Saturday, May 27, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 Geez, what a week.  I'm exhausted because the son isn't sleeping but two hours of sleep a night right now.  I'm panicking because we got our first official paycheck on the husband's new job and it is lower than we'd hoped after his first partial paycheck.  So, after doing the math, I figured out that I have about 150.00 a month for food and gas after the husband's minimum gas for his commute is taken out of what is left of the paycheck.  Can I hyperventilate now?  I keep trying to remain calm as he's getting a 7% pay increase when he switches from "training" hours to his regular shift, but man...this first year of this job is going to be REALLY hard to get through.  I honestly don't know if we'll make it at this point on his pay, but he loves the job so much I'm determined to at least give it my all, and by God my all isn't anything to sneeze at!

If we can tough it out for this first year he'll get a wage increase and the benefits are really good at this job, so I really WANT it to work.  I just don't know if I can make it work.  Once the kids start school, since my husband will be working the late shift, I might be able to at least get a day job and leave him home to man the phones if one of the kids needs to get picked up early from school or something, but for the summer...I am really determined to get my den mucked out (the nice sewing cabinet we set up down there?  Yeah, the main middle shelf collapsed and we found that the only thing holding up what should have been a microwave cabinet was little plastic tabs for adjustable I have sewing stuff ALL OVER the place down there) and get to work making some reusable shopping bags of different types and embroidering pretty things on them.  I think they'll sell decently well and they are at least useful.  I'll go from there on expanding product lines.

I also have some leads on different things that might make me some money at home, so we'll see how that pans out as I look into the different companies.  This kind of ties into some of the frugal things that happened this week, so let's get to that shall we?

1.  I called and paid my phone bill this week right after we got paid and the gal who was running the payment for me skimmed my account and told me that our internet was costing us too much.  I was like, "Huh?" and she said they'd just switched their plans on their internet and their basic plan now was 5.00 less per month than what we were paying now and the internet was actually FASTER and had more bandwidth available than we had now.  She asked if we'd like to switch and I nearly jumped through the phone and hugged her after saying "of course!"  So appointments are set with the phone company for them to come in and upgrade some cable and things on our end (free for us) next week.  So, yay for a utility company that cares!  Thanks Matanuska Telephone!

Double benefit is that if I find a job where I have to take calls over the internet and things for customer service positions and things the faster internet and better data will definitely help with that.

2.  I was blessed to receive gifts of food this week.  My friend contacted me and asked me if I'd like some bags of rice and things that were in her food storage that she wasn't using and I said, "Yes, please!"  She gave me a big bag of rice, oats and beans.   I am really grateful for the gift as it is all things we will definitely use.  Thank you, Davina!

My mother-in-law also met up with us today and gave me a box of food she bought for us knowing how tight it is for us right now.  All of it will be used and with a grateful heart.  Thanks, Stacey!

My friend also gave me her freebies for Fred Meyer for the free almond creamer and the free Ritz Crisps, so I picked those up along with my free creamer today as well (thanks, Stephanie!).

3.  Grocery shopping was as minimal as I could get it this week, which is why the food gifts were so appreciated.  I ended up winning 5.00 through the Monopoly game, so I stopped off at Carrs and got my 5.00 cash before I went shopping and used that toward my total.  At Carrs I got the bare essentials for the son to eat this week.  We still have Doritos and Cheetos (which I placed in some sandwich bags and put into a big bowl so I only get him small amounts at one time...hoping to cut down on him wasting so much food this way, as seen in the photo's working...kind of.  The son doesn't like the fact that the chips aren't in their normal "big bags" but I think he's getting used to it as he was used to seeing them that way at school).  At Carrs I got Goldfish crackers for him (1.50 per small bag this week), hot dog buns (.88 with in-ad coupon this week), Coke (1.49 per two liter bottle with in-ad coupon this week, limit of 4) and a few things I'm forgetting.  Total spent was 15.00 after the 5.00 cash was taken off.

At Fred Meyer I got cat food (as their normal price on canned cat food is only .57 compared to .80 at Carrs), cat litter (because we were completely out...I honestly contemplated digging up some dirt and just using that for the litter, but it would have wrecked what was left of the scoopable cat litter in the box and I just couldn't bring myself to do it), lettuce (1.87 for a large head of it), hamburger (3 lb tube for 5.97), the free creamers and free crackers, Pringles (as a "please stop hitting yourself" reinforcer for the son) and a few other things that my daughter and I are spacing (so much for two minds being better than one *laugh*).

Total cost for groceries this week was 35.00, which is honestly more than I WANTED to spend, but with cat litter on the list I knew it wasn't going to be super cheap as no one had cat litter on sale cheap this week.

I'm going to be really tweaking the grocery shopping here in the coming weeks to see how low I can go on the budget without my son flipping out from his favorite foods not being around when he wants them.  Here's hoping I can get it down LOW as I need it to get as low as possible right now.

4.  Amazon Associate fees came in (I usually get some about once every six months, so it was a pleasant surprise) and I quickly used them to buy a food storage kit of breakfast foods (way cheaper than buying individual #10 cans of the things I wanted to get).  I got things like cream of wheat cereal (a personal fave of the husband's), freeze dried scrambled eggs (not using those unless I have to as I remember well what powdered eggs tasted like as a kid...shudder), bacon bits, shredded potatoes (basically freeze dried hash browns), pancake mix and freeze dried strawberries.  I was especially happy to add the freeze dried strawberries to the pantry as the way things are going around here, buying fresh produce to can is going to be iffy this year with the way the budget is shaping up (an understatement, that).

5.   The lettuce died off in the aerogarden (no joke, it literally just like died and rotted at the base after it wilted and the pieces just fell off...I was expecting it to bolt...weirdest thing I'd ever seen) so I cleaned it up and planted herbs in it.  So far the dill and basil have popped up like they are supposed to, but the parsley is definitely not up yet.  I'm going to give it another couple of days and if it doesn't pop up, I'm going to plant some thyme seeds in the pod and see if try two works better than try one.

6.  I'm finally getting an egg a day again (knock on wood) with two hens being back to normal.  I think they are both laying every other day, but managing to rotate it so that I get one egg a day.  I'm still trying to break the last broody who is determined to sit on air, or ice cubes, or whatever, but at least she's gotten less evil so I can push her off the nest without getting pecked and she's at least eating and things, so she's not losing weight (broody hens can really tear themselves up refusing to move from the nest).  So, here's hoping she snaps out of it here sometime soon.  The eggs are definitely coming in handy with the amount of baking and things I've started doing around here.  I've been using up straw that I had left over from when I chicken sat the chickens last year to help pad out their bedding in the coop and nesting boxes and they seem happy with it, so I yay for saving money that way.

7.  I managed to pad out three pounds of hamburger into a lot of different meals.  I split the package in half and used one half to make taco meat, which we had tacos for dinner two nights, my husband had tacos for lunch at work one day and we had taco salad for lunches today to use up the rest of the taco meat.  The other half I made into hamburgers for dinner one night with a left over hamburger (which I made with the others and withheld from dinner) for my husband to bring for lunch the next day.  I still had about 1/4 of a lb of hamburger left, so I used that with some little odds and ends of left over beef roast to make beef stroganoff one night.  Using pasta to REALLY pad out the dish a lot we were able to get enough to all have a good sized portion for dinner and then my husband and I had the rest for lunches the next day.  Not bad for a 10.00 sale value pack of 80% lean hamburger I'd say.

8.  While I was sweating profusely worriedly shopping today, my husband took my son for a drive and stopped off at one of our local used stores where the owners are really nice and know that I collect vintage Tupperware.  My husband was juggling my son and stopped and talked to the owners for a little bit and explained why we hadn't been in in a long time, and they smiled and said they had a present for me.  They handed my husband a bag with a set of vintage picnic Tupperware salt and pepper shakers.  I couldn't believe they would give me something like that for free and was really touched they thought of me :).

