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 :).


  1. Wonderful news that your son is doing better!
    My husband and I use Tracfones and he likes to upgrade them about once a year. Our old android smartphones make great devices for our grands. We have them on our wireless and they can play games or watch videos with them. If you come across an older android smartphone, that might work for your daughter's videos too.
    We use cloth napkins here and I have un-paper towels too but I never put mine on a roll. Ours are just folded and in a basket and a drawer.
    I'm sorry about your husband's short pay.
    I think you are truly amazing at doing so much homemaking with limited resources.

  2. I am so thankful for you and your family, that the meds are truly helping your son. How wonderful.

    You are a frugal gal and you will get through this lean time. It may be a slight struggle, but you can do it.
    Your garden is looking great.
    Blessings sent your way. Have a good week.

  3. Glad to hear your son is doing much better with the medicines. Thanks for the reminder on the paper towels. I do buy cheap napkins, so I only go through a roll of paper towels like once every 3 or 4 months, because I use kitchen rags for everything, but when my mother in law come s(like shes about to) shes a roll a day kind of gal. Need to dry her hands? 2 or 3 towels to do the trick. And her youngest son? (age 31) will take 5 or 6. I usually hide them before they come.

    1. That made me chuckle! My mom could never get over my lack of paper products when she came to visit. Why on earth did I want extra laundry to do? Such was the life of a very poor grad student. So, when she came to visit, she brought her own plus a package of paper plates and napkins. It was practically like watching Mary Poppins unpack her bag :)
      Chris M

  4. So happy to hear that the medication and speech therapy are helping your son. That is wonderful news.

  5. The garden is looking great! I hope it continues to thrive.

    I'm glad your son is evening out. The medication piece is a hard one, but it sounds like you are getting somewhere on it! (I swear some kid of mine or other has tried every medicine out there--and just when we find something excellent, they stop manufacturing it!!!--and we are back to the drawing board!)

    I'm hoping to get some green beans canned this week, and other things, like zucchini, are starting to ripen in the garden.

    Your un-paper towels look so nice. I use rags for everything, but that's exactly what they are--RAGS! As is chopped up old clothing, etc. Yours look so much nicer on the counter. I just have a basket that I throw them in after I wash them, and we grab one when needed. I'm with Sarah--I hide the paper towels when certain people come. I was given a case (probably 8 rolls) over a year ago and still have a lot of them. I do use them for a few things, like draining bacon and super yucky jobs.

    1. I am with Sarah and Becky, hide the paper towels!

  6. Erika, what a wonderful, successful week you have had. It has made my day. The best news is about your son, I am glad the medicine is finally working.

    The paper towel roll is smart. We use rags that were given to me years ago by my brother-in-law. They were being thrown away by his company and he would bring them home. Every time my sister offered, I took all she was giving away. The extras are stored in a trash bag in my attic because I knew the cash cow would not last. He has changed jobs so no more cloths. But I have enough to last for years!

    The garden is exploding! Wow! It is growing so fast. I suppose it had to make up for the late start it got with the rainy weather. You can send some of that rain down this away. I have been having to water, with temps up to 95 degrees and 1,000 percent humidity!!!!! No, make that a billion percent humidity.

  7. I don't know if you still have a hard time finding soap your son can use with his excema, but I wanted to recommend She developed the soap when her baby had excema. It is a little pricy but might be worth it. I personally have not tried it. I originally read about her in an old magazine.

  8. I had wondered about the unpaper towels. I don't think I'll do it after reading your experience. Thanks for sharing!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage