Saturday, March 24, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Or, Out With the Old, In With the New)

Still alive!

That's a Croods reference by the way, in case anyone was wondering.

It's been a rough month, but we're making it through.  More things broke, unfortunately, but we managed to find a truck today after two weeks of texting and phoning people only to not have anyone get back to us and other frustrating matters (like the cost of used vehicles!  Holy cow!), so at least that bit of stress is over and done with for better or worse (now it's a matter of paying the loan off that we bought it with, paying to insure it, getting title and registration transferred over, making sure everything on the truck is working well, etc etc, which is a bit of stress onto itself to say the least).

One thing that has been going on is my eyes have been bugging me when I try to read the last few weeks especially (when I'm reading up close I have to read over my glasses), although I've been having problems getting progressively worse as time goes on for a while now (which oops that I didn't notice until it got bad on me and then thinking back went "ooohhhhh" as I tend to do), but had been putting it off because the last time I got my eyes checked (which was when I was pregnant with my son...yes I know, I deserve the lectures) it cost me a LOT to get it done and since my eyes don't change much, at all, I just kind of put off getting new glasses as long as possible since we didn't have insurance.  Now we actually HAVE good eye insurance, thus no excuse on my part (if nothing else the exam is completely covered and the deductible on lenses and frames is decently cheap).   So I made an appointment with one of our preferred providers on the list (once I found said list, which is what kept me from making an appointment before now) to go and get my eyes checked (and get new lenses in my current glasses after getting a new set of lenses in the frames I found at the used store a while back that I have put aside, so I have a back up set of glasses :).

On top of that future expense (week after next) looking me in eye (ha!  I love puns ;), I then started cleaning my kitchen cabinets and drawers, getting rid of what I didn't need, etc and when looking in my one big bottom lazy Susan cabinet found that the old top plastic shelf (I don't have great quality kitchen cabinets by any stretch) had developed a crack...a bad one...and was about to crack to the point it would break in half, so now I have herbs and other cooking paraphernalia strewn helter skelter over kitchen and sideboard, trying to find room for things when I didn't HAVE room to begin with, thus the whole weeding out of the kitchen area thing.  Sigh.  So, yeah, I'm going to attempt to completely tear the cabinet apart (the only way to get the shelf out) and then take some J-B Weld to the crack and hope it holds.  There's nothing else we can do really as my cabinets are from the 80's and I KNOW they aren't made anymore.  This whole "everything is breaking or failing and costing money" thing is getting old FAST!

Even the bead kit that we ended up giving to Armina after the birthday debacle ended wrong.  The kit came with instructions that I followed to the letter so the daughter put together a really pretty horse she wanted me to iron to set (read melt) the beads into place so it would be permanent.  I folllowed the directions just as written, but I guess my "medium" setting on my old iron was way higher than the medium setting on the newer irons or was different then the medium setting the directions were calling for because the next thing I knew the horse template was melted to the point it had waves and I had a heck of a time getting the horse removed from the form.  The horse looks slightly mutated, I feel terrible about it (because the daughter put so much hard work into making it) and a letter to the company yielded no replacement template (my sob story didn't work...ah well), but finding out that the horse template ONLY comes in the kit that we have at the moment from what I could dig up thereafter.  So, I took a bit out of my meager shopping budget this week and ordered a new kit from Amazon (as it was less than half the normal price with Jo Ann Fabrics) to assuage my guilt over what happened.  The daughter is at least thrilled she'll be getting more beads and things as she's found she REALLY enjoys the Perler bead experience and she's having a blast getting all artistic with things.

 We have gone from getting a bunch of snow, which the kids and I had fun on Spring Break going out and playing in (and building a snowman in...I was going to share a picture but then remembered I didn't have a camera then and I had to take it with my phone), and then it got warmer out and the promise of Spring is in the air.  It's been nice.  We're supposed to get snow coming in this week a couple of times, but the temps are still set to go above freezing so I'm hopeful that winter is finally leaving, slowly but surely, for the year.

Right, so now that the last little bit has been covered, let's get to the money SAVING things that happened.

1.  I used a Amazon gift card I had to get a new phone and it is working well.  It's nice having a phone that is working again!

2.  With some help from my mom I was able to get a new camera.  So, I got to say goodbye to my old camera this week and get used to the new one.  I'm actually REALLY happy with the Kodak I got so far and it zooms in way better than my old camera did (and has an optional flash on it that I don't have to turn off all the time :).  I will miss "old reliable", but am thrilled to have a camera that works again.  I took a picture of the old camera with the new camera because I could, so you can enjoy that shot up top there *laugh*.

