least one change out of batteries and save me some money in the long run.

And yeah, I'm going to call that good for the week, although I'm sure I'm missing some things.  How about you all?  Have a good week?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas 2017: Teacher Gifts and a Girly Throw Pillow

 Yay!!!  We are at the end of the gifts I made for the family this holiday season!  And I managed to do it by Christmas (I was worried this last week if I was going to make it in time).

First, I let my daughter's pleading get to me about wanting another throw pillow for Christmas this year *laugh*.  Where she will stick this on her bed I have NO idea, but I'm sure she'll figure it out (kids are great that way).

She desperately wanted a pillow with a rose on it, so instead of embroidering one onto a throw pillow (running out of time to do more embroidery and all), I went through my fabric stash and found a pink fabric with roses on it instead.  It came out pretty, I think.
While making cookies a few nights ago (thus the sprinkles in the background...the cookies are taking up the other 80% of the table) my daughter asked if we could make some gifts for her teachers at the same time.  So, I pulled out some wood clothespins and we made some reindeer ornaments out of them. I learned how to make these ornaments years ago in Girl Scouts when I was a kid and I always thought they were so cute.   I actually bought the clothespins we used on these when the daughter was in preschool to make these very ornaments and we have some hanging on our tree, so I figured it would be fun to make some for her teachers (and in my case I decided to make one for the speech therapist, the OT and the adaptive PE teacher for Alvah as well).  A red and black Sharpie for the fine detail work, some red embroidery floss for the hanger, some Elmer's glue and  voila we had some Rudolph's ready to go!

For my son's teacher I gave a couple of bags of Hershey kisses this year (bought with a coupon on top of a sale to get them for cheap) for her and the aides to split how they saw fit as I figure candy is always appreciated by most people.

Everyone loved the ornaments, so I'd say we did okay :).

Total time to Make Gifts:  The pillow took about 1/2 an hour between cutting it out, sewing it and stuffing it.  The ornaments took about an hour between gluing them all together and waiting for them to dry enough to put the faces on.  Past that it was just letting them sit overnight to dry and giving them out. 

Total Cost to Make Gifts:  Nothing.  The stuffing for the pillow was the last of the stuffing from the one pillow I stuffed pretty much everything with this year.  The fabric I had already and it was given to me originally.  The clothespins cost me something years ago, but nothing out of pocket currently and the Sharpies we already had (as well as the glue and embroidery floss).

I am super happy with what I made for the kids and husband this year, I have to admit.  It was nice having time to actually put into the projects and make them nice looking.  Now onto the rest of the week and enjoying the Christmas holiday =D.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas 2017: Spouse/Husband Gifts

 Right, hold on, I need to do a thing.  Ready?  *Puts on Santa hat*

*Clears throat and starts to sing*

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
12 handkerchiefs
*Mumbles through a bunch of lyrics*
 Three containers of whipped foot cream.
Two embroidered pillow cases
*Strikes dramatic pose*

 And a pillow marked with a "B" *imagine "B" is more like "Beeeeeeeeeeeee!"*
Thank you *bows*.  To quote Alf, "Ha! I kill me!"

Obviously, this post is covering what I made for my husband for Christmas, so I figured I would share via a song.

So, let's break it down by the numbers...

First I made my husband and dozen handkerchiefs, because...well he needs them.  I just used an existing handkerchief to make a pattern (I just drew a 1/2 frame around the entire handkerchief to allow for same allowances) and then I just did french seams so that the handkerchiefs would hold up to constant use without fraying or anything.

The foot cream I kind of punted on. I used to make a foot cream my husband really liked, but I didn't have about 70% of the ingredients in the house anymore, so I made do with what I had and made him a new one.   I made it with some calendula oil that I had already and then I added a tablespoon each of borage oil, evening primrose oil and black currant seed oil (since I bought those to use on the son and he didn't like the smell at all and won't let me put them on him much), added three tablespoons of beeswax pellets and then heated it all up in the double boiler until the beeswax was melted and completely incorporated.  I then added about 10 drops of lavender essential oil and another 20 drops of peppermint essential oil.  After it had all cooled to room temperature, I took some solid state coconut oil I had and mixed in a bunch of it with a hand mixer until the mixture was light and fluffy.  And voila!  Foot cream.  This will be stored in the fridge after Christmas just to be sure it'll have some staying power, but hopefully it'll help my husband's cracked heels.

The pillow cases actually got made after the neck pillow I made for him.  My husband has problems with his back from time to time, so I wanted to give him a pillow to tuck under his neck when it was bothering him and made it big enough that he could watch TV or something while using it comfortably.  I thought about it and since the pillow was going to be on the bed all the time I wanted it to look nice, so I embroidered a "B" on it as an afterthought.

I then decided to embroider a couple of pillow cases to go with the pillow and thus the two pillowcases were done.

I am quite proud of myself as these were done on the sly so I am hoping my husband isn't aware of any of these gifts.

Total Time to Make Gifts:  The handkerchiefs took me 3 hours between cutting them, sewing them and juggling kids while doing it all.  The foot cream took me, oh I'll go with about two hours between preparation, waiting for it to cool and whipping it and such.  The pillow cases took me two hours per pillowcase (believe it or not the design is really simple and it didn't take long to get done embroidery-wise) and the pillow itself took me about two hours.  For the ends of the pillow I used a decorative plate as the template for the circle and then added a half inch circumference around the circle so I had a seam allowance taken into account.  I then just cut the fabric straight at what I thought the pillow should have for length and then I just sewed one circle onto the end, sewed the other end on and then sewed up the middle seam.  I embroidered the "B" on after the pillow was all together (which was a pain, but didn't take too terribly long).

