Saturday, June 10, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Well, we seem to have caught a theme this summer.  And that "theme" is rain and kind of cold temperatures.  Bright side, though, is with the colder temperatures this year so far the spider mites are non-existent (which you would not BELIEVE how thrilled I am to say that) and I haven't yet seen one slug (knock on wood about ten million times).  We are having large amounts of carpenter ants around everywhere, though, so I'm going to try and get the DE I bought spread around the house despite the lack of spider mites, just to help keep those buggers at bay.  I'm also definitely going to spread some of it on the garden as I've seen white flies around (which is what was taking out my poor rhubarb plant) and cabbage moths.  I clipped the flower ends off the rhubarb by the house since it was the only one bolting and that seems to have helped it put more energy into growing, so yay for that! 

This week was interesting.  For one this ended up being, "Be on the phone with Amazon week."  First, there was the breakfast kit I bought from them.  It was supposed to be delivered Wednesday via UPS along with a couple of other individual cans I had gotten but it never showed while the cans did.  So, I went online and checked the tracking number only to find that the package tracking never seemed to go anywhere.  So, I called e-mailed Amazon and they e-mailed me back and apologized up and down that this was the second order I'd had to call on in a month (the chocolate frosting debacle) and they called UPS and were told that the package was delayed due to inclement weather and would be here by Friday.  They even gave me a month of Amazon Prime for free to make up for the inconvenience.  So, go and check on the order the next day only to find a refund had been issued because UPS returned the package to Amazon and they told me to go and reorder it if I still wanted it.  Go and check the item and it had gone from 25.00 for the kit to over 100.00.  I was just like, "No.  I'm not putting up with this."  So I called Amazon determined someone was going to do something if possible.  The gal on the other end of the phone checked the notes on the entire mess and actually went, "Wow, that's a mess.  We can't have that happening."  I told her I'd like a replacement for the item I'd ordered for the same price as I'd paid since this was NOT my fault, and she agreed, had me place an order and adjusted the price down for me so that everything would wash.  They shipped the new order rush and it came via Fed Ex yesterday and they actually beat UPS delivering the dinner kit I'd ordered.  I was impressed.  Since the tracking information had showed that the package was going to be delivered Monday, not Friday like the lady had originally promised, Amazon also issued me a 10.00 credit to make up for the mess, which I used to order a few more food items on Subscribe and Save for this month.

Then there was the dead sea salts.  Desperate to try anything to help Alvah with his eczema flare up he's having right now and also to get nutrients in him to help with the ones he's lacking from not eating real food, I ordered some dead sea bath salts from Amazon to put in his bath water.  I was all excited when I saw they were in my mailbox yesterday so we went down and got them and I get home, open the inner package which clearly states "Dead Sea Salt Mineral Bath" only to find there were just plain Espon salts in the inner package.  Look closer and someone had stuck the "Dead Sea Salt" sticker right smack dab over the "Epson Salt" label that was already on the package.  I was furious and called Amazon AGAIN and so now the Epson salt is sitting in the same box my order came in, duct taped shut as that is what I had, waiting for UPS to pick it up hopefully Monday to return to Amazon.  My refund will process supposedly as soon as UPS scans the label they are going to bring, which then the gal said to reorder the item and I was like, "Why would I do that?  So I can get two more packages of Epson salts?  Something is obviously screwed up with this item, so no thanks."  I'll take the 11.00 I spent and go look around locally to see if I can find some dead sea salt soaking salts that way.  Frustrating to say the least.

Then there was the call from the pharmacy saying that they thought they might have a break through on the flavoring of Alvah's new medication and I was all excited for like two seconds until the guy said, "Peanut butter flavored" and I had to break to him that Alvah was SEVERELY allergic to peanuts.  So, back to the drawing board there.  At least the pharmacy is being really great about experimenting and trying to come up with something (the guy even admitted it was kind of fun since he didn't get to do experimenting like this too often), so we'll see how it goes.  In the meantime I've just been giving him his old med on the same schedule we were before as it wasn't hurting him to take it for sure.

But yeah, on the brighter side of things let's get to the money saving things I did this week.

1.  I processed the peaches this week and out of ten pounds of peaches I got nine pints of peaches (I am the master of the floating fruit as you can see up top). 

