Saturday, February 25, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This week has been busy, hectic and sad all at the same time. 

Monday we finally realized that we were just postponing the inevitable with Ginger and we had her put down.  Well, to be more accurate, I sobbed like the world was ending and made my husband go to the vet and put her down.  Her death hit me hard and even hit my husband harder than he thought it would.  She was my companion for a lot of years and before the kids were born and my husband was out of town working a lot, she was also my best friend.  She was psychotic as a kitten and thus a lot of fun to play with and was great at killing anything that moved.  I always tried to win her affection, but that was reserved solely for my husband.  He was definitely her human.  She will be missed (a shot of her from a couple of months ago is above as she was presenting me with the only "kill" she could find, which was an empty pill foil thing that she dug out of the garbage in the bathroom.  She was so proud I had to take a picture).

There was a lot of tears on my part this week over that cat.  This hit me harder than I was expecting as I was prepared for it.  I mean she was 14.   Until a few weeks ago a spry 14, but 14 all the same.  Somehow that doesn't make the loss any easier to get over as I'm combing black fur out of the carpets and seeing her favorite toy abandoned in the corner  of the bedroom.  Anyway, I'm going to move on before I start crying again.

We waited a few days to tell my daughter about Ginger, so we could get through her birthday without having to tell her about the loss.  Luckily (in a way) Ginger was pretty much a living shadow the last week, so she didn't notice Ginger was gone until we broke the news to her.  Overall, there have been tears here and there, but she's dealing with it pretty good for a child that has never lost a pet before.

The upside to Ginger being gone was that Prince finally started to come out of hiding to eat, use the cat box and want pets more and more and Belkar (our orange kitty) came downstairs again and started acting normally again.  The final sign for me that it was time to put Ginger down and she wasn't going to get any better was Belkar avoiding her as Belkar considered Ginger her favorite playmate in the universe.  When she started hissing and not letting Ginger within ten feet of her I knew it wasn't going to get any better.  Animals have good instincts that way.  My instincts told me it was a good time to get a new cat, but I think they were off by about a week...poor Prince must have thought he'd been transferred right into the middle of a death trap.  At least Prince is settling in and doing good now.  He's seen above in the picture there with his eyes closed and here he is...kind of, with his eyes open (he wouldn't sit still long enough for me to get a good, clear picture of him).

He's got really pretty blue eyes, so I was hoping to get a good shot, but cats are like kids.  As soon as you aim a camera at them doing something cute they immediately move on you.

Getting to know our vet that is close by was a good thing that came out of this too as we found that their prices are actually really reasonable.  So, yay for having a vet that is less than five minutes away.

On top of everything else, the week was just hectic running around and getting things done.  We had my son's allergy shot this week (which I did for the first time without my husband and we all survived *thumbs up*), my daughter's birthday. an oil change on my car, a run into Anchorage for my husband to apply for a job (I'll get into that in a minute) and then regular errand running on top of everything.  And my daughter has a birthday party she's going to today on top of the son having speech therapy.  My brain officially turned to jello about Wednesday.

So, let's get into the money saving things that happened this week (believe it or not, there were some).
1.  My daughter came home from school the day before her birthday all kinds of excited and asked if we could make cookies.  We'd put the cat down earlier that day, so I kind of looked at her dumbfounded when she asked and she said, "Mom, the treat for my class for my birthday?"  And I sighed because I just plain forgot about it.  I didn't know what to do as I wasn't really up to making cookies, Heck I wasn't sure if I wanted to eat dinner, but I thought about what I could do and it hit me.

I had a .12 brownie mix in the pantry.

So, I grabbed that, made it, cut it into pieces (don't try to do math when you are distracted.  I was aiming to make 28 EXACT pieces out of the brownies, but ended up with extra because I put in too many rows.  Go me!), wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them into a ziploc for her.  Her class loved the brownie they each got and there were even enough kids absent (or ones that didn't like chocolate) that she was able to give some brownies to the front office staff as a treat.  So, it all worked out well, I think.

Oh and she found that she does, indeed, like brownies *laugh*.

2.  My mom sent my daughter an Amazon gift card for her birthday and also sent me one separate to pay for supplies for the new cat.  My daughter gave me her gift card and told me to spend it on the cat too, but I did use part of hers to get her the live action Cinderella movie as she's been wanting it for a while now. 

I used the gift cards and bought a new cat box as Belkar won't "go" anywhere that Ginger used to use in the cat box and Prince is so big  that he barely fits in the cat box, so I bought a new lidded "jumbo" cat box, which I think will fit Prince a lot better and also give Belkar a fresh start.  I also got five cases of cat food (I settled for Purina One as a brand for cat food after asking some vets about what they recommended) in various flavors, a 40 lb bag of scoopable cat litter, and a big 22 lb bag of dry food for the cats and a couple of cat bowls in different colors so I could keep food straight (Prince gets probiotics in his food but Belkar hates the taste of them, so I am going to split up the can of cat food and feed them separately).  Also on the list was a litter mat to put in front of the cat box and a litter genie (I totally splurged on those as I've wanted them for a while, but I figured if I was going to rearrange the laundry room to fit a new cat box in anyway, that I was going to do it right).  Overall I spent 30.00 out of pocket for everything on top of the gift cards (thanks, mom!).

