Saturday, July 29, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 Before I do anything else I have to share awesome news!  The new meds Alvah is on are working!  And not just working but REALLY working!!!  Like, "I'm in love with Risperidone" type of working!

The first night he slept six hours straight.  The next night it was NINE glorious hours!  I actually woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at five thirty wondering what to do with myself for a few hours until he got up.  Last night he slept for another nine hours.  I am actually getting SLEEP!  Wonderful, glorious, awe inspiring sleep!!!

On top of the normal sleep patterns his mood has improved a TON.  He only starts getting cranky and things when his pill is starting to wear off, so the last hour or so starts to get a TEENY bit rough, but not even close to how he was with the self-abusive behaviors.  He's even running around in clothes.  Willingly!  That's huge for him as clothing usually bugs him really bad. 

I found that the autism is also just exasperating the eczema something fierce as well.  When he has his pill down him and it's working good, he doesn't itch much and the eczema starts to tone itself down a bunch, but when the meds aren't at full strength he starts to itch his skin off again. 

I'm really excited about going back to speech this next week to start doing some serious work with him now that he's not so "turned up to 11" like he used to be.  I'm thinking we might start to see some serious progress with him in the coming months if his mood and concentration hold out here and he continues to improve.  I'm beyond thrilled!

My mother-in-law came over today and kept an eye on the son while I cleaned the chicken coop and put down new bedding (boy did it need it!).  While she was waiting she cleaned my den, which I appreciated, was embarrassed by, but appreciated all the same.  Thanks, Stacey!

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

1.  Thank the Good Lord my husband got paid yesterday.  We were scary low in the bank, so it was a relief to have that come in.  With the holiday pay on the check and the back tool allowance that we'd had to complain to a few people to finally get, we were able to get the kids gym shoes (no luck finding anything at the used stores) and I was able to get my daughter a new pair of Sketchers (which she loves as there is TONS of pink on them) for 22.00.  She's been wearing her old gym shoes the last month because they were a bit longer in the foot than her other sneakers were, but her toes were JUST at the point of me wanting to get her shoes that fit her better, so it felt good getting her shoes that fit her well again. 

Also after a couple of months of stalking my poor insurance agent and her stalking the home owners insurance people the insurance score was finally applied to my policy and we got a refund check in the mail today.  This will be used to get my husband a new muffler for his truck and to get the last part of the one dental bill we have to pay by August 20th or face penalties.  Luckily, Care Credit had been applying payments to the promotional balance that was due first the last four months (which surprised me as they haven't done that before), so the amount is down below 100.00 that is left.  Once the payment for the month is applied (since I pay all of the non-mortgage bills out of the first paycheck of the month right now I'm waiting for the payment to go through completely) than I'll pay the rest of the bill off.  We still have, what, four dental "chunks" to pay by April of next year, a couple of them pretty substantial, so we'll see if we can make it all work. 

I'm also taking 25.00 from the check and ordered my daughter a decent scientific calculator from Amazon (calculator was one of the things on her school supply list this year), an oil filter for my husband's truck and then some Christmas gifts from the kids (doing an order of just add on items on Amazon can really pay off if you keep track of your 2 to 3.00 items.  I managed to get my daughter like three things for Christmas and my son one out of the order AND I got a Method dish soap refill to fill up my dish soap bottle when it's empty that SHOULD refill the dish soap like twice). 

2.  Shopping went well this week.  I spent a bit more than I have been to get the kids the rest of their school supplies for the year.  Some items I just reduced the amount that the kids are going to take into school with them and I'll pick up more later in the year.  Like my daughter was supposed to bring in 48 pencils.  I had 32.  It'll do.  She was supposed to bring in two reams of college ruled paper.  I am sending in composition notebooks instead because that's what I have, it's paper and it'll be fine.  After going through everything that I had from saving from previous years and from things people have gifted me in the past (thank you!) I only had three items to get for my daughter, the calculator included and the son I'm just going to send in the supplies I know his class will use (glue sticks, blunt tipped scissors, crayons, etc) and calling it good, even though his teacher wanted me to send in a full school supply list last year.  I just know some of that stuff they aren't going to use, so I don't see the point in buying it.

Highlights of shopping this week included getting leggings for the daughter for 3.75 a pair (they were on sale for 4.99 and I had a "Best Customer" coupon for so much off of children's clothes so it came out to 3.75 a pair.  I got three pairs as she's definitely getting into the wanting trendier clothes phase of her baby is growing up *sniff*), getting grapes on sale for 1.87 lb (Carrs actually HAD them when I went shopping on Friday.  I was thrilled!) and getting apples for .99 lb (personalized price).  I also got a dozen eggs for 1.29 (a coupon you can load on your card this week), since I'm not getting eggs yet from the two chickens that aren't broody anymore and I'm starting to wonder if they are done for the year as I keep finding feathers in the coop.  Either the broody hen is really plucking her feathers out or the chickens are starting their hard molt for the winter.  We shall see.  I also got a four pound bag of sugar with an electronic coupon you could load onto your card this week and it ended up being 1.00 and some change (I WANT to say 1.18 or something, but I don't have my receipt in front of me and I don't feel like looking up the ad online and freezing up my ancient laptop right now *laugh*).  Sugar will definitely come in handy with canning jelly and things in the coming months, so yay for getting it cheap!

Then there was Fred Meyer freebies.  My friend Stephanie contacted me and told me that Fred Meyer was doing freebies this week was part of the Kroger summertime event they are doing and so I went online all week and collected my freebie coupons (thanks, Stephanie!).  Unfortunately, Fred Meyer didn't have some of the freebies I had loaded onto my card (Kraft snack trios, etc), but I did manage to get a free container of Quaker Overnight Oats, a Stur water flavor thingie (those little containers are normally 6.00 and some change!  I was appalled when I looked at my receipt to make sure everything free had come off *laugh*) and a free Calypso lemonade. 

3.  We went to the library to return a book Armina had taken out last week and when she was crossing the street (not a busy street and I park right in front of the library...Alvah hates the library and would throw a fit if you dared to try to take him near the building so we had to wait in the car while she ran to drop the book in the return) I realized something.  My little girl wasn't so little anymore and was time to start worrying about more bigger girl issues (there...that was nice and neutrally put right?).  I always hated the "beginner big girl clothes" and wanted to make something actually comfortable for Armina to wear (I mean let's face facts once that process starts you never get rid of it, do you?), so I went online and looked for a pattern to make her some female under armor.  I found the pattern up top on Etsy for 1.26 with cheap shipping, so I ordered it (all of the free online patterns I could find were for more elaborate things and I wanted basically a little kid's sports bra type of thing).  It's a bathing suit pattern from the 60's and hasn't even been cut!  I was impressed.  So, yeah...I'm going to be expanding my sewing expertise here...wish me luck.

4.  I made angel food cake and with the left over egg yolks I made lemon curd to use as a filling in beignets for tomorrow's breakfast :).

5.  I went and checked my e-mail today and found a message from Tiny Prints, who got bought out by Shutterfly (who hasn't been really?).  In the message they had a code for a free welcome gift to Shutterfly from Tiny Prints for 10 free thank you cards and the part that caught my attention was 10 free cards with FREE SHIPPING!  I was dubious, but went onto the site, picked a thank you card with four spots and found pics from my Shutterfly account I already had and made up the card.  And, surprisingly enough, once I stacked the codes I got 10 free cards WITH envelopes and free shipping even to Alaska!  I'm seeing the daughter sending out thank you cards for Christmas gifts in her future this year :).

6.  I opened my Jo-Ann Fabrics ad today and found another free code from Shutterfly for a free notebook.  No free shipping, but at the same time I thought about it and I'm hoping to be able to save a few dollars in the next month to cover the shipping.  I am going to scan one of my daughter's drawings that she's really proud of, put a nice little inspirational message onto the notebook and give it to her for Christmas as a journal.  I think she'll really like it.