9.  I used some organic yogurt I had in the fridge and a quart of discounted milk I bought (it was a dollar and some change) to make home made yogurt (photo seen up top).  I found years ago that yogurt can be used for a lot of different things.  One of my favorite uses is straining it and using it as a replacement for sour cream on baked potatoes and things.  We almost prefer it to sour cream and it has probiotic goodness that way :).
10.  What do you do when you find a sprouting onion in with your onions?  You stick it in your kitchen window and let it get good and healthy so you can split up the bulb later into different plants and plant them in the yard to get more onions in the fall.  Yup, that's how I get onion starts.  When you are broke you find interesting ways to get stuff done (please ignore the pollen on the screen and the nasty window behind it...I still need to get that window done on my Spring cleaning list).

And now for a quick garden update...

What do you do when you can't afford a green house, but the weather is being pure evil to anything you are wanting to grow?  I had that happen this week.  Our temps plummeted to below freezing at night, cold rain pelted down and I had lettuce seedlings that were already dying in their pots indoors just because they weren't happy being in pots anymore.  So, I planted the lettuce seedlings LITERALLY the day they put out the notice of the plummeting temps.  So, I quickly dug up mason jars to cover the lettuce seedlings, but after the first night where the temps went down to around 35 the cabbages were starting to show a lot of displeasure with the weather as well and I was worried about just losing the garden as a whole.  So, I scrambled to figure out what to do as the cabbage seedlings are too big for mason jars to fit over them and what about the seeds I planted and am trying to sprout?

So, I drafted my husband's help and we went and dug up some tarps from the garage to cover the garden, mason jars covering the lettuces and all, the first night.  Then I went looking around hoping I had some plastic from when we got new mattresses or something to cover the seedlings as much as I could so they could get light and things when covered up (think REALLY poor man's green house) and I found the plastic that I had saved from when I got my son's new mattress and used that and the old little kids chairs that I've used on the garden more and more over the years to make a quicky green house.  The lettuces are also protected under the tarps and things by a second layer of protection with the mason jars just to be safe from any cold air seeping through the plastic (since it's not exactly air tight or anything).  I think I might lose a couple of the lettuce seedlings that were kind of sick looking when I put them in a ground, but I have about six of them, at least, that are looking good so far and I THINK I have some seeds starting to pop up.  I am going to use the containers that I just emptied putting the seedlings in the ground to plant more lettuce seedlings and things in the garage.  Hopefully this system will keep everything safe and healthy (I take off the tarps during the day to get them air and light and water them and such) and growing and stop the cold from killing things off (this summer so far is looking pretty cold and miserable, so we'll see how it goes).  We are supposed to have nasty wind tomorrow on top of everything, so the garden is looking like more and more of a fight this year.  So far, at least, I'm holding my own against the weather.

I am hoping to be able to afford a nice big roll of thick plastic here and then if I can do that I'll tear apart some old box springs and things to get the wood I need to make some mini-greenhouse frames...actually I wish I had disposable income to spare since I finally found a greenhouse that will ship to Alaska from Amazon that is actually decently affordable, but if wishes were fishes we'd all eat for a lifetime :).

And yeah, so there you are folks.  Some of the frugal events of the past week with me.  How did you all do?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

So, Monthly Goals...yeah this is definitely a month where the term "goal" comes home to roost.  The son's new medicine is working okay, I think, although he's getting so little sleep that he's definitely having mood problems and I'm getting about 2 hours of sleep a night, so no sleep make Erika no think too good.  I'm honestly not sure if the lack of sleep is from the new medicine or the increasing sunlight as it's not like having problems sleeping isn't normal for him or anything and with his eczema flared and bugging him and the increased humidity (we've had a solid week of rainy weather with highs in the upper 40's...I'm planting lettuce seedlings today come Hell or high water though as I've already lost a couple just due to them being in pots too long).  So, finding energy to get ANYTHING done on my goals list has been...well hard to come by.  I've gotten things done, but kind of in a scatterbrained fashion.

Bright side, broody hens...that situation is improving.  We're down to one hen who has been REALLY determined to be broody, but today she actually popped her head out of the nesting boxes to get treats on her own, so I'm hoping all three hens will be back to normal soon.  Right now I'm only getting one egg about every other day, so I'm hoping laying will improve her soon.  Bright side at least I'm getting SOME eggs again, so it's been helping with cooking and baking this week.

Right, so the menu plan for this week.  I'm really trying hard to make meals that are creative with what we have in the pantry and freezer as my husband has to take leftovers for work lunches.  Saddest part is as I'm packing his lunch at like 11:00 at night (first opportunity I get to do it as that is when my son finally goes back to his room and will stay there for a while) I REALLY have to resist the urge to pack a PB&J for him and call it good (he loves peanut butter, so my son's allergy really makes him miserable sometimes).

But, yeah, onto this week's menu!  Bright side I've already got one decently "gourmet" and yet "cheap" meal to share with you all here, hopefully today :).  It turned out so good my husband actually was looking forward to having the left overs for lunch today *laugh*.

There's going to be some hold overs on the menu plan from the last couple of weeks.  I had the menu for last week all planned out, but my husband was really craving red meat this last week, so I ended up pulling out a container of hamburger and making tacos one night and then hamburgers the next on home made bread.  I'm using up what is left over the hamburger from the package (somewhere between a quarter and a half a pound of burger) and some sliced up leftover beef roast to make beef stroganoff tonight for dinner.

Menu Plan for Week of 5/25/17
Wednesday:  Fish Almondine, rice, salad

Thursday:  Beef Stroganoff (use leftover beef roast, leftover hamburger and yogurt to make)

Friday:  Leftover tacos (pad out meat with beans)

Saturday:  Home made Pizza

Sunday:  Fish and Chips

Monday:  Chicken Kiev, rice pilaf (home made), fruit coctail

Tuesday:  Pork Croquettes (use leftover bits and pieces of pork from freezer), apple sauce, rice

Breakfasts:  Oatmeal, English Muffins with plain yogurt and orange marmalade topping (don't knock it till you try it, believe me!  Graham Kerr turned me onto that combo and it is yummy!), toast

Desserts:  Grapes with custard (use leftover grapes in fridge!), home made ice cream, oatmeal raisin cookies

Snacks:  Cheese sticks, grapes, apples, yogurt with jam or granola topping, popcorn

To make:  Granola, custard, ice cream

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

This post is definitely late, mainly because I've been super busy around here. 

Money is stretching so tight we're starting to feel like we're choking on worry as we're trying to figure out how to dig ourselves out of the hole we ended up having to start out in with the way the new pay schedule has shaped up like.  It's definitely stressful, but I'm determined to have faith and know that God will give me ideas on how to make it all work.  It's going to take some creativity and probably a few calls to banks to explain about what is going on and seeing if we can just work something out so that we don't fall behind on anything.  Sucks, but life works out that way sometimes.

I've been hitting Swagbucks hard trying to get up Amazon gift cards because I FINALLY found a brand of food storage on Amazon that I can get decently cheap that seems to be good with my son's allergies.  I'm not like going insane about wanting to get up a year of emergency food at this point (seriously can't afford that and really if we end up moving what is the point?), but being able to get big cans of things like hot breakfast cereal and things for this winter?  Would be INVALUABLE to help the budget stretch this year (they even have chocolate powdered milk that people say is really good...can't tell I'm overly enthusiastic about this stuff can you?).  So, I'm hoping that I can get up some gift cards to help with that.  So far Swagbucks has hated me this week (a lot of that is just plain not having time to deal with it I know), but I shall keep trying :).  At least it's free to work the Swagbucks angle :).  My mother-in-law also found a consultant type of outfit that sells food storage that is safe for my son's peanut allergy too, so I'm hoping to try some of those products sometime soon (I started thinking about it and freeze dried fruits and veggies might be my best bet in getting my son to try  new things as they aren't as chewy as dehydrated and got the crunchy thing going on).  Downside to the outfit my mother-in-law found was that they are good quality products, but are also expensive.  So, I might be getting a few TINY sample packets and calling it good with them for a while.