I bought everything on one day this week where Amazon was celebrating something and was giving a 8.67 (or .62, can't remember) discount if you used a certain coupon code on your purchase of 50 dollars or more.  It was only for one day, but I managed to get the order in under the wire, so got an additional discount on my order.

3.  I ended up watching a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 online for free this week to try and keep myself cheered up.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

4.  My husband went out in some really nasty weather this week when his brother texted him a Craig's List listing for a welder for 50.00 (he paid for it with some cash he had).  My husband has been wanting to get a welder for YEARS, but they are so expensive even used that he just hasn't been able to get one.  But, when this one popped up he knew he needed to get it when he found out the guy still had it, so he ran out and bought it.  Turns out it's one of the best older welders out there that can weld pretty much any metal there is.  He's super excited about it and now we're on the lookout for a good deal on a welding helmet.  Here's hoping we run into one of those.

5.  One day this week I ran into a good deal myself.  The counter top hydroponics garden kits that I have been wanting, I found one of the smaller gardens (a 3 cell one) had gone down to 40.00 one evening.  I ordered it without even thinking about it.  My husband questioned whether I really wanted a three cell versus the bigger gardens and I told him that counter top space being so limited and such that I thought a three cell would do me fine for now.  If I find that it works really well and I love it a lot, I'll just buy another unit for downstairs later on :).  Cheaper than spending 150.00 on a bigger unit for sure and this way, if I'm sneaky, I bet I could figure out a way to maybe start plants under the light too for the garden.  I'll have to see when the unit comes in :).

6.   I knew, with everything that was going on, that there was no way I was going to get a birthday gift made for my daughter.  But it worked out.  I went through my "gift stash" and realized that I actually had quite a bit of things in it for her.  So she got a big gift bag full of various things, which she loved, and she didn't feel the least bit offended when I told her I'd make her the pillow she asked for this Christmas.

7.  My husband joined a union last week in preparation for a good job that his brother turned him onto that he might very well get (my husband's family knows the people who are doing the hiring for that job).  While he was looking online at the various union job openings, however, he found a job he REALLY wanted, involving areas where my husband is good at and he won't have to travel (the other job he's looking at being able to get has about 3 months out of the year traveling decent distances around the state).  So he sent off his resume for that job late this week.  Please, please, if you have a moment send up a prayer for him.  I would LOVE to see him get a job with steady hours, steady pay, benefits and everything.  It makes less money per hour, but gives him more hours, so I'm hoping that we'll make it okay on the pay he'd get, but darned it I'll make it work for the sake of having a job like that.

Bright side, union dues are only 30.00 a month, so at least I won't be sweating too hard over that bill.

8.  My sister-in-law gave us some late Christmas gifts and I got some really pretty vintage Pyrex from her, including a nesting bowl that actually goes with the set I have been slowly putting together!  Thanks, Jen :).

9.  One thing I managed to get done this week was clean.  I ended up rearranging the laundry room in the hopes of making Belkar use the cat box better (that didn't work, but it was worth a shot) and ended up with a way less cluttered space and much better put together.  I know I'll have to rearrange it again once the new cat box gets here, but overall, I'm pleased so far.  I had found a double cat dish at the used store for 2.00 a few months ago and had put it aside for a rabbit, but now that the rabbit is now, I cleaned it up really good and made it look like new and put it into the laundry room, putting water in one side and dry cat food on the other.  It works FABULOUSLY and I'm not constantly knocking over a cereal bowl full of water that the cats have skidded across the floor.  So, yay!

And there you are folks.  My week, good and bad, in a nutshell.  How did your week go?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I nearly put, "Frugal...Whatever Today Is...Money Saving Weekly Recap", but figured that would be too long.

One of these weeks I'm really hoping to say, "This has been the best week EVER!!!"  Alas this is not that week.

First off, the weather.  We've gotten so much snow this winter I'm seriously wondering if we're going to have to start shoveling the snow bank on the side of the driveway over into the front yard so that we have room to blow more snow from the driveway.  This winter has been kind of nuts when it comes to the weather.  Go from freezing cold, well below zero, to snow.  Rinse, lather, repeat.  Yeesh!  A shot of our driveway from today is up top.  Notice the tire tracks? Yeah, I had to go out today.  The roads were a mess and it wasn't a lot fun to say the least, but necessary (I'll get to that in a minute).

So, the week.  Both kids ended up not feeling good, at all, on Wednesday (daughter stomach cycling on her, son had a headache), so they stayed home that day (which actually worked out well since the weather wasn't great and the roads were really terrible).  And they were off Thursday and Friday due to parent teacher conferences, so my whole goal of getting the daughter's birthday gift done for her birthday...well I'm down to the idea of doing an embroidered pillow sham on Monday, hopefully, to get it done in time for her birthday early next week, but we shall see how it goes. 

So far, the universe has been conspiring against me getting anything done for her birthday this year.  But she is getting other gifts, though, including the cat she got for her birthday this week.