Total Cost to Make Gifts:  Nothing out of pocket currently to do any of them.  The handkerchiefs I made with bleached muslin that I have in the house pretty much all the time (although if I had to guess on cost overall, I would say about 2.00 for the handkerchiefs since I got the material on sale a while ago).  The pillow was actually made with the unbleached muslin that Jo-Ann Fabrics messed up and didn't send me when I ordered it so they gave me the material for free to make up for it, so the pillow literally cost me nothing on the material front.  I used an old pillow for the stuffing for the pillow itself.

The foot cream is what probably would cost the most in materials.  The calendula oil I made from calendula petals I had dried myself a while ago and I had the calendula oil in the cabinet to put on my son's eczema as needed.  The borage oil, the evening primrose oil and the black currant seed oil cost me probably about 3.00 for all three oils once I had emptied enough oil caplets to get the oils I needed.  The coconut oil I had buried in the pantry.  The little mason jars I had on hand as they are part of my canning supplies.

The pillow cases were ones I already had around (one of them was actually part of a craft kit my step-mom sent me with no instructions with it, so I didn't use the pattern printed on it and just washed it off.  It worked well), so they didn't cost me anything to embroider.  The embroidery floss and thread were gifted to me, so that didn't cost me anything either.

Not too shabby of gifts to give to a spouse I'd say.

So, how about you guys?  Making anything for your spouses this year?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas 2017 Gift Seven and Eight: A Sensory Cube and an Apron

Since I wasn't feeling good last night and didn't get to posting up yesterday's gift post, you get a double post today.  Hopefully I feel better today as I have gifts to finish, cookies to decorate with the kids and other stuff to do and make.

So, first up on the gift list today is a "girly apron" for the daughter. 

This was made from a kit my step-mom sent me.  I have no idea how old the kit was but the colored floss it came with was VERY seventies for the colors.  Avocado green for the leaves, fuchsia so bright it would blind you and goldenrod yellow finished up the color choices.  Since the entire project called for those colors only, I immediately threw the floss into my embroidery floss stash and then pulled out other colors from my stores to replace them.  I used a variegated pink embroidery floss for the roses, a nice light yellow for the centers and a prettier green for the leaves.
When it came to constructing the apron, the apron came with the tie already finished and you just had to sew it on and the original instructions called for you to gather the lace they had provided and then sew it into the apron.  Unfortunately they didn't give you enough cloth on the apron to do French seams and the apron was already fraying around the edges, so I knew putting it together on the cheap was just going to lead to tears.  So, I put the lace to better use than super frilly gathers.  I took one length and sewed it around the outside edge of the apron, folding it over the edge and sewing it in place with a zig zag stitch, basically making bias tape out of it to secure the edge.  I then took another length of the lace and sewed it around the edge like the directions called for, but I just didn't super gather it or anything (and the lace "bias tape" I'd made, if it shows through the lace you can't tell as it blends in with the lace). 

I then sewed on the tie piece, which, once again, the directions just called for you to sew it on, but didn't bother to do anything for potential fraying of the material.  So, I sewed the tie onto the front of the apron with a double stacked layer of zig zag stitch, making sure to trap the edge of the material under one of the zig zag stitch layers to prevent it from fraying later. I then covered up the zig zag stitches on the front with the last piece of lace.  It didn't QUITE reach, but it was really close so I think it'll work fine.

I made the daughter a nice pink camo apron years ago, but she doesn't like it because she's against all things hunting related (she keeps telling us that those are "boy" activities...where she gets this stuff I have no idea because it sure isn't from her family), so I'm thinking this one might blow over better (although the other one was more practical since it was a full sized apron *laugh*).
Next up is the ever present sensory cube for the son.  I started making him these a few years ago and he LOVES them, so I'm making sure to make him one every year now.

I did a five inch cube (cut out six inch cubes for each side and use a 1/2 inch seam allowance).  For the fabrics I did a fake fur, a fake lambswool, fleece, fake leather, aida cloth (for a "rough" texture), and a green satiny fabric.  I then, when stuffing it, put two small plastic bags inside.  One bag was stiffer and then the other one was one of those plastics that crinkle if you so much as look at it wrong and made a higher pitch crinkly sound.  This one was an easy gift to put together, and I know my son will love it, so I was happy with the finished product :).

Total Time to Make Gifts:  The apron took about eight hours between the cross stitch and the construction.  Not a hard project by any means, but still time consuming.  The sensory cube took me about an hour and a half between going through fabric remnants to find the fabric, making a template for the cube pieces out of felt (it sticks to fabric so it's a great choice for things like this that are smaller projects to make your pattern pieces out of), sewing it and stuffing it (which actually stuffing it took the longest).