Another thing that drove me nuts this week was the chickens.  All three hens decided they wanted to be mamas this week, or they "went broody" as the term goes, which unfortunately when hens go broody they stop laying eggs.  People online told me to put them in a wire cage to get air under them to cool off their under body and that would help to break them of their broody ways, but I don't HAVE anything like that and the price on something like that made me flinch.  So, I've been going down to the coup every two hours all week long and unceremoniously throwing hens out of the one nesting box they were determined to share.  So far one hen seems to have snapped out of it and is running around the coop again and one of them randomly laid a medium sized egg, but so far the last two days I have one hen up and moving, one hen that will go off the nest without me pushing her out of the coop and into the run anymore and then another that is just plain EVIL about wanting to move.  Luckily I'm meaner than she is and more determined, so she's getting up and walking around whether she likes it or not.  So, hopefully I'll start to see eggs again sometime soon.

So, let's get to the week of saving money shall we?

1.  I had a pretty good week on the grocery shopping front.

2.  We're down to not wanting to spend money, at all, the next couple of weeks (charges that we had forgotten about that should have been cleared months ago suddenly cleared this week and gave us heart palpitations), so I'm trying to make milk stretch as far as humanly possible.  I pulled out some powdered milk to make for baking, but then thought about cookies to make for the husband for lunches and thought I had a recipe for oatmeal cookies that called for shortening vs. butter (thus cheaper to make) and didn't call for milk at all.  And I found it!  So, oatmeal raisin cookie bars just came out of the oven :).

3.  A friend of mine called me earlier in the week and asked if I could possibly come to her place on Thursday as she's moving and could use some help.  Since it was during the school day I said sure and stopped by to help her pack up last minute things (kitchen dishes and the like) and we had a good visit.  Her husband just finished up his degree, so they are moving back to a remote part of Alaska.  I'm going to miss her.

I helped for a few hours and then told her I had to get going to get my own stuff done, and she insisted on paying me.  She shoved 10.00 into my protesting hand, hugged me, and pushed me unceremoniously out the door.  Hard to argue with a woman like that, especially since she could bench press me if she wanted to *laugh*.

I took the 10.00 and stopped off at Fred Meyer to get milk on the way home and was amazed when I wandered by the reduced produce section.  The guy putting out the apples normally puts out bags with three apples per bag and the bags are 1.00 each.  This guy was shoving way more than 3 apples per bag, so I stopped and asked him what was up.  He said that the apples needed to go today or were probably going to be pitched as in each bag there was at least one apple that might just be beyond hope, so he was putting out the apples in the hopes people would buy them and use them for something.  I looked through the bags and grabbed six of them and he was indeed right...some of them had apples in them when I got home that were just about 1/2 rotten, so I ended up throwing a few away and cutting up some small pieces off of a few to feed to the chickens for a treat.  The majority of the apples, though, were definitely worth getting.  This will be a real boon for me as my list for winter is short of things I want to can this year with items I'll have to buy, and applesauce is DEFINITELY on that list.  So, tomorrow is apple sauce making day :).  I am going to try something different and save the peels and cores to make my own pectin (thus save myself having to buy it later if I need it).  I used the other 4.00 left from the 10.00 to buy milk.

4.  Shani stopped by and dropped off a big bottle of hand soap to me as a gift as it was a bottle she wasn't going to be able to use before she left for treatment.  She really does love Alvah and wanted to drop off the soap because she knew the H2O at Home products don't irritate his skin.  Great and now I'm teary eyed again.  Ahem.

She is leaving at the end of June to go to California for semi-permanent treatment and is liquidating pretty much everything she owns and is having an estate sale all of June in preparation of leaving.   So, if anyone local would like to stop by and see if they can use anything (all monies raised will be used toward her treatment, of course), message me and I'll give you the information on the sale as I find out details.  She also wants to make soap before she leaves, so I'm hoping to do that in the next couple of weeks as well.  Glad I picked up materials earlier to do that and kept that thrift store crock pot.

5.   What does one do when they need to start seeds and doesn't have any dirt to do it?  Well, instead of buying potting soil I couldn't afford, I decided to forgo planting herbs in the white wooden planters this year (too cold outside right now and honestly I am not good growing herbs from seed and herb seedlings are out of the budget this year), so I dumped the dirt out, mixed in some dirt from the yard and am going to prep it to become potting soil (thanks for the gardening advice, Jeannie!).

6.  The chickens have been getting any dandelions I pull from the garden, cursing all the way as I yank and they have been quite happily consuming them. Yay for free treats.

7.  Leftovers were consumed for lunches this week and both rotisserie chickens are now gone.  The daughter wanted to make home made pizza last night, but had pizza parties at school the two days prior to that, so there was no way I was going to let her have pizza three days in a row.  So, we had pasta (I made a whole pound to use in lunch rotation for the son this week and also for a side for lunches for my husband), rotisserie chicken and some of the free salad that I picked up this week.  The carcass from the rotisserie chicken was turned into chicken broth and stuck into the freezer for future use. 

8.  I mended some items this week and quite suddenly my daughter pulled out her sewing kit and showed real interest in learning to hand sew.  So, I showed her a few basic stitches since she wanted to learn to mend things and she's been going to town mending her doll dresses and things this week.  I'm quite proud of her for that :).  She's still got a ways to go on securing her thread before she starts and things, but darned if she isn't on her way.  She's growing so fast!

And yeah, onto a quick garden update!
Well, I planted some stuff in the garden this week.  So far, I planted cabbages (in the bed closest to the camera) and will disperse lettuce or spinach around the cabbages to grow as they are a quicker growing crop then the cabbages.    The cabbages will be used to make sauerkraut this fall after they are harvested and the tougher outer leaves and things will be used to make freezer slaw.

In the second bed I have peas planted in the back that is a really fast growing variety and in front of them I planted corn, which is a type that is specifically designed to grow in Alaska and only reaches like two to three feet high (it's mini corn!).  This is my "man I hope this grows as I'd be REALLY nice to be able to put it up for winter" gamble, but we shall see how it goes.  At least they'll be protected from the wind on that side of the house and are planted close together to support one another.  At the very front of the bed I will plant lettuce, but only after I'm decently confident that frost dangers are over and putting mason jars over the seedlings I have growing in the garage will be enough to keep them safe until they can take off.

In the far bed I planted what I'm liking to call "the root crop bed" as I planted a long row of turnips in the back, a couple of rows of beets and a couple of rows of carrots (both carrots and beets are short rows).  I planted some rat tailed radish seeds in the middle and I'll just push them where they need to go as they grow around the other plants.  I still have room at the far end and in the front of that bed, which is where I think I'll plant a dwarf quick growing variety of Swiss Chard I found and spinach as I can get more than a few rotations of spinach out of the garden by the time summer is over (if all goes well anyway).

Out in the yard somewhere I'm hoping to plant potatoes, onions and maybe some more seeds.  When summer crops are done I have parsnip, turnip and salsify seeds to plant for Spring harvests next year.  Here's hoping it all works out well.  So far I'm already worried about root maggots as I've run into enough in the garden beds to be worried about them, caterpillars are already out and about in places, which has me concerned, but so far *fingers crossed and knock on wood* the spider mites are surprisingly absent so far this year, so hopefully I'm not having to battle them again this year.