I talked to my daughter a lot about getting a rabbit as my biggest concern was she would have to walk a pretty good distance across the yard to take care of said rabbit and also, unfortunately to play with said rabbit, which for a kid who loves the idea of animals but not really the reality (the honeymoon with the new cat is already wearing off as she ends up sharing her bed and hates the idea of a rabbit being across the yard...well I was worried the poor thing would just be bored out of it's mind and while I would take care of it, it didn't seem fair for him to sit in a hutch with no one to play with or to pet him and things.  I didn't want to put a hutch for a rabbit inside as my son has an allergy to them, so we talked a bit and she finally got really excited about getting a cat/kitten instead of a rabbit since she could "love him and squeeze him and pet him and call him George"...okay, maybe not the last part *laugh*.  While looking around for possible places to find a young cat or kitten to adopt, I ran into the fact that the local animal shelter was running a special on cats right now where you could adopt a cat (including vaccinations, micro-chipping, and lifetime license) for 27.00.  This is down from over 100.00.  So, I decided it might be nice to see if we could get her an early birthday gift.  So, Thursday we packed up the car and headed off to the pound to see if any animal "spoke" to the daughter (since this was going to be HER cat, period.  We talked extensively about her helping to take care of the animal, the animal was allowed to sleep in her room, etc). 

One cat immediately tried to climb through the cage to get to her and she decided she needed that cat.  I was kind of floored since the cat was supposedly 2 years old (after talking to the vet, we both think he's probably less than one year as he just got neutered and shows no signs of a male cat that has been in heat spraying, etc, which doesn't jive on the whole "he's two years old" thing, but who knows...some cats don't read the books) and there were younger cats, but she insisted.  She dubbed the new cat "Prince" and he's been pretty much hiding under my bed all day and then running all night since he got here *sigh*.
All seemed to be going about as well as can be expected when introducing a new animal to the household, but then "The Cattening" as I'm liking to call it, happened.  First there was Prince, who had an eye with some eye matter in the corner of it and kept watering on him when we brought him home.  Worried he'd gotten either poked in the eye at the pound, gotten a hair in there or some dust in his eye while hiding under the furniture, Friday night I took some water and rinsed his eye out.  And immediately the eye looked like it was bleeding from the corner.  I called the 24 hour vet down the road and they wanted me to bring him into the ER, but I looked at his eye and it wasn't swollen really bad, no pus, etc. so I figured it could wait until morning when they had walk in hours during the day at regular prices.

Wake up Saturday morning and the cat disappeared into the house somewhere.  Took me most of the day to find his hiding place (under the recliner in my bedroom), so he went to the vet today instead of yesterday.

Which Prince not getting to the vet yesterday worked out, actually.  Ginger, our 14 year old cat, had a vet appointment I set up on Monday as she was just plain not getting any better, but then Saturday she would drink water and immediately puke it up.  Straight water.  Not good.  So, she went to the vet yesterday instead.  Diagnosis (with lack of more intensive testing that we waived due to her being 14) is either a bowel blockage somewhere or lymphoma.  I'm thinking the later is the more likely problem as things have been passing through her pretty fast lately.  We're giving her meds and steroids for a few days to see if she turns around and improves (as lymphoma she can actually live a while quite happily with it if we can get the swelling and things down), but if she doesn't we are going to have to put her down.  It's not looking good so far, honestly, as she just won't eat anything.  She's keeping water down, but that's it and all she wants to do is sleep.  I'm thinking it's time to let her go.  And I'm going to move on now because I'm getting teary eyed.

Took Prince in today and he has an eye infection and the doctor and I talked a lot about various health concerns with a new male cat in the family as I have run into a LOT of different ones with males over the years between what I, myself, have gone through with some and what other people have gone through with them and she made some recommendations on food to feed him and different ways to stave off problems.  On top of our other cat developing stomach issues from the food she was eating we've come to realize that a higher quality of food is in order for the cats around here.  Luckily, while visiting pet shops looking for a pill gun and easily digestible food for Ginger, I looked and found that "expensive" cat food was still expensive, but the cheap cat food that has been crawling up in price over the years is suddenly not THAT much cheaper than the better quality cat foods out there (dry cat food wise here).  So, I am going to start getting the cats a better quality of food to help stave off some nasty health problems.  I'm trying them on "Nutri-Source" as that's what the pet shop people were recommending (and the vet had no complaints about the food either) and we'll see how the animals do (seen in the photo there). 

By the way, I'll take pictures of the new cat if he ever comes out of hiding long enough for me to get a good shot of him.

So, any cat owners out there have any recommendations on food (both wet and dry)?  The only one my vet said to avoid like the plague is Blue Buffalo as she's run into TONS of animals with problems after they had eaten that food.  Any opinion on Nutri Source?

Which between this and the snow blower shearing a bolt that my husband is having to buy parts to fix today, brings to mind the question of, "Why is it that when you get ANY money in the bank the universe makes it so you have to spend it?" 

So, yeah, it's been an interesting week.  But a few good things happened this week on the money saving front, so let's get to those in an effort to break out of the funk I'm in from this week.