3.  Shopping went this week.  I can't say it went smashingly as we had so little money left over after the paycheck this last pay period that I knew we were going to be eating into the non-closing costs from the loan, which is exactly what happened.  Money is getting tighter and we're going to be nearly three  weeks between pay periods again this upcoming pay period because of the way the month is structured, so blah for that.  Bright side is that the husband will be starting the four day a week schedule come April, so that will save us a day of gas and also give him another day off, which will hopefully help his energy levels and general health.  And he's picking up some overtime tonight, which will help as well.

I went to two stores this week, Carrs and Fred Meyer.  I actually scored pretty well on the freebie front at both, so let's break down some highlights and some freebies!

First up is Carrs where the highlights of the trip were definitely those seen above there.  Including:

  • 3 lb chub of ground beef on sale for 7.47 with an in-ad coupon.  You could get a maximum of two, but I only got one because of pinching pennies.
  • 1 half gallon (or whatever the equivalent is anymore) of ice cream 1.47 with a digital only coupon (not seen because I put it in the freezer and oops).
  • 2 Calrose rice on sale buy one get one free.  It worked out to be about 3.00 for 4 lbs of rice, which is as cheap as I've seen it in a bit. We're running out of rice, so it was a great sale to run into.
  • Right and three cans of tomato sauce, two bagels, one thing of baby carrots and two packages of gravy mix were free with Monopoly coupons.  

Next up I went to Fred Meyer and as I told the family later, "Snacks are on Fred Meyer this week".

All of the above were free.  The chips, Oreo Milka Bar and the Think Thin bar were all Freebie Friday freebies.  The Oreos were a "Best Customer Bonus" coupon that I was able to load to my card and then while I was checking out a coupon for a free "Oui" yogurt coupon printed off, so I just hopped back into the store and got it (I didn't want to come back later if I could help it to avoid spending money). 

My husband actually asked for a yogurt for breakfast this morning and I pulled a bunch out of the fridge and he got a kick out of all the free yogurt we have (which honestly I do too as I like yogurt).  I ate the oui yogurt with some granola sprinkled on top for breakfast and really enjoyed it this morning :).

4.  I managed to mend one pair of my jeans that kept failing to take a mend, at least so far, only to have another pair completely rip out right at the zipper, which is one place I've found just doesn't hold a mend at all well and unfortunately those were my favorite pair of jeans :(.  I put them aside, however, to cut up into fabric patches and things to make sure nothing is wasted.  I even save the zippers out of jeans if they are sound as those have saved me from having to buy a new pair of jeans a time or two.

5.  My daughter was supposed to go on a field trip this week, but it was to see a group that is basically like "Stomp" and my daughter and loud noises do NOT jive with her stomach condition and drums especially get to her (she's a classical music fan with good reason, although I haven't introduced her to the "1812 Overture" yet *laugh*), so she decided to skip it.  Unfortunately it was also the EXACT same day as her Spring school pictures and she desperately wanted a class photo as she's going to be going into junior high next year and will be missing some of her classmates.  So, we decided to use the money from the no-go field trip to pay for a class photo instead.  Luckily her class got their pictures taken before going on the field trip and her class was the first one to get their pictures taken (or at least one of the first three), so instead of going home and wasting gas I just waited around the school to take her home. 

6.  I started putting the kids on a stricter schedule for online time and it has not only helped our bandwidth issues, but also has my daughter reading more (with some prompting from me), which has definitely been nice to see.

7.  I've weeded out a lot this past couple of weeks and also managed to conglomerate things as I went through stuff.  This helped when the shelf fell apart in the kitchen as it led me to not have as much stuff to find room to store in the small space I have available.  Definitely a good thing.

8.  I really wanted a dessert to go with an Italian meal I was making (well, okay it was spaghetti and meatballs, but still...) , so I decided to try my hand at making cannolis.  I had stumbled across a box of cannoli tubes that I'd bought at the used store a few years ago and hadn't used for anything yet, so I figured no time like the present.  I dug out a thing of Ricotta cheese that I had bought a while back, that somehow was still good (more's the miracle) and went to work making the recipe on the box the imported tubes came in.  And hey, they turned out!  I was thrilled, although we did end up eating cannolis for a good few days afterwards (it made a lot more than I had planned on *laugh*).  The picture was taken with my phone, so I apologize for the weird aspect ratio on that one.

And yeah, I'm going to leave things at that because I have to go and make dinner.  How have you all been?  Things going well for you?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Shopping Goals: March 2018

UGH!  I have officially decided to dub March as "March:  The Breakening" *cue dramatic sting with lightning and thunder going off in background, lighting up the foreground in a dramatic light*.  Darn March anyway!  I'm actually trying to laugh this all off, because what else can you do, really?

It started with the car getting bashed up.  Then, this week started.