Total Cost to Make Gifts:  Nothing.  The apron kit was given to me by my step mom and the thread was gifted to me as well.  The cube was made out of fabric remnants that I had around the house from previous projects or from fabric that was gifted to me by others.  The stuffing for the cube was taken from an old pillow (same one I used for the ornaments actually) and the plastic bags I had around as well.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

It's Christmas crunch time for pretty much everyone, and I'm no different right now.  Unfortunately, in the middle of "Christmas baking mayhem and present making mania" is, of course, when my son finally comes down with the "plague cold" that is going around the kid's school like mad.  So, in the middle of everything else I'm taking care of a sick kiddo.  It seems like every single year we have to be sick through at least one of the major holidays.  I'm praying that the rest of us don't catch the full fledged cold and that Alvah is well by Christmas.  Here's hoping.

This week will be full of me trying desperately trying to get Christmas gifts made the rest of the way, getting the rest of my Christmas baking done and just trying to have a good time this holiday season.

So, let's get to the money saving things that happened this week!

1.  Back when the kids were little, I used to buy gingerbread house kits and we'd decorate them for Christmas.  Now with the peanut allergy...well we haven't a gingerbread house in years because all of the ready made kits are contaminated with peanuts and I just plain didn't have time to make gingerbread houses from scratch (and honestly I'd never made a gingerbread house on my own before, the last time I'd made one was when I was a kid, and I was more than a little intimidated at the prospect). 

Until this year!

This was definitely a money saver as there is one bakery that makes allergy friendly gingerbread house kits and they are tremendously expensive, shipping to Alaska would cost goodness KNOWS how much and the houses were tiny (at least by the pictures) when assembled.  So, making our own was definitely more cost effective :).

5.00 worth of son-safe candy from Fred Meyer on sale this week and a total spontaneous purchase of some Hillshire Farms mini mint candies that were actually made in a certified peanut free facility (I LOVE that type of mint and haven't had them in years...between that and finding Andes mints were peanut life is now complete *laugh*) and we were on our way.  We supplemented with safe candy that was left over from trick or treating that my daughter didn't care for (like she doesn't like Dots and other gum drop types of candy so I knew those would come in handy later), candy we had around the house (like the mini Sweet Tarts and Andes mints).  I made a recipe for an actual gingerbread house from an old cookbook (it did come out darker as I didn't have light molasses though) and I put together a basic house form after rolling out the dough.  There were some, ahem, gaps and mistakes when I lined everything up after baking (why don't things ever bake completely straight and level?  *Laugh*), but I did manage to put it all together.  I found a recipe online for royal frosting and I mixed it up and found it to be WAY too thin to be used as any type of building material, so I kept adding powdered sugar until the icing would hold up a spoon that was stuck into it.  It worked after that *laugh*.

A shot of our finished house is seen up top.  I think it turned out really cute!  And completely edible by all members of the household!  Even Alvah helped to put the candy on...and then ate a bunch of mini Sweet Tarts and a bunch of the Andes mints (leftover from last Christmas that I've been hoarding...err...saving).  I was really proud of him for that and I think he had fun right along with Armina and I :).

2.  Shopping went well this week for the most part.  I did get a bit more than I normally would as I really want to avoid going to the stores as much as possible this coming week as they are not only going to be crowded, but I just plain want to stay home and make gifts (and I might be stuck home anyway taking care of the sick kiddo).  The best score this week on the shopping front was using a loaded coupon on my card for 2.00/1 Oreos (one of the son's favorite treats) and I had an additional coupon for if you buy one Oreo you get a free cream cheese coupon (don't ask me why cream cheese with Oreos because I am at a loss), so I was able to get my son a thing of Oreos for his class Christmas party later this week for 1.99 and got a free block of cream cheese while I was at it.  Past that it was the usual things for shopping, boy food and such. I did walk away from things that were good deals, but that we didn't really NEED, thus saving us money as well.

3.  I tried to combine errand running into one day if possible, and did OKAY in that regard, although the son went on a "I'm not sleeping" spree this last week and the 1 1/2 hours of sleep really did me in on shopping day and I ended up running back to the store three times because I kept forgetting things we needed.  Not frugal, not fun, and definitely frustrating.  Thank goodness I managed to get a few naps in here andt here and the son started sleeping through the night again the last part of the week.

4.  I mended a skirt of the daughter's a dress of Barbie's and a t-shirt of the son's this week.

5.  I made Christmas gifts from materials I had on hand for the kids and husband (more on that later with the Christmas posts).

6.  I listened to a lot of Christmas music this last week, stayed off of the internet a lot and found myself in a lot better mood because of it.

7.  My daughter used to have Christmas lights hung in her room all year when she was really into "Fancy Nancy", but she decided she was too old for the lights in her room this Christmas, so I took the box of new Christmas lights that I had bought last year on Christmas clearance for her  (her old lights had lost one of the colors in the strand and were really old so you couldn't replace the lightbulbs in them) and hung them up in the living room.  It's helping to counteract the really terrible light we have in the living room, which is coming in handy when trying to do embroidery sitting there. 

8.  I turned off lights and turned down the heat as much as I could this last week to try and lower the utility bills.  When baking I made sure to the turn down the heat as the oven really starts to heat the upstairs when you bake for any length of time.

And yeah, I think I'll leave it at that for the week as I still have a bunch of things to do before bed and it's seven already. 

How about you?  How did your week go on the frugal front?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas 2017 Gift Six: A Change Purse

There is actually a mate to this next gift (not a twin as the second one is a bit smaller than the first), but I had to do a bit more tweaking to get the purse looking like I wanted and forgot to take a picture of it before putting it under the tree for myself, so oops there *laugh*.

This is a double gift.  One change purse is going to my daughter.  And one change purse I kept for me.

You see, I made the change purses out of an old tie of my dad's.  My step-mom had mailed the tie in with a bunch of other things in one of her pinata boxes and asked me to keep it and do something with it as the tie was hand made, had belonged to dad and she just couldn't part with it herself by giving it to random strangers, so she sent it to me.  Of course, once she told me all of that, I couldn't part with it either and I kept thinking of something to do with it.  My husband wouldn't wear as loud of a tie as this one was (my dad loved wearing loud ties to work at times...he wore a tie to work every single day for 30+ years so he loved the "shake up" in the monotony of ties), but I didn't want to give it away, so I put it aside and tried to think of something to do with it.

While working on Christmas gifts, I glanced at the tie and realized that it would be really easy to just fold the tie over and use the point on the wide end as a flap and just make a quick change purse out of the widest part of the tie.  So, I did :).  I then took another bit off and made another change purse, but with a rectangular flap instead of a pointed one (as I was getting low on wider fabric pieces at that point) and voila!  Two change purses for my daughter and I to put in our purses, and all the while carrying a little piece of my dad around with us.  I know she will appreciate the sentiment and I sure do as I, even though it's been nearly seven years since he passed away, still miss him every day.

For the "closure" part, I secured some red buttons my step mom gifted me to the change purse itself and then took some old hair elastics that broke apart on me.  I cut a small slit into the upper cloth of the tie and just kind of threaded the elastic down into the inner parts of the tie and then used a zig-zag stitch, going over the hole a few times to make sure that the fabric wasn't going to fray later.  It worked well!

Total Time to Make Gift:  About ten minutes per change purse.  This was a project that went together super quick.

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Nothing as I had all the materials on hand.  I ended up using white thread for the project, even though I would have liked to have the thread match the material better, but it was the strongest thread I had (the tie was thick for one, and for two I wanted to make sure it would stay together well as it could potentially carry a decent amount of weight with change in it).  But, still materials-wise this cost me nothing.  And carrying around a change purse made from an old tie of my dad's and giving a little bit of my dad to my daughter for Christmas?  Priceless :).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas 2017 Gifts Four and Five: Pillow Shams

 Yup, MORE pillow shams are on the gift list!  Pillow shams are strong this holiday season *laugh*.

These first two pillowcases might seem familiar to some as you have seen them before.  These were from a kit that I was given and I thought I'd send them to my family back East when they were done.  And they are done!  I'll have to wait to ship them off until after Christmas, since I still have some other things to make and such (which the family back East is okay with), but yay for getting these done.

Since you've already seen the one pillowcase done and the other one looks like the first one, I figured I'd throw in another gift I made this week.  This one for my son.  Ready for it?  It's ANOTHER pillowcase!  *Laugh*, I figured since I made the daughter her pillowcase with an "A" on it for her name last year that I would make Alvah one this year, but more geared toward a boy.
Please excuse the wrinkles, the pic was taken straight out of the dryer.
I used a light green flannel pillowcase (it comes out really dark looking in the pictures,but is actually pretty light) as it SHOULD match my son's favorite flannel sheet (I got it on LL Bean's website about three years ago in the middle of summer CHEAP and got one for both kids.  The son definitely likes them better than the daughter does, though) and I put a fancy "A" on it along with an embroidery border that I got inspired by on Pinterest as I was scrawling through my embroidery board :).
The coolest little hidden thing I did on the embroidery for the son, since he LOVES texture variances, was to use different thicknesses of embroidery floss on the project, put french knots in different places and I even went through and put back stitch over stem stitch in a few places to make the embroidery bumpy and things.  It's got a cool texture to it when you run your hand over it, but I made sure to stick it close to the edge of the pillow case so that it won't bother his face at night when sleeping.

I thought it came out really well, especially considering that I nearly flunked "script/font" in my art classes when I was younger ( just isn't my forte).  I have to say I LOVE Pinterest for these types of things.  I can pull up a picture of a letter and just stare at it on my Kindle until I get it right on the project I'm doing.  It's a valuable resource in that way!

Total Time to Make Gifts:  The kit pillow shams....I really don't know.  I worked on them when my son was in speech therapy for the most part.  I'll go for 8 hours a piece as I think that's a fair estimate.  They were surprisingly time consuming.

The pillowcase for the son went really quick and I had it done in about two hours.  I love it when that happens!

Total Cost to Make Gifts:  Nothing.  The pillow cases were either gifted to me (in the case of the kit ones) or I had on hand and the embroidery floss was gifted to me by my step mom.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas 2017 Gift Three: Stuffed Ornaments

For our next gift this Christmas we have a gift for my son.  Stuffed Christmas ornaments.

See, my son LOVES and I mean LOVES the Christmas tree.  And he loves the ornaments on it.  The result of this adoration is that every year about three or four ornaments bite the dust as he plays with them obsessively, chews on them and otherwise just decimates them.  So, I end up trying to make new ornaments for the tree every year.  I've found that the stuffed ornaments tend to last the longest out of all of the ornaments because they are just so tough, so I was happy to be able to make these as part of the "recoup the lost ornaments" plan this year.