7.  I talked to my husband about the old Firestone fridge we brought over from storage last year and instead of trying to get it actually running I asked if he could perhaps just put it out in the shed over winter so I could just use it as a cold, insulated storage container for vegetables.  He thought it was a great idea as that would allow him to work on the fridge on and off to get it working as well, so hopefully he'll get to clean the shed before winter like he wants so we can do that.  It'd be nice to have a place to store some carrots, potatoes and things in cold storage into the winter months.  If we can make it work putting in a big garden next year would definitely be more viable!

8.  I collected the material that was left over from making unpaper towels to use on another project.   IF I do it well, I think I can get by with very little to not waste of fabric.  I'll share more if it actually works *laugh*.

I know there was more, but I can't find my list right now, so let's get to the garden update!
Well, first up, the slugs are back.  BLAHHHHH!!!!  I've just been plucking them off the plants, placing them in a glass and feeding them to the chickens.  Circle of life and all of that.  Honestly I don't see anything like beer traps and things working on a year like this as we're just getting too much rain for it to be effective, so I'm just going to pray that my plants are in good enough shape to survive the onslaught and killing them with extreme prejudice when I find them.

So, what do you do when you want to plant new seeds and slugs are around?  I mean last year I had an entire bed destroyed by slugs and birds, so I have to admit I panicked a bit when I first saw our sluggy wuggy evil nemesis.  This year, I decided I'm being smart, or smarter anyway, when it comes to how I'm doing plant rotation and using natural camouflage to my advantage.  I took Jeanie's advice (Get Me To the Country) and planted my peas in between where my other peas were already growing so they could climb up the existing peas.  This not only saved me from having to tie the peas initially to the trellis, but it also kind of masked the growing peas from the slugs and birds so they didn't know new seedlings were growing.  I planted lettuce and spinach again this week in the rain so I knew the birds weren't watching (me, paranoid after last year?  Oh you betcha!) and I planted them around where existing plants were growing (or going to bolt in the case of the lettuce), so that the bugs would be, hopefully, more drawn to the nice sugary juices of the older plants, the birds wouldn't see the seedlings growing as well so they wouldn't pluck them out of the soil.  So far, they're sprouting, so we'll see if I've gotten smarter or I'm just wasting my time *laugh*.  The very out of focus pic above is of the TEENY WEENY little lettuce seedlings sprouting.

I also ended up fertilizing the garden, once again in the rain.  We've just had SO much rain this summer that the nutrients in the soil are getting washed out, so when I saw the peas turning yellow and the cabbages JUST starting to develop heads I was like, "Yeah, fertilizing is going to happen despite the rain".  So far it is helping, so I'll be doing that regularly for sure.

My bush beans are still pretty tiny, but it looks like they are sprouting flowers, so I'm hoping that means the beginnings of beans.  I've never grown beans before, so I'm like, "Huh?  Is that as tall as they get or am I confused here?"

The rat tailed radishes have gotten decently tall, but I have to say so far the production is kind of sad this year.  I think it's just too cold and wet for them to do super like they did last year.  Sad as I was hoping they'd do well, but at least I'm getting enough to snack on so far, so hey that's something :).

The turnips are actually starting to develop turnip roots!!!  I was so thrilled when I parted the mass of green leaves and found some nice beginning turnips bumping up out of the soil.  I might be able to avoid buying turnips this year!  That'd be awesome :).

And yeah, that's my week in a nutshell (well unless you want to read about the disaster that was the first part of my week...then you'd have to read here, but it's doing better, thank goodness!).

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

 Well, welcome to "Epic Total Fail" week here on "The Make Do Homemaker".  At least it felt that way.

It started Sunday night with Alvah melting down into a puddle.  Shrieking the shriek that any parents knows...the one where you would actually stick a poker into your eye red hot if it was assured the child would stop said shrieking.  Yeah...that shriek.  While doing everything in his power to hurt himself and others.  This went on for seventy two hours. 

We have no idea what set him off, but it was just awful around here.  I got a MAX of two hours of sleep each night as an escape from the tornado of doom that was his moods.  Watching him hurt himself...I would have walked through acid, broken glass, red hot coals...anything to help him stop hurting himself.  Nothing worked.

Tuesday we went in for an emergency visit to the psychologist and I must have looked awesome because as soon as we walked in with the screaming, hitting mass of fury that was my son she just shouted to be heard with an upset look on her face and said, "We're starting Risperidone!"  I just nodded like the desperate parent that I was, not remembering what Risperidone was (she had mentioned it I did remember that much) .  She even asked me in a moment when he was calmer how I was doing and I answered her honestly.  If we didn't do something to help him soon I was going to end up getting committed with depression because I was at the end of it, all the while fighting tears.  It was not a great moment.

We had to wait another 24 hours as all of the pharmacies in the area didn't have Risperidone in dissolvable tablet form, so that added another 24 hours to the ordeal.  BUT, and this is a big BUT with a massive silver lining folks, the medicine came in and we started him on it last night.  Within 20 minutes of giving him the pill there was an IMMEDIATE improvement.  No more self harm episodes and it was like I had my happy and well adjusted kid back.  I was amazed, astounded and so SO grateful!

But yeah, it got bad enough that my husband even ended up with chest pains from stress at work one night.  It was bad.

On top of the son, running (and I mean RUNNING) to take care of the chickens and things in the morning before having to constantly field the son, so housework hasn't gotten done this week (got a bit done today since the son was in a better mood, but honestly I'm just exhausted right now after all I'm going slower than I'd like and then on top of everything else I just failed utterly with the menu plan this week it seemed.  The husband and daughter were just not impressed with whatever I served (with the exception of fish and chips one night, which I did as an act of desperation to not hear little side complaints from the peanut gallery...wiped out most of my cooking oil to do it too), which didn't help my mood much in all honesty.  Tonight my husband admitted everything seemed to taste better when he'd have it for lunch a few days later, so maybe he just wasn't in the mood for that stuff that night (made me feel better after the fact anyway).  At least they ate what was put in front of them, I guess.  Better than not.

So, yeah, this week was rough through the first half.  Got a bit of good news when I went and checked on the chickens this morning too.  Turns out that not having any eggs in the coop at all, or even the scent of an egg being laid, snapped two of the hens out of being broody FAST.  They were up and running around today.  I even had to run down on the fly, convinced the chickens were being murdered or something with the racket they were making and it was just the two hens and the rooster talking to each other (he was REALLY lonely being all alone out in the run without company).  So, yay for uppers to help save a week!

Right, so now after the multitude of things that happened this week, onto this week's menu!

My husband's birthday is this week, so we'll be having angel food cake for his birthday (sadly when given the choice he did choose that out of the choices and said, "Well, at least I can have my favorite cake since that's the only present we can afford right now" was a true statement, but I still felt sad that it was true).  The daughter and I are also going to make him some sugar cookies, hopefully, although everything is hinging on how well the son's behavior meds work and how good of a mood he's in here (not to mention how well he sleeps).

Meat is getting kind of sparse in the freezer, although we still have plenty of chicken, so I'm going to be working more and more of that into the menu plan...hopefully without it being too monotonous.

Bright side is that the garden is producing some now.  I harvested a few rat tailed radishes this week so far and a couple of decent hauls of peas and even a few handfuls of raspberries in the last couple of days (a few seen above in one of my "mini hauls" after the inevitable "Can I have some, mom?" moments *laugh*).  We are SO tight on money right now that I am so, so grateful I put in a well sized garden (for the space I have available).  Every bit of food helps right now.

So, onto this week's menu!
 Wednesday:  One dish roast beef (London Broil) with roasted veggies (carrots from freezer from the garden last year, peas from garden, potatoes from fridge), bread (menu before we ate seen above there).