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

I'm totally winging the menu plan as I'm writing this, I'll admit it.  It's been super busy around here this week and things are just hectic.

So, here we go.  Some of the menu revolves around things I bought on sale this week, so yay for cheap meals!
Wednesday:  Rotisserie chicken, rice pilaf (Rice a Roni), canned peaches

Thursday:  Home made chicken noodle soup with easy home made noodles (used the rotisserie chicken carcass and what meat was left on it and the teeny tiny package of organic chicken thighs I got yesterday to make it).

Friday:  Pork pot pie (use leftover pork from freezer)

Saturday:  Home made pizza (daughter's choice of dinner to celebrate first day of summer break)

Sunday:  Beef roast and roasted veggies

Monday:  Fish and chips

Tuesday:  Waffles with bacon and eggs (make extra bacon for bacon sandwiches for husband for lunch on Wednesday)

Desserts:  Triple berry pie (pie filling from pantry) with home made ice cream, pudding, cookies and milk (cookies to be made this weekend, I hope)

For snacks:  Grapes, apples, carrot sticks (made in fridge as I had extra after the soup tonight), cheese sticks, yogurt.

To bake:  Cookies (Saturday), bread (Sunday so we have it for sandwiches after breakfast for dinner night on Tuesday).

And there you are folks.  Our menu plan, tentatively for this week.  How about you?  Got anything cool planned for dinner this week?

This Week's Shopping Trip

This week's shopping trip would normally be lumped into Frugal Friday, but since this week's menu is actually pretty entwined with some of the things I got while shopping this week, I figured it was time for a "shopping trip" post.

I spent 55.00 at the store this week, which honestly had me in heart palpitations as I'm trying hard to save every cent until I know EXACTLY what my husband's regular paychecks are going to be like and I have bills to make on top of the mortgage at the beginning of the month.  But, I have to say for 55.00...I can't really complain about what I got because I made every single cent of that 55.00 stretch.

So, what did I get?  Well, let's break it down.

First up is my trip to Fred Meyer.  My friend gave me a couple of her Fred Meyer freebies (a Lindt stick and a Yoplait dipper yogurt) so I picked those up at the store as well as my Lindt stick.  I also picked up the one thing that I saw that was on sale at Fred Meyer this week that I REALLY wanted to buy, which was Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (on sale for .99 a container this week).  I had 1.00/2 coupons that I had gotten from my mom, so I grabbed ten of them for 4.90.  That will hopefully be enough BBQ sauce to last us a year, so yay for that (not in the picture because they were NOT going to fit on that table no matter how hard I tried *laugh*) and I also got some tuna salad kits for the son for lunch for the next little bit (on sale for 1.19 each).

My mother-in-law, when I was dropping off some eggs to her, gave me a stack of Monopoly coupons she wasn't going to use, so I opened them and found some more freebies.  I then waited until the ad came out for Carrs on Wednesday and honestly I think dust flew from my heels when I saw the sales ad for the week.  I got there early, as soon as I could get there after school drop off and grabbed some awesome sales and stuff!

First off they had grapes on sale for .97 lb this week!  I knew those were going to sell out QUICK, so I immediately headed to the produce section as soon as I got to the store.  And I'm glad I did as I was right.  I got two of the last bags of grapes there.

Another sale they had that I desperately wanted to get in on before their stock was depleted was that they had petite sirloin steaks and London Broil on sale for 2.77 lb this week.  I grabbed a couple of packages of steaks and another of the London Broil to put into the freezer.

I was able to stack a couple of coupons with a Rice a Roni deal the store was having where if you bought 10 Rice a Roni or Pasta Roni you got a free Rotisserie chicken.  I had a personalized price of .99 per box of Rice a Roni this week and had coupons my mom sent me to use on the Rice a Roni, so I figured I'd use them to get the deal decently cheap.  I also had a coupon for 2.00/1 Rotisserie chicken that I wanted to use before it expired, so I grabbed two chickens while I was there.  Got up to the register and didn't realize that I had two coupons stuck together for the Rotisserie chickens, so the cashier took both of them off.  So, I got ten boxes of Rice a Roni and 2 rotisserie chickens for about 8.00 after coupons were taken off.  None too shabby!

Also on that trip, I had a 3.00/1 O Organics fresh chicken coupon that I'd been holding onto forever (like since the beginning of the Monopoly game) even though I hadn't seen the store carry anything other than some Open Nature brand chicken for their organic brand.  But I was thrilled to find this time that they ACTUALLY had some this time and not only did they have it, but it was on reduced 30% off!  I grabbed a package of thighs that ended up being less than 3.00 after the 30% discount was taken (the 30% sticker came off completely from the package when the cashier pulled on it, which made me grateful that I went with one of my favorite cashiers that always has a calculator handy :).  So, I got a free package of chicken thighs after coupon and discount.

Also while at Carrs I got two packages of Chips Ahoy cookies (one of the only cookies my son likes) for 1.77 each after coupon (these will go into the pantry for hopefully special occasions).  And I got a thing of apple juice for .99 after a digital only coupon was applied.  I also grabbed my free thing of sour cream and my free thing of tissues that were out of stock last week, as well as a free bagel, a free box of pasta  and a free bag of salad that I got in with the coupons my mother-in-law gave me.

Another boon to shopping this week was I was gifted some coupons for free Tyson chicken.  I was able to find frozen Tyson chicken at Target (I stopped after I got my mother-in-law her eggs), but they only allowed me to use one coupon, so I stopped by Wal-Mart on the way home too and was able to find another bag of chicken there (Target would only let me use one and I didn't feel like taking a ton of trips to town).  I am thrilled with the free meat as this will definitely help having those in the freezer :).

So, yeah, that was my shopping for this week.  Now I just need to find time to post up my menu plan for this week yet tonight and I'll be set.  How's grocery shopping going for all of you?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I had postponed this because I was hoping to be able to put a garden update on this post as well, but alas I didn't get a chance to do garden work yesterday and now it's looking like it's going to rain, so the garden update will have to wait until next week.

The medication for the son is definitely working better, by the way.  We go in for a follow up on Monday and he seems to get a bit better every day.  He's nearly back to normal for him, so yay for that!

Anyway, it was a good week on the money saving front.  At least I'd like to think so.

1.  Shopping went well this week!  I received a 10.00 Fred Meyer giftcard for Mother's Day from my Mother-in-Law, so I figured I'd use it to try and get some of the essentials I needed off of my shopping goals for the month if I could.  I ended up running into a good deal that I wasn't aware of until I looked for it.  Fred Meyer's regular price on vegetable oil is the best of all the stores I've checked so far.  It's only like 2.28 per container, which is a great regular price on it.  I ended up using my giftcard to buy 2 containers of canola oil and a quart of heavy cream (not as big of a size as I can get at the bulk store, but I'll take it...for some odd reason I forgot to add it into the photo above...ah well enjoy the vegetable oil ;).

While there I noticed that they were out of the Fred Meyer tortilla chips and I couldn't find the small bags of Smartfood to save my life (two kids and the husband were with me, so that didn't help), so I just got the Yoplait dipper freebie.  When I went by the reduced stuff I found that they had a big torn bag of rice (which only had a TINY tear on it and didn't seem to have lost much rice at all) for 12.49.  I grabbed it to fill my rice needs (I'm still hoping to get another 25 lb bag sometime before the end of the month)

All totaled I spent 13.00 and some change, after giftcard was applied (lost my receipt somehow) and headed to Carrs.

I went loaded for bear at Carrs as I had a ton of freebie coupons I'd gotten on my last shopping trip to redeem.  I didn't realize exactly how many until I got there and pulled them out of my purse and was thrilled with what I'd forgotten I had *laugh*.