1.  The tax return came in!!!  YAY!!!!  Which was serendipitous as it allowed me to be able to afford to pay for vet visits without immediately hyperventilating, so double yay for that!

I put a double payment on the Care Credit card pretty much first thing to make sure that we got that done and I put in a decent sized order with H2O at Home (I threw a quick party last weekend and my friend who is the consultant for it told me she'd sit on the order until the tax return came in so I'd get all of my discounts on the entire order I wanted).  I feel pretty good as with all of the discounts and things I ended up spending about as much money as I would have at the store buying regular cleaning and laundry products.  Luckily I had budgeted out for the order, so that helped take the "woah" out of it for me :).

I still have some things I'd like to get, but I'm fully willing to put in small orders here and there for the items now that I know shipping costs and things.

But, yeah, past those two things, and of course the vet, I am trying like anything to act like the tax return isn't there at all so that nothing gets spent recklessly (I even resisted the urge to get the grow light kit for the kitchen counter so I could plant lettuce and things until I could budget it out of our regular weekly income...yes, I was that good *laugh*).

2.  All I really did this week was stay home and clean as much as I could, so that definitely saved money.

3.  I dug out the couple of gifts I'd reserved from the "Christmas stash" of gifts for my daughter for her birthday next week.  I got her a Spring dress and a couple of toys.  I think she'll be happy with the haul (and hey, she got a CAT for her birthday, who is now gold plated, so she better not complain *laugh*).

4.  I made sure I had all of the materials for my daughter's birthday cake as she's kind of picky about these things sometimes.  She requested "Princess cake", which comes from Charlie and Lola and is white cake with pink frosting.  I have cake mixes and pink (strawberry at that) frosting in the pantry as well from when I got some for next to free to try out last year.  So yay for being prepared anyway :).

5.  Per usual, we ended up doing our shopping at Carrs this week.  The biggest finds were apple juice for 3 for 5.00 as part of 5.00 Friday, which I got three of those as it was Tree Top Apple Juice which is my daughter's favorite and I got roast beef for 5.00 per lb at the deli, so I got some for my daughter's lunches at school as she found she does like that.  I figured it was a nice treat for her, for one, and I knew she'd eat it, for two (found out she's been giving her friend Ian her tuna salad and things at school and I just about throttled her.  Ian seems to be always hungry, so I don't blame him, but I was NOT happy to find my daughter was giving away tuna salad that was costing me 2.20 per kit and eating the filler items in her lunch box for lunch.  Just...grrrrr).

Carrs/Safeway is doing the Monopoly game again this year and I normally get a ton of tickets because Coke is a "bonus ticket item" and things.  But, I never win anything.  I mean last year I even got crappy coupons if I got anything. 

This year I'm sort of amazed.  We picked up our free french bread that we won last week for sandwiches and than this week opening up my pieces I won a free thing of Barilla pasta sauce, a free thing of Chobani Greek Yogurt, a free donut or bagel from the deli, a free reusable shopping bag from Shutterfly (which I'll probably let slide as after shipping it sure isn't free) and a couple of good coupons including 2.00/1 Roasted Chicken (which will lead to a really nice cheap dinner one night for us and I always use the bones for stew the next day :).  So, woohoo for winning things this year!

Now I just need to win the million dollars.  Okay, so I don't need to win that.  1,000.00 would be nice though or some of the grocery gift cards *laugh*.

6. After shopping this week, due to my son going on a major food jag where all he'll drink is Coke classic out of the can (no two liter bottles for him, no way), Ore Ida or McDonalds french fries and things, I ended up spending WAY more than I had planned on for groceries.  I ended up spending 100.00 and I solely blame my son for that bill.  At least I got bonus fuel rewards for going over 100.00 through a personalized deal they were running and then they had a thing where if you spent so much they'd give you more bonus fuel points on top of that, so I ended up with .80 off per gallon of gas due to the rewards stacking up.  My husband took Jerry cans to the pump when he got gas in my car and filled them as much as the 25 gallon limit would let him.  So yay for cheap (relatively speaking since it started at 2.60 something a gallon) fuel!  And now we have a bit for emergencies, for the snow blower and things and for when we are tight on money and need gas.

7.  We have a really high chandelier in our stairway and my son insists that it needs to be on constantly.  It contains about 9 chandelier bulbs which have actually done really well over the years not burning out.  My husband bought a special ladder when we moved here that was on clearance in the inevitable event that he'd need to change the light bulbs in that fixture.  This week like all but three bulbs burned out within like a day of each other (of course because when it rains, it pours).  My husband and I really wanted to replace the light bulbs with LED's so he didn't have to worry about replacing them anytime soon and also for the savings on the electric bill, but we weren't sure how to afford it because normally 2 LED chandelier light bulbs run about 15.00 and that would be a lot of money all added up at one time.  So, I went to my go-to when it comes to financial "hail Mary passes", Amazon and saw what they might have for LED light bulbs and was super thrilled to find they had a 12 pack of name brand LED bulbs for less than 30.00!  This will be enough to not only get the stairway chandelier done, but also will give me enough to finish up putting LED's in the kitchen table light fixture as well.  So, that was a cool find to say the least.

