Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update (the REALLY Late Edition)

MAN what a weekend!  I'm counting Monday as part of the weekend.  Trust me I'll get to that.

This was just a week where I felt like "frugal fail" was a vast understatement.  Thank goodness we have money in the bank to cover everything, but I've felt under siege here.

Let's start off with Friday night.  The husband started feeling like he was coming down with a cold.  By Sunday you'd swear he was dying.  He decided he needed to go to the doctors and they told him what I suspected, although I was kind of hoping they'd say "sinus infection" just to get him some antibiotics and let him feel better quicker.  Nope.  He found out that he had a cold.  Which since he went to Urgent Care to find this out, they asked if we had met our deductible for the year, he said no (which is obviously the truth) they just charged him full price for the visit.  So, there went 300.00 out the door.  We'll see how it goes after everything goes through insurance as I'm kind of hoping that we get a refund check, but I even warned my husband that it being Urgent Care that it might just go toward the deductible first no matter what and we'd probably get stuck paying for the full amount.  And so off to the pharmacy to get him some prescription cough medicine and other cold medicines like NyQuil to take at night since we were out of all of that stuff (at least with the insurance the cough medicine cost me a whopping .98 as the rest of the bill HURT).

Then there was Alvah.  We have been waiting over a week for his new "lesser dose" med to come from out of state and get delivered to the pharmacy, but nothing so far.  So, he's been cranky on and off, although getting the okay to do away with the Stritera sure seemed to help him out with mood regulation, go figure, although we still have some issues at least they were less than they were before.  One of the side effects of the meds not being as high as they need to be, though, is that the sound of the microwave?  Drives the son NUTS right now and I mean bad, but only when he's in an "over sensory" mood.  It's to a point where I can't defrost meat unless it's on the sly and after he popped open the microwave about 18 times when I was trying to heat up some water for a cup of coffee, I had enough and tried to heat it on the stove top.  Unfortunately my son also loves steam and he saw the powerful jet of steam coming out of the kettle and kept reaching out to play with it, which made it a non-stop fun fest trying to stop him from burning himself and then when the kettle whistle blew he freaked out, so that didn't work.  So, another expense this week was ordering an electric kettle (since I've been unable to find one worth buying at the used stores).  This way I can heat up water without whistles or microwaves humming, I can put it up out of his reach so he can't play with the steam and I can get boiling water when I need it.  But there went 20.00 I wasn't planning on spending.

Then there was my cell phone. I HAD gone on Amazon and thought of ordering myself a new cell phone since Amazon had some Tracfones that were decent prices (the one I was looking at was 50.00 about) and came prepackaged with a bunch of minutes and stuff on them which made them essentially free after the minutes and stuff were taken into account.  I'd actually placed the order and then thought better of it and cancelled it when the nearly 300.00 bill for the doctor came out of the bank.  I've been having problems with my phone.  It's on the old 3G network and would lose service in pretty much any building anymore and text messages would come in an hour late sometimes, but I just figured I'd make it work for a while until we recovered financially a bit.

And THEN yesterday hit.  I got up with my phone working fine and then suddenly I hear beeping when I'm picking the kids up from school.  My battery was dead.  "Oh well," I figured, "it's not a big deal.  I must have charged it a bit earlier than I remembered charging it."  So, I went home and plugged it in.  Went back and unplugged it later to find it wouldn't hold a charge.  AT ALL.  Worse, the darn phone constantly shuts down and restarts, so not only does it not hold a charge it doesn't even work for any practical purpose.  I pulled the battery and everything and nothing works to fix it.  People don't get that when I say, "I NEED my cell phone" they think I'm addicted to an I-Phone or something.  Not even close.  Heck my phone doesn't even do the internet with any degree of success (and I wouldn't waste my minutes doing that anyway).  The watch band to my watch died about two years ago and I haven't really had the time or the money to find a new watch band for it, so my cell phone is first my watch.  Next it's my alarm clock.  I have about five alarms programmed into my phone to remind me of certain events during the day (like it goes off in the afternoon to make sure to remind me that picking up the kids in imminent, I have an alarm set to remind me of speech therapy days, I have another alarm to remind me to make sure the kids are up by this certain time in the morning, etc) and so I use it for that.  Now this is on top of me using my cell phone for people like the school to be able to get in contact with me at a moment's notice with the kids and things.  And then, finally, my phone is my calendar and my personal planner.  You would not believe the amount of appointment reminders and important memos (even things I have to pick up at the store the next day) I'll program to go off on my phone.  So, the last few days I have LITERALLY felt like I'm missing a limb here.  I ended up ordering the phone I'd been contemplating from Amazon, express shipped it (which luckily it had reduced 15.00 in price when I ordered it which paid for the express shipping in the equation) and it SHOULD be here tomorrow (I pray). 

