Saturday, January 21, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

 Wow!  It has been a week when it comes to weather.  This is a week where Delta Junction saw a whopping -74 degrees F (mind you that's North, but holy Cow!) and we saw -40 one day with a high of -27.  When it finally warmed up to -17 to pick up the kids in the afternoon it would feel downright warm to how it had been.  That's sad.

Yesterday it started to warm up and suddenly we went from below zero to above zero and snowing so now we have about five inches that my husband is going to have to snow blow before tomorrow (if my son's speech therapist makes it...she missed today because the roads were gross, so we'll see) and they are calling for snow all week.  Alaska.  Don't like the weather, wait a few minutes and it'll switch, often violently *laugh*.

So, yeah, I'm not sure how this is going to impact my electric bill, but you know, at least we HAVE the heaters in the bedrooms so the kids stayed warm during this cold snap.  Blessings are blessings, no matter how much they cost sometimes.

So, let's get onto other money saving things that happened this week!

1.  I got a birthday check in the mail from my family back East and I found that it was just enough to buy the 25.00 memory foam mattress pad I had my eye on in my Amazon cart, so I bought it (thanks, mom and sisters!).  I'm praying it will help my arms...they've been making me miserable this week with the crazy pressure changes and the temps all over the place.

2.  Amazon sent out part of my order (some Japanese rice seasoning powder) out AGES ago, like December 26th and it was set to be here January 5th originally.  I was tracking it, but it just seemed to hit Washington and stopped.  On January 10th, Amazon gave me a refund on the order.  Ironically, the package arrived the next day.  I offered to let them take the money back out for the order, since I had gotten it and they refused saying that it hadn't made it when it should have been there, so the refund was the least they could do. 

I was on the internet with my daughter that night, oddly enough, trying to track down what type of animal Timmy Willy was from the Peter Rabbit stories.  I couldn't find that right away, but I did find a BUNCH of awesome books based around Beatrix Potter on the internet, so I went to Amazon to see what they had.  I love her artwork and her stories have been part of my children's lives pretty much since they were born, so obviously we're fans of her stories too *laugh*.  I found the cookbook up top for .54, which after shipping the Amazon credit JUST covered the cost of the book and had to order it.  It was kind of surprising to me, even, that I just bought the book on a whim, as I normally don't do that and I try to stick to my "list", but something told me to buy it.

It came in super quick and I've been looking through it the last few days and I have to say I LOVE THIS BOOK!  I was kind of skeptical about the book when I got it in the mail as it was pretty thin compared to other cookbooks I've gotten, but holy moley does the author put a LOT into a thin cookbook.  On average there are about three recipes per page (with Beatrix Potter sketches scattered throughout with photos as well) and the writer collected recipes from the areas Beatrix Potter lived and visited and published the regional recipes in the book.  The book has everything from game recipes, to garden produce recipes (I'm really keen to try a turnip soup recipe I found in it), to fish, to chicken, to beef, to desserts, to preserves (no joke, that's in the back of the book, including flavored vinegars and other things).  I'm loving on this cookbook a LOT and have found a lot of cool ideas to incorporate into my meal plans.  Between that, "The More With Less Cookbook" and the 5 ingredient crock pot cookbook that I got...I'm super thrilled on the cookbook nerd front of late *laugh*.

3.  I was trying to figure out how to make money stretch to help with bills coming up and was just randomly talking to my husband and was like, "Well, maybe I should cash in the few savings bonds I have" and my husband replied, "Um, what savings bonds?"  I went and got them in their precious purple envelope that I have protected carefully since I was young.  Those savings bonds have followed me a LOT of places over the years.  Two lowly ones that my grandma had gotten for me for my first and second birthday.  My mom had always told me to keep them as they'd accumulate interest, even though they weren't high value bonds or anything.  We went online and found that the bonds had matured and that while the government had extended the interest on the bonds a couple of times through the years, the bonds had still reached full maturity quite a while ago.  So, I went in this week and cashed them in.  The bonds netted me a couple of hundred dollars, which has helped to create at least a bit of a "pad" in the bank and will hopefully help see us through the hump until we can get our taxes done and our return in.  I kept the purple envelope they were in and got a bit teary eyed when I saw where my grandma had signed it.  I know she would be pleased that the money was being used to help get us through a hard spot in our lives and was benefiting her grand kids (the kids were never great-grand kids, just more grand kids :). 

4.  I used the "tear inducing" pickled cabbage that was open and adapted a recipe in the 5 ingredient crock pot cookbook that called for sauerkraut instead of pickled cabbage to see if it would work well to tone down the flavors of the cabbage.  It was pretty good!  I also used up an apple that was past it's prime on the meal as well, so win-win.  I ended up making pork chops instead of the pork roast I was planning on, just because I forgot to pull it from the freezer and stick it in the crock pot, but they still turned out tasty!

5.  I finished "Full Steam Ahead" this week.  I have to say as the series go, I prefer the farm series to the railroad history.  It was entertaining and such, don't get me wrong, but I missed seeing Ruth in the kitchen and other domestic aspects like she did in the farm series.  I started watching "Wartime Farm" again right after finishing the series for about the fifteenth time *laugh*.

6.  One night I had a sundae bar this week and I tried out two ingredient hot fudge sauce (just sweetened condensed milk and chocolate mixed together). I used some ancient Baker's Chocolate I had to make it, a combo of milk chocolate and unsweetened chocolate.  The sauce turned out really good!  I stored what was left in the fridge and it set up into true fudge it seems, but we're heating it up a little bit at at time and using it on ice cream for dessert on and off.  I love this dessert compared to like milk shakes or something as this uses a LOT less ice cream as the fudge and other toppings help to pad out the ice cream used (which honestly is the most expensive thing to get).

7.  Grocery shopping this week went okay...not great but okay.  I decided, when I realized how out of some things we were, that I was just going to aim to do two weeks of shopping this week and try to pick up bare minimums the next couple of weeks.  I am RIGHT at my grocery budget for the next two weeks after I was done shopping, which means once I buy milk the next couple of weeks...I'm going to go over no matter what I do on my budget, but at least we have fresh produce to last us the next couple of weeks and we have meat in the freezer from the sales I managed to hit last week.  Bright side, between coupons and sales I did manage to save 68% off of the grocery bill. 

I did all of my shopping this week at Carrs, going so far as to avoid Fred Meyer and the free refried beans I had waiting there so that I wouldn't spend more money on deals I might find there.  Some of the highlights on shopping this week were huge bags of name brand dry cat food for 5.00 (I got two as those are normally about 13 to 15.00 per bag), a big container of grapes for 5.00 (2 lbs worth, which is what one pound of grapes is going for right now, so definitely a good deal), lettuce for 1.26 for a head (personalized price), bananas for .79 lb (personalized price) and sour cream for 1.16 (personalized price).  And there was a 5.00 off a 50.00 or greater shopping trip coupon you could load onto your shopping card too, so that was a nice thing to get off the bill.

Carrs was also having a big case lot sale this week, but when I looked at the prices they weren't that great.  On average for canned goods you had to buy 24 cans of something to get the case lot price on them and when I looked at that price...basically you were getting regular sale prices on the canned goods, or you might save .10 per can past sale price on some of the higher valued items.  So you'd end up buying 24 cans of whatever on average and save a whopping 2.40 per case.  It just didn't seem cost effective to me, especially when I already had everything they were selling in the pantry already for as cheap, or cheaper than those prices and I certainly didn't need to pick up 24 of the item to get the price.

The one exception was that they had good tuna on sale for .69 per can on the case lot.  If you bought 48 CANS at one time.  Yeah, I walked on by that one.

8.  I darned a hole in a dish towel this week.  It's not pretty, but it'll work still.  I'm hoping to get some more dish towels made tomorrow (I have terry cloth material in my stores and am just going to use an old dish towel as a guide for how big to make the towels), but we'll see how it goes.

So, there is my frugal adventures this week in a nutshell.  How about you?  Good week on the money saving front or bad?


  1. Erika,
    You inspire me. You truly do. I love reading your blog.

    We love Miss Potter and that is a treasure you've found. I'm exciting to see or hear about some of the recipes you try.

    That series sounds super good. I'm looking for a good series.

    I tried to just spend less and not go a lot. Cook everything and used gift cards and rewards for things extra we needed.

    How neat about your bonds!

  2. I enjoy reading your blog, and I have been inspired by many of your ideas! I planned to do a no-spend January, but it has turned into a low-spend, but, interestingly enough, I feel prepared to do a no-spend in February. I think a shorter month will be easier. I have kept my food budget around $250.00 (for two adults)this month, but I think I can do better next month. I have quite a bit of food stockpiled, and I need to use it up. I try to keep some balance with my stockpile.
    I can't imagine how cold it is in Alaska...I'm in Texas, and the high has been in the 60's all week!

  3. Geez thats cold. Theres no way I could handle that.

    This week I managed to not to have to juggle anything else on the budget because I went over a little on the groceries, but I will only have $40 left for this upcoming week. Hopefully I make it. I was so excited when I saw packs of ground beef 80/20 2lbs marked down to $3.25 and bought all three. When I got home I saw they were beef pork blend so I'm a little nervous but we shall see. I'm sure in things like tacos or burger helper (i have a ton of the deluxe boxes I got for a quarter and 50 cents each that are needing to be used very soon) it will be ok.

    I'm crossing my fingers though for today. My youngest had caught a cold and slowly the cough was getting worse. So I started using his inhaler like the doctor said, but last night he was coughing and crying from 9pm til 2am and got a sudden fever, (he was up at 6 and just dozing in and out next to me so Im scared to move, listening to Max and Ruby) so now hes breating too fast, the inhaler didn't help for long so they have walk in hours from 1-3 today and we are going to get there at like 1230 and wait and get him nebulized. I feel horrible hes at that point. I tried so hard to keep him from that. I'm kind of mad at myself. Hes so miserable. I'm dreading march through may when the pollen is at a high here, because we may have to go through this all over again. Thank goodness my mom loaned (and its been 2 years now) us her heavy duty air purifier, thats helps in the spring some.

