Saturday, August 26, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update (It's Been a Hard Week)

So, here's a good question for you.  What is more pathetic then a woman curled up around the sad remains of a cabbage plant, crying like a baby?

The answer to that would be a woman, curled up around the sad remains of a cabbage plant, crying like a baby, or trying to, as she has a terrible head cold and can barely breathe and has no voice so she can't even cry correctly.  It is a sad, sad, sight to be sure.

That was me this morning *sigh*.

This has been a hard week.  The kids and I caught the husband's cold this week.  Alvah missed speech therapy both days this week, missed two days of school on top of it and finally started to recover about Thursday and got through a full day of school that day (the last day of school they had this week as they had an in service day on Friday).  The daughter caught the cold on Thursday and I had to pick her up from school before noon because she swore she was dying of a stuffy nose in a absurdly dramatic fashion because she "couldn't breath through her nose right" (via the nurse).  She's actually got a pretty mild case of said cold, but you'd never know it talking to her.  I just never could get enough rest to actually even attempt to get well from this cold this week between the husband and the kids, so my cold just got progressively worse and by about Wednesday swallowing hurt almost as much as talking.  My voice has been pretty much completely shot ever since and I really don't feel great...gotta love bad head colds. 

Despite a terrible sore throat and sounding like I'd chain smoked for about eighty years, I still ended up having to make all kinds of phone calls and things this week.  Then I got to add, "telling the daughter to not talk to me continually and making me assure her every five minutes that she's not dying of the common cold and she will be fine" to the list.  And of course I had to do that with her, every five minutes, because kids are great that way.

I've had other things happening this week.  Mice have invaded the barn around the chicken coop and I actually found a mouse in the coop a couple of times this week, which when they are under the water dish and you nearly touch them when you go to change out the doesn't make your day.  I heard that chickens will kill mice...the chickens I have could not care less about mice and just looked bored when I shooed them in their general direction.  It took a few days to figure out how to rearrange things around so the mouse couldn't hide so easily and get the water dish on flat ground so that the mouse couldn't burrow under it to hide out, but I got there.  It was just another thing to deal with, though.

And then this morning, after cleaning the water and things with the chickens, I did my morning walk toward the garden to make sure all was well.  I've been so happy with how the garden has been doing now that it is getting cooler out.  Honestly there has been times this summer where the garden was like one of the few bright points.  I would be like, "Well, everything else might be hard and going kind of crappy, but at least the garden is growing".  The peas were finally starting to come in better, the cabbages were really growing and the heads were big enough I figured I'd be able to harvest them in two or so weeks, at least the front row, and start to turn them into sauerkraut.  The slugs has been a continual pain with all of the rain, but I've gone out every day and meticulously picked slugs off of the turnips and cabbages (and other plants but those were the two types that were getting it the worse) and dumped them into salt to kill them and was preparing to spread the snail bait again to see if I could kill some more of the suckers.  And then I looked down on the way to the garden and saw this...

That track made my heart slam into my throat.  I looked with dread at the distinctive tracks, dug into the Earth by a moose of a decent weight and size, and saw where they were headed directly for my small little garden corridor.  My feet felt like lead as I walked that last ten feet and what I saw when I got there was everything I was expecting. 

The moose hadn't walked beside the garden to get to the cabbages.  Nope, it'd walked RIGHT THROUGH everything to get there.  It'd trampled new lettuce seedlings, beets and carrots.  It had knocked over the peas and the trellis right along with it, killing corn as it did so.  It had eaten off some of the peas as a light snack, along with a few pole beans, before heading on to the main event. 

On top of the other devastation it did to get there, the head of every single cabbage was gone.  Just chomped right down to the core.  Most of the cabbages had been uprooted as it had fed on them and they were just lying there on the ground for me to find. 

It was just too much for me I guess after everything else and so I sat, curled up around the sad remains of one of my lovely cabbages and I tried my best to bawl my eyes out, gasping through my mouth for breath and wheezing  through my raw throat while I did it.  Not a great morning for me.  We'll leave it at that.

I finally pulled myself back together, climbed the stairs to the kitchen and squeaked for Armina to watch Alvah because I had to go and try to save what I could of the garden.  And so I went out armed with a tote bin, took a deep (well shallow with how my throat is) breath and got to work. 

I pulled the remains of every cabbage, cut the roots off and threw those far down into the ditch (once a moose knows there might be more cabbage to be had they might come back looking for more so I wanted to make sure EVERY speck of cabbage was gone from there) and then put the sad remains of all of my cabbages, every single leaf, into that tote bin.  I dug the carrots that had been smashed, brushing off the tops gently and putting them into the bin to be used as carrot top pesto so they would not be wasted.  I dug out the beets that had been broken and jammed into the ground and salvaged every beet top.  I carefully propped up any lettuce seedling that still had roots and might still survive as they hadn't been completely crushed or uprooted.  I put the trellis back up and flinching as I did tried to carefully take what was left of the peas and secure them to the trellis as best I could.  A lot of them were really badly bent, but I'm hoping that some might survive and the dying ones might still offer support to the living.  I can hope anyway.  The corn...there was no saving about half of it, but the other half might make it...might.  I only lost three turnips.  The roots on the three that were lost weren't big enough to harvest for anything, but I will blanch the greens and freeze them to use as greens so they won't go to waste.

