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?


  1. Hi Erica,
    So glad to hear the medication is starting to work on your son! He can't be happy being that miserable.

    I've been making this poppyseed dressing
    and we really like it. I use it for coleslaw, fruit salad, waldorf salad, and sometimes when I mix fruit into a green salad. I keep it in a mason jar in the fridge and it lasts!

    The other salad dressing I wanted to suggest was Dorothy Lynch's Salad Dressing -- very popular in the midwest. My MIL had a recipe for a copycat version which is a little different from one I found online.
    1 cup sugar
    1/8 t. garlic salt (other versions call for garlic powder)
    1 T dry mustard
    1 T celery seed (my MIL left this out because she didn't like the seeds to get in her teeth)
    1 can tomato soup
    1/2 cup vinegar
    1 cup vegetable oil
    1 t. salt
    1 t. pepper
    Beat in blender. I would probably add the oil slowly to all the other ingredients to get it to emulsify and thicken. It keeps very well in the refrigerator as well. It's kind of like a french meets thousand island without the pickles. Very popular back in the day!

    I make most of my own salad dressings because I can't have soybean oil. Good luck with this!


    1. Thank you! I'll have to try those. If I have a can of tomato soup that is :).

  2. I got the jerky too, but my husband didn't see it, so I'm saving it for a stocking stuffer come christmas. I need to get the bbq sauce, I,actually skipped kroger this week and just shopped at walmart.

    This is looking to be a hectic month, it's been so busy and it seems like every day I can't get caught up, then more things that take half a day or so get added. My in laws come I a week, and it's a disaster.

    I did make a last minute dessert yesterday using stuff on hand so I was pleased with that, but my husband tossed out almost half a veggie tray my mom brought over, instead of putting it in the fridge, so was kind of annoyed about that.

    I hope your week goes good!

    1. Man, half a veggie tray? That stinks!!!

      I know how you feel about getting overwhelmed. I get there all the time. I just end up tackling one chore a day and then just do upkeep on that chore the next day after I get the next chore done. By the end of a week or so I end up doing mainly upkeep on everything. So tired I don't know my name anymore, but the house is clean. Lol! Good luck and soldier on!

  3. Hi, Erika! I'm always amazed at how much you get done with all you have going on!
    I'm trying to do a no-spend July. I set 30.00 a week for food. So far, I haven't spent close to that for the two of us. The freezer is still pretty full, a blessed place to be, that's for sure! Maybe I can do this for August, too. I'm looking for an Italian dressing, as well. I don't normally make my own dressings, but it's cost effective and I've never been a big fan of the store bought. I think I saw a recipe on the prudent homemaker. I may try hers.
    I hope you find time to be good to yourself!

    1. Great minds! I'm going to make Brandy's recipe too :). It looks good. I hope the family likes it!

  4. We are also getting lots and lots of lettuce and are eating it daily. I love home-grown lettuce. I just keep putting in more in every empty space that opens up in the garden, as I pull out old things. I plan to have it until fall, hopefully! Your post reminds me I should check my chives.

    I finally remembered to download my Friday Freebie--so I hope to get that this week.

    I love how your cabbages are growing so nicely.

    Here's hoping the new meds continue to work! Have a great week.

  5. My son loves home made balsamic vinaigrette dressing on his salad.
    1/4 C balsalmic vinegar
    2t brown sugar or honey optional
    1/2 t salt
    3/4 C olive oil
    A few twists of fresh ground pepper optional

    1. Oh, and this does not need to be refrigerated!!!