    Meantime, my husband had to leave at 6am for church meetings, and Im not sure if he can find someone to teach my class. If he can't, he may have to, and that's not something anyone wants lol. But

    1. You could use the beef-pork mix to make Swedish Meatballs - the recipe calls for 1/2lb of beef and a 1/2lb of pork!

      Prayers for your son.

    2. Huh. Blogger ate my comment here. Anyway, I use combo meats with hamburger all the time and no one notices. I'll cut the hamburger with ground chicken, turkey, or pork (depending what I got cheap) and they have all worked fine for me. Healthy vibes toward your son. Good luck with the doctor! It's always so hard when your babies are hurting :(.

  4. Here..

    The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse

    Do you ever feel that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? Well, so did Johnny Town-Mouse and Timmy Willie. One was a town mouse and one was a country mouse, and when they end up in each other’s worlds they soon discover that they were much happier where they started!

    1. Yeah, my daughter kept asking why the country mouse looked so different, so I was trying to find the actual breed of rodent he was. I'm wondering if maybe a shrew? Although he's a lot cuter than the shrews I've seen lol!

  5. That is some wickedly cold weather your having! So glad I'm not in Alaska right now. I think a high heating bill is totally justifiable in that cold (but it will still hurt nonetheless). Want a really fun science experiment for the kids? Go outside, blow bubbles with bubble juice and try to catch one. The bubbles freeze almost instantly, then shatter when you touch them! We tried it with my daughter when our temps hit -40C and worked. She was so entertained we sent the bubble juice to school with her to show the other kids.

    I love the cookbook you bought. My husband and I did a bus tour of England & Scotland on our honeymoon. We visited the area where Beatrix Potter lived. I have a compilation book with several of her stories I bought while we were there. My daughter was never a fan, but I cherish the memories the book brings me.

    Speaking of memories, cashing those bonds sounds like an emotional double edge sword. It's good as it will be helping you financially...but bad as it is like giving up a piece of your grandma you've been holding on to for so long. That's a hard one and my heart goes out to you on this one. I'm sure your grandma is smiling at you from heaven.

    Since we are going on vacation for 2 weeks (plane leaving this Wednesday), I only bought some bare essentials this week for groceries. My mom has chosen not to go with us. I made sure there will be plenty of food for her while we are away. However, if she runs out of something, she can buy as needed.

    Just a thought...when you make some replacement dish towels, you may want to keep a couple of those old ones. They would be perfect for lining your strainer when you are making jelly, bone stock, yogurt etc. It won't matter if they get heavily stained or destroyed, and the worn fabric will help the liquids drain through perfectly! After all, nothing ever went to waste in the Victorian and Depression period. *wink, wink*

    Great week, Erika and thanks for sharing!

    1. I always keep old dish cloths. One of the main things I use them for is to cool cookies or bread on. I certainly don't care if they are stained for that. I also use some for scrubbing cloths for my counters and things to cut way back on the need to use paper towels.

      And you were right about the bonds. It was hard for me to cash those in, but my pargmatic side prevailed. Glad I thought to keep the envelope. At least I still have that.

  6. Erika-Susan Wittig Albert writes a series of mysteries with the Beatrix Potter characters.

  7. I am a cookbook junkie! Give me a new cookbook to read and dream over and I'm a happy girl. Trying some new things this week. Right now I have Copycat Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings cooking. Yum. This week was snowy so other than a few trips to near by stores for deals I stayed home. Did make it to the St. Vincent's Thrift store near us and found Brand new tags still on California king size sheets! Whoo hoo! I have been down to my last set for a week now. Never keep more than 2 sets on hand as they are so expensive and I have a washer and dryer. Here's to a frugal week ahead. Take care.

  8. Despite the ever-present financial struggles, I think you're doing great! So glad you were able to buy your mattress cover and I hope it really helps with your arms!

    My week was actually pretty productive. I did a lot of cleaning, laundry, dishes, shopping, cooking, and even some sewing. Plus I put together a free photobook (I only had to pay for shipping, but I used some money from my paypal account that I earned doing surveys, so it didn't come out of my regular budget). In terms of shopping, I carpooled with a friend to a low-priced store specializing in Asian products. I was able to find Japanese pears for $1/lb which is pretty much unheard of, and some flavour/spice mixes on sale. I used the spice mix to made a fancy at home dinner (Indonesian food) date with the DH, as I had everything else in my pantry. I dimmed the lights, turned some music on with my laptop, and it really did set the mood! The dinner was a fraction of the price it would have cost to eat out, even to eat out at a quick-service restaurant, so I feel that this was a huge win for me. Plus the DH loved the food!

    And I so hear you on the cookbook loving front! So glad you were able to get that great book for such a great price!