8.   I had to pick up regular priced cat litter this week (versus the stuff I normally get on 5.00 Friday...they didn't rotate their sales right this time...bummer), but found that between a sales price and manufacturer E-Coupon I loaded that I'd only have to pay 1.00 more for cat litter.  It's not my preferred brand by any stretch, but it'll get the job done until the other stuff goes on sale.

And there you have it folks.  My adventures, in a nutshell, this week.  How about you?  Hope you all had a good week!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Geez.  I just realized that it's Tuesday, my daughter's birthday is next week, and things have been so crazy around here that I haven't even started on her birthday gift yet.  Luckily, I talked to her about it and explained I might not get her pillow done on time an she said it was okay, so if I end up being a couple of weeks late at least she understands. 

When it comes to goals so far this month...well not many of them have gotten done, unfortunately.  It's just one of those months.  I did get some knitting projects broken down and re-wound into good old fashioned yarn balls again (seen up top in all of it's "not quite yarn balls" glory).  I think when it comes to yarn for baby projects, I am going to knit some scarves and things out of the yarn (it is soft and warm) and I'll donate it them to some of the "share the warmth" programs at the beginning of next winter (scarves are the one thing I can knit well *laugh*).  We have enough kids that don't get the proper winter gear at home for recess that if I can help someone stay warm, I'll definitely do what I can.

But, yeah, nothing on my goals list for this month has gotten done, really, other than I cling to the optimism that this year is going to be a good year, no matter what.  I might be crazy, but it does at least help to lighten my mood and look to the future with hope instead of dreading one day at a time or something :).

I was up at two in the morning last week with my son and was stressing about making money go as far as I needed it to and finally came to a few conclusions.  One:  The one chunk of dental bills I'm stressing about paying off with the tax return isn't due till closer to the end of the year.  Two:  Not having money in savings was going to kill me with stress.  Three:  We have a lot of expenses that we are going to have to pay for coming up here (gutters, sewer needing maintenance, etc) and the only way I can save money is to have money in the bank to build up from to get those jobs done.  So, I quickly did the math and figured out if I can come up with double payments on the care credit every month here that the card should be about paid off by the time the thing needs to be paid off, so I'm going to try and do that instead and just try to keep money in the bank as long as possible for the sake of something happening (like car repairs or something) and for the sake of my stress level.

So, yeah, where I was stressing and worried about the tax return coming in, now I'm just looking forward to a sense of relief knowing that we have more than pennies in the bank.

So, onto this week's goals!

Sewing Goals:
  • Start work on daughter's birthday gift.
  • Finish kitchen towels if I have time.

General Goals:
  • Get kids through their Valentine's parties at school (done)
  • Make sugar cookies for husband as Valentine's gift (those are going to be made tomorrow while my husband is at work as a surprise, so those aren't done yet)
  • Work on getting daughter's room organized better
  • Bring empty canning jars down and put into pantry (I was hoping to can things in them, but just haven't had time and the son keeps trying to inadvertently break them when they are in his way, so down into the pantry they go).
  • Deep clean laundry room (it needs it bad).

And yeah, I'm calling it good on goals.  I'm feeling better and the son is slowly but surely feeling better from his cold (and his eczema is doing really good so far on the new products!), but I'm still going to take the "slow and steady" approach because if I've learned anything through the years with my stomach is that if I push it, it pushes back and not in a good way.

So, there you have it folks.  My goals for this week.  What about you?  Up to anything?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Get up.  Survive.  Go to bed.  Yeah, some weeks are just like that.

That was, unfortunately, us this week.

The son's cold didn't really get that much better over the weekend.  He had a ski trip through the school on Monday, which was a trip that he and his dad had a blast on last year, so my husband was really really determined that through the power of positive thinking my son was going to go on the ski trip and have fun.  Well, my husband made the mistake of taking the bus, versus taking his truck, so he ended up feeling car sick all the way to the resort (a about two hour trip) and my son was feeling the effects of his cold and melting down by the time they got there.  My husband at one point wanted me to go and get them, but I just plain wasn't physically up to driving that far with my arm so he was kind of stuck.  Luckily my son had fun skiing, but started to melt down on the drive back and the rest of the day after he got home was not fun at all because he was overly tired and cranky from his cold in spades.

Tuesday was a trip to the doctor to get his cough checked out and make sure his ears were clear, which bright side was good on both counts. 

He finally went back to school on Wednesday and it was a blessedly wonderful day for mom as I was able to get some rest and then clean the house.

Topping off the son being sick, our old cat showing signs that her health is on the decline, stressed out texts from my husband on Monday and such, I was stressed in spades about money this week.  I knew we were going to have to be late on utilities with money being so tight and we were down to about 30.00 in the bank by the end of the week.  I got the bills paid today, but it just threw my stress levels to about even with a satellite and I spent way too much time visiting the "Where's my Refund" spot on the IRS site hoping against hope that they'd just approve the refund and push it through super quick for the sake of my stress level.  With money and everything else that was going on, for the first time since about the time I was in college my stomach condition didn't just attacked with extreme prejudice.  As a result I have been eating as little as possible most of the week and everything I eat hates me.  I lost ten pounds this week and have been on an emotional roller coaster (another wonderful side effect of a stomach condition).  This is NOT an ideal way to lose weight by any stretch of the imagination.