This is the state of the garden as of a few hours ago...

I'm still not sure what will make it and what will die at this point from the trauma, but I'll just have to wait it out and see.

And so onto the frugal things that happened this week as this connects into the first one...

1.  I refused to let what was left of my precious cabbage go to waste, so I cleaned what was left of them immediately, turned the leaves into chiffonade (roll up leaves tight and then thinly slice so you end up with leaf confetti essentially) so that the tougher leaves would be hopefully more tender in the final product and turned them all into canned coleslaw.  I had to use storage onions versus sweet onions and I used frozen yellow peppers versus green bell peppers (and less of them as I only had so many of them), but I got it done.  I didn't realize how hard it would be to get canning done when feeling like this, but I made it.  More importantly, what is left of the cabbage, every bit of it (except the woody stem parts) was used.  It made me feel like I was avenging the cabbages a bit somehow.

Out of the really sad remains of six cabbages I got eight pints of coleslaw.  Here's hoping it tastes good.

2.  The husband just wasn't getting well and I knew from experience that the cough he had is because the cough had just inflamed his asthma really bad.  I knew that there was a certain inhaler that the doctors had given him in the past that would help to alleviate the onslaught on his lungs, so I called the doctor's office and asked them to write him a script for said inhaler.  Which led me to have to talk to no less than five people because his normal doctor wasn't in on Friday and then no matter how many times I told the medical assistants the name and that he was on a standard dose of the medication (it's a pill that you stick into a inhaler-like device and then pierce the pill and inhale the dust it releases, so I KNEW it would be a standardized dose). 

They kept wanting him to come back in to the doctors for an examination and I'd finally had enough and said (and yes, I did state it this bluntly), "Look.  He's been into your offices twice.  Once to Urgent Care, which cost us nearly 300.00 and then once to the doctor's office (which I told them the name  of the doctor he'd seen) last Friday and that cost us another wholloping amount.  There's a thing called, 'disposable income' and you guys have sucked me dry of what remained of mine.  Unless you are willing to do payments I need you to work with me here."  After that they suddenly figured out the dosage and actually found samples for the inhaler which they'd sworn up and down that they didn't have about four times before that.  I went and picked them up.  So far the inhaler seems to be helping the husband, so I pray that this time he's on the mend so we don't have to somehow cough up yet more money to send him back to the doctors again.  Between him and the kids growing and needing new jackets and things that I couldn't find at the used it's been depressing how quickly money goes out the door.

3.  The bowl to my rice cooker was in serious need of replacement after many years of constant use.  I'd gone online and looked into buying either a new rice cooker (which didn't sit well with me as the rice cooker worked fine still, it was just the bowl that was worn out) or a replacement bowl and had found that I could get a new bowl direct from the company sent to me for about 14.00 which was at least half of what a new rice cooker like mine would cost me.  So, I'd been having that on my "I really need to do this" list of things I needed to get done.  I stopped in at the used store early Thursday (before having to go and pick up the daughter) to drop off some donations and stopped in really quick to look around.  I found a rice cooker, same brand and build as mine but this was the much simpler model.  It was in brand new shape inside the bowl and was actually in brand new shape period.  And it was 2.00!  I bought it and just traded out my older bowl for the new one and was even able to trade out my condensation drip catch and a few other parts off the rice cooker.  I'm going to save the other rice cooker as back up with my older bowl and things (the rice cooker I bought at the used store just has a "on and off" type of switch on it while the one I bought myself has fuzzy logic on it that will cook brown rice, white rice or I can set it to steam other things on a timer.  I love my rice cooker), but it's nice having a new spiffy bowl for a lot less than having to order a new one to be shipped to myself.

4.  Shopping went well this week, mainly because of mark downs I ran into at Carrs but there were some good sales too.  I managed to get 1/2 gallons of milk on 50% off so I managed to get gallons of milk for 2.19 each (essentially).  I got three gallons worth as it was all that would fit in the fridge and TRUST me we will use it before it goes bad.  The son blows through milk, so I'm always happy to get it cheap (seen up top there).

I also was able to pick up canning salt for a dollar and some change after the 50% discount (which worked out well with the fiasco today as I needed it), buttermilk for .75 a container (a personalized price plus some 50% off reduced tags) and whole chickens for .97 lb (limit of 2).  I even managed to get the rest of my son's medications refilled all in one day so I didn't have to go running back to the store over and over and over again.  Yay!

5.  Luckily with the new medication schedule with the son he actually is going to bed before nine.  This has been a HUGE blessing for me this week as I've been so out of it health wise that I desperately needed the sleep.'s something frugal we can do that we seriously take for granted.