I was taking a picture of the son who was doing something cute with his I-Pad and hiding under a blanket, so I went to take his picture, which he seemed not too concerned with.  Suddenly out of nowhere he lets out a happy shriek (which anyone who has heard one of his happy shrieks will quickly tell you it'll make your ears ring and MIGHT shatter fine least it's a happy sound) and I jumped about ten feet in the air, dropping the camera as I did so.  The camera managed to land on it's lens and the shutter jammed half way closed.  I managed to manipulate the shutter to close and open correctly, but the lens was definitely effected and while the photos looked okay on the screen preview, the actual photos on the SD card weren't.  And the battery door was broken partially so the batteries are barely staying in the camera.  I wasn't even mad, honestly, as it was a honest to goodness accident.  Sure, I felt stupid for doing it, but it wasn't like Alvah scared me on purpose or something.

On the advice of my sister-in-law I contacted Canon to see if they could fix the camera, as I have really loved my old A-series camera.  I get an e-mail back and am basically told my camera is too old, the series of cameras that my camera is from isn't even made anymore or serviced anymore, and they offered me a 20.00 rebate if I recycled my old camera toward a refurbished newer camera.  So, I am depressed.  That camera is as old as my son, has seen me through nine years of blogging on my various blogs, has taken tens of thousands of pictures over the years (many of them of my kids), was never far from my side and now it must be laid to rest :(.  Rest in peace, old friend.

Then my very old wireless phone that we bought at Costco long before my kids were born has decided it is going nuclear on me and I have to unplug it from the wall and everything about two times a day and let it sit for a few minutes to go through a hard reset before the darn thing will give me anything other than dead air or a dial tone that won't clear.  I mean, yes, I knew the phone was on borrowed time.  It's OLD, the caller ID log buttons stopped working (well all of the non number buttons, really) years ago and it's been glitchy and cranky for a while now, but this was not a good time for me to have to mess around with this *sigh*.

Next up was the hand mixer (oh yes, there's more) that I was mixing up 1/2 cup of whipped cream with and it started stuttering on and off and going into slow down mode bad.  Mind you this is another appliance that is old.  The hand mixer was the first Christmas gift my mom bought for me after I was married (I remember because I specifically asked for it) and has been used hard over the years.  It's been doing a stuttering stop while working for the last little bit, but I was hoping I was imagining it.  There was no imagining it this time.  Thank goodness I had the stand mixer (and a whisk to get the cream started as it was such a small amount my stand mixer was laughing at me, I swear) to get the job done.  My husband thinks the hand mixer is stripping gears because it's just worn out and parts would be so expensive  to get to repair it, buying a new one is going to be cheaper.

Top that off with a drawer in my antique desk bottom (the desk is an old portable desk that sits on top of a small dresser) cracking all the way down the side which resulted in the bottom falling out of it and having to make a tremendous mess out of my daughter's room to get it cleaned up (as that is where the dresser is now) and I am officially done with things breaking on me at the moment.  At least my husband is pretty confident that the drawer can be fixed with wood glue and clamps so he won't have to completely rebuild the side of the drawer and re-dovetail it all, so hopefully that works out okay.

Between that and the short pay period this time around (since we got paid for the second half of February today) and the check barely covering the mortgage, let alone anything else (thank goodness for not having to pay those closing costs) this month can be summed up with, "Needing to buy things and not much money to buy them with."  I am going to have to triage things we need and kick cans down the road on things I can do without (like using the stand mixer to take up the slack from the hand mixer being broken) until we can start to get caught up monetarily.  Depressing state of affairs, but we'll get through it.  HOPEFULLY things are done breaking now *knock on wood*.

So, here is the list (other than the things listed above, like that's not enough, right?) of things we need.  Basically I'm going to cover the groceries I'm hoping to get this month.  Potatoes, cabbage and onions are on sale this week due to St. Patrick's Day so I'm hoping to at least get some of those.  I'm thinking of just making a lamb roast for St. Patrick's Day, since lamb is traditional Irish fair, and just add some roasted potatoes around it and things.  Since I have lamb in the freezer at least that saves me from having to buy much new.

So, here's the shopping list for this month!

  • Boiling Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Bag of storage onions (big onions are on sale, but I like the storage onions as they last a lot longer before sprouting and work out to be a better value for me)
  • Garlic (I'm finally running out of the garlic cloves I bought at the produce stand, like what a year and a half ago?  I'm impressed how well those kept for so long!).
  • Garbage Bags (got a good personalized price on them through the end of the month and I need them)

Three Bears:
  • Cooking Oil
  • Tuna Salad 
  • Frontier Taco Seasoning, 1 lb (salt free taco seasoning and I needed taco seasoning, so double bonus)
  • Frontier Rubbed Sage, 1 lb (this was as cheap as buying a small jar at the store and I use a lot of sage around here)
  • Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning (this is to be used sparingly due to the salt, but it was a really good price, like 7.00 for 6 bottles of McCormicks brand seasoning after a coupon was applied, so I felt it was definitely worth getting)
  • Curel Intensive Healing Therapy Lotion (the son is really liking the Curel lotions, so I want to try this one and see if it can finally get the nasty eczema on the bottom of one foot cleared up).
  • Zegerid, 48 ct (for husband)
And there you go folks.  My list of things we need (and hopefully somehow getting) this month.  How about you?  What's on your list?