I had three coupons for a free doughnut or bagel from the deli and thought about it for a few minutes and decided that I am sure I can get creative and figure out different ways to use bagels compared to the doughnut, which is good to eat THAT day or not at all, so I grabbed two plain and a cheese bagel and threw them into the freezer when I got home.  I also got a free thing of salt, a free can of corn, two free containers of aluminum foil (25 sq feet) and an 8 oz container of sour cream.  I also quickly grabbed two more containers of milk that they had on sale for 2.50 per gallon (max of two per shopping trip).  All totaled I spent 5.15 at Carrs that day and got back a TON of tickets (like 40) because all of the items I'd gotten were bonus ticket items even if they were free after coupon :).
Monday (the next day) the son's doctor called and switched his meds, so I ripped through my tickets, collected my freebie coupons and headed back to Carrs (no joke this was the best "roll over" week on freebie coupons ever!).  I ran by Fred Meyer as it was still early (I HATE fighting the traffic in the Fred Meyer parking lot later in the day) and after wandering around for a few moments I found the Smartfood by the front registers and then found they'd restocked the tortilla chips (woohoo).  I then quickly ran and grabbed a head of lettuce (they have head's of lettuce that are sold by the "each" instead of by the "lb" and they are like 1.67 each.  So I just go for the heaviest one and voila!  Lettuce for Mother's Day Caesar Salad taken care of!), paid the charge in change (I dug around the laundry room, the bedroom and the couch cushions and found about 2.00 in change overall, so I used it) and headed to Carrs.

There I redeemed coupons for a free thing of hot dog buns, a free bagel, a free loaf of French bread (which I used to make French dips for my husband for work lunches later in the week) and a free container of tissues.  I also grabbed one more container of hot dog buns for the freezer (since next week is the last week of school).  All totaled I spent 2.00 and some change at Carrs (I'm not sure where I put my receipts this week...ugh) and I got back 50 Monopoly tickets in return (yay baby!).

Friday rolled around and I spent all of yesterday running errands.  I had to go into town to get gas and wanted to get it at Carrs since I had .20 off per gallon there.  While there I redeemed SOME of my freebie coupons (I still have coupons for a free thing of tissues and another free thing of sour cream but they were out of both).  The salt was completely out and the last one I redeemed I had been holding onto for a few weeks, so I mentioned to my cashier that I was worried that they wouldn't get it back in before the freebie coupons expired (at the end of the month).  Since it was slow she asked if it would be okay if she substituted some Morton salt instead and I said, "Sure!" of course, so she ran and grabbed them and subbed them out for my freebie coupons.  If I had been smart and with it I would have asked her about the tissues and the sour cream, but I was just so thrilled she was willing to sub out the salt that I didn't think of it *laugh*).  I also got two more bagels (be prepared for some creativity with bagels coming up later on!), another free roll of aluminum foil (which those freebies worked out AWESOME as I don't have to worry about getting more aluminum foil for quite a while) and a free container of Greek Yogurt.  I also picked up a variety bag of chips for the kids for next week (field trips and things they are going on require bagged lunch and stuff) for 5.00 (the variety bags contain like 20 bags or something like that of 5 bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, 5 of Nacho Cheese Doritos, 5 of regular Cheetos and 5 of Cheetos Puffs) on 5.00 Friday.  All totaled spent 5.15 that day.

So all totaled I spent 25.30 on groceries this week (not including the lettuce that I paid change for or the 10.00 paid with the giftcard).  I would say that constitutes a "woohoo" since I'm still stocked on milk (I will miss that 2.50 per gallon sale!) and actually managed to get some of my shopping goals done as well!

2.  Spring finally got here!  Yay!  Side note:  I've been asked what the difference between "Break Up" and "Spring" is up here.  "Break Up" is literally when all of the frozen ground and things breaks up as the increasing light outside kind of force it to defrost, sometimes creating cracks in the ground as the frozen top surface moves around when the subsurface starts to defrost.  Basically everything starts to smell nasty as the composting ground starts to become fragrant and mud is everywhere, but you don't see any green anywhere.  "Spring" is a really...well violent type of thing up here almost.  I always say, "Break up is like pre-Spring and can take months, Spring on the other hand is over in about 5 minutes."  Not really QUITE that bad, but close.  See the large amounts of sunlight we get in the summer create kind of odd growing conditions for the trees and things as they become like mutant plants to grow as quickly as possible in our short growing season while the sun is good.  So, you'll look out your window in the morning and there won't be anything going on and it'll still look depressing outside and then a couple of hours of daylight later you'll look out the window and all of the buds on the trees will have just shot open and everything is looking green and growing out.  It's actually kind of cool and quite a relief when you see it as that means summer isn't far behind.

Since stuff, other than small amounts of grass, are finally growing, I picked some dandelion greens and fed them to the chickens.  They LOVED it and's free greens!

3.  I wanted to make cake for strawberry shortcake, but also wanted to make cake for the son as he won't eat any cake unless it has chocolate frosting (Pillsbury chocolate frosting *rolls eyes*) on the top of it.  So I came up with the above solution.  I baked one cake and just frosted half with chocolate frosting and left the other half plain to make strawberry shortcake out of.  It worked out fabulously and everyone was happy (yes, I could have made two circular cakes, but one of my cake pans refuses to let the cake go anymore and it just goes badly...this was easier).

4.  We went to Sears today as my husband found that he had a 9.00 off of 9.00 or more deal on Shop Your Way Points.  He needed some small screw drivers for work and grabbed those, thinking he'd have to pay 2.00 for the screw drivers after the 9.00 was taken off, but we also had some saved up points from earlier purchases we'd made (which surprised me they were still good since we don't shop there very often), so he was able to get the screwdrivers for 100% free! Yay!

5.  My mom sent me a bunch of coupons in the mail and I was thrilled that there were a bunch I could use as they were on items we normally use.  I put them in a special envelope and am looking around to try and find something small enough to fit into my purse so that I can carry more coupons with me and be more organized about it.  We're going to need it.

6.  We got my husband's first paycheck this week, which was for only 3 days (we only got paid for his first partial week), but it wasn't as bad as we thought it was going to be, so that was an upper.  I found that the paycheck is pretty much spent between gas for the husband to get to and from work the next little bit and also for bills that I have to pay by the 15th of next month since he only gets paid on the last day of the month and the 15th, which means next paycheck HAS to go to the mortgage.  Not knowing what his paychecks are going to be like yet is really nerve wracking I have to say.  Ugh.  But hey, at least we did get paid!

7.  I got an e-mail from a blog reader and friend, Dorothy giving me a suggestion for using up eggs by making an all egg crepe out of them.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to do that since the family's taste buds are so picky, but I started thinking of other things like crepes that I could do with eggs and store in the freezer for later use.  I came up with a bunch of stuff and the game plan right now is to try and try and free up a shelf in the freezer and make a bunch of stuff to freeze for later use.  I'm hoping this works out well as I'm actually kind of excited about it (more on that later as I get into it more :).
8.  I cut up half of a big package of thin cut steaks I had in the freezer and made some into beef jerky for the husband.  This turned out really tasty!  The recipe was actually rather simple too, so here it is...

Teriyaki Beef Jerky
  • 3 thin cut steaks, cut into thin strips, fat trimmed off as much as possible (I went for about 1/4 of an inch so that the sauce would definitely saturate into the meat)
  • 1 bottle of teriyaki sauce (I used a "fancy" teriyaki sauce and was called like "Island Teriyaki" from Kikkoman that I'd won a coupon for in an online contest with Fred Meyer a while back...which I forgot to blog about *laugh*)
  • 1 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  •  1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of brown sugar (depending how sweet you like it)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke flavoring (depending how "smoky" you like it)
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
Place meat strips in ziploc bag.  Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl until everything is all mixed together and then pour into ziploc with meat.  Let sit overnight.  Drain meat, discard leftover marinade.  Dehydrate meat according to your dehydrator instructions.  Store in fridge or freezer.