As I was digging through the multitude of sewing and crafting things I had I stumbled across a baggie I had bought at the thrift store for .25 that contained vintage style Christmas ornaments that you cut out and sew together.  Panel projects, by the way, are a GREAT way to get your feet wet if you are trying to build up confidence using your sewing machine as the outlines for them are pretty basic.  At least in my experience these projects go pretty quick.

I decided to sew the ornaments from the baggie together and see what I ended up with.  I only had one ornament without a back that I put aside for maybe another type of ornament later or something, but otherwise I had both sides for the other ornaments.  So, I quickly sewed them together on the sewing machine, stuffed them with some filling from an old pillow that had come out of the dryer too lumpy to put back onto a bed, and voila!  Another Christmas gift done (and the way the son ran into these and was trying to play with them already...I think it's safe to assume he'll like them *laugh*).

I really like how the ornaments turned out and love the vintage look to them.  I think they'll make a great addition to the tree this year :).

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Well, originally .25, when I spent that .25 I'm not sure, but if you want to count that you can.  Otherwise, nothing.  The stuffing was recycled pillow fluff and the thread was gifted to me by my step mom, as was the embroidery floss I used to make the hangers on the ornaments as well.

Total Time to Make Gift:  About an hour if you include son wrangling and stuffing the ornaments time.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Wow this is really late!  Sorry about that. 

I have a double whammy going on right now in that I'm super busy making Christmas gifts around here and then on top of that I have a daughter who is fighting off a really nasty cold that is going around (so far she's holding her own, but was still home sick today in the hopes of getting up some energy to fight it off) and a son who stayed up most of the night because we had some high winds that managed to keep him up JUST enough that his medicine that helps him sleep didn't work so he was up all night and not only was he up, but he was also over stimulated due to the wind so he was itchy and cranky about being up and itchy.  Not a fun night for either one of us.  As a result I was walking around feeling like a zombie today and I was counting down the hours till bedtime right about the time I dragged myself out of bed this morning.  Fun times!

When it came to money saving things that happened this week, recounting those is going to be kind of short really, mainly because I didn't go anywhere last week for the most part and spent as little money as I could get away with at the store because I was trying to conserve every penny I could to see us through till payday this week.

So, let's get to the money saving things that happened this week.

1.  Well, first off I should probably say that there aren't any shopping goals for this month.  I decided not to do a list because it would have had one item on it, "Butter" and that was about it.  Unfortunately, there just plain hasn't any great sales on butter thus far, which leaves this next week and that's all she wrote for holiday sales on butter, so I'm thinking I might just have to start picking up a pound a week of butter until I have a little reserve of butter again.  I found I can pick up one pound cheap tomorrow as Carrs had a couple coupons I could stack, but that's about it so far.  But hey, a short list also means that I took an inventory and for now we're doing okay on things, so I am definitely seeing it as a not bad place to be.

2.  I finally broke in my Crockpot Express this week.  I kept trying to think of something I could cook in it to try it out that I wouldn't be out dinner if the device was defective or something.  I finally settled on steel cut oatmeal.  I made some last night and then refrigerated it to reheat this morning.  It came out pretty good!  Today I gave the slow cooker function on the device a run and made chicken soup for dinner tomorrow night (I'll add noodles and cook them when I reheat the soup tomorrow night).  So far I'm happy with the device (the device in mid-pressure cooking the oats seen up top).  I'm really not sure how energy efficient the device will prove to be over time, but I have to say that I do like the time it saves me to do other things instead of having to babysit the stove top.

3.  I made a bunch of Christmas gifts this week from materials I had on hand (more on those later here).  I still have a few more I'm working on, but I have to say I'm super happy with the progress I've made in getting them done this week.

4.  I managed to stretch left overs very well this last week.  One way I've found that works really well is to just make new side dishes one day two and three and just serve the same main dish again.  It helped to make the meals not so monotonous.

5.  The daughter wanted to make a bunch of Christmas decorations for her room, so I went into the hallway closet and pulled out the huge stack of construction paper we had and a big container of crayons and told her to have a ball.  She had fun and got to decorate her room for the holidays (she used some left over from school supplies glue sticks to put it all together).

6.  I mended a work shirt of my husband's this week.

7.  I went through and deep cleaned my vacuum cleaner, pulling filters and everything and washing them.  I have found this definitely improves the air quality when you vacuum and it also helps to extend the life of your vacuum cleaner. 

8.  I spent a total of 33.00 at the store this week, which consisted of milk, "boy food" and a few side things I found cheap.  The biggest find for the week was getting a pound of thick cut bacon for 1.50.  The bacon was on sale for 5.00 as part of 5.00 Fridays at Carrs, was marked down 50% off and then I had a 1.00/1 coupon on that brand of bacon.  I was thrilled as I really did want to get some more bacon to add to dishes for some extra flavor from time to time.

And there you go folks.  It's short this week, but really my week was busy and hectic, but for the most part it was just a Christmas gift making marathon more than anything else.

So, how about you?  How did your week go?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas 2017 Gift Two: An 'Ever After High' Pillow Sham

So, as you might recall from last year's Princess Starla cape post (which honestly, I had to go and re-read the gifts I made for the kids last year), ever year I ask my daughter what she would like for Christmas.  This Christmas it was, "Oh mom!  I want an Ever After High pillow!!!"  She then dug out her Kindle and showed me what the logo for "Ever After High" looked like and told me all about her favorite characters, again, for the millionth time and everything about the universe in great detail *laugh*.