Thursday:  Bratwurst, sauerkraut (from pantry...I only have one jar left after this!  Eek!!!  Grow fast cabbage!), bread.

Friday:  Hamburgers, french fries, salad

Saturday:  Meat pie (use leftover beef roast with more veggies from freezer for filler.  Use home made biscuits placed on top for "top crust").

Sunday:  Sausage gravy and biscuits (use leftover biscuits from night before), fruit cocktail.

Monday:  Waffles, sausages, fruit cocktail (left over from night before).  This is dependent on son's mood.  Here's hoping!

Tuesday:  Easy to stuff manicotti, garlic toast, salad.

Desserts:  Angel food cake with chocolate frosting, beignets (use puff pastry...bake in oven instead of frying...I KNOW it's not the same thing, but it'll work and preserve what is left of my cooking oil) with home made lemon curd, rhubarb dream bars

Breakfasts:  Leftover desserts (I know it's going to happen *laugh*), granola by itself or in yogurt parfaits, oatmeal with pancake syrup or jam or jelly (from pantry), toast, English muffins, victory pudding (use pancake syrup instead of maple syrup).

Snacks:  Boiled eggs (one of the hens laid teeny tiny eggs before she went broody, so I boiled those four and a few other regular sized ones for snacks), cheese and crackers (note:  Make branch bread), yogurt, apples, raspberries (getting a few right now).

And there you are folks.  Our menu for the week.  How about you?  Eating anything tasty this week?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 Right, so I have to start with this.  *Clears throat* ready?  You can sing along if you want!

*Sings* "Oooohhhh!  One little, two little, three little broody!!!"

 Okay, I'm done, but that needed to happen *laugh*.  If you can't laugh, you cry.

Anyway, I've heard of "togetherness" but these hens are driving me nuts.  I have a clucking evil mass of chickens glaring at me from the one area they've all jammed themselves into when I open the coop (usually if chickens are broody they do NOT jam themselves into an area together, so my chickens are even baffling other chicken owners...cute), I'm getting no eggs, the coop smells so foul I went out and bought bedding to clean the coop from top to bottom this week (broody hens create some raannnnkkkk foul messes and yay me I have three of them...I've been scooping the mess into the compost pile, but it ain't cutting it) even though I really couldn't afford bedding right now.  I just can't believe the way these chickens are working out (or not in this case).  I get one solid week where at least one chicken isn't broody and then the chickens domino at different rates and go broody one after the other.  In this case they went broody within three days of each other.  The amount they are going broody is nuts.  We don't have time to process the chickens right now, so I'm kind of stuck with an evil, clucking, foul mess making, mass of chicken flesh that is costing me an arm and a leg to feed and are costing me a fortune just keeping the coop and nesting boxes clean (since that is where they are insisting on staying).  And the poor rooster is super loud and boisterous right now because he's running outside all alone and wanting least he goes to bed at a decent hour so he's not driving the neighbors crazy.  Fun times *sigh*.

Anyway *shakes head* sorry.  I have a sinus headache about a mile wide today and am really tired after not sleeping much last night, so the whole chicken situation isn't as funny as it really should be.

So onto the not "frugal fails" portion of the week!

1.  I put some vanilla extract to steeping.  A reader had suggested this in my monthly shopping goals post and I kind of was like, "Nah, I can get vanilla decently cheap at the bulk store, so I'll just do that instead of making it."  Yeah, then I WENT to the bulk store.  30.00 for a bottle smaller than the one I had bought, geez, like three years ago for 6.00 and some change?!?  And they went UP in price from there.  I just about had a heart attack.  I got a huge bottle of imitation vanilla extract for less than 5.00 and will use that in baking, reserving my gold plated bit of vanilla extract I have for things like ice cream making until the steeping process is done.  I'm hoping the extract comes out okay.  I ended up using some vanilla beans that were pretty dry from sitting around in the spice cabinet (a year past their "best by" date...I had bought 15 of them really cheap on Amazon, but had only used two for a recipe I was making, or canning...can't remember the rest had just kind of sat in the cabinet), but I split them all, put them in a pint mason jar and ended up using rum vs. vodka to make the extract since that is what I had in the house.   So, hopefully at the end of two months it'll taste good and work alright.  Fingers and toes crossed as I would hate to waste the vanilla beans and the rum on a failed project.

2.  My father-in-law made my mother-in-law rip out all of her raspberry bushes!  I wanted to cry when I went over and saw that at their place because he decided that the bushes were attracting ants (with no berries on the bushes that one baffled me).  I didn't bank on being able to pick raspberries at her place and all, but it was nice to be able to do so, so no free raspberries this year from there :(.  I looked around the yard this week and did find that the raspberries we have growing wild around the yard are producing decently well.  Mind you they are still REALLY green, but I might get as much as a quart from them this year, which would be nice.

In the meantime I went into my freezer and found the one lowly bag of raspberries I had carefully saved from my mother-in-laws bushes last year and tried to figure out something that I could make with them as there wasn't enough in the bag to make jam out of.  I THINK I came up with a solution that might work.  I'm going to make the raspberries into juice and then mix it in with the peach juice I still have in the freezer from when I processed peaches.  Raspberry peach jelly doesn't sound too bad does it?  Anyone ever tried that flavor combination before?  Any advice?

I had gotten a free thing of unsweetened ice tea and when I was using it kind of fell in love with the shape of the container.  So, when it was done, I washed it out really good and tried to figure out a way to remove the REALLY good glue they had used to put the label onto the container.  I tried everything from soap to alcohol and my husband finally took some WD-40 to the glue and THAT finally worked.  It seems like "reuse" part of the recycle pledge can be tough sometimes.  Sheesh. 

Anyway the pitcher makes an awesome container for Tang or orange juice :).  I'm happy.

4.  I rearranged our living room furniture this week.  It's amazing how you do something like that and it feels like a whole new room after a while.  It really does cheer you up to do something like that when life starts to feel a bit overwhelming :).

5.  I took advantage of a deal that was putting on for their 11 year anniversary.  They had a 20% off site wide sale (which I actually think might still be going on today, actually) with a certain code and then if you put in another code (you could stack them) you got a free audio riff of a movie we own, so it was like getting a free movie almost.  We had credits at Rifftrax, believe it or not, from the Kickstarter I donated to with them?  Yes, the 1.00 donation I did.  We owned a bunch of the riffs they had on their "free shorts" that they gave out to everyone that donated, so we ended up with credits for the riffs we owned.  So, for a 1.00 donation I actually MADE money on the transaction (which I feel kind of bad about, actually *laugh*).  I used the coupon codes to get enough shorts (they start a .99 each) to fill a DVD and got the free audio riff and got them for pretty much free.  This will really come in handy when we want something new to watch.

6.  My husband stumbled across a new to me YouTube channel that I've become somewhat addicted to.  You should check it out.  It's called "18th Century Cooking" and is by a living historian.  It can be found HERE.  I am seriously going to try the fried chicken recipe.  It sounds neat :).

7.  What do you do when you have to use up some marshmallow creme that is going grainy and separating on you?  You make Mississippi Mud!  I do it the "not quite as rich" but easy way.  Take your favorite brownies (I used a mix I had in the pantry) and bake according to package directions.  When hot straight out of the oven, smooth over a small container of marshmallow creme and then let cool completely.  Once cool top with chocolate frosting (or chocolate glaze if you want a crunchy finish), cut into small pieces (as the finished dish is pretty rich) and enjoy!  We're eating the one I made a couple of days ago slowly, but it'll get there as now the marshmallow creme is used up.
8.  The fireweed is in bloom!  For those who have NO idea what fireweed is, I snapped a picture for you :).  It's a plant that grows wild up here and not only can you make juice and jelly from the flowers when young you can harvest and eat the greens as well.  And the chickens like to eat the flowers and greens too, so double win for free food stuffs.  I harvested a few blossoms from the yard, but not many so far.  It's been rough getting things done out in the yard with the son unit this summer, so I just do what I can.  I checked on the rose hips while I was out, but they weren't ready to harvest yet and I'm not too concerned about picking them earlier than needed so far this year as the mold and slug problems haven't kicked in and gone after the wild rose bushes...yet at least.

