Saturday, October 28, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Woot!  I am actually close to on time this week.  Honestly, I would have done this last night except I ended up with my laptop parked down in my den because it was the only spot around where I could set up my printer and fill out insurance paperwork with the husband asleep in the bedroom, and well...I didn't feel like going, unplugging the laptop and moving it upstairs to do blogging (the battery doesn't hold a charge on my laptop anymore, so I have to leave it plugged in all the time).  So, yeah, really no excuse except for my own tiredness on why this post didn't get done last night.

But, hey, I got stuff done today to add to the post anyway, so it works ;).

So, let's get this rock a rollin!

1.  My husband was off last night, so was up at a decent hour today and so we went for a drive since the son really wanted to get out of the house.  We ended up going to Eklutna Lake after driving around for a while.  The park stations are closed this time of year to pay your fee before going into the park, so we parked a ways out and went on the hiking trails and things around the lake for a bit.  It was a lot of fun as we'd never been there before.  I was impressed because it reminded me of a lot of the Maine campgrounds my dad used to take us kids to when I was little.  I managed to snatch a few pictures of the lake while we were there.  One is up top there.  Here's another one...

This picture actually shows a bit of what I was hoping the pictures would show, which was that the water is blue.  Being an East Coast girl by blood (by more than a few generations *laugh*) and such, I don't think I'm ever going to get used to the blue water that we get up here.  It seems like a Disney attraction to me when I see it somehow ;).

It was a fun afternoon and all it cost us was gas, which I think was worth it.
2.  I finished the daughter's Halloween costume Thursday so she could wear it to the Halloween celebrations at school yesterday. 

The first item I had to find was some brushes and I finally found my long cheap brushes and sewed some guides for them into one of the pockets of the apron.  That way the brushes would stay put when she was moving around the school and things and they wouldn't constantly fall out of her pocket if she bent over or something. 

The other challenge was to make a palette for her to carry around with her.  Originally I was just going to make one out of cardboard and then put some actual acrylic paint on it, but then I started realizing that for one, trying to find a plain piece of cardboard without writing on it where I could get the right shape for the palette out of it and for two the acrylic paint would just rub off onto the apron every time she put it into the pocket of the apron, and she WOULD want to put it into the pocket of the apron during class and things. 

So, I finally decided to make a form out of heavy cardboard for the palette and then I took scraps of felt I had around the house to encase the cardboard form in felt and then adhere felt "paints" to the palette as well.  I even managed to use an old bottle of wacky tacky glue I had around the house (and yes, that is the actual name) to glue everything together.

It worked fabulously.  The costume was a big hit with the kids at school, I guess, and everyone took a turn playing with the paint brushes and "paints" and even her teacher told her how much she liked the costume, which made Armina feel really good.  I was thrilled that she was thrilled, honestly, as I try really hard to, even though I know we're broke, make sure that the kids don't feel ostracized due to their financial situation.  Or at least I try to make sure it impacts them as little as possible.

Here's a final shot (staged by the daughter, not by me) of the "artist" in her element...
3.  When I took the kids to school on Friday I found out that the son's teacher was planning on making cookies, but she had frosting for the cookies that wasn't safe for the son to eat and was frosting he wouldn't eat anyway (wrong flavor).  So, I grabbed a container of frosting from the pantry and brought it to his class so he could enjoy making cookies too.  He seemed to have a good time and came home in a really good mood.
4.  I managed to can both peach jelly (from the juice in the freezer), seen above.

Pancake syrup today.

I realized I was running low on pancake syrup, so I wanted to add it to our winter stores.  I canned it in quarts instead of pints this time mainly to save lids as I only have a few regular mouth lids left after all of the canning I've done and I still want to get some canning done tomorrow (more on that in the grocery shopping part of this post).
4.  I managed to save up enough Amazon gift cards to get myself an early Christmas gift.  I bought myself the Crock Pot version of the Instant Pot!  I'm so excited about this it's almost indecent *laugh*.  I decided on that one because it does basically everything the Instant Pot does, but is cheaper (which cheaper always speaks to me ;) and I trust the Crock Pot brand.  I got it in the mail yesterday and can not WAIT to start using it.  Some women get them a designer purse and they get all excited.  Me, get me a new kitchen gadget that I can use to make cooking more exciting and I am like a little kid on Christmas morning *laugh*.
5.  My step mom sent me one of her pinata boxes.  I was especially thrilled with the books she sent me in the box (seen above).  The end one with the picture on the cover but no clear title on the cover is one called, "Passport to Survival" which is one I find really interesting as the book focuses on making foods out of primarily four ingredients.  Wheat, honey, salt and dehydrated milk.  The author runs through her reasons for using those ingredients and I'm kind of looking forward to reading into it more thoroughly.  The book on needlepoint will be a good one to read through, as well, as it shows how to make bookmarks and belts and things, which I'm thinking might come in handy for Christmastime.
6.  The husband and I went to the used store earlier in the week and I found a box of booklets for .50 a piece.  I would have loved to have grabbed tons of them as there were some really cool vintage booklets on different things, but these two booklets really caught my eye.  So, I begged a dollar off of the husband (I didn't have any cash or anything on me) and got to read them when I got home.  The leftovers book was from the 40's and while it a bit disappointing as I was hoping for some "ah ha" moments on how to make food stretch further (although I did find it comforting that I was doing a ton of things that were already in the book for making leftovers stretch), but they were some decent recipes that I am hoping to try sometime soon.  There were also some nice tips in the booklet, so I think it will be useful.

The canned foods booklet was of indeterminate age and had some decent looking recipes in it, but I noticed that the can sizes were off from what they are today for different items.  And then I noticed a section in the back stating to just store the food in the can after you open it and keep it in a cool spot and it would keep for a while and was like, "Wait.  What?  This was before refrigerators were a thing?!?"  So I googled the booklet and the only thing I could find after a little research was ads in 1932 publications giving information to order the booklet.  1932!  That was pretty cool.  Especially since most of the recipes will still work today.  

Not bad finds for .50 a piece.
7.  I FINALLY finished one of the pillowcases that I'm making for my family back East for Christmas this week.  I was so happy to get at least one gift done so far :).  This was made from a kit that was gifted to me and embroidery thread...which was gifted to me (by my step mom), so overall it didn't cost me anything to make it.  I thought it turned out pretty well.  Only a bunch more to go on the gift making front, but yay for having one done!

8.  Grocery shopping went well this week.  The big scores this week were apples for for .97 a pound at Carrs this week (that's UNHEARD OF cheap!) and pears for .97 lb too!!!  I got a big bag of each and am planning on making something with them tomorrow.  I'm thinking apple and pear sauce or apple and pear pie filling.  I'm still torn, but it's a good kind of torn!

So, yeah, I'm going to call it good here as my husband is home tonight and we're watching a movie.  How did you all do this week?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Ugh!  Late for two weeks straight!  A part of me who yearns to be organized is hanging its head in shame right about now.

Ah well.  I'll get over it.

I'd go into the ins and outs of last week but it would take a novel to explain it all.  Appointments that didn't happen, even though they were supposed to.  Things getting changed at a moment's notice.  Working on insurance paperwork.  Trying to get laundry and housework done once the husband went to work so as not to wake him up while doing it.  Standing in line at the postal annex for an hour at a time (the holiday rush is starting early this year due to Amazon not shipping much via UPS or Fed Ex anymore up here, so the sheer volume of mail going through the regular post offices was already increased big time.  Normally this time of year the lines start to get longer.  About the week before Thanksgiving the lines start to get ridiculous and by've got at LEAST an hour wait for a package if you are lucky).  A sick son home today.  It was an eventful week...a lot of it stressful, honestly, but everything worked out, for better or worse, in the end.

Bright side, though, is that stuff did get done despite the setbacks so let's get to that!

Just as an aside my Amazon order came in and it did, indeed, actually all get here in one piece.  I was so relieved when I opened the boxes to find everything had survived believe me!

1.  I got sauerkraut canned this week.  All totaled I got..well a lot.  A shot of it can be seen up top there.

Bright side, I should be good on sauerkraut for a while now.