Monday, March 12, 2018

What's for Dinner: This Month's Menu Plan

I nearly titled this, "Make a New Plan, Stan:  This Month's Menu Plan", but I figured Facebook algorithms would go nuts and wouldn't show it to anyone, so enjoy the more generic post title ;).

I can safely say that so far this month I've followed the menu plan with about 1% accuracy.  Woohoo!  I'm going to try and remember what we actually ate and put it by the menu where I'd written out the previous thing we were going to eat.  A lot of this switching around, at least this week, has been me going, "No, too much salt.  Too much fat.  Need to change that" when it came to making the husband's diet better. 

I've got a bunch of updates about life in general, but I'm going to save that for other posts I'm working on, so let's get to this month's menu!

March Menu Plan (I'll give updates with recipes as the weeks go by and such, hopefully):

3/1:  Beef Roast, Baked potatoes (went with mashed instead to appeal more to the daughter that night), corn muffins

3/2:  Not sure what we actually had (can't remember), but there was fish on the menu.

3/3:  Ended up eating out (accident day)

3/4:  Leftover meat pie (made on 2/28)

3/5:   On the menu were sloppy joes, but due to things being hectic and husband not feeling well it was kind of a punt day.  Ravioli with tomato sauce (daughter and I), ravioli with olive oil (husband) and angel hair pasta with olive oil (son)

3/6:  Bacon and Pea Tortellini Alfredo (me, because no one else wanted to eat it *grumble*) with salad (husband and daughter ate a salad as well), pasta with olive oil and Kraft Parmesan cheese (son), spaghetti (daughter), husband just ate a straight salad.

3/7:  Instant Pot Chicken Gyros (seen up top).  These were life altering awesome!  I made them exactly as written and I will DEFINITELY be making them again!  I ate the leftovers for lunch for the next three days and would have eaten them for another week if I could have *laugh*.  We had them with salad on the side, which I added some leftover cucumber to (I had to buy pre-sliced cucumbers as that was all the store had that in Alaska can be fun sometimes).  Yum!!!

3/8:  Beef Bourgignon (to use up tougher than tough beef roast), salad

3/9:  Leftover Chicken Gyros and salad

3/10:  Tacos (daughter's request as we hadn't had them in a while).  On the menu was ham and cheese stuffed crepes, but wanted to avoid the ham if I could for the sake of the husband's sodium levels with coconut creme pudding for dessert.

3/11:  Leftover tacos with strawberry shortcake for dessert (strawberries from freezer, whipped up enough whipped cream JUST for dessert so we didn't feel the need to tank ourselves on whipped cream, made shortcake).  The new dessert was so that the dinner was just different enough to make everyone happy.  Husband and daughter loved it.

3/12:  Baked chicken, biscuits, salad, baked beans.  Leftover strawberry shortcake for dessert (use coconut creme pudding with the shortcake instead of whipped cream).

3/13:  Chicken noodle soup (home made noodles)

3/14:  Steamed fish parchment packets with garlic butter and lemon, pear slices, rice (pilaf if I have time).

3/15:  Pork Chops, rice, green beans

3/16:  Leftovers/punt

3/17:  St. Patrick's Day!  Eat something Irish in grandma's memory (I'm still looking at recipes trying to figure out what I want to make *laugh*).

3/18:  Brined roasted chicken, braised greens, roasted potatoes, corn muffins

3/19:  Pancakes, fruit (of some type), eggs.  Serve with slices of left over chicken.  Or chicken hash (depending how much leftover chicken I have to deal with)

3/20:  Chicken casserole with frozen vegetable medley

3/21:  Chicken lo mein, rice

3/22:  Cuban pork (cooked in freezer), spiced beans and rice, salad

3/23:  Tacos with refried beans and guacamole

3/24:  Leftovers

3/25:  Home made pizza and breadsticks

3/26:  Lamb roast (from freezer) with potatoes and corn

3/27:  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy (or leftover corn muffins), green beans.  Raspberry Jello for dessert

3/28:  Lamb Stew, rolls.  Alternate:  Sheppard's pie (depending how much lamb is left over)

3/29:  Pork chops, rice, salad

3/30:  French dips (use low sodium "Better Than Bullion" for base of Aus Jus)  with sliced roasted potatoes, fruit

3/31:  Chicken piccata with wine sauce, rice, salad

Breakfasts will include:  Cereal, oatmeal, granola with or without yogurt, toast, eggs, cinnamon rolls (on husband's days off so he can enjoy some too) and other stuff as it comes to me :).