9.    When the chickens ran out of grit in the coop (see the note about the chickens NOT leaving the nesting box area...grumble) I was going to run out and get chicken grit when I happened to be on one of the poultry groups I was a member of on Facebook and someone mentioned that buying grit was way more expensive then buying traction sand from our local lumber yard and the traction sand was the perfect size for chicken grit.  My husband has a few bags of traction sand he keeps in the back of his pickup for additional weight in the winter to help with traction, so I went and stole a bag once I asked him if it was okay.  The traction sand is lasting a LOT longer and it definitely saved me some money!

10.  I darned some socks and mended a hole in a shirt this week.

And now onto the garden update!

We've been eating salads constantly and finally used up the last of the "super huge harvest" of lettuce I got from the garden a few weeks ago, so I went out last night and harvested some more lettuce.   This week I harvested peas, lettuce and chard from the garden.

I was so thrilled to finally be able to harvest some peas (yayyyyy!!!).  I harvested them a bit early once I found that if you picked them small enough that the pods weren't stringy yet so you got an almost edible pod type of taste to the peas.  I also picked some that had peas in the as well, but I am pleased that both ways taste really good :).  I'm not really sure about the breed of peas being any quicker growing, honestly, as until they get WARM they don't seem to grow any faster than any other breed of pea I've grown.  I think next year I'm going to stick with the cold and heat hardy breed I planted last year as they took off right away.  So far, though, the production with this breed is definitely proving itself, so we shall see :).

I harvested a FEW tiny little barese chard plants last night as well just to thin them and see if I could get them to grow more.  They are still REALLY tiny, like spinach sized plants, and I'm thinking that I might be harvesting them here, planting more spinach and just buying some Alaska grown chard at the store later to put up for winter as so far there is NO WAY I'm going to get enough out of these plants to store for winter.  Disappointing to say the least, but this year has really put a damper on everything growing well.  I mean even my cabbages are taking forever, compared to how they normally grow up here, to form heads and are JUST starting to form them, so here's hoping they get a move on here.

We finally got some decent sunny weather here the last few days (of course the clouds are supposed to move back in tomorrow), which is all the rat tailed radishes needed to shoot up in all directions and start producing radish pods.  I should be able to start harvesting some of those in the next couple of days (as they are still a bit small right now).  I am looking forward to getting more of those this year as they make really good relish!

I have to say that I am happy with the way the plants are growing, especially since I've only been able to feed the garden a couple of times (due to the constant rain) and the fact that I haven't been able to combat any insect problems as once again the rain prevented me from putting insecticidal soap on the plants and had it do any good.  So, yeah, at least the garden is doing really good for essentially taking care of itself this summer :).

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

Okay, soooo I didn't post up the menu plan for last week.  Why?  Well, because I didn't have a menu plan last week (which in all honesty was really HARD to deal with since I was constantly winging what I was doing all week).  Why?  Well...exhausted...busy...exhausted...take your pick there *laugh*.  It just seemed like such an insurmountable task to make a menu plan last week, which honestly I'm sure I wasted more energy and brain cells coming up with one meal after the other all week, but we got through it.

Alvah had another spectacular day at speech therapy today (two out of three appointments so far have been really good, so I'll definitely take it!) and had a good meeting with the psychologist this morning as well.  We're going to keep him on the meds he's on now but upping the Stretera to twice a day to see if we can get the rest of his outbursts under control and maybe help him sleep better too (at this point I'm not sure I am holding out much hope for's been REALLY rough on that front for a long time now, but the last week or so has been really bad with like two hours of sleep a night...not fun).  We shall see how it goes.  Honestly at this point I'll deal with lack of sleep if we can get him concentrating on the world around him and not hitting himself constantly in frustration.  I'd be golden at that point.

Right, back to the menu plan.  The highlight of last week's menu plan was probably yesterday when I made a pork roast in the crock pot with oven fries and salad as the sides (with four different types of home made dressing to choose from) and made strawberry shortcake for dessert (I used the frozen strawberries from the freezer from earlier in the year to make it...I was going to save the strawberries for jam, but I have a TON of strawberry jam and preserves in the pantry, so I am good for this year I think, so I thought I'd make us a treat :).  I have to say I've never made shortcake from scratch before.  My mom always bought the shortcakes from the store (which always made me sick to my stomach...I'm not sure why, but they really get to me...probably because they are glorified Twinkies), I always just bought an angel food cake and served the strawberry shortcake on that instead and then the last few years I tended to just have it on regular cake because angel food cake was kind of hard to make (well I thought it was...I need to try my hand at making it and see how it goes).  I thought for sure that shortcake would taste the store bought shortcake that I don't really like and got to my stomach.  Turns out, after my husband pushed me to check it out a bit, that shortcake is basically a cross between cake and biscuit (or a light and fluffy scone for those of you abroad) and I figured I'd give it a shot for dessert last night.  And it was REALLY good!  I am so making that again in the future!  And it really did go perfect with the whipped topping and strawberries.  I was impressed (seen up top before I tucked into it ;).

I also tried my own variation of red beans and rice and even my husband admitted that it was pretty good (and the daughter even liked it), so I called it a win.  I need to try making it again and write it down as I didn't really do traditional red beans and rice (I used dehydrated peppers and things so I needed to veer from the traditional formula to have enough moisture to rehydrate things) and share it as it's still a frugal recipe, but does fill you up really well (a bonus shot of it is seen above there to stand in for the menu plan that wasn't for last week *laugh*).

By the way you'll notice a considerable lack of recipes calling for eggs at the moment.  For the third time in as many months I have broody hens.  This time all three of them were good for about a week and then did the domino effect again and they all went broody within a couple of days of one another, so I have no eggs at all this time where before they managed to stretch it out so I could at least get one egg at time out of the coop as two of them would be broody at once).  I've tried everything to break them and keep them producing eggs, but they don't seem to be getting the memo (ice cubes, putting them in a make shift cage to get air under their bellies, dunking their bellies in really cold water, collecting all of the eggs...well I'd do that one if I was GETTING ANY, etc).  I'm about ready to just cull them and put them in the freezer and just BUY eggs again.  I'm getting really frustrated with the whole "raising chickens" thing at the moment.  Especially since broody hens BLOW through feed like nobody's business.  They peck around and get greens and bugs when they run off of their collective imaginary eggs, but they're still blowing through the feed like it's going out of style as they tend to make a bee line straight for the feed dish when they decide to jet off of their nesting spots.  Just...ugh. 

So, yeah, I have three hens and had to go out and BUY eggs this week (at least I got some cheap at Fred Meyer).  I gave a dozen eggs (well ten eggs because I grabbed the wrong container of was a long week what can I say) to my mother-in-law before the hens went broody on me and then I got a call from Shani out of the blue and she told me she was staying in Alaska.  Some shenanigans happened with moving in with her daughter and she can't do it until her house sells up here now.  Which with the market the way it is right now, due to everyone not knowing if the legislature is going to try and kill the majority of the state the way they are going, she hasn't even gotten a bite on the house.  So, she has sold everything she owns pretty much (both vehicles, her bed, etc etc) at this point and now she's stuck here until...whenever, she is worried the cancer has progressed bad in the last months due to the amount of nausea and pain she's in and she can't go to California until September to start treatment as that is when they'll have the scanner she needs to figure out how progressed her cancer is.  Basically, the only thing I could think to do was to drop off the last dozen eggs I had (which three days later the chickens are all broody now).  I hope that at least cheers her up at this trying time in her life :(.  At least when I told Shani that the chickens might be chicken dinners here soon she just laughed and said if they aren't giving you eggs they should be good for something right?  I love that woman!