2.  I finally fixed my daughter's pants that had numerous holes in the knees and one in the thigh.  I have NO idea what that child did to her pants, but boy I pretty much had to rebuild the knee of her yoga pants.  I then took a couple of patches and placed over the middle of the mended areas so they didn't look weird.  My daughter thinks they look cute but the patch on the knee of her pants, "feels weird" when she bends her knee, so I'm thinking after all of my hard work she won't even wear the pants anymore. Being a parent is fun sometimes *laugh*.

The patches I have had in my stores for years, so I'm not exactly sure where I got them originally, but the repairs on the pants cost me nothing out of pocket, so that was the most important part :).

3.  Shopping went minimal this week.  I went to Carrs and got a few items that were on sale this week and called it good, as we didn't have much money to spend.  I got bare essentials to get the son through the week, got some milk and some eggs and called it good.

4.  We worked on my daughter's Halloween costume this week, for obvious reasons since Halloween is next week and her Halloween party for school is this Friday (the kids are off the day before Halloween and Halloween of next week due to parent teacher conferences).

So, Saturday I affixed a kind of crooked pocket over the Pillsbury logo on the apron I decided to turn into an artist's apron for her, since the logo was kind of crooked on the apron and I had to kind of twist the pocket to cover the logo on one side more than the other...long story and not proper measuring on my part.  Bright side, the pocket came out pretty much the exact same color as the apron (made it from unbleached muslin), so you couldn't really see how crooked the pocket was.  Tonight after my husband went to work, and my son had crashed for the night super early, my daughter and I went into the garage with the acrylic paints I had in the house and a couple of big boxes broken down for a drop cloth and started dribbling paint on the apron.  Then a couple of good wads of paper towels to "blot" the paint (and also take up the excess and help the paint to dry faster) and voila!  An artists apron is born!

I thought it came out pretty good, actually.  We still have a few minor things to do to the costume and my daughter is ready to rock it at the Halloween celebrations at school on Friday :). 

5.  I did more rearranging of things this week (I'll take pictures of it later as I am still working on cleaning up the remainder of everything I've been working on around here), which cost me nothing but my time and hopefully will reorganize things a bit better.  Tomorrow I'm hoping to start on my closet in my bedroom as it's in a terrible state and I'm tired of it (the husband started cleaning it and never went very far other than to pull everything out of everywhere and leaving it in the middle of the floor so you can't move into the closet and the bedroom has stuff stacked all over it and now well...I need my closet back and I need my bedroom back or I'm going to get cranky...there...that was diplomatically put I hope).

6.  Going through some of my old dehydrated food storage I ran across a 72 hour kit thing that I had gotten for free from a company a long time ago for doing a giveaway of said kit on one of my old blogs.  I looked at the "use by" date and realized that it had passed by a few years, so I pulled out said kid, went through it and figured out everything that needed to be used up (which was everything as what didn't go past the "use by" date a couple of years ago went past it earlier this year).  So, we're going to be having some "camping meal lunchtime fun" this weekend.  My daughter will be far from thrilled because it doesn't involve hot dogs or pizza, my husband will get a kick out of it and I won't care so long as the stuff is edible (I'm so not picky anymore *laugh*).

7.  I pulled out more socks that needed to be darned when I sorted all of the back laundry last night (I always fold the laundry in my bedroom...this has become a logistical nightmare with the hours my husband works, so I'm finding I have to stay up LATE one night a week and just sort laundry and then put away laundry for the kids the next day...exciting life I lead ;).  I'll put the socks aside and darn them later when I'm waiting on my son at speech therapy and things.  It gives me something to do and serves a practical purpose.

8.  I FINALLY got the case in I had ordered for my new Kindle.  It had shipped from China (which I didn't realize THAT was going to happen until it did as the company is out of the Lower 48 that I bought from) and when it finally came in today it actually came with a screen protector, which was okay by me.  I used the screen protector and now we have a couple of spare ones from the kit I ordered earlier for my husband's and my kindles in case either of us need a replacement later on.

9.  I found a sweater when pulling out the heavy duty winter clothes that I knew I wasn't going to wear as it was cut too short in the waist and would bug me when I wore it (do sweaters keep getting shorter in the waist or is it just me?  I am always thrilled when I get a regular length sweater anymore), so I unraveled it and balled up the yarn to use on a different project later on as I liked the yarn color.

And I'm going to call it good there as I've got things to do before bedtime.  So, how did you do this week? 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What's For Dinner: This Week's Menu

Well, when it came to eating last week, I am proud to report that we did, indeed eat *laugh*.  Honestly, though, I can't remember everything I made and I sure didn't go off of a menu plan.  This week I'm determined to get back into the menu planning swing of things.

About the most exciting thing I can think to report that we ate last week was I tried a recipe for Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs.  Our opinion of these.  Well, my husband seemed to like them and ate them willingly a couple of days for his work lunch.  I used egg noodles in the recipe as we had those to use and that seemed to work well for the pasta.  But the flavor...I don't know.  They had this kind of odd liverwurst flavor to them as leftovers and I made a double batch to make sure we did, indeed, have left overs as the recipe sounded good on paper.  They weren't BAD, but I can't say they blew my mind. 

The biggest thing I noticed was a HUGE amount of waste of liquid in the recipe.  I mean after you added the liquid and let the meatballs cook and then followed the rest of the directions you literally had meatball and noodle soup and a pretty soupy soup at that.  I had to take a slotted spoon and fish out the meatballs and the noodles to make dinner.  I ended up throwing away probably eight cups of liquid because once you added the milk the liquid wasn't going to freeze well.  I also found that by following the directions for the roux portion of the recipe where you mix the roux with the milk...well you don't get a bubbly sauce, you get library paste.  As soon as I added the milk to the roux I knew that was going to happen and sure enough, it set up into library paste in no time flat.  I ended up taking ladles of the liquid from the crock pot and adding them to the roux until I had probably six cups of liquid (since I doubled the recipe it took a bit of liquid) just to get the lumps out of the roux mixture enough to mix in with the main dish.

Overall, would I make it again?  Maybe.  But I'd change up the flavors a bit and definitely cut down on the liquid content.  But, that's me.  The results, post fishing out of the soup, are seen up top there.

When it has come to dessert making with the snickerdoodles and the rhubarb dream bars...well those STILL haven't happened due to winter preparations going into overdrive and just plain being busy with appointments and speech therapy and things.  I did make a Halloween themed cake tonight for dessert since I found a cake mix that needed to be used up and I found the one lowly can of Halloween frosting I'd bought on clearance last year when it was 75% off.  My daughter helped spread the sprinkles on top of the cake and had a blast this afternoon.  I'd say, so far, Halloween treats are going pretty well this month :).  At least we're having fun around here.

The only fly in the ointment when it comes to making additional soups and treats and things for me this week is that I need to find time to can the sauerkraut as it's done fermenting and thus needs to be canned up.  So, I'm HOPING to do that tomorrow so that I can put away my canner and things for now, but we'll see how it goes (I have so much jelly and jam in the pantry right now, I plain don't need to make the additional peach jelly right now, so I'm not sure if I'll do it or not).

So here's the "Food Goals" for this week, or menu plan if you prefer ;).

Wednesday:  Steak, rice pilaf (mix from pantry) and peaches

Thursday:  Chicken noodle soup with easy home made noodles

Friday:  Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Saturday:  Pancakes, bacon, eggs

Sunday:  Fried Chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy, canned coleslaw (from pantry)

Monday:  Tortellini Bacon and Pea Alfredo

Tuesday:  Red Beans and Rice

Breakfasts:  Oatmeal, granola, leftover pancakes, cinnamon rolls (to make Saturday), toast (make bread Saturday)

Desserts:  Halloween cake, Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodles (to make Saturday)

Other things to make:  Slow Cooker French Onion Soup (for freezer), Tortellini Sausage Soup (sans tortellini for the freezer),  Rainbow Chocolate Candy Cookies (for a treat for daughter's lunches), home made Crunch bars (put in freezer when done for Halloween treats), home made Wowbutter Cups (put in freezer for Halloween treats...I'm going to mess with the filling to make it more "peanut butter cup" like), No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (sub Wowbutter for the peanut butter).  I've found that soy butter tastes the most like peanut butter (to me) until you actually bake it and then it just kind of tastes too soy-like for me, so I'm hoping by doing no bake applications it'll come out more peanut butter tasting...I can hope anyway.

And calendar is officially full for the next week I think *laugh*.  I am hoping to get a bunch of this stuff made and put up for later, though, as that will make my life a lot easier when things like life intervene or I get sick.