So, yeah, survival is what I got done the last bit.  Thus the lack of a goals update this week as I didn't get anything done to report, unfortunately.  

Believe it or not, though, some good did come out of the week on the money saving front.

1.  Grocery shopping was nonexistent with the exception of getting some milk this week.  I actually ran out of some of my daughter's usual school lunch staples that she insists on, but was just able to make do with what we had around the house to help pad out her lunches.  She actually agreed to beef broth in a thermos (she doesn't like "soup" but will do home made broth, so I sneak nutrition in that way), bread and butter and some peach slices for lunch one day with her usual yogurt, which worked for me.  I went shopping today and picked up the majority of shopping for the next two weeks that was on sale.  I got pork roasts for 1.08 a pound today at Carrs and a value pack of chicken thighs for 5.00.  That was probably the biggest "woohoo" items from shopping this week, although I did win a coupon for a free loaf of french bread from the Carrs bakery courtesy of their yearly Monopoly game today.  So, that'll be a cool thing to get a little later on :).

2.  We were running really low on the shampoo I normally buy for my son.  I get him a tea tree oil sulfate free shampoo, "Nature's Gate" I believe the name is, and while a bottle of the stuff lasts a LONG time around here, I was dreading buying another bottle as a medium sized bottle was over 10.00 at the store.  I went on Amazon just to see what they had and found that they had a bottle TWICE the size of the one I got at the store for right about the same price as the smaller bottle at the store.  I got the bigger bottle coming from Amazon and it should be here tomorrow.  Glad I looked before I bought.

3.  My husband convinced me to go to the used store today (he's was working tonight and I think trying to find me something for Valentine's Day).  I didn't find anything that I could be convinced to buy for myself (sorry, sweetie), but I did find that a certain color tag was on sale for .50 per item.  I looked through the clothes and found two wool coats for .50 each.  They were awkward cut coats for someone of my size and build, but had a really good amount of material to them, so I confess a bit sheepishly that I bought them with the express purpose to cut them apart for the material.  Wool material is NOT cheap, so this was a great way to get some wool.  I have several ideas of things to do with the material, including making a few smaller throw pillows to embroider and sell, among other ideas (I even thought of maybe embroidering the entire coat and then selling it), so I couldn't pass up the coats.  I paid for them with pocket change.

4.  I did manage, despite not feeling well at all, to keep the family fed this week and did a decent job with meals.  I reused the menu for last week when my husband was working nights and used those dinners for most of this week and then just filled in the gaps for the remainder (which was three days) and then I'll use the menu I had planned for this week for dinners next week.  The only dessert I managed this week was making chocolate pudding one night, which the husband and daughter enjoyed, so I'm just rolling over the desserts I wanted to make last week and this week onto future menu plans (nice thing about baking things like cake is that the ingredients don't go bad *laugh*).

5.  I spent a lot of time this last week in between cleaning and being sick looking at some of my free magazine subscriptions.  I've really enjoyed "Taste of Home" as I barely ever get the chance to get that one for free and I find a lot of inspiration in the magazine.  I started writing down ideas on how to change up different meals by adding different ingredient/spices to them as I looked through the magazines.  Free entertainment and mealtime inspiration?  I'll take it.

6.  Our old cat is starting to get to the point where she can only hold certain foods down without issues and desperate to settle her stomach one day (cleaning up after a sick cat when you are feeling awful yourself...soooo not fun) I fed her a can of tuna I'd gotten reduced for .29 a while ago.  I found that she kept that down without any issues at all that I could see, so I've been using up a few cans of tuna that I had gotten dented and were past their expiration date (so needed to be used up) here and there to help keep her at a decent weight in between feeding her the senior diet wet cat food.  It seems to be helping her stomach problems, poor cat.  No matter the species, getting old comes with it's issues.

7.  I managed to fix my son's backpack where it had split it's zipper by CAREFULLY zipping it and unzipping it past the split until it bent back into shape.  I'm not sure if it's my son or the aides and my son doing damage to his backpack by not being careful when zipping it, but it's going to be a miracle if it survives the rest of the year the way it's going.  I can't really complain since the backpack is like three years old now and is stuffed to the gills with winter gear during the winter, but it is a nice backpack and I will cry when it is gone.

8.  I did a quick mending job on a shirt that had a seam coming apart at the armpit.  Luckily, I caught it before it got very big, so it didn't take me very long.

And yeah, that's about all I can think of for this week.  How did you do? 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This sure has been a week.  The prednisone seems to be helping my arm, so I have feeling back in my left arm again (yay) and my husband gave me a couple hour nap this afternoon, which I desperately needed as this week has been a REALLY bad one for my son not sleeping and now that he has a cold, he was home sick yesterday and I ended up just so exhausted I was on the verge of tears most of the day and that was BEFORE my husband left for work that evening.  I had yet another night of crappy sleep under my belt taking care of my son and his cold, so I passed out and just woke up two hours later and for a change felt human again...tired but human.  Sad when two hours of sleep will do that for you, but I was really grateful for it.