So, anyway, onto this week's menu plan!
Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Chicken Teriyaki, rice, garlic peas, salad

Friday:  Pork roast with pantry friendly fig sauce, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, salad

Saturday:  Chicken in mushroom sauce, left over mashed potatoes, salad

Sunday:  Waffles (blueberry for husband, chocolate chip for daughter, plain with pancake syrup for son...whatever for me), bacon, eggs

Monday:  Fruity Meatballs, garlic toast, salad

Tuesday:  Fried fish, rice, salad

Desserts:  Renaissance Apple Pudding (believe it or not this was a recipe that was popular during that time in history.  I want to give it at try as the ingredients are simple :), strawberry shortcake, Mississippi Mud (doctored brownie mix to make it work), mincemeat cookies (made and are pretty good!)

Breakfasts:  Granola by itself or with yogurt, banana nut muffins, English muffins, oatmeal, toast, cranberry orange breakfast bread (mix from pantry)

Snacks:  Beef jerky (getting low, but still have a LITTLE bit left), strawberry milk (I mixed the strawberry powder that was left over at the bottom of the can of freeze dried strawberries...which there was actually a decent amount of powder...with some sugar and voila!  Way better than store bought strawberry Quick ;), apples, watermelon (got one cheap at Carrs last week when I went's really good!).

And there you are folks.  Our menu for the week.  How about you?  Eating anything good this week?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

This has been an interesting week, in good and bad ways.  I'm going to focus on the good, though, because it makes you feel better to focus on the good.  With the bad...well money is non-existent for the next two weeks, like BAD due to a mandatory day without pay my husband had to take as part of the labor contract (they are required to take two days a year at his job, but because of when my husband started he only had to take one day) and then healthcare deductions and things started getting taken out of his check this pay period too.  I thought that the holiday pay from the Fourth of July would help to offset the day without pay, but I didn't do my math right and the Fourth will be on the next pay period.  So, is scary tight right now.  Not fun, but we're dealing.

Good things have happened around here, though.  The son has three speech therapy sessions under his belt so far and the first two were about what I was expecting with Alvah with a new in not a lot got done, but overall he did OKAY.  But the last speech therapy session he had last week he did really well!  He did turn taking, nodding his head "yes" and "no" at the proper times (a big deal for him) and he followed directions!  The speech therapist came out downright oozing happy and I was thrilled.  I'm praying it's because his medication is starting to do its voodoo and also his speech therapist is a really calm and friendly person, so I think it's been a lot easier for him to feel at ease with her.  The medication is definitely making a difference though.  We had to run errands a couple of times this week as well and both times he did really great when we were out compared to how he has been and in some cases he did really well for him period.  We went and kidnapped grandma for a while one day and she went running errands with us and even she noticed how well Alvah did.  It really does make the bad mood periods he is still having easier to deal with when you know that he's going to have good days too now.  I think we're finally on the right track with his medications.  And THAT makes me really happy to say.

So, now onto frugal things that happened this week!

1.  I made some un-paper towels to help make paper towels last longer around here (seen up top there).  I have another roll to make still, but you know I have to say for something that is pretty simple construction, I mean you're making basically un-stuffed pillows when you form your squares of towels and all, they are surprisingly labor intensive.  I've been staying up late after the kids are in bed, which is about one to two AM right now with them, and working on the project because I know that I won't be needed at a moment's notice.  It's taken me three days to get the two towel "rolls" sewn together and I finally got one of the rolls put together to form the actual roll (three velcro tabs per side of each square to hold the squares to one another in the roll) just a little bit ago.  The roll you see up top I did with cotton fabric on one side (that was gifted to me) and white muslin on the other side (since it's absorbent and I use it for home made dish towels a lot).  I'm hoping they work well and save me some paper towel consumption.  I used an old paper towel roll with some sticky velcro tape to secure the towels to a roll (the tape was gifted to me by my step mom) for now.  My husband has some PVC pipe that he salvaged from somewhere that needs to be cleaned up really well, but when he does that and cuts it down I'll have a more permanent roll to stick the towels onto.

I also, to stop people, *cough* daughter *cough*, from using paper towels for napkins all of the time, I decided to be a bit more forward with the cloth napkins, so I grab enough for two meals worth and place them in a little basket I used to store garlic cloves in and I stick them in the middle of the table when I make the table.  It's been working well so far :).

2. I mended one comforter this week and placed the comforters that are just beyond hope of actually being a whole comforter aside to redo into a new duvet here.  I figure the stuffing is all screwed up in those comforters and the material is going in places, so I am going to cut the comforters into squares where I know the material is still good and then I'm going to use the stuffing from the comforters to stuff the "pillows" and then just sew the little pillows together to make a puffed quilt.  It won't be quite the same as my son's beloved comforters, but I'm thinking it'll wear better, will allow me to save some of my son's favorite covers and also save me from having to buy new comforters somewhere.  I'm going to start that project as soon as I'm done with the un-paper towels.

3.  I've been using up old bottles of shampoo that I had bought for the kids and things and that I found didn't really do well with their skin or something.  I have been making sure to shower the soap/shampoo off well before I get out so I don't irritate the kid's skin with things left on mine, but I've found it's really been helping to make things like shampoo stretch by doing this. 

4.  I dug out an old glass bottle I used to make tinctures in when my son was small (among other things I studied a bunch of herbology books to try and find a way to help his eczema and also had to find different ways through tinctures to get iron into him when he was's been an interesting ride through the years) and filled it with vinegar.  I found it's a LOT easier to pour out of the bottle instead of the big bottle of vinegar when filling the dish washer, so I'm glad I had the bottle to spare :).

5.  I made mini pavlovas one day for dessert and thought I could just use cherry pie filling for the topping instead of fresh fruit and then I'd use Cool Whip from the freezer.  Well it turned out WAY too sweet doing that...the recipe really needed the fresh fruit taste to counter the sweet.  So, I thought of a way to use some type of  fresh fruit for the topping (without using the limited amount of frozen fruit I have in the freezer) and cracked open the #10 can of freeze dried strawberries that came with the breakfast kit of food storage I had gotten from Amazon.  It worked well when the strawberries were mixed in with the whipped topping (to rehydrate them).  I then pulled out my vacuum sealer and used my wide mouthed mason jar attachment to quickly reseal up the remainder of the strawberries so that the high humidity we're dealing with this summer wouldn't effect the strawberries.  I ended up vacuum sealing 7 pints of strawberries that are now in the pantry.

6.  We've been enjoying as much of the sunshine as possible the last little bit.  We had a couple of days this week that were mostly sunny, so we made sure to be outside in the sun as much as we could, even if it was just riding around in the air conditioned car (any type of weather where the son gets hot and sweaty it makes his eczema go nuts on him, so he likes riding in air conditioned cars a lot).

7. Grocery shopping went okay this week.  Highlights were getting some dried cherries and a pork loin from a local food pantry and getting a thing of hamburger for 2.77 lb on sale at Carrs this week.  We were out of a lot of stuff (like hamburger), so I got only what was on my list at the store and ended up walking away from more than a few deals that I would have jumped at the chance to buy a bit ago, but now a days I'm more careful and do not regret walking away.