And there you are folks.  Our tentative, "already been kicked to the curb about fifteen times already" menu plan for this month.  Here's hoping I can get back on track and make it work better from now on!

How about you?  Got anything good planned to eat this month?  This week?  Tonight?  Please share :).

Friday, March 9, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Rhetorical question:  Why is it that every time you think things are starting to turn around and get easier, something happens?

The week started in the afternoon on Saturday.  We were out running errands in the car when we were rear ended.

Thank goodness my husband was driving as he was quick enough on his feet to fight the car back under control so we didn't plow into the snowbank on the side of the road, which helped to keep damage to our vehicle to a minimum.  The other car rear ended us in such a way that he drove up under our car, folded his hood back, took out his radiator and headlight...his car was a mess.  Thank God no one was seriously hurt, including the other driver (who was a 19 year old kid, who learned a valuable lesson about braking distance and driving carefully in bad conditions, but at least he didn't have to learn it from the hospital or worse).

Armina ended up with a bump on the back of her head from hitting the back head rest (which also made me realize she'd grown again and I had to adjust that up for her, poor thing) and I managed to strain my neck as I was looking at a car that was passing us when we got rear ended, which gave me a terrible headache Saturday night, but luckily it all cleared up by the morning.  Blessings were no one was seriously hurt, I had an updated insurance card in the car so when the cops showed up all of our ducks were in a row and the guy who hit us definitely admitted it was all his fault, which will help cut through red tape getting the damage repaired.  Some of the surface damage is seen above...we also have some under body damage to the car, but it looks like the frame is okay (hopefully that remains accurate when they tear the bumper off the car and everything), all the doors work and thank goodness the air bags didn't deploy so we didn't have to worry about them totaling the car.  Honestly we got hit hard enough, and seeing what shape the other car was in, I was amazed how good the car looked after it was all said and done.

Bad point is that we're going to lose the car for a week while it's in the shop being repaired so we definitely need to get another car and quick so we have something to drive.

Then Sunday came along and my husband, who had slept terribly the night before (due to Armina and I not doing great after the accident and worrying he'd have to take us the doctor...Armina's stomach cycled hard after all of the stress, which didn't help) was feeling really not great.  He finally took his blood pressure to see if there was something up there and his blood pressure was REALLY high.  He ended up going to Urgent Care and after they took his blood pressure (141/110) they gave him an EKG.  Thank goodness that came back normal!  They gave him blood pressure medicine to take, which is working kinda.  One of his co-workers came up with the theory of a panic attack causing his blood pressure to sky rocket and my husband was nearly convinced of that, until he took his blood pressure  Wednesday to find that his blood pressure was once again way too high (he had taken it Tuesday and it came back nearly normal so he was hoping the panic attack theory had been correct and so he hadn't taken his blood pressure medicine), so he's taking the medication and the advice of the doctor from Urgent Care more seriously now.

The doctor recommended that the hubby go on a low sodium to no sodium diet to get his blood pressure back under control through diet as much as possible, so I've spent a good portion of the week completely redoing my menu plan for the coming months and redoing shopping goals to accommodate things I need but to adhere to his new diet on top of that (in between everything else going brain is shot pretty much at this point).  I did that while worrying about how much the Urgent Care visit is going to cost us when that bill comes in, but I keep telling my husband it was definitely worth going (and I mean it!).

This was definitely a nerve wracking week when it came to worrying about the husband.  It has made me appreciate him all the more (and probably given me many more grey hairs from worry, but that's neither here nor there).

Then the son had his psychology appointment on Tuesday.  Luckily the doctor was completely on board with me increasing his Risperidone and basically said that we're going to max out the Risperidone and Clonodine as needed and THEN try something else when we had to as we know that those two drugs work and don't make him flip out.  I'm okay with this as we still have quite a ways we can go with Risperidone and Clonodine before we max those out.

Then the daughter started complaining last week that her retainer was bugging her when she'd put it in at night and I could tell it was paining her.  So, I managed to get her into the orthodontist this week and we ended up getting a new retainer as she outgrew her old one.

And then the husband got switched back to his old late night schedule, which threw the routine we'd gotten used to over the last months through a loop.  Between all of that and getting estimates for fixing the car...I'm exhausted and could use about a month off right about now.

I determinedly, though, fought to recover the week somewhat, so let's get to money saving things that happened this week.

1.  I ended up with the last loaf of Cuban bread sitting in the fridge this week and it was going stale (like bad), so I made a traditional bread pudding out of it and then made a quick sauce consisting of unsalted butter, some brown sugar and some brandy.  It came out great and the husband and I enjoyed eating small pieces of it throughout the week.  I even managed to use up some petrified raisins I had in the pudding, which gave it an extra dose of fiber and stopped me from having to throw out the raisins (as they were pretty hard when I used them).