2.  I saved the peelings from the peaches and the pits and once I was done with canning the peaches I put them in a pan and filled it with water until the peach peels and pits were just submerged.    I then slapped a lid on the pan, brought it to a boil and then simmered the peels and pits for about an hour.  I then strained the juice through a linen dish towel until all the juice was strained out and then I let the juice cool.  I have to say that the peelings and pits make an awesome tasting peach juice!  I ended up with a ton of juice.  I froze some to make into more jelly later and then took the other part, mixed it up with my home made pectin and sugar and voila!  I got twelve 1/2 pint jars of jelly and one full pint (I ran out of 1/2 pint jars) of jelly from just that batch of juice AND I still have 3 cups left in the freezer to make more jelly out of later.  Booyah!!!  The home made pectin worked well too.  It took a few days to set properly, but it seems like it's all set well now.  I'm thrilled, honestly, as really I got a ton of jelly from parts of fruit that I would have thrown away a few years ago, including the pectin I made.  The jelly is really yummy and my daughter swears it tastes kind of like strawberries (I just taste peach, but okay *laugh*).  I also like the pretty pink color it came out, but that's more aesthetics than anything.
3.  I processed a huge ten pound log of frozen hamburger today that I had bought frozen for 1.57 a lb ages ago and had been avoiding doing anything with because it was just so huge.  But, today I finally got it processed.  I managed to get eight hamburgers cut off the log to make later and then the rest I cooked into regular hamburger.  That I will divide into 1 lb portions (after it cools) and freeze those to use for things like tacos, sloppy joes, even meatloaf later on (just use 2 eggs with cooked meat vs. 1). 

The hamburger was so cheap because it was REALLY cheap/fatty.  It was 73% hamburger, so I knew it was going to produce a lot of fat when I cooked it down and it didn't disappoint.  Instead of pouring it into a container and disposing of the fat, I poured the fat into a bowl to let the little bits of hamburger that were left to settle.  Once the fat is fully set up, I'll skim off the pure fat (without the hamburger bits in it) and put it into a container in the fridge.  This fat I'll use for cooking and baking to help supplement the fat I have on hand.  I think it will work well and when it comes to making, say a pie crust for meat pie, it'll also help to add flavor to the crust.  Win, win.

4.  I started taking inventory and working on plans to reorganize my pantry and food storage areas.  It isn't costing me anything but time and I'm finding I'm enjoying the challenge.

5.  My biggest "woohoo" purchases this week when it came to shopping were a package of pork steaks for 5.15 (on sale for 1.49 lb at Carrs this week) and milk for 2.88 per gallon (also on sale at Carrs).  Since I knew I was going to have to run to the store for groceries, including getting things for my son for snacks at summer school starting this coming week, I also made sure to call in EVERY possible refill I might need on his medications so I wouldn't have to take multiple trips to town.  It worked well and saved me a lot of "little" trips to the store this week.

6.  Kind of a "darn" on the frugal front was getting a call from the bus barn about transporting my son for summer school this year.  I was kind of hoping to let him ride the bus to the school (which the school is only 10 minutes away about, but I wanted to save some money on the fuel consumption) but when they called they told me his ride to school was going to be 1 1/2 hours long.  There was NO WAY I was going to let him ride the bus for 1 1/2 hours for a school that was 10 minutes away by car as he wouldn't enjoy that bus ride as it would just be too long.  Bright side is that summer school is really only three weeks long as they get the week of the Fourth of July off, so it won't be too consuming gas-wise (although I kind of wish it was a full month for the sake of therapy).

7.  My husband and I cut my son's hair this week (and boy did he need it).

8.  I made sure we used up leftovers for all meals so there was no waste of food at all and that those leftovers were used quickly, usually the next day.  It's worked out rather well, although I do have to say your fridge looks pretty empty when you do that *laugh*.

9.  We got the news that my husband starts his regular shift at work starting this next week, so yay for a 7% pay increase =D.  That will DEFINITELY help!

10. I got more cleaning done this week, including getting my son's new bed frame set up and his room rearranged AGAIN to accommodate it (I'll share pictures later as my son has already trashed his room today).  I found that his new mattress was just going to get wrecked in his race car bed frame (which I had told someone before *cough husband* but he wanted to keep the race car bed).  I knew my husband wasn't going to be keen on me getting rid of said race car bed frame completely, so I put both his old bed, and his new bed, in his room.  Alvah likes it because he can jump on his old thrashed mattress (thank goodness I didn't throw that out) on his old bed and I like it because milk isn't pooling down in plastic crevices anymore and making lots of problems for me to clean up.  So, yay!

And now onto a garden update!

I walked out to the garden, Monday and just about had a heart attack.  Something had gotten into the garden, dug a few holes (which luckily one of said holes was RIGHT on top of a cabbage but didn't hit the roots of said cabbage and kill it) and chomped off the top of two of the cabbages.  I wanted to cry in all honesty.  I just couldn't afford to have something going at the garden this year as we need all of the food we can get put up for winter. 