What she originally wanted was an actual throw pillow with "Ever After High" stuff embroidered all over it, which I would have been willing to do, but looking at her bed, I just shook my head and asked her where she would put another throw pillow.  She has stuffed unicorns she uses as pillows along with the throw pillow I made her last year and three pillows sharing the head of her bed (with her stomach issues she finds sleeping elevated helps her feel less panicky about going to sleep).  I could just see at least a few of the things currently housed on her bed ending up on her floor every night if I added another thing to the head of her bed.  So, I came up with the compromise and asked her if she'd like a pillow case embroidered with some "Ever After High" stuff instead.  And she actually agreed!

I wish the pictures had turned out a bit better of this pillowcase as it actually came out really nice.  It now takes the great place of containing one of the biggest pieces of embroidery I have ever done (the lady's face is the main logo for "Ever After High"), but also cumulatively between all three main "pieces" the pillowcase definitely takes the place of being the biggest piece of embroidery I've done to date.

The "Ever After High" logo is this...

So, I decided to break down the elements of it a bit, redo them and put them more to the daughter's taste.  So, started the giant girl head in dark purple for the outlining (instead of all black, which I thought would be pretty boring and not to the pink and purple loving daughter's tastes) and then I took the image of the lock, kind of, and turned it into a ever after high locket or something similar.  And then I made a quill with an ink well and in the background I wrote (in my truly bad hand writing, so please forgive me) "Rewrite Your Destiny" as the entire point of "Ever After High" is the children of fairy tale characters are trying to find their own way in the world and wondering if they want to take after their parents or do something different.

I apologize for the bad lighting in some of the photos.  Not only did I change the position of my sewing table so it's not under the best light in the room, but I'm also taking these pictures after the kids are in bed, and in this case I took it WAY late as I washed and dried it before I took said photo to make sure I didn't have any touch up work to do once the pen was washed out of it.

So, there you are.  An "Ever After High" pillowcase.

Total Time to Make Gift:  A long time.  I think if I added it up I'd be at about 18 hours or so to get all the embroidery done.  That was a big head to fill in with pink and white (yes I'm one of those people who will fill in white on white to make something look even...I'm OCD that way).

Total Cost to Make Gift:  Nothing in the current time.  My step mom gave me a TON of embroidery floss over the years (thanks Rox!!!) and it has been wonderful to have so much to work with.  The pillowcase was actually part of my gift stash of pillowcases that I had put aside to embroider later, so I didn't have to pay anything for it now (as a result I'm excitedly making a bunch of pillowcases for the house this year and giving them as gifts to the kids and husband ;).  I think originally the pillowcase cost me .50, so I suppose I could call it .50 cost overall for the gift.

So, there you are folks.  Gift two down.  At least I know the daughter likes it as she managed to come into the room right after I took the photo because she had some profound thought about the Berenstain Bears and kept begging me to let her have the pillowcase early *laugh*.  So, onto the next gift!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas 2017 Gift One: A Fleece Hat

To those who are new to the blog or haven't cared to read old posts (I can't really blame if you don't want to *laugh*) a quick introduction here.  Welcome to my yearly "Gift a Day" series where you get to read about what I am making for Christmas gifts this year! Wondering what I've made in previous years?  You can check out the other gifts I've made here.

My rules for making Christmas gifts are normally pretty simple for myself in that I TRY to keep each gift made within 24 total hours (this can take place over a week or more per gift sometimes, but I do try to stick to the 24 hour rule if I can).  This is mainly because I'm really busy any time of year, but ESPECIALLY this time of year so I try to keep my stress levels from making me curl up under the table with a cup of coffee, muttering to myself with my hair messily tied in a knot on top of my head hoping for a few moments of respite from everything because I can't find the brain capacity to figure out where my hair elastic went (the curling up under the table with the cup of coffee might or might not have something to do with looking for the hair elastic...depending on the year).  I usually have varying success rates with this way of doing things.

There are a couple of really big pros to making your own gifts.  One, it can be really cheap if you shop at garage sales and thrift/used stores for the materials to make things or can be even cheaper if you recycle something like an old sheet and use it to make gifts out of.  And two, home made gifts, to me, just mean more and I really do enjoy making them for those I love. 

So, let's get 2017's Christmas gift making season started here with my first gift of this year.  A fleece hat.  Specifically a "Fleece bomber hat" (via the pattern I worked from) or as I like to call it "A ski cap" because that is what we always seemed to call this style of hat when I was in New England growing up (mind you that was a long time ago, so I could have been screwed up about it even back then *laugh*).

My son likes to wear hats, which is good, but he HATES to wear hats over his ears because he has a hard time with the way the hat angles down the head and keeps trying to either pull the hat up so it's level and not covering his ears or he pulls the brim down to be straight and covers his eyes.  Either way...not what I, as a parent, want.  So, I've actually been trying to find a cap in this style, with the ear flaps, for a while that would fit the son's head (he's got a big head), but wasn't having much luck. 