So, how about you?  Making anything good this week?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Frugal Friday (Okay, Monday): Money Saving Weekly Recap

First, thank you to those who e-mailed me the last couple of days making sure I was still alive.  I'm okay (obviously), but the reason I didn't blog last week...well...look above.  That was our high for today (please ignore the dirty dash board...the son likes to spit into the sunlight as a hobby so yeah...the car feels it).

Winter came early in a big way.  Darn its cold heart!

It wasn't cool of winter to do that to me.  I was really hoping that it would hold off till the end of October.  See, the weather had been nice the last few years and actually given us a fall and I thought, maybe, MAYBE after the rainy kind of crappy summer we had that we might get a nice autumn.  I should have known better.  I mean it's Alaska.  We have two seasons.  Winter and summer.  You live through nine months of one to enjoy three of the other.  Anyway, instead of a nice autumn that I was delusional in dreaming about, suddenly last week I pull up the weather report at the beginning of the week and see that we were going from highs in the 50's to highs in the 30's.  THE 30's!!!  Ugh!!!  With chances of snow!   And the temps don't seem to want to go back up again.

I mean I knew winter was coming, but I was kind of expecting some advanced warning first, most notably the highs going down into the 40's for a while before hitting the dreaded freezing mark.  Sigh.

And other Alaskans please note...yes I know I'm nuts, yes I should have been better prepared for winter coming this early and yes at times I've felt rather dumb for wishing that we could have had a decent autumn again this year (this time of year I get REALLY homesick for New England autumns and I haven't lived there since I was in junior high...that tells you how those things ingrain themselves in your make up *laugh*).

So anyway, this started a mad dash, and I do mean mad, to TRY and get winter preparations that I was hoping to do all of the this month done in like a week.

So I'm just going to number them as part of my frugal accomplishments, because I'll tell you what...this was a lot of work but being more organized and things will definitely save us money later.

1.  I ran out to the garden as soon as I read the weather report as the temperatures were supposed to start tanking and I wanted to salvage anything that I could from the garden.  I found, much to my surprise, that I had a few straggler green beans (which I just threw in with some green beans with dinner one night), some lettuce that we ate as salad (seen above) and even a few small Chinese vegetables (which we ate with the lettuce as salad).  Not bad for just going and throwing out a bunch of seeds to see what would grow in a fall garden this year.

I was going to put up a row cover and attempt a winter garden, but after talking to experienced gardeners up here I found that unless you have raised beds in a green house with a heater there is no way a winter garden will live up here as our ground just freezes way too solid.  I planted parsnip and salsify seeds this fall...whether they will come up in the Spring will be up to the Good Lord at this point, but I'm curious to see what will happen.

The ground is now quite frozen solid as of today, so yeah...I'm glad I harvested when I did.

Garden materials got put into the shed.  I then had to climb through the cluttered disaster that is our shed looking for coolers to use so I could defrost the freezer (I did NOT want to go crawling through the shed when temps were below freezing...I'm a wuss).  I found our big red cooler (I used a Styrofoam cooler from the garage when I couldn't find our other big cooler) and managed to struggle over the lawn mower (the only conceivable way out of the shed right now) with it in tow and got it into the house (I felt like Indiana Jones in the "Raiders of the Lost Arch" going through that shed, I'll tell you what...especially with the sheer amount of spider webs in there), got it cleaned up and was ready to rock.

2.  I jammed frozen food items into both the fridge freezer and the little block freezer anywhere they would go and then managed to barely get the last of everything into the coolers.  But I did it!  I finally got the freezer defrosted and the huge chunk of ice that was the bottom shelf taken out and thrown into the ditch (since it came out in one big chunk).  That was HEAVY!

Once defrosted I decided to organize things a bit better.  The big freezer (the one seen above there) is being used for meat and a few odds and ends, but mainly meat.  The shelves are organized by type.  Poultry on top, beef next, pork next and then misc/bulky items (currently a ham and the Thanksgiving turkey).

One shelf in the fridge freezer upstairs is now home to garden produce for this year and what's left from last year's garden and anything that really needs to be used up along with things I use in the kitchen that I might need (yeast, nuts, poppy seeds, one lowly pound of butter, some frozen raspberries, etc).  And the little block freezer is home to school lunch items for the kids, desserts (which part of my new "menu system" I'm working on comes into play there as I'm planning on preparing desserts ahead of time in a lot of cases and just freezing them to eat later in the month), processed foods (like say hot dogs and bacon)  and stuff like that.

I didn't find any real surprises when cleaning out the freezers, which was nice.  I think it was the first time ever where I emptied freezers and didn't have to throw some freezer burned item that once resembled food away. 

But yay for a nice defrosted, and much better running, freezer (and yes, I got the coils cleaned while I was at it)!

3.  Then onto the pantry gut and redo.

Then, after I got the freezers done, I gutted the pantry and redid it because it needed to be done so I knew what I had and could use it more effectively.

Before I could do that, however, I had to make a potato basket as that was part of my "pantry master plan".  The basket on the right there now houses 30 lbs of potatoes (at present).  I used to store fabric scraps in it, but decided that turning it into a basket to store potatoes would work pretty well if I could line it to help keep out the light better.  So, I cut down the couch cushion cover that I had made of unbleached muslin a long while back (before I reupholstered it with the red cushions) and used that as a "potato bag" inside of the basket.  So far it's working fabulously to house the potatoes as it gives me good vision to see what I have for potatoes and what I might have to use up quicker and the bag has helped to keep the light at bay and will hopefully stop them from sprouting as the pantry is an unheated room and keeps decently cool in the winter time.  I put some of the storage onions I bought this week (more on that in a minute here) up on top of the potato basket in their own basket so they wouldn't be stored together.  I have about 1/2 of the onions I have, at present, in the basket.  The other half are sitting in a basket on my kitchen counter to turn into french onion soup for the freezer this week.

Anyway back to the pantry.

Between my sister-in-law and a friend of mine moving, I now have a good supply of cookie mixes, a few muffin mixes and some different cake mixes (which hey a few more of those never hurt).  Buying things like that hasn't been in the budget in a long time (with the exception of cake mixes since the son will actually eat that with us IF I put Pillsbury chocolate frosting on top), so it will be a huge treat to make new to us things this winter.  I got a ton of canned veggies from my sister-in-law, which was great because I needed those as we were down to the ever present green beans and frozen garden produce and that was about it for vegetables.  With fruit, I found that we used so many home canned fruits this last year that I barely touched the commercially canned fruits I had, so I'm good on those for winter too.  That was a really nice thing to find for sure as all of that stuff has gone up in price in a big way when I checked on the prices this last week at the bulk store.  Especially with the way things are shaping up here right now with the state...we might be living on what we have a LOT more this next year as I struggle to keep every penny I can to move, so every bit of things I found in the pantry was a relief.

The really awesome cheap price I got on manicotti noodles on Amazon (I got 12 boxes for 6.00 last year!) and the cheap tortellini will definitely help to pad out the pasta monotony this coming year, especially since I'm a bit shy of the 52 boxes of angel hair pasta (or thin spaghetti or just plain spaghetti if I need to use it) that I normally like to have on hand for a year's supply (angel hair is the only shape my son likes to eat, really, and it's one of the few that comes in a full pound box still, so I try to get that).

Speaking of pasta, I cancelled my order on Amazon for the 12 boxes of Annies Mac and Cheese.  I started thinking about it and really we don't eat it at all often and even though it was less than a dollar a box...well...I decided to just pick up a few boxes as they were on sale at Carrs for 1.25 a piece this week and just call it good as I had a few boxes I had gotten for free on Fred Meyer's Freebie Friday deals and gotten a few boxes of Kraft from my sister-in-law.  Bonus to just picking up a few boxes  was that I was able to pick up a couple of different types so we won't be eating the same type over and over again.  And the rice a roni I bought...what...last year still going strong (see, I told you it would last us at least a year *laugh*).

I am, however, down to my last box of #2 coffee filters.  It's been so nice living off of the clearance ones I bought ages ago...I will miss them when they are gone!

And a nice shot of the can shelf I made of fruits and vegetables with the nice pantry pack thingies that they come in at the bulk store.  I had to rebuild a few of them with packaging tape to make it work, but I did it.  This will save me from having to crawl around on concrete so much and trust knees are really starting to appreciate it when I save them from doing that too much.  Doing this pantry knees and back are going to be protesting for a few months, I think.  The second shelf up there is just kind of the "miscellaneous stuff" shelf as I need to try and find a nice spot on the canning shelves for the molasses I just bought (I am actually nearly out of molasses and while I could get a gallon of molasses on Amazon for 16.00...I just didn't want to shell out anymore money than I had to right now as dividends are gone and money is getting tight again after bills got paid, groceries got bought and basic needs were met...blah!!!)

Wondering where all of the junk food is (okay, so cake mixes and things aren't health food unless you count "healthy for your soul" type of food, but still...) and stuff?  Well, I ended up gutting the hallway closet upstairs and turning that into the "boy food" cupboard, since everything he eats packages pretty much.  So the Cheetos, Doritos, pretzels, soda and all of that has it's own spot, so I'm not opening up the pantry all the time to get stuff out and having a bunch of things falling on me with the chip bags and things.  This will also help me to stay out of the pantry more, which will keep it darker in there, which will then help keep the produce fresher and stuff.

The buckets on the floor, by the way, house rice, flour, bread flour, sugar, oats and wheat and things.  I'm not done refilling and dragging buckets into the pantry (since I FINALLY found the bread flour and all purpose flour I bought last year!), but I'm getting there.  I still have some things to move back into the pantry as of tonight, but I wanted to show you what I've been up to.
Here's a shot of under the stairs now.  This is my "reserve once the pantry packs run out by the door" type of area where I just have other cans of vegetables and fruit on stand by along with some other stuff.  The shelf housing the Hershey syrup (once of the few "none essential" purchases I made with dividend money for the husband as he loves chocolate milk) is where I rebuilt the shelves that were in the den and are now home to the condiments (with the exception of the black olives that I bought this week as there were so many of them) and a few food storage things that I see myself using (heavy cream powder and sour cream powder being the most notable to my mind) in the next year.  I'm hoping to get the top shelf of my hallway closet cleaned off and then I will put my freeze dried food storage up there where it's out of the way but accessible should I need to use it.

The UFO looking thing in front of the Hershey syrup, by the way, is a push button LED portable light.  One of my sister-in-laws turned me onto them when I told her that this area of my pantry is completely unlit and really hard to see in a long time ago.  Between it and a motion detecting, portable LED light...I get by :).  Amazing how well lit it looks in the photo between the flash on the camera and messing around with the light levels in a photo program though, huh?

So, yeah, and then I did the hallway closet (still working on that too).  And yet, there's more!

4.  I deep cleaned the bathrooms this week as well.  The shower curtain liners desperately needed to be replaced, it seemed, but I decided to try and wash them instead of just tossing them.  And low and behold it worked!  I hung them back up in the showers to dry and now they look brand new (with the exception of missing a few magnets out of the bottom of them that came loose in the washer).  This will save me from having to replace the shower curtain liners for quite a while, I think.  I do have some replacement ones I got cheap, in the event I need to replace one, but the longer I don't have to pull them out and use them?  The happier I'll be.

5.  I replaced the batteries in our smoke detectors and our carbon monoxide detectors this week.  Always good to do that at least once a's definitely frugal to replace the batteries as protecting my family in any way I can is priceless to me.

6.  When it came to grocery shopping this week, I spent more than I wanted to, but got things we needed and I did get the items at decent prices.  I just didn't want to do another "big" shopping trip this week on top of spending so much at the store last week.

The highlights of the shopping this week were...

Getting maple syrup for 3.00 a bottle.  I picked up two as the son will only eat real maple syrup on his pancakes, so we save that for him now a days.  We were running low on maple syrup, so it was great finding it so cheap!

I got a big bottle of Ibuprofen for 50% off as well.  I was standing there staring at the shelf while holding two bottles of Ibuprofen, the price of both wasn't really what I wanted to pay, but I had been everywhere I could think of and comp shopped and the prices were comparable as other places.  So I sat and stared at the shelf tags for the bottles and broke down price per tablet (yes, I do get that ridiculous from time to time) and was trying to figure out if I wanted to go with the bigger bottle for a bit less per tablet, but a higher price tag, or go with the lower pill count and the higher cost per pill, but at a lower price.

Suddenly a woman seemed to appear out of nowhere (I must have been concentrating harder than I thought) and interrupted my contemplation of my place in the universe and what the best way to fight a headache in said place in the universe would be and asked, "Finding everything alright?"  I just smiled awkwardly after jumping a foot and responded with the usual small talk of, "Yes, I think so.  Thanks."

At which point she saw what I was holding and got a big smile on her face, "Hey!  I have that in my reduced section!  You have to buy a bigger bottle, but it should come out to about the same price as the higher pill count you are holding there.  Follow me!"  At that point she could have led me through rings of fire and I probably would have gone and she headed over to the reduced food section that I had already hit that day.  I was disappointed for a minute as I figured the Ibuprofen had to be gone, but then she stopped and reached up, so high I wondered if I could have actually reached the bottle without her as she was about three inches taller than me (Note:  This isn't that hard to accomplish, unfortunately) and she handed me a bottle of 500 tablets, which worked out to be, indeed the same price as the bottle of 200 in my hand after the discount.

I  was thrilled at the happenstance of her finding me that day as it actually saved me a ton of money (I had a 1.00 off coupon for that certain bottle size loaded on my card AND it was on sale so I got a bottle of 500 tablets for 5.00!!!) and we have enough Ibuprofen to last us quite a while :).  Honestly I never would have looked up that high to see if there was anything on reduced up above eye level like that.  Until now.  Now nothing is safe!  Bwahahahaha!

I got green peppers for .89 each on a personalized price at Carrs.  I picked up five to cut up and freeze (and I forgot about them till now, so I pray they are still good so I can cut them up and freeze them as soon as I'm done with this post!).

Getting baking powder on reduced for 50% off (it worked out to be less than a dollar after the discount).  My baking powder was past the "use by" date and I don't push baking powder very far past the use by date anymore as I've had some pretty spectacular baking failures with bad baking powder.  So, I was happy to find some so cheap.  I picked up a couple as they need to be used by next summer and then I picked up one new as it's good for almost three years from now.  That should keep me set for baking powder for quite a while.

I got a personalized price of 1.12 on frozen Michaelina's dinners at Carrs this week, so for once, I used it.  I grabbed 12 of the frozen dinners and they will be used as options for my husband for work lunches should he not want to take leftovers to work (now he has no excuse to eat out at airport prices.  Bwahahaha!).  They will come in handy, I think.

I picked up the minimum amount of Halloween candy at Fred Meyer.  Per usual, when it comes to Halloween candy, I found going to the regular candy section and just getting some bags on normal sale was cheaper than buying the Halloween candy from the Halloween isle.  I managed to spend 5.00 and now we're set on Halloween candy.

Getting strawberries for 1.77 per container at Carrs on regular sale this week.  I cleaned them and macerated them in sugar last night and will freeze 1/2 in the juices made by doing that tonight to go on strawberry shortcake later.  Tomorrow night we'll have the other 1/2 with home made strawberry shortcake for dessert :).

I also got Alaska grown potatoes for 1.66 per 5 lb bag at Carrs on Friday as part of 5.00 Friday (3 for 5.00 in this case).  I got 30 lbs and put them into the potato basket in the pantry.  They also had 3 lb bags of storage onions for 1.66 (3 for 5.00 again) and I grabbed 12 lbs.  Six pounds is destined to become freezer french onion soup and the other six pounds are in the pantry ready to use at a later date.  I also got four pounds of Alaska grown carrots (not on sale, but I did need them) and am going to blanch and freeze some of them to help pad out the sad amount of carrots I got from the garden.

I also picked up a big container of hamburger as it was on sale for 2.88 lb this week and I just couldn't pass it up.  I turned three pounds of it into about three meals (I'll cover that more in the menu post for this week as I tried a new recipe out) and the other half I put into the freezer for use later.

The BIG "woot" for sales, though, was the black olives.  On sale for 5 for 4.00 this week!  I picked up 15 cans of black olives as we eat tacos a LOT,  so I was absolutely thrilled to get them so cheap!

I spent around 90.00 on groceries this week (I also had to get chewable Benadryl and other medicine items, which always puts your bill up around lunar orbit), which was about twice as much as I wanted to, but I picked up things we needed and loss leaders, so well...I can't feel awful about it (well until I look at the checking account).

We'll see how things go with the Amazon order I placed.  The only thing I added to it was baked beans as they were a LOT cheaper than buying them at the store just getting a flat of 12.  Amazon shipped EVERYTHING I ordered, including a few Christmas gifts for my son (the daughter is easier to shop for so I picked up a few things here and there at the thrift store and I found my son some super cute Snoopy themed things on Amazon, so I ordered him a few things as Snoopy is one of his likes that has stuck from birth onward pretty much), the flats of cans, the granola basically one box with a few side boxes that contain a few little items in each (eek!!!).  I'm praying everything comes in one piece and that my husband can help me at the postal annex to carry the boxes to the car as they are all sited to come in tomorrow.  I'm a bit nervous at the packaging department right now, let's just put it that way.

7.  I managed to actually find time, believe it or not, to darn a few socks this week.  Staying up till midnight to clean bathrooms and get other stuff done does pay off from time to time.  Although MAN I'm tired and can't wait for Thursday when I have no appointments, can come home and just sleep all day if I want to.  Sounds heavenly right about now.

8.  I went through the winter gear this weekend for the kids (it was time) and pulled out everything that was too small for them and put it into a pile.  Instead of donating those items to the used store, I will instead donate them to our school as they have a "Give Some Warmth" program where they put all the winter gear items people donate into a room in an unobtrusive location so parents who are hard up can go in and see if they can get their kids winter gear for free.  I'd much rather the old winter gear is used to help someone out in my immediate community that needs the help and they can get the gear for free instead of having to pay for it at the used store (mind you, since the used store I love is run by a Church and they are big on charity I have no problem donating to THEM either, but you get what I mean here :).

And yeah...I think I'll stop there as my getting bleary eyed, still have a load of laundry to switch over and I have to get peppers prepped for the freezer (which I pray are still good *fingers crossed*).  So, there was my week in a nutshell.  How about you?   Got anything to report this week?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Monthly Goals: October 2017

This was one of those posts where I had a hard time with completing it because every time I thought I had it pegged down I found another thing I needed to get done.  It was an "ugh" type of situation for sure.

October, historically, has been the month where I start with a kind of subconscious panic about Christmas being imminent and trying to press the accelerator of motivation to get Christmas gifts done on top of everything else I need to get done.  This year I actually have a kind of soul deep relief, if that makes sense, after deciding not to do Christmas for everybody in the extended family.  I already warned my mom, with how things have been so hectic with Alvah and just life in general (trying to get used to the husband's new schedule, no money, etc) that I MIGHT get the gifts for her and my siblings done by Christmas, but I might not make it (my family back East is always super generous with us every Christmas and I've had to just punt on gift giving for them for years because of lack of funds and time).  My mom's reaction?  "Eh, been there.  Done that.  Don't worry about it.  Aim for a year from Christmas and we'll be fine."  *Laugh* my mom has her moments I have to say :). 

I AM hoping to get the pillow cases for my sisters and mom (half sisters and bonus mom/step mom are getting other gifts if I can find time to make them :) done this month, if nothing else, so that the next couple of months I can focus on my husband and kids.   I think I can make it.  I have faith *holds up pointer finger toward the sky with back straight with a sense of purpose* AND I have a plan for the embroidery for some of them, which helps.

So, yeah there is that to get done.  Then there is sauerkraut to can this month, probably next week.  A pantry to gut and redo so that I can find everything and it just plain works better (I have cans just stacked willy nilly in the pantry right now and it's driving me absolutely nuts) and cleaning and winter preparations that need to just plain get done this time of year.

And then there is Halloween.  I sat down and thought of Halloween and realized that I go overboard every year with the candy.  I mean we JUST started to finish up the Tootsie Pops that were left over from last year...or was it the year before...I can't even say anymore.  Needless to say I just end up buying too much candy, especially since we get like no trick-or-treaters every year.  So, this year I plan on picking up one small bag of Tootsie pops and one small bag of Smarties (both are peanut free and big hits with the kids) and past that I'm just going to make some treats.

Normally this time of year I try and stock up on peanut free treats for the son (since it's the one time of year we have money to really DO it) and so I went onto my favorite nut free chocolate site to see about ordering some chocolate melts to make chocolates for the kids and maybe get some crisp candy bars (since I have to avoid Nestle like the plague with the peanut allergy,, even though the husband loves them).  I found that not only had the price gone up on the melts and things, but the shipping had also gone up, so if I ordered the few things I wanted to get I would have been paying out 10+ dollars per pound for chocolate after the shipping.  I just couldn't do it.  I even got to the last screen before confirmation and had a pep talk with myself telling myself that I wouldn't be able to make chocolates without the chocolate melts (I can't get any that are safe locally) and I STILL couldn't do it.  Shelling out nearly 40.00 for a small amount of just wasn't going to happen. 

So, I came up with a back up plan.  I went to the store Friday and when I got the small amount of things I needed to get for 5.00 Friday and things, I also stopped by the baking isle and got some Guitard chocolate chips (made in a certified peanut free facility).  They aren't cheap, but for 4.00 (about) per 12 oz bag it was definitely cheaper than the nut free site.  And then I grabbed a small box of Rice Krispies (since we don't have much in the way of cereal in the house anymore) and some Kraft caramels.  So, yeah, I'm going to try my hand at making Crisp bars myself (sure I'll have to store them in the freezer or they'll melt, but I don't care at this point...they are one of my husband's favorites) and then make some other treats for Halloween for the family and call it good.  I'm kind of stepping outside of my "melt chocolate, pour into molds, let sit and pop out, done" comfort zone, but darned it the materials I picked up were under around 10.00 for everything, so yeah...I can make it work!

So far with Halloween I have gotten cookies done and pumpkin fudge, so hey at least I am off to a decent start :).  I only have speech therapy this week to get through (thank goodness) in the way of appointments, so I will at least have a couple of free days to get some of my goals worked on.

So, onto the goals list! 

Cleaning/Organizing Goals:
  • Gut pantry, put cans in flats with other like items (I'm just going to cut down cardboard boxes I have to make this more efficient and cheaper) and stack up in the pantry to work better.
  • Rebuild the wooden shelves in the pantry that are in the den (the ones in the den have just gotten buried and they just really don't look right out there, and I could use the shelves in the pantry to help organize things, so yeah...they're going back).
  • Clean master bedroom (this becomes a strategic nightmare with my husband's schedule now a days) really well, get heater cleaned out well and ready to be fired up for the winter (it's getting COLD in there at night).
  • Work on organizing the master bedroom closet and getting it clean.  The husband tried to clean the closet and never got time to get close to finished.  We'll just leave it at that.
  • Organize the hallway closet somehow so it just works better (the way it is now is just not working for me, but I'm still trying to figure out a way to improve it...I'll get there).
  • Get desk cleaned off and organized again and maybe move it into the den (depending on how well I can get the den cleaned and organized).
  • Defrost big freezer and get meat put away in it in, hopefully, an orderly fashion.
  • Clean out fridge freezer and figure out all of what is in there and figure out what needs to be used up. 
  • Mulch garden (I consider this "garden clean up in preparation for next Spring"...I planted seeds for a lot of different cold hardy crops, but not much sprouted, so I'm thinking the garden might just be done for the year at this point).
  • Clean garage with husband (so I don't misplace things so he can't find them) and set up mouse traps in corner of garage.  We actually have, I think, a vole in the garage does not have good eye sight as it'll come out in daylight and doesn't seem to realize that humans are nearby.  The cat, who I have been putting out there and leading him to the corner where the rodent is, rubs his scent everywhere when he goes out there, but doesn't really care to hunt the little blighter, so I'll probably have to do a contained trap that the cat can't get hurt in and place it over the corner to take care of it instead.

Sewing Goals:
  • Just work on last month's list since I got none of it really DONE last month.  There.  Done typing that.  That was easy *laugh*.

Canning Goals:
  • Can sauerkraut
  • Can peach jelly from juice in freezer
  • Gather up jar rings and other supplies and put them away for the year.