6.  The chickens got a pardon from the crock pot this week.  My mother-in-law mentioned that my sister-in-law would like to raise chickens and really wanted to raise chickens with her kids.  I asked my mother-in-law to text her and see if she'd like to take the chickens off of my hands as they are actually good trainer birds for kids I think and even though they are older they'll still lay next year and my sister-in-law showed some want to breed them and get chicks next year, so I think it'll work out for them well.  I'll give her the feeder, the water bowl and things like that to help her get started as I figure that's the least I can do.  I am happy because this saves me from having to cull the chickens.  I had made an appointment to get them processed for 5.00 each in the middle of September, but now I can cancel that, save myself  20.00 and the chickens can go to a good home :). 

The chickens were just one more thing to do in a really packed day for me and the 22.00 a month feed bill was hurting with how tight money has been and that wasn't including things like bedding and things on top of the constant broody problems I had with the hens all summer and them not laying because of it.  So, I am happy that I can save that money and time and the chickens will still be alive and happy. 

7.  My mom sent me some coupons in the mail, including a coupon for 3.00 off Ball jars.  I'm going to use it to get some more pint jars as all of mine are currently being used and I will need some for sauerkraut later on (luckily I bought some cabbage earlier when I could get it cheap so I'll process that into the beginning stages of sauerkraut tomorrow I hope).  Hopefully I can get some jars decently cheap *fingers crossed*.

8.  I made spaghetti on Monday, but we didn't use much of the sauce I prepared.  Instead of shoving it into the freezer, I redid the menu plan last night and made easy to stuff manicotti with the sauce instead.  I was able to get string cheese for 2.00 after coupon this week at Carrs, which inspired this choice of meal to use up the leftover sauce.  Not only did the string cheese make the manicotti, but we still have at least half of the bag left for lunches for the daughter and husband, so definitely a win in my book.

9.  I ordered two free magazine subscriptions through Freebizmags, one for Taste of Home magazine.  I really enjoy the magazine but rarely does it pop up as one of the freebie magazine subscriptions, so I was happy to sign up for it again.

10.  Despite being sick, I continued to harvest the raspberries from the yard (stubborn to the point of should be on my family's shield I swear).  I'm really happy with what I've managed to get so far and am hoping that I can get a good lot of raspberry jelly and jam out of the berries I harvest this year.  I'm happy with what I've gotten so far anyway.

11.  I called and disputed a late fee I'd gotten charged for a bill that I'd paid but the payment hadn't stayed in the company's computer for some odd reason.  It had never cleared the bank and I had called about it before it would have gotten me into trouble (as the charge normally cleared the bank within a couple of days of me paying them), but I found I'd gotten charged a late fee even though they had said they'd look into getting it reversed for me.  They not only refunded me the late fee, but gave me a 5.00 credit on my bill as an apology for not getting it done before my monthly bill had come out.  Sometimes it pays to be diligent.

So, yeah, you already got the garden update for the week, so we'll wrap it up here.  How was your week?


  1. Erika,
    You AMAZE and inspire me!!! You are DEFINATELY the glue that holds your family together. They are so lucky to have you!!!
    I hope you are feeling happy and good about your life in spite of the setbacks.
    Have a great day.

    1. I agree! I shudder to think of where'd they be without her.

      FrugalStrong (formerly Lake Livin')

  2. I am so sorry about your garden. Gladly you could salvage some things and hopefully the balance will grow and yield.
    I pray you all feel MUCH better in this coming week.
    Good for you for getting angry at the doctors off ice - it paid off. Sometimes that is what it takes.

  3. Hey Erika, I just can't shake the feeling of how sorry I am to hear about the moose tracks. No ice cream in the world can make up for that! (Please laugh ... you need to!) Perhaps, in a fated twist of irony, a family member will get a hunting license and the moose will become meat for your family! It would serve the moose right. Take care. Am thinking of you and how hard you work to support your family's needs. Chris

  4. Oh sweetie--you have been through it this last week. But you pulled out of the downward spiral, and you forged ahead! While I haven't ever curled up around a cabbage and cried--I have shed many a tear over domestic tragedies of similar scale. Keep blogging, you inspire and challenge me to rise above my problems. YOU ROCK!

  5. What is more pathetic than a woman curled up around the sad remains of a cabbage plant, crying like a baby? My answer is: TWO women curled up around the sad remains of a cabbage plant, crying like a baby. I am crying too. I know how you feel and just can't say anymore.
    Jeannie @

  6. I hope you all are able to move like you've planned. I hope it helps your health AND wealth!

    FrugalStrong (formerly Lake Livin')

  7. I would, and have, cried over losses in the garden before. Makes perfect sense to me!
    I'm sorry you have had a bad week The only good part is that it's over and you only have a better week to look forward to--it can't be worse:) Hang in there.

  8. Erika, I feel for you girl. By the sounds of the other folks writing in, we've all had our difficult moments in life, so you're not alone in your miseries, and we can all relate on some level. I remember a 4 year stretch in my own life when things were incredibly bad that all I could do was pray for God to get me through the next 10 minutes, then the next 15 minutes etc. At the end of the day, I was so grateful it was over and that I managed to survive one more day. In the morning when I opened my eyes, my mom's words would ring through my mind, "Just get up, and keep putting one foot in front of the other". This advice and God's help was what got me through that dark period. Keep plugging along because it's the trials that make us stronger! But won't it be nice when there's not quite so many of them?