I used the other 1/2 package of steaks to make my husband french dips for lunch (used the free bread and then one steak cut into thin strips for the meat in the sandwiches) and then we also had french dips for dinner last night as well with the remainder of the bread and steaks (it was too hot to bake ham in the we're having ham tonight *laugh*).

9.  I swept the driveway yesterday after running around everywhere.  It looks so much better after getting all of the fallen branches, fallen leaves and fallen pollen from last year out of the driveway and it improved how the driveway looked.  And all it cost me was my time.

10.  I am working on getting some embroidery projects up and running with the express purpose to sell them, probably on Etsy.  Here's hoping I can start producing some product here as we're going to need all the money we can get here.

11.  My husband stripped a bunch of scrap wire he had saved from the demo of some jobs and went and recycled the copper.  He didn't get a ton of money for it or anything, but he made 40.00 from a medium sized box full.  I told him I was using part of it to put toward getting the garden ready...he wasn't thrilled, but I wasn't going to give him a choice *laugh*.  I ran and got a couple of bags of manure to spread on the garden (the chicken manure just is too hot still to use as compost in the garden) to help put more fertility back into the soil and I got some marigolds for the front garden bed (as NOTHING I plant there grows it seems...even the mint I planted doesn't go anywhere and it's an invasive plant!!!) along with some ground cover flowers that smelled pretty.  I got a few cabbage plants to plant in the garden as well (since it's a long growing type, I'll plant other shorter growing vegetables around it, like Chinese vegetables and lettuce).  All totaled I spent around 25.00 for everything, which I didn't think was TOO bad.  And hey, I paid for it with money we got for recycling a material we got for free, so I can't really complain :).

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

I am fatigued (read that like Bugs Bunny and it just immediately makes you seriously try it).  The medication that the son is on right now (which I guess is like the Intuniv but just a immediate release med instead of an extended release one) is definitely working better than the last one did.  Downside?  His sleep patterns have officially gone to crap being on it.  I was up with him, wide awake and bright eyed and bushy tailed, until 3 am.  Night before that was one am.  It's going to be a long acclimating period when it comes to this medication and he's handling it better than I am energy-wise.

When it came to last week's menu I did actually pretty well following it (woohoo).  The only thing that differed from the original menu was that Saturday and Monday we ended up having left overs both days to use up some of the leftover tacos and things in the fridge, so I ended up not having to make a "new" dinner those couple of nights.

I also baked up a storm this last week.  I made cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting (for my husband to take to work to replace his beloved morning miniature cinnamon roll he was buying from Cinnabon), bread (used 1/2 of the bread recipe for the cinnamon rolls and made one loaf of bread), cake for strawberry shortcake and chocolate frosted cake (for the son as that's the only way he'll eat cake) and home made soft pretzels (the leftovers after dinner last night seen up top).  The pretzels were for last night's dinner, which was a treat for my husband.  I don't make them often because making pretzels take multiple pans and dishes to make (small kitchen makes this a bit of a process), take a lot of time and effort and I always find myself kind of "eh, these are okay" after making them *laugh*.  I'd planned the dinner with sausages and pretzels since know...Octoberfest.  Yup, shows how on the ball I am on menu plans sometimes *laugh*.

So onto this week's menu!
Wednesday:  Chicken in Alfredo Sauce with rice and green beans

Thursday:  Chicken Teriyaki (from freezer), leftover rice fried up with some bouillon (just to make a flavored rice for a little something "different"), garlic peas

Friday:  Ham with kale (from freezer on both of those) and baked potatoes

Saturday:  Ham and cheese crepes (use leftover ham), salad

Sunday:  Chicken Caesar Salad (or Ranch if I don't have any Caesar salad dressing I can use to make it.  Grill chicken if possible for something fun).  Use leftover bread to make croutons (note to self).

Monday:  Pork Roast (pull some that has been cooked and frozen from freezer), potatoes au gratin, fruit cocktail

Tuesday:  Lamb chops, rice pilaf, broccoli in cheese sauce (from freezer)
Desserts:  Strawberry shortcake, cake with chocolate frosting, ice cream,

Snacks:  Apples, string cheese, sparkling juice, oranges, beef jerky, pretzels with cheese sauce (note:  Make cheese sauce), cantaloupe

Breakfasts:  English muffins (from freezer), cinnamon rolls, cereal

To Bake:  Date and nut muffins (didn't get these done last week), mini fruit pies (for husband's lunches next week for a treat), pound cake (because it's Mother's Day Sunday and mom should get what she wants for dessert darn it ;).

Monday, May 8, 2017

Shopping Goals: May 2017

Holy cow.  Have I really not done shopping goals at all this year yet?  Wow (I couldn't remember how I worded the Shopping Goals headline, so was looking for a previous one.  Finally gave up when I hit the beginning of the year *laugh*). 

Anyway, I actually do have shopping goals this month for a change.  Of course, it's in a month where money is...well completely up in the air on dependability and what we'll be able to afford vs. not, but I still have to figure out a way to make some of this stuff happen as we're plain running OUT of things.

I wanted to buy some things we needed when shopping this week, but well...I ran out of money after buying foods that the son would eat (sad, but that stuff costs a bunch).  I figured carefully on how much I could spend on groceries and things and quickly figured out that I was kind of maxed out on how much I wanted to spend after I got gas and would still have ANY money left in the bank after my husband bought fuel the next couple of weeks (like 20.00 type of left).  So, I did something that used to be really hard for me to do.  I texted my mother-in-law and asked if she had some cooking oil and rice I could have to see us through until (hopefully) things start to look up with incoming pay...sometimes you just need to ask for help when you need it (seen up top there after I had poured a bunch of the oil into my nearly empty oil container).  She not only dropped off the rice and the cooking oil she also dropped off a check to help keep a bit of a pad in the bank until my husband's paychecks finally start coming in from the new job and she dropped off some egg cartons for me to use (thank you so much, Stacey!).  I will repay her as much as I can in eggs as she will not only appreciate them, she'll use them :).  Not only that but my father-in-law called my husband and offered him some additional work on his days off and/or after hours on his job depending on what his schedule was like.  Which made ME happy (my husband has been terribly depressed since he found out how much fuel was costing and keeps worrying he made a huge mistake taking the new job.  I just keep telling him to calm down and we'll see what his paychecks are like once he actually GETS one and go from there) as any additional income is welcome at this point.

So, onto the shopping goals for this month!

Regular Stores:
  • Cooking oil (this one is a "hmm" on whether the bulk store or the regular store will be cheaper, so I'm keeping my eyes open to see)
  • Hot dogs (as sales kick off for Memorial Day I'd like to get a few packages to keep in the freezer for grilling over the summer and just as something different for lunch as the daughter loves hot dogs).