A couple of years ago, though, at the used store, I ran across something that intrigued me and I took a chance on it.  There was a soft clear plastic zip up tote thing in the craft section that had a bunch of stuff in it from the looks of it and the tag that had been stuffed into the front of the tote (probably from whoever had donated the tote) just said, "Fleece Hats and Scarves".  The zipper part was secured shut so you couldn't open it and look around inside, but I could see just by flipping it over a couple of times that there was cut out fleece pieces for something inside, there was a lot of cut out patterns in there and some patterns in the envelopes as well.  The entire tote was 1.00.  I couldn't resist the gamble and bought it. 

The tote of stuff then got shoved into the "potential Christmas gifts for later" pile with me not really having looked at it too closely.  It then got transferred around to different areas over the last couple of years.  Well, when I was rearranging my den earlier last month I came across the tote and finally opened it to see what was inside.  I found the pattern for the above hat and found the pieces already cut out (not the ties, though, those I did from scratch) among other things (some of which are pieces that are cut out that don't go to any of the patterns in the tote, so I am going to see what I can do with the remnants of fleece instead).   There was home made directions to go with the pieces for the hat, but the pattern instructions...oooh boy those were terrible.  And I mean TERRIBLE!  Like the explanation and graphics that were drawn to explain boxing the corners on the hat?  If you had followed said directions you would have met the corners of the hat together, ended up with a glorified dunce cap and the cap would have ended up fitting a teddy bear. 

Anyway, I quickly realized that the directions were not going to work.  Which led to a lot of me sitting in my car waiting for the son at therapy appointments or waiting in the car to get the kids from school and things and just thinking of how logically the hat would have to go together.  And after about 15 times getting it wrong and ripping it out again and again, I FINALLY got everything (relatively...the top part of the hat above the band is still a bit off kilter) where it needed to be and got the hat put together.

I tried the hat on after I made it to make sure it would fit an adult and it did, but I was still worried about whether it would fit the son since it was still a bit tight on me.  I decided I would have to model it on him so I went up and made him try it on.  It was a bit tight at first, but I just stretched the fleece a few times and the hat fit perfect (fleece actually does stretch pretty smart like me now instead of being dumb like I used to be when I first started sewing and use a zig zag stitch when sewing fleece items...the zig zag stitch will hold up to the stretching of the fabric perfectly while a straight stitch will be just as likely to pop out).  The son actually stole it and ran around giggling with it on his head for a while, so I am going to call it a win.

Total time to make hat:  Once I had the methodology down on how the thing had to go together I had it sewn up in less than an hour.  I am going to add in about another hour, though, for the multiple times I had to rip the brim apart to figure out how it was supposed to be sewn together and line up...that was miserable.

Total cost to make gift:  I am going to say about .25 since there are other patterns and pieces of fleece in the kit I got.  The ties I made with some flat fancy yarn my step-mom sent me and the thread my step-mom gifted me as well.

By the way, if you notice a tremendous lack of silver tinsel in the background of the photos this year helping to make the gifts look all Christmasy...blame my son who got a hold of the tinsel and made the den look like a tinsel bomb went off in it late last year.  Kids.  Gotta love them!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Monthly Goals: December 2017

 Goodness I can't believe it's the 5th already!  I've been so busy that the month is flying by so far.

When it comes to monthly goals, this is usually a month that revolves around Christmas and the preparations that go along with it.  And this year is no different.  But, this year things are a bit different when it comes to the goals.  Since I'm not in the middle of making a ton of gifts, I have time to concentrate on things I'm making for the kids and doing other Christmas activities!  My daughter is ready to burst out of her skin she's already so excited for the holidays this year, especially when we're planning on doing some fun stuff around the house, which really pleases me!

So, let's get to the goals for this month!

Sewing Goals:

  • Make Christmas gifts (one work in progress seen above)
  • Mend husband's work shirt (done)
  • Mend husband's jeans
  • Darn socks
  • Fix quilting on penguin quilt (the first quilt I ever made is currently losing it's machine quilting, probably because I didn't really understand machine tension back then.  So, I need to mend the quilting before it becomes a problem.  I am thinking of knotting it instead of requilting it.)

Christmas Goals:

  • Make gingerbread house and decorate it (this will be an experience for me as I haven't actually made a from scratch gingerbread house since I was a kid).
  • Make Christmas cookies
  • Wrap Christmas gifts that are ready for under the tree (done)
  • Make Christmas gifts 
  • Go view Christmas lights on weekends (we're working on that :)
  • Make caramel hot chocolate (never had it, have white chocolate chips, so going to give it a shot)
  • Watch Christmas movies and specials until even the kids are tired of them (knowing the kids this will never happen, but hey it's worth a shot *laugh*).
  • Make pot holders for kitchen
  • Donate toy donations to "Toys for Tots".  I have a few toys I got super cheap with coupons this last week thanks to Fred Meyer's 25 Merry Days (like 2.00 or less cheap, which was really great that it worked out that way so I could afford to do it within our tight budget), so we'll donate those as a family.  The daughter is very proud of the fact that we're helping the local community :).
  • Print out pictures of kids and mail off Christmas cards (this one I'm waiting on until I know I'm done with paperwork for the son's insurance to make sure I have enough black ink).
  • Visit Shani and give her small Christmas present (did that today.  It was good to see her)
There are other things I want to get done (housework related for the most part as I'm behind on everything due to the hot water heater fiasco), but I'm going to leave the list as it stands as the things not listed I have to get caught up no matter what, so I don't see the point in adding them to the list :).