8.  I ended up exchanging Kindles with my daughter.  I loved having my new Kindle, I really did and I used it for a bunch for things.  The ONLY thing my daughter really uses her Kindle for is to watch cartoons online, or lately, to look up art tutorials and things online, which made me happy that she would want to do that, but it was really problematic for her.  Her Kindle was so old that it wouldn't run a bunch of the videos online as they were a format it didn't recognize (we got her Kindle when we bought my son an I-Pad years ago so she could have a computer's like the FIRST generation Kindle Fire).  I was really hoping to be able to buy her a new Kindle on Prime Day if the money situation was doing alright, but I decided to be cautious and not buy the on-sale Kindle that I wanted to get her when we hadn't gotten paid yet (thank GOD I did that!).  When I realized how tight we were and how much it would stretch the budget, I loaded all of the videos and apps my daughter watches onto my Kindle and traded with her for her smaller and slower Kindle.  Now she can watch her art tutorials and her Kindle won't freeze up all of the time like it was doing.  I have to be careful with the older Kindle on what videos I watch and things, but once I ripped all of the downloaded materials off of the Kindle so it's running as streamlined as possible, at least it's running okay for now.

9.  I made cinnamon rolls with the left over cinnamon sugar I had from making graham crackers last week.  Instead of pulling out one of the few things of cream cheese and making cream cheese frosting (which is what I would normally do), I instead looked up a Paula Dean cinnamon roll recipe and used her frosting/glaze topping recipe on top of the cinnamon rolls instead.  It worked out well and was a LOT cheaper overall to make than the cream cheese frosting would have been (and it still tasted good).

And now onto a garden update!
I have PEAS!!!  They are still small, but popping up all over the place =D.  I'm watching them like a hawk, ready as all get out to start harvesting them.   So happy that those are, so far, growing really well!

I was thrilled that the weather forecast I read on NOAA was actually accurate this week.  I was so scared that it was going to be like last year where the weather would call for temps in the upper 70's and then you'd end up with temps in the upper 80's instead, but nope, it was beautiful out and the garden LOVED it!  I think everything shot up about three inches each day we had sun (honestly I think the kids did that too *laugh*).  Everything is growing well, overall.  I am having problems with bugs eating holes in things, but I also realize that putting insecticidal soap and things on the plants just plain isn't going to work with the wet weather we've had all summer, so I'm just watching it and praying that the plans grow fast enough that they can survive the onslaught (so far, so good).

When weeding the garden this last time I noticed that I have some volunteer carrots popping up in a few points in the garden.  I am thinking the cat running through the garden when it was still newly planted probably had something to do with this, but who knows.  I thought it was funny that the one carrot I found actually ended up in a nice straight row (well almost) with the beets.  So, yay for a few more vegetables growing in the garden :).

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Monthly Goals: July 2017

Man, I'm almost half way through the month and NOW I finally get to doing monthly goals.  That's just sad.  The son has definitely not been helping with my ability to think of late, though, so I'm definitely going to give him credit where credit is due. 

When it comes to July, usually my goals end up revolving around getting ready for back to school and things.  This year really is no different, except I'm just going to look up the school supply list online, figure out what I have and get the bare minimum needed to see the kids through school for a while.  I am not going to kill myself to get a lengthy school supply list when I'm barely getting by.  I'll have pow wows with teachers if need be, but if I can't fill the list with what I have, what I can get from friends and what I can afford...we'll deal with it.  I'm just not stressing about it.

This month we'll be celebrating my husband's birthday.  It's going to be a frugal and simple one, but I do plan on making him his favorite type of cake to celebrate.

So, anyway, onto the goals for this month!

Sewing Goals:
  • Make "un-paper towels" (figuring it'll save on using paper towels, but I'll still have the convenience of having them in the kitchen as needed for quick scrub downs on the counters and things this way)
  • Make reusable food wrap cloths (another project in the works.  This is an idea I'm working with for Christmas gifts...not sure how well it'll work, but I am curious)
  • Work on new comforter tops to salvage what is left of some of the comforters
  • Continue to work on embroidery for tote bag projects (this is so problematic as with the other projects I can steal a few minutes here or there, but with the son melting down at a moment's notice I'm having a really hard time concentrating enough to do embroidery)
  • Darn husband's socks

Cleaning/organizing Goals:
  • Reorganize freezer and figure out what we need in the way of meat (I'm thinking we're down to pretty much chicken at this point, so I am going to have to find money in our limited budget to get more beef and pork at some point)
  • Shampoo the carpets (got the son's carpet done today)
  • Clean up den and get recycling out of the house
  • Clean windows and closet doors

Garden/yard Goals:
  • Expand trellis for peas and (hopefully soon as they JUST started popping up) pole beans
  • Replant spinach and lettuce seeds
  • Harvest chard when big enough and replant seeds
  • Watch rose hips and harvest when ripe or as needed (in the case of bugs eating too many of them)
  • Harvest fireweed petals, make juice, put in freezer to make jelly with at later date
  • Harvest rest of rhubarb, if and when it's ready
  • Continue to harvest lettuce

General Goals:
  • Make husband foot cream for birthday
  • Make angel food cake for husband's birthday

And there you are folks.  My goals for the month.  How about you?  Working on anything this month?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Shopping Goals: July 2017

Seen above, home made snacks at it's best.  Home made cheese crackers.  Made these last night as my son was asking for cheese balls/puffs (which we didn't have in the house).  The son turned his nose up at them, but the rest of us liked them, so they're definitely going into the "make again" category.  I used medium cheddar instead of sharp called for the in the recipe and omitted the Cheyenne pepper (for the sake of the daughter's mild loving palette) and they still came out tasty!

Totally not shopping goal related, but we had our first official speech therapy session today.  So far the new med seems to really be helping the son's general ability to concentrate and not throw so many temper tantrums, so I was relieved when the speech therapist walked him out to the car and said that the session went pretty well.  I was doubly pleased that he actually worked today as Alvah is one of those kids that do NOT bond easily with people, it took him two years to warm up to Shani and actually start to get some work done, so it really made me happy that he's already warming up to his new speech therapist already and he's only seen her a couple of times.

My daughter loves the new therapist because she has a mini-farm going on her property, so we got to go and check out her chickens and got to see glimpses of her horses (they were doing work on the horse yard, so the horses were stuck in the barn and weren't overly happy about it *laugh*).  So, here's hoping against hope that progress will be steady, fast and happy with Alvah at the new therapist.   Praying hard for that as it's about time the kiddo caught some type of a break.

So, onto shopping goals.

I should be harvesting lettuce from the garden hopefully through this month (need to plant more lettuce and spinach seeds though) and might even start to get some peas and rat tailed radishes to harvest.  Since the chard is meant to be picked when it's still at the spinach type of stage, I'll be harvesting that this month and replanting those seeds as well.  So, at least those won't need to be on shopping lists this month (I is supposed to jump from the lower to mid 60's to potentially the upper 80's by Thursday and the sun is supposed to come out when that happens too, so I might be trying to stop my garden from burning and bolting due to the shock of it all).

My budget for groceries right now stands at 160.00 to 200.00 per month (that includes my cell and any charge up it needs and gas for my car), depending on how much my son is eating through, so hopefully I can fit these things into my normal grocery budget.

Fred Meyer has tomatoes on sale this week for .99 lb.  I am going to wait and see what Carrs has for sales starting tomorrow, but I am hoping to get to Fred Meyer to pick up at least a few tomatoes if Carrs doesn't have a good sale on them.  I don't get fresh tomatoes at all often as they are normally so-so quality up here and my husband can't eat them with his acid reflux very easily, but I'd at least like to get myself a few tomatoes as I love them :).

I am hoping to pick up cheese this month.  Cheese grated off the block is a staple both of my kids will actually EAT (a rarity amongst foods with the son's super picky eating habits) and between general eating and cooking/baking we do go through a lot of it around here, so I am hoping to be able to afford a big block of it (I believe it's five pounds).  It runs around 20.00 for the block, so it's kind of tight to squeeze into the budget, but I haven't seen sales on the smaller blocks of Tilamook cheese in a while that were worth getting and it's the only cheese my son likes, so I'm going to work hard on getting that.