Bulk Stores:
  • Rice
  • Heavy Cream (found out the ice cream I normally buy that was decently cheap and safe for my son's peanut allergy, isn't anymore due to them switching their production lines around.  So, I'm once again down to making my own ice cream to be assured it's safe).
  • Bread flour (I SWEAR I have a big bag of it around somewhere, but if I can't find it I'll have to buy new)
  • Mozzarella cheese (maybe if I can find it cheap enough at either the regular stores or the bulk stores.  I want it to make home made pizzas this summer with the daughter as pizza is one of her favorite meals).
And yeah, that's about it when it comes to shopping goals this month (I'm sure I might be forgetting things, but those are the most important).  So, what about you?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, yesterday was eventful with my son throwing hissy fits like you would not believe.  Called the doctor's office and asked them about him chewing on the pills vs. not and his doctor wasn't in and then the assistant waited until all doctors were gone for the day to call me back and say, "Yes, the medication will definitely not work if you chew it up because it will screw up the entire dosage of the medicine." So, I was without hope of getting a non-time release medicine prescribed before Monday.  So, last night I wrapped the pill in some rice (the only KIND of soft thing the son will eat) and shoved it as far back into his mouth as possible.  And he swallowed it!  More's the miracle.  So, I did the same trick tonight.  So far we haven't seen much improvement in his mood at all really and if anything some of his temper tantrums are worse, but I'm hoping by Monday he'll have regulated out and maybe things will have improved.  If not I'll call the doctor and get his dosage and possibly how he takes his pills changed.  I didn't expect this process to be fast, but I was kind of HOPING it would be.  Ah well, we'll get there.

I went out to the garden today and nearly went inside and beat our new cat.  Prince, it seems, when he has been going outside, decided he liked digging in the garden.  And not just like using the garden as a cat box type of digging (which I would have cleaned up if I had found it), but holes that were about 10 inches DEEP type of holes with no purpose other than he likes to dig in the dirt.  ALL over the garden.  I've found him digging in other parts of the yard with no purpose, but having a good time, but was horrified when I found that he'd discovered the garden (I'm almost thinking he's digging around looking for mice or something, but darned if I can figure it out completely).  Between him and the birds looking down on me as I worked on the garden, I am worried about planting seeds now for fear of their future.  We have some chicken wire left from building the coop, so I'm thinking that a cage for the garden is in order this year.  Animals.  Ugh.  At least I got the grass pulled up as much as possible from the garden area and tried to pull as much horse tail as possible (a razam frazam invasive evil weed that roots deep and is darned near impossible to kill.  And the spores travel on the wind, so yeah...looks like I have it in the garden and I'm doomed to have it there no matter what.  Blah!!!).

So, anyway, onto some frugal things that happened this week!

1.  Grocery shopping was probably the best frugal thing that happened this week just because the prices were so good that they were really budget friendly.  Carrs had a super sale on Friday for Cinco De Mayo, so with kids in tow I went to get things on super sale this week.  Highlights included were milk on sale 2.50 per gallon (limit of two per shopping trip and I'm stocking up as much as I can by Tuesday at that price!), shredded cheese for .98 per bag (limit of 2, Friday sale only) and tortillas on sale for .98 for a ten count package (limit of two as well on Friday only).  I was thrilled I was able to get those deals as those are things we'll DEFINITELY use around here.  I also grabbed some two pound containers of strawberries (personalized price of 3.00 per container for me).  I'm going to clean some tomorrow and make cake (we'll have strawberry shortcake for dessert tomorrow night) and then the rest will go into the freezer to make strawberry preserves later for winter.  Not an awesome cool great price or anything, but good enough.

Due to it being the final month for Monopoly Safeway has started super bonus things for the Monopoly tickets, so I walked away with 56 of the suckers when I checked out.  I got some freebies in with them (I honestly can't remember what they are right now, but I know I got a couple of items for the pantry that I was happy about), which will definitely come in handy for shopping this week as "spend as little as possible" is pretty much my goal for the week.

 2.  Also for Cinco De Mayo, Fred Meyer has double freebies for Freebie Friday and I added them to my card, so I'll have to get those along with the freebie from last week.  I plan to go and hit both Fred Meyer and Carrs hopefully Monday and just get my shopping done then (what little of it there is) so I can hopefully take advantage of the Carrs milk sale one last time before the sale ends (milk is up to nearly 4.00 per gallon up here right now).

3.  I was thrilled to be able to send my husband to work with lunches this week that he actually did enjoy eating.  I harvested lettuce from the hydroponics garden and was able to send him with a side salad a couple of days and then I used some old(er) cheese sticks cut up for cheese chunks in the salad.  I then just mixed up a simple vinaigrette to go on top of the salad.   I then made up a big value pack of chicken thighs from the freezer into fried chicken, which we ate for dinner one night and then I sent my daughter to school with a piece of fried chicken for lunch once and my husband to work with fried chicken for lunch twice.  I love being able to make left overs and actually have no one complain when they eat them again *laugh*.  To cut down on oil consumption when I made the chicken, I pan fried the chicken in my cast iron skillets and used a combo of vegetable oil and vegetable shortening.  I was able to use some vegetable oil that had been hiding behind some things in the pantry and wasn't QUITE rancid but was going to head that way, to fry the chicken in.  It worked really well, the chicken came out great and everyone was happy.

4.  I enjoyed watching shows online this week.  I love being able to pull up a show on my Kindle and listen to it while baking or making dinner.

5.  The way the light has been getting better up here, while it's still pretty cold out (like in the 50's type of cold), the light does manage to bake the house enough in the afternoon and evening that I have been able to turn off the electric heat with the exception of turning it on here and there in the morning RIGHT when I get the kids up to take the chill off of their rooms.  My electric consumption will definitely appreciate me being able to do that.

6.  I opened a can of tuna for my lunch that was near it's expiration date and found it tasted an awful lot like the can (I hate it when that happens).  Consequently I ended up eating as little of it as possible.  I took the drained tuna with yogurt added (I was seeing if I could make a tuna salad sandwich but with yogurt instead of mayonnaise for my lunch...I'm hoping to try it again with a better tasting can of tuna later) and while the cats turned up their snobby little noses at it (spoiled brats), I took it down to the chickens and they LOVED it.  Having chickens is kind of nice in that respect since we don't have a dog *laugh*.

7.   I requested a free subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine through FreeBizMags.  This seems to be one of those magazines that I can get a free subscription to pretty regularly and I find that I do enjoy reading it, so yay for free magazine subscriptions!

8.  I cooked all of our meals at home this week, which definitely saved us money.  And packing my husband's lunch has definitely helped to offset the cost of his fuel to get to work, so win-win as far as I'm concerned.

I'm sure there are other things I did that I can't think of right now.  I'm pretty knackered though and can't really think of them.  The medicine the son is on doesn't seem to have helped his sleep patterns at all and my daughter managed to catch a cold, so she's not sleeping well either.  Combine that with my back being out and sleep has been fitful and just not there much.  I finally figured out my shoes have memory foam soles on them and due to that by the end of the day now that they are getting old is that my right foot is sinking into the shoe wrong (my right foot is screwed up due to an old injury that didn't get treated properly for a long while which resulted in nerve damage), making me walk wrong and throwing my hips and back out as result.  I'll have to add "save up for new shoes" onto my list of things we need around here.

9.  Before April was up last weekend I went onto Apple App Store to see if there were any cool deals for Autism Awareness month.  I found and downloaded a bunch of free apps.  By the time I was done culling the "we're an ad app that passes as an actual app" applications we got down to about eight apps that my son now enjoys playing.  The worst sock in the gut, to me, was finding that "Hooked on Phonics Classroom" wasn't working on his I-Pad anymore.  We'd gotten it for free on a one day thing a while ago and my son LOVED that app and it's various songs and the newer versions of the app were NOT cheap and certainly not free.  The Classroom edition was just plain GONE on the App Store and wouldn't launch at all, so I deleted it off the I-Pad.  I went searching for anything that might work as a substitute for said app.  I found an app for free where some robots sing the alphabet and make up a song for each letter, which isn't QUITE the same for my son, but seems to at least get the job done and I do find the songs catchy and cute.  Better than nothing I'd say.