2.  I found some grapes that I had had bought and had stuck into the back of the fridge absentmindedly.  Luckily, the grapes were still good, just drying out and turning into raisins slowly but surely, so we had them for dessert last night.

3.  I wanted to pick up some more unsalted butter for baking, especially when having to watch the salt content around here and managed to dig up a coupon for some butter.  Between it and a sale I managed to get a pound of unsalted butter for 3.00 and some change.  Considering that butter isn't on any super sales right now, I was happy with that.  I've got a LONG way to go on buying butter, but one pound ahead!  Baby steps.

4.   Shopping went well this week.  I managed to get some supplies to do some Spring cleaning next week (kids are off on Spring Break, so I figure that's a good time to do it ;) and while at the store I also got some freebies.

I had two Just4U freebies for yogurt, so I picked those up at the store when I went earlier in the week (seen above, which it's kind of neat getting all of this free yogurt as it's saved me from having to make some :) and then today I went back to the store to get a couple gallons of milk, a dozen eggs (on sale for 1.48 with a coupon) and some Monopoly freebies I won.

I got a free thing of spaghetti sauce and a free thing of gravy mix.  The man who was checking out in front of me asked me if I'd like his Monopoly coupons and I said sure.  Out of the like six tickets I got I managed to win two more things of gravy mix (which I'll probably roll over with the buy 2 get one free sale to get three of them for free).  I'm going to just start saving these and donate them to the food bank later in the year as I doubt I'll be able use to use these with the husband's low sodium diet.  The little cans of tomato sauce I'm actually falling in love with as the daughter LOVES spaghetti, but the husband can't have much tomato sauce with his acid reflux, so the little cans are the perfect size to make her a couple of containers of spaghetti during the week for school.  Since these are normally .45 each regular price, I'm seriously considering investing in plenty of them, depending how many we might win during the course of the Monopoly game.

5.  I went and checked the bank account (which I do obsessively) and found that Amazon had upped their monthly rate for Prime to 12.99 a month.  I talked to my husband and crunched the numbers and I figured if that if we paid for a year of Prime at once that we'd be saving nearly 60.00 from doing the month to month plan.  We both agreed it was worth it, so I switched the plan.  It smarted having to pay 99.00 out at one time, but would save us so much money in the long run, we decided to take the hit and deal with it.

6.  I ran out of dried dill this week and didn't really want to order it from Amazon as it wasn't overly cheap to get it through them.  I found a good sale on dill at Carrs so I got one there.

7.  I found I was low on lemon pepper and was worried about buying more (as all the lemon pepper I could find was NOT cheap) and while organizing my spice cabinet I found another container of lemon pepper I'd opened at some point, so yay for not having to invest in more right now!

8.  I found that the coffee I had bought from Amazon was REALLY weak when I brewed it and tasted kind of yucky as a result.  I looked at the grind and found that it was really coarsely ground, so I zoomed it through my coffee grinder until it was the consistency of espresso powder.  It tastes a lot better now and now I can use the coffee without dreading drinking it.

9.  I made a beef roast early in the week only to find that it had the consistency of shoe leather and was darned near inedible.  I tried slow cooking it for hours, but that didn't work (even when red wine was added!) , so I stuck it in the pressure cooker and cooked the crud out of it (as I was not going to be defeated!).  It worked, I made beof bourgignon for dinner and it made the beef last more than one painful meal.

10.  I went and priced out brooms at the stores as my broom is dying a slow death after a long, and hard, life (I sweep my carpet before vacuuming it with the son, or I'd constantly clog and kill vacuum cleaners).  I haven't found anything that works within my budget, so I'm just making my old broom work in the meantime.  I know a sale will come along eventually and I'll be able to replace the broom and in the meantime it works...kind of.

And there you go folks.  My week in a nutshell.  How did your week go?  Please tell me it went better than ours.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Enjoy the above shot of snow from earlier.  We've gotten more snow since and we're supposed to get more snow this weekend.  Fun, fun, fun.

MAN, what a week!  I'm honestly glad February is now over as it was just a Heck of  month when it came to things being hectic and the kids being sick and stuff.  We had another week of a snow day on Monday (due to icy road conditions) and then the kids fighting their stomach (the daughter unit) and their allergies/sinuses (the son).  I'm also upset, worried and depressed that Alvah is starting to act out aggressively again.  We've seen a decline in his behaviors the last couple of weeks and he's starting up the episodes of hitting himself in the face and lashing out at others when he's upset.  I know part of it is that his sinuses are bugging him and he's gotten some bloody noses from the dry air (which he HATES and I mean HATES bloody noses) and that hasn't helped.  But, dang, I was hoping we were past this, I really was.  We have a psychology appointment on Tuesday, so we'll see what his doctor has to say, but I'm worried we're going to have to start experimenting with other medications again.