Bulk Store:

  • Tilamook Cheddar Cheese Block 
  • Vanilla extract (we go through two tablespoons each time I make ice cream, so we're finally reaching the bottom of the super huge bottle I bought years ago)

Regular Stores:

  • Potatoes (depending where there is a good sale)
  • Vegetable oil (when you start baking regularly, somehow this stuff doesn't stick around)
  • Carrots (baby carrots seem to going on sale regularly around here, so I'm hoping to at least get some of those decently cheap)
  • Toilet paper (need to watch for a good sale on that regular prices on toilet paper are criminal!  I'd normally go through Amazon, but shelling out 20.00 or more just for toilet paper...just doesn't make good sense)
  • Milk (extra on top of the usual 4 gallons a week we go through...yes 4...the son will actually drink it out of a bottle, so we definitely encourage it as it's one of the "real foods" he'll consume) to make yogurt and sour cream substitute (strained yogurt is a great sour cream sub out :).

And there you are folks.  The shopping goals for this month.  How about you?  Got anything on your list for this month?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Oosh.  What a week.  I am definitely tired right now.  Bright side, at least the son is getting better slowly but surely on his new med, but the building up in the system is slow, so he's definitely having ups and downs right now.  At least there are ups in his moods now, though, instead of just straight bad, so improvement is definitely there!

Another nice side to the week is despite trying to get Alvah's new meds dialed in right, I was able to get some stuff done on the frugal front this week!

So, let's get to the frugal adventures for the week shall we?

1.  I wanted to thank everyone who weighed in about dish washing detergent alternatives, since I didn't want to spend a bunch replenishing the dish washer supplies.  My original plan was just to do dishes ye old fashioned way, but I quickly realized with Alvah requiring so much attention right now that there was just no way I could really do it without dirty dishes piling up everywhere.  So, I started researching and found this recipe for dish washing detergent and found that I had the supplies to make it (although I ran out of lemon essential oil after about ten drops and had to substitute in sweet orange essential oil for the rest of the lemon oil).  Double bright point to using it was that it didn't have any weird chemical additives so hopefully it will help my son's skin in the long run as well.  I ended up using the H2O at Home "Oxypur" for the oxygen bleach in the recipe since it was what I had, so yeah...the dish washing detergent wasn't the cheapest to make, but I had it so I used it. 

I also made the site's recipe for home made Citrishine and am using it in the prewash section of the dishwasher.  Yes, I did actually have citric acid on hand to make's even commercial food grade citric acid.  I got some in bulk years ago, on Etsy I believe, to make bath bombs for Christmas gifts and figured I'd use whatever was left over for canning.  Yeah, I never remember to use it for canning and just end up using lemon juice or vinegar, so the leftover citric acid just sat in a jar all of these years.  I ended up scraping and chiseling out the citric acid I needed for the recipe and used some sea salt I had sitting around that is more in a rock salt type of shape (got it super cheap on Amazon a few years back) and I grind it up as I am short on salt or something (which with all the free salt I got at the store won't be needed for a long while anyway).  So I ground some salt up and used that for the salt portion of the recipe.  And voila!  I now have dish washing detergent for a bit (I'm using just straight white vinegar as a rinse aid).  Thanks again to those who chimed in with the ideas.  I really appreciate it!  The finished results are seen up top there.  I add about three drops of dish soap to the dish washing dispenser on top of the detergent before closing it when I do a load of dishes to help cut grease (thanks for that suggestion too, folks!) as well.  So far it's doing a really nice job of cleaning the dishes with no white residue on the dishes to show for it.  So, I'm calling it a win so far!
2.  Grocery shopping went okay this week overall.  The highlights for the week were definitely getting bone in pork shoulder roasts for .99 lb at Carrs this week!  I hadn't seen pork that cheap in years, so I ran to the store Wednesday and got a few roasts for about 7.00 each (I purposefully found the smallest ones available in the case as we always have a bunch of leftovers when I make a bone in pork roast).  The sale came at a good time because every meat but chicken was getting low in the freezer, so it was nice to be able to add some variety back into the meat in the freezer.

I was also able to get a big can of store brand coffee for 5.00 (I've learned that the Carrs "Signature Select" coffee and my stomach actually get along, so I've just switched to that as it's cheaper than the coffees I had been buying) and a thing of cat litter for 5.00 as well (they're having a thing called "5.00 frenzy" at Carrs this week).  It was nice getting things I needed for cheap for sure!

While in town running around I ran by Fred Meyer and got the few freebies I had on my card.  Most of the freebies of late have been candy, so I ended up just skipping those as it was candy the kids really wouldn't eat and I didn't see the point of running into town just to get candy and wasting the gas and such.  The two freebies I was happy to get though were the free jerky and the free BBQ sauce.  I was thrown through a loop when I found that a 2.5 oz thing of jerky was on SALE for 3.99!  Glad it was free as there is no way I would pay that much for jerky.  Yeesh!  The freebies are seen above.
3.  We currently have lettuce and spinach coming out our ears around here.  Since it's really the only vegetable ready in the garden right now, I decided to make the "salad with every meal" thing a bit more tolerable so I made a bunch of different salad dressings from scratch.  I made creamy french dressing, ranch dressing and a honey mustard dressing (which needs a "try two" as it's not that great) and I am planning on making Italian dressing.  Anyone else got some ideas for different dressings to make that will keep in the fridge okay?

4.  I got a personalized price on heavy cream at Carrs last week and bought four containers (they gave me a little over 2.00 a pint on the heavy cream!  I was thrilled!) and made custard ice cream again this week.  I've found making custard ice cream is a great way to not only increase the volume of the ice cream I make, but I can also add a few more egg yolks or something to the ice cream base and use up more eggs.  We haven't had "premium" ice cream in years, so it's been really nice to have good ice cream in the freezer.  And better yet with the home made ice cream my son will actually EAT some of it!  Since he normally hates anything the least bit soft in texture, especially cold and soft textures, this has been a really nice side benefit to making the ice cream :).

5.  We got up late yesterday and the whole day was just kind of like one of those days where you think, "Why did I get up today" types of days.  I didn't get to the make the stew I had planned for dinner as getting up so late and the day just being delayed one thing after the other, it just wasn't going to happen.  So, instead of going out to eat (which we can't afford right now and my husband and I both know that) I dug in the freezer, found some bratwurst and we had brats with home canned sauerkraut and mustard.  It worked.

6.  We've been mixing up Tang and other powdered drink mixes to help add variety to drinks around here in an effort for me to veer the family away from drinking soda so much.  So far it's been working pretty well and bright side is that Tang has calcium added and vitamin C.  You can't say the same for soda.

7.  I've definitely been baking up a storm around here, which is definitely saving us money as it gives a regular supply of snack food for the family and stops them from eating so many of the prepacked convenience foods that cost so much at the store.

8.  One thing I've definitely been getting better at is saying "no" to a "good deal" on something that I might need later but certainly do not need now.  It's hard walking away from marked down foods sometimes, but worth it.  I've made sure to hit the clearance foods first so I have the entire shopping trip to think about if I REALLY want to get a certain item or not and 9 times out of 10 I think on it and realize that I might still have some of that certain thing at home, or I figure out a way of not needing it at all because I can make "A" to substitute for "B", etc.  It might not save us much money me doing this, sometimes a dollar here or there even, but those dollars will certainly add up over time, so I am glad I'm learning to walk away sometimes :).