But, yeah, between all of that and the husband calling in two days sick to work (which luckily he does have some leave saved up which I'm praying they take the time he took out of that?), it's been a weekend.  I'm exhausted from too little sleep (sick husband more than the kids this time...totally not his fault, but still, the results are the same), too much stuff to do and just too much everything going on.

Right, anyway, bright points!
1.  My mother-in-law texted me and told me she did, in fact, have some raspberries this year and that I was welcome to come and pick them but first come first served (with having six kids living within driving distance with their spouses and kids...that seems like a wise way to do things to me *laugh*).  I ran over in between doing tons of errands yesterday and picked over the bushes she had pretty hard.  Between that and what I've gotten slowly but surely from the wild bushes in my yard I have managed to get a full freezer bag full of raspberries (the bag seen above was before I went over to my mother-in-laws and is just what I've harvested from my wild raspberry bushes in my yard so far this year).  Yayyyyyy!!!  I'm still getting small harvests every day from my bushes and hopefully my mother-in-law will be willing to let me come over and grab some more raspberries from her bushes later as they ripen.  I'm hoping to get enough to make some jelly, some jam and maybe have some left for the freezer for cakes and muffins this winter.  That would be totally awesome!
2.  I knew I needed pectin to make jelly as my home made pectin was gone from the peach jelly I made earlier this year and I don't have any powdered pectin.  I went on Amazon and had added about four different things of bulk pectin to my cart so I could monitor the price on it (I have like 500 things in my cart saved for later and watch prices constantly on things...I'm weird like that) and one type of pectin went down to a little over 10.00 for two pounds of pectin one day this last week.  I immediately ordered it as that will be more than enough pectin to last me for a while (which is a relief to have this material in the house, honestly) and it cost me the same as two little jars of the Ball flexible batch pectin. 
3.  I was getting low on coffee, but my sister-in-law when I got the food when they were moving there was a bunch of coffee in with the food, so I ground up the whole bean coffees, mixed them in with the bit of ground coffee she gave me and threw it into my coffee container.  This will last me for coffee for a bit and it tastes pretty good (I know I just made coffee aficionados give me the look of death through the screen, but I'm okay with that).

4.  I made home made noodles to go in chicken noodle soup this week.  Not only does the family love them, but they are pretty frugal to make and are decently filling.  It helped to make my husband feel a little bit better anyway (the finished soup in the form of leftovers that I ate for lunch today way up top there).  Now a lot of people think that you need a pasta maker to make noodles.  Not true.  I just roll mine out thin on my counter top and use a pizza cutter to cut them into thin strips and pieces (seen above there in the once I started adding them to the soup).  So give it a try sometime.  You might really like it :).

5.  I have been having a blast watching the 18th Century Cooking series on YouTube and actually bookmarked a few recipes that I want to try.   I even tried one tonight, but I'll wait until the menu plan for the week to talk about that one.

6.  I mended a shirt and darned two socks this week (not my best work, but it worked in a pinch.  I definitely got to go back and darn the socks better).

7.  I took a nap today.  It was definitely needed and definitely free.  Although all of the things that I needed to get done were constantly running through my head so I'm not sure how much good sleep I actually got.

8.   I realized my dishwasher could use a good cleaning.  Normally I put it through the sanitizing cycle empty to do this, but instead I loaded up every glass item that I had that I knew would take high temperatures okay and just ran the dishwasher through the high temp cycle instead (I normally do a normal wash with drip dry function activated to save energy and not worry about melting anything plastic in the dishwasher).  It worked fabulously and I got a load of dishes cleaned at the same time.  Win-win!

I'm sure there were other things I did this week to save money, but I'll work on writing them down and save them for this Friday since this is so late anyway.

Onto a garden update!
Well, I have to save out of everything that I have grown in the garden this year the only thing that has been a true failure so far has been the chard.  That never grew BEYOND baby spinach size even though the packet says that it'll grow to full sized.  We've eaten the chard in salads and it doesn't even really have a "chard" type of taste to it.  Disappointing.
The corn is actually growing pretty well now, although I'm pretty sure it's not going to make it to corn stage before winter hits.  I'm planning on covering the garden as the freezes come and try to keep everything alive as long as possible before snow falls just to see if I can get the corn to actually make...you know...corn before it dies.  Here's hoping :).

The lettuce seeds that I planted are growing, although the poor stuff looks ill from all of the rain we've been hammered with this year (those little yellow plants at the bottom of the corn).  The spinach that I planted is actually holding in there a lot better than the lettuce and is growing right along.  I think I might actually get a second crop of spinach before we get a full freeze.  I'd be happy with that the way this summer has gone.