Monday through Wednesday I went out and did the only thing I could think to do to help protect it from rabbits (my first thought since I had seen a huge one roaming around our yard) or from moose (the most likely culprit honestly as I couldn't see a rabbit leaving the lettuce alone and the two holes in the garden I could see just being moose hooves that sank into the would have been a baby moose that did it)...I covered the garden with the tarps I had put on them earlier and put the make shift green house up over the cabbages and such to help keep things off of them.  I figured if I could make getting at the cabbages and things inconvenient, if the moose or rabbit had my garden on a "visit this garden" list, maybe making it harder for them would just deter them long enough to forget about it.  Finally on Wednesday I knew I needed to uncover the garden as the plants need all the light and air they can get this time of year with our short growing season, so I let it go and figured I'd see how it went.  After I took the tarps down I left them tucked under the front of the camper (something new and strange looking to help deter critters) and then put up some boards and things on ground level to help camouflage the garden a bit.

So far, so good.  The two cabbages that got chomped seem to be recovering and I might still get a head off of each of them since they were still young enough when they got chomped.  Here's hoping whatever it was that decided to stop and snack was just passing through.
The onions I was going to plant ended up not being viable.  I went to separate the bulb into different onions and it was mushy and not good inside, so I chopped up the tops and dehydrated them and then just added them to my dehydrated onions jar.  So, they'll still come in handy, but that also means that I am going to want to plant something else to replace the onions I was planning on planting in the yard.  I'm glad my son is starting summer school this coming week.  The "you need to plant by this day PERIOD" day up here is pretty much June 15th.  After that the plants just won't have enough time to grow, so I'm determined to get my small bed I have planned dug up and planted before that day.  So, rain or shine, this week that is getting done.
But hey, one row of corn is up (where art thou, other row of corn?).

The carrots look like a drunkard planted the seeds.  This is what happens when you get a bunch of downpours right after you plant seeds.  They end up in interesting locations.  Thinning is going to be interesting to get the plants into some semblance of order.

And the beet seeds are finally sprouting!  YAY!!!  I was starting to worry they might be a loss.  The other row of corn might still be, but we shall see how it all shapes up here.  Now I just need to wait for the beans to start growing (hopefully soon).  My husband even has an idea for how to build a trellis for the peas, so I'm really hoping he can get that done this weekend as the peas are really starting to take off here.

So, yeah, that's my week in a nutshell.  How did your week go?


  1. Last year I made apple jelly from the peelings and cores left over. It turned out so delicious! I must try making peach jelly from peelings and pits this year. It really does make you feel good when you make something from food bits that would normally go to waste (I feel the same way when I use chicken bones and veggie scraps to make broth, too). Glad you were able to add so much more to your pantry already, Erika!

    Also pleased to hear that you were able find a way to use that huge tube of ground beef. Not only was it cheap, it will now be very convenient for nights when you need a quick meal! Bonus points for saving the fat to use in cooking, too.

    As for the garden, it's looking amazing so far. I'm wondering if you ever considered planting some pole beans or peas around the base of the corn. The corn stocks will work as a support for the vines and you can get some extra food in that small space. You could also plant some pumpkin or squash around the base as well. This was typically used by the native community when they planted their crops. It's call "the Three Sisters" and there is info on line, with the story to share with your children and even a nice soup that you can make from corn, beans and squash! By the way, corn, beans and squash all deplete and amend the soil with different nutrients, thus feeding one another.

    1. The three sisters totally work!! I learned about this visiting Native Villages as a kid too and I use it in my garden.

  2. Hi. I just stumbled across your blog yesterday and have enjoyed reading it. I am going to try using peelings from peaches this year. Not sure how I never heard of that before.

    You may be doing this already ( I haven't gotten too far in older posts), and if so ignore, but I do very well with Ebates and Amazon is usually offering a rebate. Also Ibotta, mobi save, checkout 51, ETC are apps that I make a nice chunk of change off of buying groceries.walmarts savings catcher program also is ok, not great, but I figure it's free money so it's all good money.

    Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading more.

  3. You're getting me in the mood for canning! It's not quite time yet, here, but it's coming up. Strawberries are ripening and I hope to get some and make jam before they are over.

  4. I love the peach pit/peeling jelly idea! I'd heard about doing it with apples but not peaches.

  5. Found a solution to the rabbit getting into your garden. It is called a "forkTress".

    1. I am so trying this! It might keep my darned cat from digging up beans by accident (that had JUST started to sprout underground, so I'm hoping they're still alive after I buried them again) with his obsession on digging in the dirt. I'm definitely getting forks the next time I'm at the store! Thanks :).