This week also has seen me experimenting with different gummy vitamins to TRY and once again get some nutrients into Alvah (not really cheap, but absolutely necessary).  He's showing interest in fruit snacks again and has blown through his Annie's fruit snacks and his sister's treat fruit snacks, so I'm kind of hopeful as this is the chance to start pushing those gummy vitamins at him.  I hope I can find some that taste good and close enough to fruit snacks that he'll eat them.  So far he'll suck on some and then spit them out after a bit, so progress is slow, but there!  I know a lot of his behavior issues stem from his diet (or lack thereof), so I keep hoping that something will work and I can start getting nutrients into him as it can only help him.

And then the husband came down with the crud on Thursday, so he's been out of it the last few days as well.  I am so, so tired right now after everything.  Glad the week is over tomorrow and we can start again next week, hopefully for the better.

Believe it or not, though, there were good things that happened this week, so let's get to those!

1.  We signed on the home equity loan yesterday.  This will give us a much needed cushion to get home maintenance done and get a four wheel drive truck (which, we've found, is necessary after this winter with how bad my husband's two wheel drive truck has done in the winter weather).  The plan is to get stuff done, pay off the loan and then do another project and repeat (since it's a line of credit we can do that).  I'm really happy we got the loan as it'll take a weight off of my shoulders trying to figure out how get cash flow up to pay for higher ticket items and gives us a cushion in case of something big breaking.  Thank the Good Lord.

The brightest point to my week had to be when we signed on the loan because it turned out that the bank was running a special on new home equity loans in a VERY small window of time and if you fell into that time frame there were no annual fees or closing costs on the loan.  And, it turned out, we just happened to fall into that time frame!  So, the money I put aside for closing costs on the loan can now be used for something else that we need to have done.  My husband and I talked about it and he's still got four teeth left to get done (which darn I was hoping we were completely done with them) and he's only got one molar left that the dentist wants to get done as it's worrying him as it's starting to disintegrate pretty bad.  And the closing costs that I had put aside will actually cover the cost to get the tooth done with a little bit left over, so I told my husband to make that appointment (not having to put more onto Care Credit delights me to no end, let me tell you).  The other three teeth aren't an emergency to get done, so we can just cash those out one at a time (hopefully since my husband's teeth are kind of unpredictable in that way, but HOPEFULLY we can do it that way).  But, yay for being able to cash out something instead of having to put it onto credit :).

2.  I did my grocery budget numbers for February and well...that was depressing.  I spent more than I wanted to, mainly because January was so tight so I had to replenish stores, so I'm hoping to get back on track this month.  I went shopping this week and picked up as much as I could that I would need for my menu plan for this month (I'm going to post up that plan here later and then I'm going to give weekly updates on how I'm doing sticking to it...that'll be fun seeing how quickly we go off the rails, so stay tuned for that *laugh*). I figured out my grocery budget for the month and figured it at 300.00.  Normally I aim for 200.00 to 250.00 (50.00 I use as a cushion in case I need to go over for non essential items), but I upped it to prepare for sales that are coming up for the month and things (which I'll get into more in my shopping goals post).

Anyway back to shopping this week.  I put some of my one shopping trip in the photo above there (I apologize for the blurry half of the photo, I'm not sure what was going on with my camera that's very old and cranky by this point in time, so I'm just dealing with glitches as they come).  I would have put the entire shopping trip in the photo, but I was not hauling soda and other junk food items for the son up onto the table to take a picture (I was being lazy, what can I say). 

The biggest "woohoo" types of items I got this week was that strawberries were on sale for 4.88 for a  2 lb package at Carrs this week, so I got one for my daughter for snacks and to make strawberry shortcake with.  The strawberries ended up being so good I went back yesterday and got two more packages to clean and freeze to use in desserts later in the year (I'm not planning on making strawberry jam this year as I still have plenty from the last few years of canning).  It is hard to find strawberries up here without tons of bad spots and you end up throwing away 1/4 at least of your strawberries due to having to cut out bad spots and things and these strawberries were in such good shape I basically just had to cut off the stems and hull them with one or two small bad spots to cut out.  I was THRILLED as that was definitely a good value for my money!

I bought Country Crock margarine at the store as well as spreadable butter (had a personalized price on the spreadable butter to make it decently cheap) to try out around the house.  We just plain didn't see the holiday sales on butter over Christmas at all really, which was depressing, so I wasn't able to stock up on butter and the regular price on butter is about 4.00 at least, so padding out the butter with margarine or cheaper alternatives (like the spreadable butter for toast and things) has become kind of necessary until a sale on butter pops up.