How about you?  Have anything neat planned for this month?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

MAN it's been a busy week!

First there's the son.  I'm not sure what is going on with him right now.  The beginning part of the week, he was acting super maniac and zoned.  Not in a bad mood or anything, but it was impossible to get him to focus on any task you wanted him to perform.  Wednesday rolls around and he's doing so good Wednesday morning mood and itching wise I just plain forgot to give him medicine.  Like any medicine.  Instead of running home and getting him his usual dose of risperidone, I asked his teacher to just give him a shot and see how he did without it and if she needed me to dose him I'd run over with the medicine and give it to him.  He did so well that day he didn't even need antihistamines.   I still gave him his nightly doses of said medicines, but started leaving off his morning doses just to see if we could get him to focus a bit better at school and speech (which he did).  But now I'm at this bad point this weekend where he's just NOT in a good mood.  I am thinking his normal high doses of medicine might be a weekend thing the way this is going.  Which, I'm okay with honestly, so long as he does okay at school and things during the week.  The poor kid could deal without SO many constant medicines in his life.  But, yeah, his general mood so far this weekend has been kind of challenging.  He was home sick on Friday, though, because he wasn't feeling great, so I'm wondering if his general "I'm grumpy" attitude is just not feeling good, but he can't tell us.

There was also just general Christmas type things going on this week.  We dug out the rest of the Christmas decorations and hung those up and made plans on different things we could do for fun this month.  We found that the Alaska state fairgrounds aren't doing the Christmas lights display they've done the past couple of years this year, which bummed the daughter out, but we have found a couple of neat little displays driving around different areas, so she's at least happy we've found those.

There was also some cool money saving things that happened this week, so let's get to those!

1.  Shopping went pretty well this week.  I thought I'd need tons of groceries, but it turned out that I really didn't need as much as I thought I did (nice surprise to find that out to be sure).  I still had to spend some money, but not as bad as I was planning, so that felt good!  Yay for sales and clearance items (like I needed cat food this week and found a TON of them marked down to .12 a can at Fred Meyer, so that made getting cat food a LOT nicer on the checkbook!).

The highlights of shopping this week was getting my free Sierra Mist Twist (seen peaking from behind the water there in the pic above) and getting the game "Jenga" for .50!  Fred Meyer is doing their "25 Merry Days" again this year and while the freebies they are giving away food-wise are sort of "meh" (as far as I can see) they are having some really high value toy coupons.  I found that they had 7.50/1 Jenga game earlier in the week, so I ran to Fred Meyer that day (to get Coke on sale, honestly) and checked out Jenga to see how much it was going for.  It was on sale for 9.99, so I knew I could get it for 2.49 after coupon, but then I thought about it for a second and dug out the coupon envelope in my purse as I thought my mom had sent me a manufacturer's coupon for Jenga earlier and sure enough there was a 2.00/1 Jenga coupon in my purse (I have no idea where my mom clips or gets some of these coupons from, folks, so I really can't tell you to check your inserts in the paper for the match up or anything).  So, between the two coupons, I got Jenga for .49.  Since I do try to get at least one board game for the kids for Christmas (especially since my daughter really likes them), I am happy to have gotten the yearly edition so cheap!

I also got flavored sparkling water for .50 a bottle this week.  Since the husband is on a mission to reduce his soda consumption (he LOVES Coca Cola and the doctor told him to try and cut down on it a lot) we've been drinking them with dinner.  It's working well so far and honestly I'm enjoying it (I like flavored water *laugh*).

2.  I renewed my driver's license online last month, saving myself a trip to the DMV (thus saving myself the gas to get there and the wait) and also saving myself the fee to renew at the DMV.  I got my new license in the mail this week.

3.  I finished a few Christmas gifts out of materials I had on hand this week (more on that in the upcoming "Gift a Day" series :).

4.  Instead of going for the usual stocking stuffers this year, where normally I end up getting candy and things for the son (preferred reinforcers) and stuff, this year I decided to go with things the kids could use and wouldn't be so prone to rot their teeth.  I got them both a battery powdered tooth brush, a chapstick (.50 each after coupons I had combined with a sale at Fred Meyer) and things like that.  I have found that it's costing me a bit more than say, candy, but I feel a bit better about filling the stockings with the things I got for the kids.

5.  I wanted to get my half sister a certain necklace for Christmas and stalked about four websites to find the cheapest price to send one to her for Christmas (I'm the only one out of the family who make an effort to be a sister to my half sisters so I do try to send them Christmas gifts when I can).  Earlier in the week the necklace I had picked out went on sale for super cheap on Amazon and it shipped free with Prime shipping!  I ordered it happily at that price and was even able to spring for gift wrapping on the gift and STILL ended up cheaper than the regular "sale price" on the item.  I was happy.

6.  I have enjoyed getting a few free magazine subscriptions in the mail this week.  Not only do I like to read the magazines this time of year, but I also like to lay them out on the coffee table to act as holiday decor as well.

7.  I combined errand trips and things to conserve gas as much as possible (although I did have to run a lot this week, I have to admit and went through gas doing it).

So, yeah, I'm sure there's more to the week as it seemed like I never sat still, but my mind is blanking and so I'm going to leave it at that.

How about you?  How did your week go?