Christmas Goals:
  • Work on getting the gifts done for family back East.
  • Work on some of the easier gifts for husband and kids for Christmas (like handkerchiefs)

Halloween Goals:
  • Make treats (and figure out a schedule in which to make them so am not overly stressed about it)
  • Buy Halloween candy (minimum amount needed)
  • Dig out special Halloween discs to watch (we have cartoons we burned to disc for the kids to watch come Halloween and we are still trying to figure out where my husband put them)
  • Try to figure out where the light up, plug in jack-o-lanterns disappeared to (one of those, "Man they are pretty big, where in the HECK could I have stuck them?" moments) so we have them to plug in on Halloween.
  • Buy Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin (Done.  Got that as part of my, "Majorly awesome, will be lucky if I can EVER recreate such a supremely stupendous shopping trip" event *laugh*.  It's in the pantry.  I am going to wash over it with a bleach and water solution that my farm and food group on Facebook suggested to stop the pumpkin from rotting before Halloween as Jack O' Lantern pumpkins up here are well...they usually rot...they don't have great staying power for sure).

And yeah...that's the important goals for this month (believe it or not I have sub-lists worked out for this's going to be busy).  How about you?  Got anything going on this month?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This was a week of high highs and a pretty hard disappointment.

I'll get to the highs in a moment, but today was a pretty crushing blow to the good mood I was in.  I went and checked the mail to get a package pick up slip I knew would be there to go and get the peanut free spread variety pack that was sighted to be in today.  And in with that mail was a bill.  A bill from my husband's doctor's office.

Sure, I knew a bill was coming because I figured out the whole deductible thing was off from what I thought it was, but I was expecting  a bill for about 100.00, which sucked, I figured, but doable.  But nope.  It was worse then I figured because the doctor's office charged my husband the not right amount for his Urgent Care visit when he went and that ended up being 150.00 more than they charged us at the time.  I called them today (luckily someone was in, which is rare on a weekend) and asked them to adjust down the return visit that same week since he was definitely an established patient and, I argued logically enough, that it would be classified as a follow up visit, not to mention it was kind of weird that an Urgent Care visit would cost as much as a regular doctor's visit.  They refused and basically informed me that if I didn't pay the bill by the end of the month the computer would send me automatically to collections (which I've dealt with that fiasco before).  The two office visits, mind you, ran us up nearly a grand.  For TWO TRIPS to the doctor's.  With no additional testing.  That's insane!  I informed them of as much and told them that they had managed to cost themselves out of our business as we were not going to pay nearly 400.00 to see a doctor, let alone a nurse practitioner at their office.  They seemed unimpressed with losing our business, which was fine, and she said they'd be happy to transfer our records to a new doctor when we found one.

I will call them Monday, pay the bill (the person who takes the actual payments isn't in till then), which will hurt as I was hoping to use part of the 261.00 hit they nailed us with to pay to get some home maintenance done, and I'll go searching for another doctor's office.  We found the union my husband joined when he got his job has a health clinic they run in Anchorage that is MUCH MUCH cheaper to go to, so that is going to be probably where we go from now on, but I am hoping to find a back up plan (in case of really bad weather or someone being too out of it to drive for a hour to see a doctor) closer to home that won't require me to take out a loan from the bank to pay for (kidding...but not by much).

But yeah, we get money in with dividends and just as soon start to bleed it out.  Frustrating to say the least.  I do at least feel grateful that we had the money to bleed as the idea of coughing up 261.00 a couple of weeks ago...I don't know how we would have done it in one chunk.

Right, okay, so now that I did the downturn in my week (I still feel a need for chocolate after dealing with that), let's get to the upbeats as there were some this week :).

1.  Dividends came in like I said above, so one of the first things I did was pay off the chunk of dental bills that were due by next month.  It felt good getting those crossed off our debt list, although it was sad watching the checking account go up and then back down again in the same day.

2.  My husband and I went Wednesday to get our flu shots this week as the kids got theirs done on Tuesday and while there I got all of my boosters updated (we have a mumps outbreak in Anchorage right now and I wanted to help shore up herd immunity as much as I could for the sake of pregnant women, immune compromised and other "at risk" people).  I hadn't had boosters done since college for the MMR and the last DTAP I had was...well a long time ago when I was pregnant with my first (I got attacked and bit by a dog, on Halloween, in a grocery store parking was not a fun night).

The store normally gives you a 10% off coupon for the next shopping trip of your choice when you get a flu shot, but it turns out that they also gave one out for each booster you got, so between my husband and I getting boosters and flu shots...I was a happy camper!  Especially when the insurance covered the vaccinations 100% which was no out of pocket expense for me (honestly, I was expecting some) and the pharmacy doing them also saved me an over priced doctor's visit to get the vaccinations done too. 

I had gone to Carrs on Tuesday as well to get one thing.  Butter.  They had butter on a three day sale for 2.50 per lb (along with other things, but the butter was all I cared about), which is about as low as butter gets around here.  Also if you bought things on those days you also got a 10.00 off a 50.00 purchase coupon that printed off when you checked out.  I got my butter and the 10.00 off coupon that day.  This also comes into play *laugh*.

So, Thursday I went to Carrs armed with my coupons and the weekly ad, which had some awesome sales in it (like Honeycrisp apples for 1.88 lb this week!!!) and went to see what I could find.

And I hit pay dirt.  In a big, BIG way!

Welcome to Pork-a-Palooza at the Make Do Homemaker!

I made a bee line for the reduced meat before going to look for the apples that were on sale and found a TON of pork chops marked down 50% off...they worked out to be between 4 and 6 dollars per value pack of pork chops.  I grabbed all they had, which was probably about 7 or more packages.  I got a picnic ham that was marked 30% off and worked out to be about 12.00 for it.  I got fish (not on sale but because I just wanted to get some) and EVEN a really fancy beef roast (standing rib roast type of fancy) as they are on sale for 5.77 lb this week and I had a personalized deal of 5.00 off a 30.00 purchase in the meat department (personalized E-Coupon thingie).  I got breakfast sausages.  I got name brand shampoo instead of super cheap shampoo for the daughter (to help cut down on super frizzy hair...poor thing takes after me on fine hair, but she has a lot thicker hair than me, so she can get some serious mats going if not careful) and the husband (sales combined with E-Coupons and things to make them cheap enough for my "cheapskate gene" to not throw them aside *laugh*).  I got a bunch of Honeycrisp apples.  I got black olives (on sale with a coupon of course).  All said and done I had a HUGE heaping cart of groceries when I went up to the registers to check out.

I also planned how to check out, so I broke down what I was doing with the cashier before we started.  I put meat up first because the 10.00 off of 50.00 coupon I had said it couldn't be combined with other offers, so I was worried that the computer wouldn't let me stack the 10% off your purchase coupons with it.  I had it worked out in my head to go over 50.00 with the meat, but I forgot the 5.00 off of 30.00 E-Coupon that would come off and I also didn't realize that the pork chops that were marked 50% off were now also on sale.  So I kept having to hand the cashier meat packages until the total was at 52.00 and then I got it down to 42.00 with the coupon and paid.  At this point, funny enough, the morning cashiers (whom I know pretty well by now) were all impressed and standing there to see how it all went down after that.

I then got everything else rung up and they hit total and we waited, no joke, about five minutes for all the E-Coupons that I had stacked and other deals to process through the system.  And then I handed them my paper coupons and the 10% off coupon (the 10% off had to be taken off last, which was sad, but I could see why they did it that way).  My total started up around 400.00.  By the time the discounts and coupons were taken off, all totaled WITH MEAT and all, I spent 140.00 on groceries.  AND I walked away with .80 off per gallon fuel rewards because of bonus coupons I had on Just 4 U combined with a fuel reward thing they had going on at the store this week and things.  Life was good that day!

I had 200.00 set aside to stock up on meat and produce out of dividends.  Let's just was a good day :).  A pic of my new small block freezer, currently home to the meat from that trip (I'm still working on getting the big freezer defrosted...I was hoping to do it to today, but life intervened again) is seen up top there.

The funniest part was after SHOVING everything into my trunk (and it wasn't easy, happily) and standing back, all I could think of was, "How in the Heck did I used to spend 150.00 a week on groceries?  Where did it go?  I mean LOOK at this!"  I'm still trying to work that one out, although I think it's going to be one of those, "What is the sound of one hand clapping" types of deals *laugh*.

I ran back to the store yesterday to get a few minor things that I hadn't picked up Thursday (and to pick up a script that had to be ordered and took a bit to come in for the son).  They had strawberries on sale for 2.50 per container, which is cheap for up here and they actually looked pretty good, so I got a container for my daughter for snacks.  It turned out to be "snack" as she gorged herself on strawberries this afternoon, but ah least they didn't go to waste.