9.  We got our insurance cards and binder from the new health insurance so I called and got off of The Affordable Care Act insurance we were on, which required a call to and things.  Glad to leave our old insurance behind, honestly, as the more I realized the insurance didn't cover, it was depressing, so I'm glad we'll at least have decent insurance now.  I also called the daughter's insurance and am getting that updated as well with the new insurance.  I also called payroll for my husband on a tool allowance my husband is supposed to get at his new job, but wasn't showing up on his paycheck and got that straightened out and he'll be getting the back pay on that.  It's only 20.00 a month, but that's still 20.00 a month.  I hate weeks where you have a lot of phone calls to make, so I was really glad to get all of that straightened out and behind us for now.

And now onto the garden update for the week!
I ended up harvesting all of the lettuce from the cabbage bed this week as it was shortening to bolt quicker than the Road Runner running from Wylie Coyote.  I'm not really sure WHY it was bolting this fast, honestly, but my theory is that the cabbage bed is the one bed that is pretty much in direct sunlight all of the time and I think it was just too much sunlight for the lettuce.  Kind of sad it was bolting so fast as I had just started harvesting decent amounts of lettuce from it, but ah well.  We still have plenty of lettuce left in the other two beds and those plants are doing just fine, so we won't be hurting for lettuce anyway. 

I also ended up harvesting a bunch of the spinach this week as it was definitely ready to be harvested.  There is still some left, but there are holes, so one of my monthly goals this month is definitely to plant more spinach seeds where I harvested spinach so that I can keep the harvest rotating as much as possible.

But, yeah, due to both of those things as well as the other lettuce in the garden producing well, we have a LOT of lettuce to eat!  So, yeah for that happy circumstance :).  You would not believe how much lettuce I got into the basket that you can see up in the list above there.  There's a LOT more lettuce than it looks!

The entire bed is growing right along.  The beans are growing, I even got a few small plants that are growing in the far bed, which is impressive since that bed spend the most time in the shade.  The turnips are going insane and I've thinned them and the carrots to help them both grow better.  The turnips are actually overshadowing the swiss chard that I have planted nearest to them, although the chard is still growing okay, so I'm just going to let it go for now.  I'm hoping the chard starts to grow bigger here as so far it's on the lower end of puny, but we'll see how it goes as every time it gets some decent amounts of sunlight the chard seems to pop up more.  We just have had a lack of sunlight this summer.  Honestly, I'm really impressed with how well the garden is doing considering all of the water we've had fall.  We have clover growing all over the yard due to the lack of nitrogen in the soil because of all of the rain, so the fact that the garden is growing makes me happy!

The peas are growing awesome so far.  The second row of peas I planted are up and growing and the first ones I planted are growing all over the chicken wire and are covered in blooms.  So, hopefully we'll see peas developing soon!  I can't wait :).

In the far bed the beets are growing slowly but surely, the turnips are happy as clams and the rat tailed radishes are finally flowering as well, so I should start seeing some radishes developing.  I can't wait for the garden to start producing a lot here soon.  The excitement is real ;).  I am enjoying the fresh lettuce, though, don't get me wrong!

I also harvested off the chives in the front bed as the tips were starting to turn brown and the chives were starting to die off.  I was worried they would go to waste, so I went and harvested them.  One of the plans tomorrow (other than our first "official" speech therapy session...squee!) is to put those on the dehydrator so they are preserved and ready to use later.  I preserved some basil in ice in the freezer so I have it to use later and managed to dry some dill just by leaving it out where it got good air circulation.  For now I just put the dill in a baggie in the spice cabinet until I empty out a spice bottle at some point to crumble it into.

And yeah, there you are folks.  Some of the stuff that happened around here this week.  How about you?  Anything neat happen at your house this week?

Friday, July 7, 2017

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

Just to let you know I am working on my shopping goals (which I do have a few), monthly goals and the weekly frugal recap.  I spent yesterday just trying to catch up on housework as much as humanely possible because for the first time it feels like forever but I know it's just been months, I actually was able to do so. 

My son's behavior has been BAD of late.  Like really bad.  Fourth of July I was on the verge of tears most of the day.  I had a short list of things I wanted to bake for the 4th and from the moment my son woke up, it was terrible.  I couldn't do more than three minutes worth of work at a time before he'd be bashing his head into the nearest wall and screaming bloody murder.  I'd have to scream at him to be heard above his screams and manage to get him into his bed so he could at least bash his head on something soft (thank the Lord for memory foam mattresses).  My husband (thank goodness he's a heavy sleeper anymore) woke up in the afternoon and wrestled the son.  I was able to make a mad dash to make a Fourth of July cake (I promised my daughter we were going to do something special and by God I was going to keep my promise) instead of the star shaped sugar cookies we'd planned and I made some graham crackers to make s'mores with.  Overall, I was proud of what we got done (especially considering the circumstances) and my daughter was really proud of her "space cake" design.  I then chuckled and reminded her it was the Fourth of July, so it shouldn't it be "fireworks cake".  She looked at the cake, weighing her options and then just shrugged and said, "Okay, it'll be both.  Fireworks in space!" I love the way kid's minds work sometimes *laugh*.

We went to the psychologist on Wednesday and I explained what I was seeing with Stritera (I'm PRETTY sure that's misspelled) and the improvements we were seeing on it with his ability to concentrate, but we really needed something for his outbursts and moods as those were BAD.  She was actually pleased with his progress on the Stritera and prescribed him something for irritability and outburst type of reactions on top of it.   Yesterday he was already doing better than he's been in a LONG time with a handful of outbursts and actually showing some happy moods.  His outbursts were also shorter lived and not as violent.  So far so good and we'll see how he does today.  Because of the new medication, I was able to vacuum his room yesterday without him freaking out and beating himself off of walls and things and was able to get things like ice cream made and such.  I nearly cried I was so grateful that the medication is working and with noticeable results right out of the gate.  Now if I can get him to sleep better...we'll be on the road to "yay" with him I think :).

So, yeah, now that I can actually DO things again, I'll be able to work on getting the blogging and things done here, I hope (at least I'm praying we're over the hump here on starting to get the son leveled off).  You can not imagine how happy and relieved I am to say things like that!

So, onto the menu plan for this week!

Wednesday:  Crock pot cranberry pork roast (use last jar of cranberry sauce from pantry), rice pilaf (mix from pantry), salad with thick and creamy french dressing (this was quite good.  I used a half tsp. of onion powder instead of the fresh onion so it would keep in the fridge better)

Thursday:  Tacos (using left over hamburger from Fourth of July...husband wanted burgers instead of hot dogs, so I made both), use can of refried beans to pad out hamburger (works great doing that by the way).

Friday:  Fauxtisserie chicken leg quarters (I'm going to try it and see how it goes), salad with buttermilk ranch dressing (we're out of prepared salad dressings around here...can you tell?  By the way this stuff is awesome.  My husband doesn't even LIKE ranch and likes this salad dressing...I do use powders instead of raw ingredients just to help it keep in the fridge longer), roasted root vegetables, home made multi-grain bread.

Saturday:  Farmhouse stew (basically just throwing bits and bobs of left over meat scraps and a bunch of veggies into a pot and turning it into stew...hope it tastes good), home made rolls (use other half of dough to make cinnamon rolls...use left over cinnamon sugar left over from graham crackers that is in fridge for the cinnamon sugar).

Sunday:   Leftovers (because I know we'll have some)

Monday:  Chicken Alfredo (use jar of Alfredo sauce from pantry that needs to be used up) with Peas and bacon

Tuesday:  Black Bean Burgers, salad with choice of dressing (note:  Make Italian dressing too), fries (or chips or fried potatoes...depending on what we have in the freezer)

Desserts:  Space Fireworks cake, s'mores (using left over Easter chocolate for chocolate part), home made ice cream with easy home made fudge sauce

Breakfasts:  Cinnamon rolls, cereal, toast, English muffins

Snacks:  S'mores (okay, not the healthiest choice, but still yummy!), apples, cheese slices on crackers (note:  Make crackers), home made beef jerky

So there you are folks.  Our menu for the week.  How about you?  Making anything good this week?