The peas I've been disappointed in.  The plants are growing great, but the amount of peas I've gotten out of the plants has been sub-par at best.  So far I've gotten enough to have in a few dishes and I have one sandwich bag that's about 3/4 of the way full in the freezer.  That's it.   I didn't notice these suckers growing any quicker in my climate (they are supposed to be ready to harvest in 30 days) and next year I'm definitely going back to my cold and heat hardy varieties of peas I planted last year.  The rat tailed radishes didn't go gang busters this year, but nor were they in the full sun location (where the cabbages and beans are now) and I think that might have made a big difference in their performance.  I'm definitely making a note of that for future reference.
I have BEANS!!!  I am so thrilled with this as I've never grown beans before :).  So far the few green beans that were of a good size on the bush beans I just ended up eating for a snack (they were SO good!), but there are more and more popping up on the little plants every day!  I'm hoping to grow some of them out to full sized as they are supposed to change color and actually make beans that you can dry and eat as actual beans during the winter.  I'd like to freeze some fresh, but I'm not sure if you can do that with bigger beans.  Anyone got an answer to that question out there?

The pole beans were supposed to grow up the corn, but laughed at that idea since they are now as tall or taller than the corn.  Instead they felt around and started growing up the peas that are already in the ground and growing up the trellis, so they found the trellis and are happily growing intertwined with the peas.  It works.  I'm just hoping that I'll be able to spot the beans as they grow out in with all of the pea plants *laugh*.

I went through and thinned a few of the carrots this week and happily got to chow down on some teeny tiny little baby carrots.  I'm hoping this means that the bigger carrot greens have bigger carrots on the end of them.  They are still pretty thin as feeling around the base of the carrots has yet to yield any carrots with a decent collar on them, but I have faith that they're growing and making some nice sweet carrots (least if the baby carrots were any indication).

The beats are finally starting to grow once the lettuce was out of the bed (to the left of the carrots there) and I see little beets developing on the ends of the greens.  I hope that they get to a decent size anyway before the freezes hit.  Fingers crossed.

The turnips are doing really well despite the slug onslaught.  I even have a few that are developing decent sized turnips and are coming out of the soil.  I need to check my seed packet and figure out at what size to pull them as I don't want them to overgrow and become woody.  I'm really looking forward to having my own turnips this year :).

I was sent some all natural slug repellent from a friend to try out (thank you, Ellen!) and that came in the mail today, so I sprinkled that around the garden in the hopes it would help to rid me of those troublesome pests!  I also got sneaky (Jeannie's comment on last Friday's post about duck tape and salt sparked an idea) and went and overturned anything that slugs could be hiding under in the general vicinity including the cinder blocks over by the cabbages and found a slugtopia under there.  I squished the slugs that were hiding there and then sprinkled a liberal amount of salt under the cinder blocks and then replaced them nice and close to the garden.  This will help to protect the salt from rain, keeps it out of the garden (they are on pavement and are downhill a bit so the water won't run in that direction) AND will hopefully pick off any slugs that hide there that the slug repellent doesn't get.  I am certainly hoping this helps to kill the little buggers and save my plants.  The cabbages are definitely starting to show some damage (luckily they are hearty suckers) and the turnips I've had a constant fight keeping the slugs picked off and squished underfoot this year to let the turnips keep enough of their greens to remain healthy.

So, yeah, there's my, very late, weekly update.  Hopefully my husband makes it through work okay tonight *fingers crossed* as he's still really tired.  Here's hoping for a good week and that my new cell phone comes in tomorrow!  How about you?  How was your week?


  1. You're not weird :-) Or I suppose I should say, if you are weird, you are not the only one! I depend on my cell phone in the same way - with fibro and a daughter with AS and ADHD, my brain is cottage cheese most of the time! And I do the same thing with Amazon - how else am I supposed to get the best deals and make our money stretch far enough?

    Feel your pain about the sensory issues, too. My daughter got helped a bit in that respect with taking pregabaline. It reduces physical effects of anxiety and so makes her less sensitive to sensory stimuli.

    And yes, you can freeze full size beans fresh. Be careful you don't let them grow to full size too soon though, as when that happens, it means that the plant thinks its job for the year is done, it's set seed, ensured survival of the species, it can now happily die, so it won't produce any more beans. Do it only when you can see no more flowers on the plant, and winter is about to hit!