2.  I have been planning on how to make a fall themed quilt for a while.  I can actually SHOW you what I want to recreate here.  See, my daughter has had the book, "Froggy Goes to School" since she was really little and reading it to her a lot, I immediately fell in love with the quilt Froggy has on his bed when he wakes up from his nightmare.  Here's a shot of it...

I just thought that was the prettiest quilt and would be pretty easy to recreate (Note:  I admit readily that I'm weird and draw inspiration from odd places ;).  IF I could find the right fabrics to make it so it looked good.  I was missing a good brown fabric and black fabric (see the pillow I had to fill in the eyes with fabric marker as a demonstration of how I don't have black fabric  around here *laugh*).  I've been continually looking at the used stores for a black sheet, hoping I could find something that would work and this week I found a flat black sheet for 1.50!  I was so happy to mark that off of my list.  I have a tan sheet and a dark blue sheet I can use for a backer.  Now I just need to find some light yellow fabric for the yellow blocks and I think I can find some decent fabrics for the leaves (I mean they might have patterns on the fabric, but it will look just fine I think) and I MIGHT need to find some dark grey or other contrasting fabric to rotate with the black.  But, yay for progress to getting this quilt started officially :).

3.  By watching Amazon carefully every day on my Subscribe and Save items, I was able to cancel some of my items and reorder them at lower prices, saving me a total of 12.40 on all the items I had on order so far.  Prices fluctuate a lot on Amazon and with Subscribe and Save you can "lock in" a low price if you order an item at that, so it's worth watching and then cancelling and reordering at the lower price before the price jumps back up a LOT of the time. 

4.  I contacted my son's care coordinator this week and made sure that everything was running along for the yearly renewal for his insurance.  Since this is a long process, I always make sure that we're on the same track to get the renewal trucking along to avoid problems.  Definitely saves money to keep that stuff straightened out and on time.

5.  My daughter has gone back and forth for, oh, about a year *laugh* about what she wants to be for Halloween this year.  She first wanted to be a swan (which that one was baffling me trying to figure that one out), then a couple of other things, and finally settled on an artist this week.

THAT I could do!

I already have the paint brushes and I knew I could easily make a palette out of cardboard, so that got us down to a beret and an apron of some type.

I started thinking and dug one of my everyday aprons out of the closet.  It's stained, it's old, and oh was also completely free when I got it ages ago *laugh*.  I had appliqued a quickie frog image over the top of the original logo.  The frog had come off of a favorite t-shirt that had died of mine YEARS ago (I like frogs :), but I knew that the image would never work for an artist apron for a costume and well...weapon images in school...even those in the hands of a frog...would probably NOT be appreciated.

So, I did some quick surgery today.  Off with the frog...

And back to the old logo underneath...

I'm going to take some unbleached muslin that I have in my stores and maybe some Craft Bond (if I have enough left) and just adhere the plain colors over the logo.  Then I'll dig out my paint and take my daughter and the apron and the paint outside on a drop cloth and let her splatter the apron with paint all over and voila!  Artist apron!

Tuck the paint brushes in one of the pockets (not my good ones mind you...I know I have some cheaper ones around here) and a cardboard palette in another and complete it with a beret we found at the used store today for 1.49 (I was actually kind of bummed that we found one so cheap as I had found some patterns on how to make one on Pinterest and figured I could make her one pretty easy) and voila!  Artist!  Hopefully it turns out well!  Stay tuned for progress reports.

6.  I fixed a loose sole on my shoe with Shoe Goo.

7.  I wanted to restock some soups to eat when well...I felt like soup or wasn't feeling well...and I wasn't impressed with what I saw at the stores for options.  So, I went and looked up some recipes online to make different types of soup and will start work on making those hopefully this coming week (AFTER I defrost the big freezer *laugh*).

8.  I worked on a reorganizing plan for the pantry this week to try and figure out if there was a way to put everything into the pantry that needed to go there and still be able to find everything.  I MIGHT have a plan and am hoping to give it a trial run this week.

9.  A blog reader earlier gave me the advice to maybe up Alvah's water intake to see if it would help his skin.  I knew that lack of water was definitely a problem in his diet (since he won't touch the stuff) but between his comment and some follow up suggestions via e-mail and blog I got an idea.  As part of shopping this week I actually BOUGHT seltzer water and today I started adding a TEENY TINY splash of water to the bottom of the son's soda glass before filling it with soda.  This way the fizz doesn't go out of the soda like regular water and if it works and I can get him up to even 40% seltzer to 60% cola...that can't do anything but help him with hydrating his skin.  So far, so good!  He actually drank the water/soda mixture (trust me baby steps are the ONLY way to work with this kid or he turns on your efforts and they're all for naught).  So, thank you for the advice and suggestions.  Including the Vitamin E suggestion for helping his skin.  I'm going to go to our local bulk store (which Three Bears also sells things singularly) and see what price they charge for vitamin E and I'll add it to the other oils I'm hoping to get him to take and slather on his skin.  So, once again, thank you, everyone!  I appreciate the advice and the input.  It helps me think and improve and HOPEFULLY something works!!!

And yeah...I'm really wearing down energy-wise and still have a few things to do before bed, so I'm calling it good for this week's recap.  How about you?  How did you do?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

When it came to the menu plan the last couple of went kind of out the window.  With the son's skin being so bad, erratic schedules and things, yes we definitely ate, but for the life of me I can't say it was very exciting.

I got basically none of the baking done that I had planned on when I posted up the last menu plan, so some of that is going onto this week's "menu goals" as I am liking to call them.  I did finally manage to get sugar cookies done the last couple of days and the kids decorated them last night (the son with help from me, but he sure seemed to enjoy himself).  A result of their efforts are seen up top.  I did end up going to the store and trying to find Halloween themed sprinkles to put on the cookies, but couldn't find any.  I did find candy eyeballs that were safe to get with the son's peanut allergy and I had a coupon my mom had given me for 2.00/1.  Still cost me over 2.00 for the package of them, but they did, indeed, make the cookies come out nice and Halloween-like (between that and mixing colors with the food coloring to create some Halloween type of colors...although the purple was the daughter's idea it did make good monsters *laugh*).  Times like this I am happy I took so many art classes to know how to mix colors as the instructions on the box with the food coloring made me flinch.  I mean 20 DROPS of ONE type of food coloring to make a certain color?  Your cookies would taste like food coloring! 

At any rate, I am working hard on making Halloween treats slowly but surely this month (more on that in the Monthly Goals post I'm working on), so at least I can scratch sugar cookies off of my list :).

When it comes to food this week I need to go to the store tomorrow and buy some meat when dividends come in.  All I have for meat, literally, in the freezer right now is chicken and beef roasts and a Thanksgiving turkey.  That's it.  I need to get bacon, maybe some sausages for breakfast dinners...pork in general really and hopefully some fish.  I'll have to see what I can find.  My shopping list of things I need keeps's kind of depressing.  I am now completely out of powdered sugar after making icing for the cookies yesterday (thank goodness my sister-in-law had given me some in with the food she gave us or I would have been packing the kids into the car to go and try to find some at 8 o'clock, which would NOT have made my son happy), I went to get baked beans to cook for dinner tonight only to find I was completely out of those as well, black olives are gone (which made taco night last week a bit of a wet blanket)...just ugh.  I am VERY grateful for what we have in the house, don't get me wrong.  It's just one of those things that happen when you live on what you have for so long....still depressing I have to restock them though *laugh*.

So, yeah, here's how the menu plan is shaping up right now.  I am going to bank on the idea that I'm not going to find much in the way of meat at the store (prepare for the worst and hope for the best) and so am going on what I have in the freezers.  So let's get to it, shall we?
Wednesday:  BBQ beef ribs, rolls, chili spiced beans (since we were out of baked beans)

Thursday:  Balsamic Thyme Chicken (crock pot), pasta with carrot pesto, fruit cocktail

Friday:  Beef and Veggies (potatoes, carrots, turnips) in gravy, biscuits

Saturday:  Chicken fried steak (thin slice pieces off of a beef roast for this and Sunday's dinner), mashed potatoes, turnip greens (from freezer).