 I had a personalized price on pasta for .79 per box.  Not as cheap as I would have liked to pay, but we are running kind of low on angel hair pasta (all we have is thin spaghetti instead) and I panic a bit as I'm not sure if Alvah will eat the thin spaghetti or rebel and get mad that we don't have angel hair, which would lead him to not eat, so I bought angel hair pasta to make sure we had it for him just in case.

I decided that making more elaborate salads (by elaborate I mean buying like feta cheese and making sure we have a couple different flavors of croutons and things around here) was a good idea to help pad out dinners around here (and help fill people up with veggies more instead of carb heavy items like potatoes and bread), so I wanted to see what I could get for different flavors of salad dressing at the store the next little bit.  This week I had a personalized price on Litehouse salad dressings for a decent amount so I got one of those to help "mix things up" when it came to salad dressing flavors.  I also took advantage of a sale on Wishbone dressings this week (1.49 each with a coupon limit of 4) and got some different flavors of dressings as well.  I think the family will be happy with the variety and I like it because it's not the same salad over and over again.  The increase in salads as a main course for dinner as well as side dishes is why you see all the lettuce I bought above as well (I found that the bags of three that Carrs sells actually lasts quite a long time in the fridge, so I got enough for several weeks :).

Yesterday I went back to the store to get the strawberries and also to get some paper towels and toilet paper (which were on sale for 5.00 Fridays and I had coupons on both the Bounty paper towels and the Charmin bath tissues making them 4.00 per value pack), so all totaled between the two shopping trips I'm standing at about 176.00 for the month so far.  I'm HOPING to hit around 250.00 for the month, but we'll see how Alvah goes with his appetite and things (as he's the most expensive one to shop for).  And by the way spending 176.00 in a week on groceries after you've been working really hard to only spend at max 50.00 per week?  It gives you heart palpitations to do it, seriously *laugh*.

Oh and the organic celery?  Was on sale for actually less than the regular celery by like nearly a dollar.  I was surprised, but got it because hey, it's cheaper.

3.  I got Alvah signed up for Special Olympics swimming again this year, so he started that with dad today (I'm hoping dad didn't overdue it too much with his cold, though).  This has been a great program so far and Alvah has actually picked up quite a bit, so I'm hoping he continues to improve this year.

4.  I used up left overs, even bits and pieces, which avoided food waste.

5.  When my printer said that my black ink cartridge was empty, I took it out and shook it and then put it back in, which got me about 20 more pages of print outs out of the ink cartridge before it finally did die.  Which that was enough to get the paperwork printed out for Special Olympics, so I was happy.

6.  I found that the cats were wasting quite a bit of wet food every day and our cat Prince was out and out getting fat (he eats his portion and then will eat our other cat's portion who doesn't eat much).  I cut down their wet food to about one heaping teaspoon each per day and using it as more of a treat instead of the main meal.  I've found this has been great in a lot of ways.  For one, the cats are actually eating their food portions this way and I'm not throwing as much wet food away.  Also, this has doubled the lifespan of the wet food for the cats around here (luckily I have lids for their cat food containers since we bought some for Ginger when she was sick, so I can store the extra in the fridge) so I'm only having to pick up wet food about once every two months (I just buy a variety flat of cat food for the sake of simplicity).  I also switched to light weight cat litter (I found that Carrs store generic brand of light weight cat litter is actually really good and clumps great compared to other brands), which has reduced, once again, our waste pounds at the dump, so yay for spending less money at the dump :).

7.  I worked on monthly shopping goals and monthly goals this week.  I know that sounds redundant as I post them on the blog, but I really do find that doing this helps to not only to help keep the budget tight, but also helps me to keep on task and get stuff done around the house.  I recommend everyone try doing this and keep the list of goals on your fridge (or shopping goals in a list in your purse or whatever you carry to the store each time) as it does help to have things written down and be able to check things off as you go.

8.  I took advantage of lifetime oil changes on our car this week, which has been a great investment over the years, especially since we got the car paid off years ago, as it makes one less expense to worry about.  While there I took advantage of the time to draft out the menu plan for the month (and half of next month while I was at it) while drinking the complimentary coffee the dealership offered. 

9.  I took a long survey through a PR company that contacted me and in return for doing the survey I got a 5.00 Amazon electronic giftcard.  I used this to help pay for my husband's Zegerid that I ordered on subscribe and save to get it cheaper.

10.  I tried to mend my pair of jeans again this week.  I failed, again.  But, I'm going to continue to try.  The fabric is just worn out along the zipper of the pants, so iron on patches didn't work as they just came undone very quickly and sewing a patch on didn't work as the fabric tore right after the patch on the pants.  I'm determined to figure this challenge out, though, as I'm stubborn and I'm not going to let that pair of jeans beat me *laugh*.

And there you go folks.  Some of my adventures this week.  How did you do?