  2. Regular sick visit is covered by "essential heath benefits" for which you don't pay deductible, it doesn't matter that it was urgent care... there may be few private plans that have different rules but I never came across one... and I belueve you said that you are covered through employer insurance plan so you definitely don't have to pay deductible for regular office visit

    1. I think this depends on your plan. We have Always had to pay for visits up through our deductible being paid. Still, it won't hurt to check!


  3. I'm just the same way with all the alarms and reminders on my phone....drives my husband crazy.

    We grew a few carrots for the firsy time, I need to see if they are ready. I grew enough onions this year to last until next summer, we use a lot of them. Al.ost time to harvest, cure and store them. They grew even better than last year so I am glad I planted twice as many.

  4. Sounds like you are coping through it all--you're doing fine.

  5. I'm glad you got beans!! Congratulations:) Mine are going crazy and I'm getting a bunch right now. What is not growing for me is onions. The first ones grew great and we are eating them, but the ones I hoped to have for winter storage are still tiny, and 1/2 of them died. I've never had that problem before, but......Can't win them all.

    Swiss Chard should love the cooler weather of fall. Mine did nothing all summer, then put on a burst of growth lately. I'm glad you spinach is growing well. Of the new seeds I planted for fall, only about 6 sprouted. So.....maybe I'll try again. It was probably too hot. Other fall things did come up, though, such as kale, lettuce, cilantro, basil and snow peas. I had some leftover Oregon Sugar Pod II seeds left over and used them instead of the "30-day" ones I ordered. They did not do much for me, either, and certainly not in 30 days. The ones I got were excellent tasting, though.

  6. I don't think I've mentioned on this site before, if I did disregard, but Camelcamelcamel.com is a great site for tracking Amazon prices. Idk if you can add 500 items necessarily, lol, but you add items from Amazon (as in you type in the item description and it links directly from Amazon), you can see their price history, set your own price alert, and then when the price drops to or below what you set it for, it will send you an email immediately to let you know the price has dropped. It's a huge time saver for me. I like to use this around Christmas time especially; I can keep an eye on toy prices without having to constantly check Amazon. You can set third party price alerts too, though those are tricky as it doesn't calculate shipping. It also shows you the current price if you login and just look at your list. You can also go in any time and edit your price alerts.

    It's trickier with clothing or shoes as it doesn't always let you choose color or size, and I don't think it tracks Kindle book prices, but it seems to work well with everything else.

  7. Glad your husband is starting to feel better. In my experience men are the WORST when they are sick! It's easier to have a sick toddler in your house than a sick man.

  8. For tracking things on Amazon, I use the chrome app, Honey. If I am watching an item and there is a lower price for it, Honey will send me a notification and swap out the cheaper item into my cart. I've been using it now for about six months and it's been great. You might want to try it. Btw I use my phone a lot too, for notes, alarms, and the calendar for appointments. I would definitely be lost without mine.

  9. Your soup looks fabulous! One day, I will try to make my own noodles. I had a noodle machine that I used twice for making thin crackers, which only worked so-so. My son now owns it.
    To save money, I've been trying to stay out of the stores. I did buy some canned tuna for my husband and cheese to put into the stockpile. Nothing Earth shattering in this part of the world.
    It feels like Fall here. Tomorrow, it's supposed to be in the 80's. No wonder I quit even trying to grow vegetables. You seem to have the knack.
    I hope you get some relief soon with sleep, medicine for your son and rest for your husband. Sleep seems to be under valued in this country.
    I meant it when I said I'd send some homemade soap if you think it would help Alvah. My email is momsav at gmail dot com. Let me know and I'll get a package out in the near future. I have about two years worth of soap so it's no problem. I like giving it away so I can make more! Debbie

  10. YOU HAVE BEANS!!!!!!! Yahoo!!! SOMEBODY FOLLOWED MY ADVICE! NOBODY EVER LISTENS TO ME!!!!!!!! Salt those slugs! I understand the frustrations of garden pests. I think the salt under the blocks will work, good idea.

    I have two of my boys home this weekend and have spent my time cooking. We are 50 miles south of Nashville and will see 99% totality of the solar eclipse on Monday so we will be watching. Since there is so much confusion on the special glasses, we have chosen to use Dustin's welding mask because it is safer. We will just take turns with it. I went to Nashville last week and the CITY HAS GONE ECLIPSE CRAZY! Businesses are closing and everyone's friends/family are coming to visit. Reese drove home last night from east Tennessee and when he passed exits to towns that are in the path of the eclipse, traffic was backed up for miles. My brother is in a small town north of Nashville and they will have a longer eclipse time and people are already arriving by the thousands! The local police department has texted everyone and said, "Don't call us if you have a problem, we won't be able to get there because we are swamped!"

    I am staying home, baking cookies, and watching the craziness on TV.

    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.Blogspot.com