Believe it or not, I do have shopping goals this month, but they are different than normal shopping goals.  As most of you know, my son has terrible eczema.  It cycles constantly, cracking his hands and his feet open more than anywhere, but it breaks out all over his body pretty constantly.  Well, remember that party I went to a friend of mine a couple of months ago and said that I couldn't afford the products?  Well, she immediately fell in love with the products and gave me some for a Christmas gift.  I was dubious as to how well they'd do, honestly, but I quickly became a lover of the products myself and have found myself using them constantly.  I found that by using the products you can eliminate cleaners pretty much from your home (they are high quality microfiber that allows you to clean your house pretty much with water only) and the cleaners they do sell are highly concentrated and free of a TON of chemical irritants that my son has shown himself sensitive to.  After researching the products more and more, I became more and more convinced that this was something I really wanted to try to help my son out.  So, I am taking some money out of the tax return to buy some products and give them a long term test for him.  Trust me, this eczema thing has been a continuing journey over the years, but if I can find things that'll help him I'd gladly bankrupt myself doing it (yay for a good tax return!).

Also, while researching what was new and upcoming in the eczema lotion recommendations from different sites I'm subscribed to, I once again, found myself on Amazon and reading a TON of negative reviews on the "doctor recommended" lotions the sites recommended, people who had eczema complaining how badly they irritated their eczema and how it didn't help them much at all.  While looking at that, however, I ran across a cream that people, real people, who suffer from eczema, a lot of them as bad as my son, swore by and recommended highly for putting their eczema into remission.  I ordered some, even though it hurt to do it on the checkbook (luckily I was able to use a few Amazon gift cards to help stave off deep hurting from Swagbucks and things).  I'm hoping between the cleaning and laundry products and getting all the chemical irritants out of the house as much as I can and getting the eczema cream (and some after bath oil and stuff) that maybe we'll see some improvement in my little man.  I might not be able to cure his autism to make his ability to cope with his environment easier, but if I can at least alleviate his least I'm helping him somehow.

To help pay for these things, I decided that it was worthwhile to start figuring out ways to pay for them, so some of those are on this week's list.  So, here we go!

1.  To help pay for part of my products order, I decided to sell my thermal cooker (seen up top).  I offered it first to family and a family member is going to buy it off of me.  My husband was trying to convince me to keep it because it was cool and for fuel conservation and things, but since the stone has to be heated (via fuel) for 30 minutes and the food has to be heated as well before you put it into the cooker...we just don't do enough camping to justify the room it takes up and things as a "just in case" type of an item.  So, I decided it could go.

2.  I sold a few handkerchiefs that I had embroidered to a friend of mine who wanted to buy them for her daughter for Christmas.  Since I was doing them for fun, I had no problem selling them.  I sold them to her for 10.00 for two of them and that too went into my "pay for products" fund (they were simple with a flower on a corner and then some pink edging straight stitch.  I took a picture, but it didn't turn out).

I'm probably going to be selling more embroidery here in the future just to help, hopefully, to make some extra money.  I'm really tired of being dead broke all the time and would love to be able to make a little bit of money on the side to help alleviate the situation.

3.  With my husband working nights, I quickly lost motivation to stick to the menu plan while he was gone...I was just too tired and in too much pain and we had a ton of leftover potato soup to eat, so I just ate that for dinner, went with something easy for my kids for dinner and called it good.  My husband even took leftover soup to work for dinner a few nights (yes, it made THAT much soup *laugh*).

4.  I got through watching "Edwardian Farm" on You Tube (it is kind of like "Wartime Farm" by the way to the person who asked, but it's Alex, Ruth and Peter in the Edwardian period in England), but was still missing two parts on the series that just plain weren't available anywhere to watch.  Luckily, I had some video credits available from Amazon from some promotion that I didn't know about, so I used that credit to download the two episodes I couldn't find anywhere else (I even have a little bit left of the 5.00 credit).

I then went and watched the series, "Victorian Pharmacy" right afterwards, which I found utterly fascinating and made me REALLY grateful for modern medicine, but also came away with a great respect for the pharmacies of old.  One of the cool things I found while watching it though was that you could make your own custard powder like Bird's (which I found I do like after buying some a long while ago to try out on some WWII era British recipes).  I ordered some from Amazon a while back and have been carefully using it only when I absolutely need to as it wasn't cheap to buy, so when I found out how easy it was to make (it doesn't even contain eggs), I looked up a recipe and am going to try my hand at making some this week.  Always cool to find something new to try.

5.  I read a couple of more free books on my Kindle from Amazon.  I haven't found anything that blows my mind yet, but I still am having fun looking.

6.  I had a book I'd been wanting to read for a while "The Family Save All" that Ruth mentions in "Victorian Farm" quite a bit and it wasn't exactly cheap on Amazon, but I found that it was available on Google books for free!  So, I've been reading through it slowly but surely and am really enjoying it.