And yeah, that's about it on the money saving front this week.  How did you all do?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

So, I finally had an epiphany a few weeks ago.  It seemed that my menu plan seemed to keep going awry right about Wednesday and I couldn't figure out WHY.  Then it hit me.  The reason my menu plan would go off the straight path and start staggering around like a drunkard after Wednesday was because that's when the ad for Carrs would come out, I'd see something really awesome on the loss leaders (like say pork roast is this week) and immediately redo the menu plan if I REALLY wanted to get it so we could have some right away, or I'd run to the store on Wednesday to get a loss leader that was really really cheap and end up getting like some cut of meat on reduced and decide to just make it for dinner instead of worrying about defrosting whatever was ON the menu plan for that night, etc. 

I finally redid my way of doing things a bit by doing the menu for the following week on Wednesday and THAT worked as going from Wednesday to Tuesday...if something is greatly spectacular on sale at Fred Meyer I could still get it and have it for dinner before I'd have to worry about scrambling to put it into the freezer and I could also accommodate things that might go on sale at Carrs.  So, menu plans are going to be a bit out of the norm here on The Make Do Homemaker.  I know normally blogs post up menu plans on Sunday or Monday it seems, but hey the greatness that is the internet knows no bounds and this is the method that is working for me, so I'm going with it ;).

Making meals, snacks and breakfast items at home is going to become even more important here as the cost of fuel (an hour long commute to and from work everyday) on my husband's end are coming through and it is really really depressing (70.00 for fuel every three days about).  Some of that money will be recouped in the fact that my husband isn't eating out for lunch and sometimes breakfast every day while running from one job to another, but it also makes saving money THAT much more important to help offset the cost of the fuel.  Thank goodness the kids are off of school for the summer in a couple of weeks so I won't (hopefully) have to run around too much and thus save fuel costs on my end until we get a handle on the new budget.  Here's hoping anyway.

So, onto this week's menu!

Menu for Week 5/3/17
Wednesday:  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad

Thursday:  Poor Man's Scotch Broth (recipe coming soon on that one), home made bread and butter

Friday:  Leftover tacos

Saturday:  Home made pizza

Sunday:  Mustard pork roast, baked potatoes, salad

Monday:  Chicken teriyaki (pull left over teriyaki chicken out of freezer), rice, garlic peas

Tuesday:  Knockwurst, home made soft pretzels
Desserts:  Creamy Vanilla Custard Ice Cream (this is awesome and actually makes quite a bit!  We're still eating it!), home made apple pie (we ate it with ice good!), clafoutis (this I haven't made yet, but am going to make with some canned cherries from the pantry or frozen blueberries...still deciding.  Sounds good, though :).

Breakfasts:  Bran muffins with dates and nuts (baking day for that and the clafoutis is tomorrow since the kids are off school for an in service day), cinnamon rolls (Sunday for the husband for breakfasts for the week at work...I'll use the other 1/2 of the dough to make a loaf of bread), oatmeal (make instant oatmeal packets...we'll see how those go)

Snacks:  Boiled eggs, beef jerky (if I can find an odd or end of beef in the freezer to use to make it)

I'm putting together shopping goals for this month as (of COURSE) we've run out of some essentials that I absolutely 100% need to replenish (oil and rice being two of them) so hopefully I can get that list done and figure out how to fit it into the budget as well.

So, that's what we're eating this week.  How about you folks?  Making anything tasty?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Monthly Goals: May 2017

When it came to goals for last month, with everything else going on, really I think I did pretty well.  I didn't get as much cleaning done as I would have liked, but between life in general and how hectic it has been, being sick and then adding in a bad arm on top of it, I would say I did half decent.  The arm has its good days and its bad days, still, and after being to three doctors I just keep hearing, "It will improve in it's own time and the only thing you can do to maybe help it along is physical therapy".  Well, since I can't afford the aforementioned physical therapy, I just tough it out and the arm gets slowly better little bit by little bit.  Too slowly for my "I was not born with patience" self, but at least it is improving.  Taking care of the chickens everyday has actually been really good for the arm as doing things like reaching to grab an egg that was knocked into an odd location in the nesting boxes or broadcasting some scratch grain out into the coop has helped to get more mobility back.  Chicken's a new thing *laugh*.

I organized my seeds earlier in the month and have reorganized my garden plan about four times since then as the weather just doesn't get warm enough to thoroughly defrost the ground enough to plant things.  I keep looking at seeds that require the ground to be at a certain temperature for germination and go, "No.  Next."  Rinse, lather, repeat.  I think I at least have a plan to get some seeds in the ground that go in as soon as the ground can be worked and I figure if I throw some type of cover over young seedlings for things like lettuce at night I SHOULD be okay planting those in the garden.  I can't afford row covers right now as I'm reserving every available cent I can squeeze out of the budget to sock into the "don't know what the future holds in the way of pay" fund, so I am going to have to scramble and see what I can dig up around here to use as a row cover for the garden.  At least the small garden I have, some of the garden is protected a bit by the eaves of the house and the overall garden isn't that big, so at least I have that going for me.

My husband and I walked the property, made easier by the electric company cutting a swathe out of the back of our property, along the side that borders the highway and the front of it to clear their pole lines last year.  We lost at least two decently big trees over the last few wind storms we've had, luckily one of them being one of the smaller pines on the side of our barn so it didn't take out our neighbor's shed or something on their property.  Overall, we'll wait to cut up the tree along the property line between us and our neighbor until my husband's schedule gets worked out a bit better at work and call it good I think.  Our next door neighbors are nice, so we haven't even heard a peep out of them about the tree potentially crossing their property line or anything.  We're lucky that way :).

Spring cleaning...well I seem to get a start and wash a wall or something only to have my son run in with really nasty dirty hands and immediately smear them on the wall, so it's a ongoing battle, but I'm really determined to persevere here.  Today I had both kids home.  One with a cycling stomach (end of the year excitement an trying out for the talent show next week) and the other one is getting used to being on his new medicine from the doctor.

Speaking of the son, we went to the doctor yesterday.  The doctor put him on an ADHD med because she thinks that is where a lot of his problems are lying and a side benefit of the drug he is on is that it helps to calm you down, so she wants to try that first and then if that doesn't work there are a few more drugs that we can try before going at things with the "heavy guns".  A big step up from the anti-psychotics that I was worried about that can be prescribed for violent behaviors (which the idea of him being on those was eating my stomach lining as those things are a real nightmare to get dialed in right and can do damage to the body...I have heard horror stories), so here's hoping once it regulates out it works for him.  Right now he's just groggy AND crankier than he has been before and it can take a good week before his body regulates and then we HOPE that the dosage isn't too low...I might commit seppuku by the time this is over.  Ever try training an autistic kid to take a pill for the first time (which we still need to get him to take a pill whole, but after five pills we got one down him last night) and then trying to get him to not smack things when he doesn't feel right?  Not fun.

Anyway, overall when it came to getting things done, somehow over the last month I did get some things done, so yay!  And now onto this month's goals!

Sewing Goals:
  • Mend, mend and mend some more (lots of holes and things to fix in clothing and comforters)
  • Work on embroidery projects (I think I'm holding a record for most consecutive months of having something as a goal and NOT getting it accomplished *laugh*).
General Goals:
  • Work on garden. Plant seeds.
  • Conserve every penny possible.
  • Use recipes that use more eggs (making progress there)
  • Spring clean some more
  • Work on getting budget dialed in as new pay rate and things come more into focus.
  • Finish up the lettuce plants in hydroponic garden (at least one of them is starting on the downturn when it comes to growing a lot, so I'm THINKING I will be able to replace it anyway here soon) and plant herb pods in the lettuce's place.
  • Get kids through the end of school and hopefully find ways for them to enjoy their summer break without spending money.

And there you are folks.  My goals for this month, such as they are.  How about you?  Up to anything this month?