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?


  1. We had a real busy week- good and bad. I didn't have time to do extensive couponing/sale shopping, but did buy five bottles of the Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce that was on sale (I saw on a different post that you did too... great minds think alike!). Also line-dried laundry, made yogurt and cheese, and harvested lettuce from the garden.

    I did swagbucks over the winter, but my warm weather side-hustle is collecting cans & bottles to recycle. Yay for Michigan $0.10 refunds! If I go on a 1-2 mile walk, I can usually get about 5 cans ($0.50). So much faster/easier than running swagbucks movies or qualifying for surveys, plus I get exercise at the same time.

    1. Wow did you bring back memories. When I was a kid in Maine we lived around the corner from a lake and we used to pick up as many cans and bottles during tourist season as possible for extra pocket money. We would even grab cans out of the garbage cans on the beach to turn in. We made a decent side living, for kids, doing that every summer lol.

      Swagbucks seems to get more problematic for me to use as time goes on. I don't qualify for as many surveys, don't seem to win much on the random search option and things. I'm going to use it until it gets super irritating lol.

  2. So, I've heard that if you mix coffee grounds in where you plant carrots, it reduces or eliminates the root maggot damage. I have tried it a couple of times and it did seem to help. I still had a little bit of damage, but not much. I don't know if that was just good luck, or if it was the coffee grounds. I get them from Starbucks or McDonalds. They are free, you just have to ask for them each time you go by. We've even had them hand them out the drive-thru window. We've also been putting them on the rhodies.

    1. Collecting coffee grounds to spread now. Thank you for the advice! Hopefully it works :).

  3. I'm sorry you are in such a tough spot right now. We had that happen before, so I was so, so happy when my husband became a teacher. It's never been a big salary, but its steady and every month I know what he will bring home, and thats reassuring, even on difficult months.

    I've not had much of a frugal week, we did a few yard sales, But didn't get anything we needed, just a few toys and shorts for the boys. My husband was given 2 rounds of golf from my mon, she buys it most every year for him at the school carnival. I didn't realize until last night, he had invited 3 others to go, thinking this year it was a foursome, not just for 2. So hes either goinf to be really embarrassed, or we are going to have to scrape together $170. I'm not sure how it will work out.

    The worst was last night our checkbook seemed really off, so I spent 3 hours comparing stuff. I don't do it often, but I found the mistake was a transfer I made back in February, but also a calculator mess up so our checking account has over $400 less than I though. $200 I was able to fix,but not my match error, so thismonth and next I need to be mindful, and as the spending can go crazy when my husband and kids are home in summer I'll be a little nervous.

    How sweet your daughter is interested in sewing, that is a really good talent to have!! One if her skill grows, she could make a little money mending for others.

    1. Ouch!!! I'm sorry that you got nailed with that type of math error. I'd be breathing into a paper bag :(. Good luck with keeping the spending down. I know how challenging that is!

  4. Icecubes! Put them under the hens - and yes it can make a mess of the nesting box but it cools off their undersides and will break all but the most determines hens (and it's cheap) :)
    Melissa V

    1. Tried it, water bottles, closing her out of the nesting boxes. She piled the ice cubes into one nesting box (how I have NO idea) sat on the water bottles full of ice once they melted down and turned them into glorified hot water bottles...I've laughed a lot at her antics this week, honestly. We are getting there though. Two hens are up and normal acting again and while not laying regularly yet they are laying. Now it's super stubborn chicken's turn!

  5. Love your pile of potting soil!
    We had chickens for years. I encourage you to let them free range when you are outside working in the yard. First let just one out of the cage in the late afternoon. When it begins to get dark, they will return to the other chickens in the coop. If the door is closed, they will pace back and forth until you open the door to let them back in. The next time you can let two then three out. While they are out, they will eat greens and bugs in the yard which will cut down down on the feed you need to give them. If you only let them out when you are outside, you can watch for neighborhood dogs and guard your garden. They are serious bug eaters when they are free ranging and can make a big dent in the insects in the yard.
    Also, you can throw the handful of greens into the coop at a distance from the broody hens. They will (might) jump out of the box to grab a bite. If they are REAL BROODY, only shoving them off the nest works.

    The garden is looking GREAT! You seem to be researching every possibility this year and it is going to be a success. I know it.


  6. I am a big time city girl but wanted you to know I really needed the laugh I got about the chickens. I am sure that it's not funny for you not having eggs but I had No idea they could be temperamental. I am sad to hear things are right for you right now. I am new to your blog and look forward to going into your past posts. Meanwhile I am starting to compost. We have Ga red clay and there is no way to grow any good in it. I hope to be in a much better place next year so we can buy dirt for raised beds. Look forward to reading more.

    1. Don't feel bad. It is funny in its own way. I grew up in suburbia small town America and am still learning a lot about chickens lol!

      Welcome to the blog by the way :).