7.  I started working on the next couple of weeks of menu plans for after next week.  Anything I didn't make this week I'm just going to roll over onto the coming weeks of menus to save myself time and energy.  I think it'll work out well doing that :).

8.  I used up items from the pantry and freezer this week, and did manage to take a quick pantry inventory and found that so far items in the pantry and freezer are holding up well so far.  I'm feeling pretty good about that.  I think I'm getting closer to dialing in how much of certain items we'll need to make it through the winter or close to.

9.  I started making a list of things I want to make sure to buy for the yard and garden in the way of seeds and things and hope that I'll be able to pick up some of them.  This year my big purchase I'm hoping to make is a couple of honey berry bushes to plant (they are hardy in pretty much every single growing zone).  If anyone knows a local Alaskan source where I could buy some of these or somewhere that will ship them up here decently cheap, please let me know!

And there you are folks. My frugal adventures this week.  How did you do?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Monthly Goals: February 2017

Want to listen to my theme song currently?  Warning if you are epileptic, don't watch it as the scenery does tend to move around a bit and I don't want to be responsible for some poor soul having a seizure.

The song is called, "Unwell" and is by the band "Matchbox 20".  I have a "Matchbox 20" t-shirt I bought at a concert of theirs from back in the late 90's I still wear to bed quite a bit.  And if I totally lost you there, I'm sorry.  I'm an old nerd who has followed Rob Thomas since he sang his first album (he's the lead singer) *laugh*.

Yeah, I don't like to consider myself crazy...just a bit "unwell"...well okay maybe just a bit crazy.  But, if you can't speak to yourself in public, how else can you amuse yourself or keep your grocery list straight?

What a week!  This has been a week of my son not all...and today he came home with a stuffed up nose and a cough and then he collapsed for a nap and just woke up.  Yeah, it's 6:30 here.  Not looking like I'm sleeping tonight either, but man I hope he at least feels better cold symptom-wise.  I wonder WHY he could have a cold???  Hmmm....gee could it be the two hours of sporadic sleep he's been insisting on at night?  Nah...I'll blame sun spots.

I ended up going back to the doctor for my left arm as it was so bad today that my arm from the elbow down was completely numb, while my shoulder was in a nice amount of pain, probably from having to crash up in the living room a lot to stop my son from bothering his dad who has been working from late afternoon till the wee early hours of the morning.  The doctor put me on prednisone for the next five days and some anti inflammatory drugs to see if we can get the flare ups under better control and hopefully help get my arm to start healing.  I have to say so far the drugs are getting to me and I'm not feeling great, but at least I have feeling back in my lower arm and hand after the first dose of prednisone this morning.  So, yay for that!

Pros for the week were getting taxes done and feeling good about the amount on the return as it'll allow me to get the another chunk of dental bills from the hubby paid off when it comes in and hopefully leave enough of a cushion in the bank so I'm not in a pure financial panic as soon as bills come due for the month.  I just pray that nothing really expensive comes down the pike to make the money go bye bye as seems to be the universe's trend.

So, the goals for last month were definitely hit or miss, but I got a bunch of things done anyway, so I'm going to call it "okay" on the getting things done front.

This month's goals...well are all over the place.  "Waiting impatiently for tax return so I can breath again" is definitely on the list as with how short this month  is for paychecks, the 700.00 in utility bills that I'm going to have to roll over from this week onto next week's paycheck due to the checks being small and such...I need the money in the bank before the first rolls over next month or I might have the breakdown they talk about in the video, but I will definitely know why *laugh*.

So, here we go!  This month's goals!

Sewing Goals:
  • Cut out, embroider and put together throw pillow for daughter's bed for her birthday (she wants a Pegasus, with flowers, on it.  Animals aren't really a strong suit of mine, so I'm praying this goes well).
  • Embroider more as a whole (I have all kinds of projects in the works and am hoping my arm will be up to doing them here this month).
  • Continue to work on making towels (since I didn't get to them yet this week) 
  • Make a few pot holders to replace ones that are shot/gotten too thin.

Organizing Goals:
  • Get den cleaned out from after Christmas cluttering up (I REALLY need to get the rest of the Christmas stuff into storage...between the cold and the snow I haven't really been up to it).
  • Work on master bedroom more.  Weed, weed weed!
  • Donate things to used stores as I go.

Cleaning Goals:
  • Clean out fridge.  Deep clean.
  • Shampoo more carpeting in house (preferably living room and daughter's room and then move downstairs to do down there all at once).
  • Clean and organize daughter's room better.

Other Goals:
  • Continue optimism that this year is going to be a great one (power of positive thinking!)
  • Start on future journal
  • Wait on word on daughter's insurance (hopefully I'll hear something soon...I refuse to make a step until I hear one way or the other this year though...I learned my lesson from last year all too well!)
  • Make some more make ahead types of items and put into freezer (I made a huge pot of chicken taco meat earlier this week and am going to portion it out and freeze it for enchiladas and things later, so I want to get a few more things like that made as I make them for the menu.  And I need more soup in the freezer too at some point).
  • Pay bills without panicking (hey, it could happen!).
How about you?  Have any goals for this month?