Sunday:  French dip sandwiches (use other half of thin sliced beef roast for meat), pears (from pantry)

Monday:  Chicken noodle soup with home made noodles

Tuesday:  Chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice, corn

Desserts:  Oatmeal raisin cookies (from freezer), "Spooky" sugar cookies, soft and chewy snickerdoodles (to make), Rhubarb Dream Bars

Snacks:  Cookies and milk (see above for cookie choices), apples, Ants on a Log (celery with Wowbutter and raisins on it), cheese and crackers

Monday, October 2, 2017

Shopping Goals: October 2017

When it came to shopping goals last month I actually managed to get an okay amount of them, but I did come out short on things like bread flour and all purpose flour just because money got tight and I do have some of both already in storage so it's not like I was going to run out last month on either one of them.  I also failed to get turnips as the U-Pick farm I was hoping to go to ended up not planting them, or the crop failed this year as they never posted up that they were ready.  I was really disappointed that I couldn't get turnips cheap, but such is life.  I am figuring on getting some rutabagas at the store and just putting them into the fridge for using as needed (my mom, who grew up on a farm, educated me that rutabagas actually keep better than turnips do), but I'm just going to have to figure on getting turnips or rutabagas throughout the winter at the store, which is sad, but ah well.

I did, indeed, end up getting five boxes of angel hair pasta at the store instead of going for 20 boxes through Amazon, as after digging around and organizing the pasta better in the pantry I found that I did have more than I thought I did and also it was only 1.00 a box at the store, which was cheaper than Amazon was charging.  So, that was a nice (and much cheaper) find.

This month, when it comes to eating, I am working on figuring out a new system for planning menus (I'm hoping to work it out and finally get it written down definitively this week).  My "plan" (if anything I do can be called that *laugh*) is to plan out basic meals that will probably be made once a week (for instance we've been having a breakfast dinner once a week lately) and then figuring out things that I would like to make for dessert and then planning how much of basic staples, like milk and eggs, I would need to buy to make it through the month on that plan.  Then I can better plan on how much milk to buy in a week, how many eggs to buy for a month...things like that.  I can only really do this with staples as with my son...his appetite is all over the place, so it's kind of hard to figure out how much of his "basics" I would need to make it through an entire month.

When it comes to shopping this month, dividends will be in this week for the family (Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend).  Most of said dividends are already spent (or grabbed by our, insert nasty names here, legislature) as I'm going to pay off the chunk of my husband's dental bills that are due by November (only one more big chunk to pay off after this, thank goodness!).  I usually spend some of the dividends to buy masses of food, which I AM buying some, but not as much as I used to by far.  The majority of this food is being bought from Amazon this year.  I'm trying to be careful with what I order, but am going to buy a few new things to try on my son that are peanut free (which anything peanut free, or heck anything "allergy free" period, is always expensive and, unfortunately, a lot of it has to be bought online).  I am hopeful.  I've failed many times over the years, but if ONE thing sticks and he picks up a new food?  All failures are worth it.

Other things I'm ordering from Amazon are things that are just SO much cheaper to order from them than I can get at the store.  Lately the son has decided he is in the mood for Goldfish crackers.  I've tried about four different recipes that are supposed to taste like Goldfish and he won't even touch them, so I've been forced to buy them (which honestly, if it comes down to Goldfish and Cheetos, guess which one I would prefer him to eat?).  The big carton of Goldfish (which I have to buy as he goes directly to eating his body weight in whatever he decides he wants to eat) is up to right around 10.00 at the store, which makes you want to pass out when you put that into your cart and realize that 1/4 of your weekly grocery budget is now shot.  So, yeah, the bulk flat of Goldfish on Amazon it is!

Also on Amazon I am going to buy 3 oils that another mom suggested for helping eczema that I ran into as her son had awful eczema, like Alvah almost, from a young age and she found that the three oils helped her son's skin a lot (she's got a science background and studied oil compounds and things...the conversation went a BIT over my head, but I got the gist of it...I think *laugh*).  She gives her son some in a smoothie as well so he gets them internally and externally, but since Alvah won't really eat smoothies or anything, I'm just ordering the gel caps of the oils and will break them into a home made skin cream and then maybe squeeze some onto his tongue or something later on if he takes to the oils.  I pulled out my herbology text books to better study the oils and found that two of them are considered to be "women" oils (too much of them can actually mess with the "woman" hormones produced in the body, too, which led me to once again researching safe levels of oils for internal consumption per 50 lb increments.  Amazing what kinds of things you research as a parent), which is probably why I never really studied them to possibly help the son's skin, but they do contain a lot of good things for the skin as well, so after really reading into them, I'm going to give them a shot (they ain't cheap, but nothing with the son ever is).

So, here's the list of things I'm buying this month, I hope. (the following links contain associate links...sorry folks.  Yup I'm a sell out.  I admit it.  But hey, at least I'm legitimately buying this stuff and consider it a good enough deal to purchase it...that has to count for something right?)
  • Milano's Parmesan Cheese Tub (80 oz)  This will be enough Parmesan Cheese to last us a year, I hope, and at 24.06 for 5 lbs of Parmesan cheese I couldn't pass it up.  We eat Parmesan Cheese a LOT and it is one of the few "real food" items my son will eat on pasta, so I found this to be the most economical way of getting it (as the Kraft stuff is up to astronomical levels at the stores and the son won't do the store generic types).   And double bonus is that it comes in ONE container, which will lead me to not having to throw out a small Kraft container all the time, so yay for that!
  • Kraft Easy Mac Cups (10 Pack)  Another "boy food" that I very rarely buy anymore.  This will be used to split up other foods for school lunches.  I got the 10 pack for 5.24 after Subscribe and Save discount and the coupon had been applied.
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Borage Oil Capsules 
  • Black Currant Seed Oil 
  • Don't Go Nuts Nut-Free Organic Roasted Soybean Spread, Variety Pack   Once again a "try it on the son and see if he goes for it" type of experiment.  I've found that soybean spreads like Wowbutter really do taste the most like peanut butter (and every other nut butter alternative I've tried on him, such as almond butter, have failed miserably), so I figure I'll try him on these different ones.  If he goes for it, it'll be another source of protein for him.  And YES I know, trust me I've read it all (I used to run an allergy food blog ages ago), about soy and the dangers of eating too much of it and such and yes I still think it's worth trying with him as right now the most protein he eats at one time is when he occasionally will eat Bumblebee Tuna Salad.
  • Don't Go Nuts Nut-Free Organic Snack Bars, Gorilla Power, Chocolate Chip Granola (12 count)  The son has eaten some raw oats a couple of times as a sensory seeking thing, so I'm hoping, maybe, between the chocolate chips and the oats that he might go for these.  Note:  I did get mine cheaper as they were offering a 20% additional discount on their bars earlier in the week, so I got these for 11.62...they are more expensive now.  Fingers crossed that he likes them! 
  • Curel Itch Defense Lotion (the school requested their own container of lotion, so I gave them what I had of mine.  I only gave them about 1/3 of my Puriya Mother of All Creams, so at least I still have that until it comes in to help stretch out the Puriya :).
  • Annie's Mac and Cheese, Pack of 12  (okay, this was just cheap and will last us forever around here.  I got the 12 pack of Shells and White Cheddar for 7.10 after coupon and Subscribe and Save discount.  That's cheap for any macaroni and cheese anymore, but for actual REAL cheese macaroni and cheese that's unheard of cheap!  I'm not a huge fan of Mac and Cheese but my daughter loves it).
  • Zegerid OTC Capsules, 42 Ct (this my husband just needs as he's getting low and through Amazon, after the 15% Subscribe and Save discount for ordering 5 or more items is taken off, it is like 5.00 cheaper than buying it at the store!  Totally worth it!) 
  • Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers, Cheddar, 30 Ounce (Pack of 6)  See above for explanation on that one.
How much is this going to cost?  Well, it isn't going to be cheap.  I have a gift card to pay for part of the order, which will help to offset the costs a bit and really, compared to how nuts I used to go when dividends came in, I thought I did pretty well this time around.

Bulk Store:
  • Bread Flour (25 lbs...maybe 50...depending on price)
  • All Purpose Flour (25 lbs)

Fred Meyer:
  • Trash Bags (cheapest place to get them right now that I can find)
 And there you go folks.  My "master list" for shopping this October.  How about you?  Getting anything this month?