Sunday, July 1, 2018

Frugal Friday (times 2): Money Saving Weekly Recap

First, I'd like to thank those who e-mailed me and asked if we were okay around here.  We're still alive.  Life has just been hectic around here.

First there is therapy, summer school and swimming lessons.  I have to say that I'm thrilled with how Alvah is doing this summer.  This is the first summer he's actually NOT fought going to summer school and is actually seeming to be enjoying it, which is wonderful and he's made every day with the exception of one day where he just plain wasn't feeling well (which is definitely a good thing as normally he misses at least half of the session with different issues).  He's doing awesome in swimming lessons (I keep meaning to take pictures of him, but I go into mom "oh my God be careful" mode and keep forgetting) and so is Armina.  And therapy has been kind of sporadic on what days we go in due to appointments the speech therapist has and such, but get this, she RESCHEDULES HIM!!!  It's wonderful :).  We've been able to get him in twice a week with the exception of this week where he was in once (she was out a town for a full week and just couldn't fit him in twice), but he's doing good so far.  I'm hopeful that he'll start to make real progress here.  So far, so good.

 We found out that a good friend of ours had lost their home to fire on Father's Day weekend.  They lost three of their dogs and their home is a total loss.  We felt terrible for all of them (stater of the obvious am I) and did what we could for them with what we had.  We dropped off a care package and some dinner and visited with them for a while, making sure to let them know that we would help any way we could in the coming months as they try to rebuild their lives after such a tragic event.  At least their insurance company has been really good to deal with and they have a plan to try to get some type of a home type environment built by winter, but really hammers home how things can happen in an instant and change everything.  They did have a couple small miracles occur in that somehow their printed photos survived the fire as did our friend's mementos from his days in the military.

We saw another friend of ours that I haven't seen in years this week.  He called out of the blue and told us he was coming over with pizza to repay my husband for a midnight call he did to help him out months back (he's the type that always repays his debts, so I didn't even argue or he would have showed up randomly with pizza one night *laugh*).  It was great seeing him again and funny enough I made the appointment with him to come over and then later realized it was the same day as my husband's and my anniversary.  So, we had pizza for our anniversary and a visit with a good friend.  Nice way to spend it, really :).

Oh and random side note to other locals.  I found out via e-mail a couple of days ago that our local LDS cannery in Palmer is closing permanently as the owner of the property the cannery sits on is selling everything as he's retiring and selling off the farm.  Not only does this close the door on the cannery, but also makes me wonder if the U-Pick farm is going to be closing down as well as it's the same property.  It's also the same property that the fall festival and things is held at.  So, this could very well be a REALLY depressing turn of events as we have had some good times there.  On the cannery front, the cannery instant mashed potatoes were the only ones I actually liked, so I told my husband that I'm going to be peeling potatoes from now on and having to make mashed potatoes the old fashioned way.  Less convenient, but way better tasting than the store bought potato flakes.

And right, on top of all of that I've been busy around the house, so let's get to some of that (I'm still buttoning up other projects I've been working on with my son's room, my master bedroom, my daughter's room and the den, so those pictures will be coming at some point in the near future here).

1.  Right, let's start with shopping.  Last week shopping was really sparse as we didn't have any money to spend, really, but I did pick up a full sized package of laundry packs at Carrs for cheap.  Generation Good (the Seventh Generation product testing group I mentioned in an earlier post) sent me some Free and Clear laundry packs to try and I was surprised with how well they actually did in our cold well water and I can have my daughter do laundry now as it's super easy to just tell her to throw in a packet instead of worrying about her trying to lift a heavy thing of liquid down from the shelf to fill up the little cup and pour it into the laundry.  Carrs had a package of the packs on clearance for 50% off and then I had a 2.00/1 coupon on Seventh Generation laundry items from the same Seventh Generation mission, so I bought the package for less than 8.00.  I needed laundry detergent, so that worked out well for sure (seen up top there).

I also got cheap eggs last week (.99 with a digital only coupon), cheap milk (1.99 for a gallon with a digital only coupon), cheap cheese (1.49 per 8 oz. shredded packet with digital coupon) and cheap bread (.79 with digital only coupon).  My friend even gave me her milk coupon and I was able to get two gallons of milk cheap :).

At Fred Meyer I got free juice, free bread, free Oreos and a free Knorr side from Freebie Friday items and also a Best Customer coupon (for the Oreos).  I would have taken a picture of the things, but I was rushed as that was the day we went to visit our friends and deliver dinner and such.  Basically, the juice went in with their dinner, the bread we ate (it was good bread, actually, for store bought) over the week, the Oreos lasted two days tops before the son consumed them all.

This week was the big shopping day as it was pay week.  I impressed my cashier and the guy behind me as I had to pick up EVERYTHING pretty much (I still forgot to get cat litter too) and the only thing I got that WASN'T on really good sale or personalized price was the milk.  I experimented with some milk I got on reduced cheap a few weeks back and had put three gallons worth of half gallons into the freezer to see how well it would defrost.  It worked great and no one can tell any off flavor from having been frozen, so I'm seriously starting to wonder if I might be able to go further between shopping trips by buying a few more gallons of milk and freezing them to use later in the month.  It'd be nice to only have to go shopping for produce and a few minor items through the month as needed and not worry about having to go and get milk multiple times a week.

I have to say the highlight of this week's shopping trip was getting value packs of chicken for 5.00 a piece as part of 5.00 Friday and getting two 3 lb chubs of hamburger for 50% off, so I got six pounds of hamburger for about 13.00.

2.  Downside to getting paid was that I realized that my husband's check was actually less than his old checks were.  We aren't sure why yet, as the way his pay stubs break down you can't track deductions for things like retirement and health insurance and stuff at all well, but that was REALLY upsetting.  I mean he just got a raise.  He's supposed to be making more, not less.  We're going to give it a couple of pay periods, he's going to talk to payroll and the union and see where we end up as the way the state does the pay periods gets wonky and hard to say how the hours fall, so we'll just have to see what happens.  But, yeah, life might be getting tougher instead of easier on the money front.

3.  I did a HUGE amount of cleaning and organizing the last couple of weeks.  We've been getting bugs this year inside the house.  The usual spider mite problem hasn't been a thing the last couple of years due to the rain and colder than average temps, but this year we have spruce beetles EVERYWHERE!  The baby beetles are small enough to fit through screens and get into the house through any little hole, so of course they are escaping the rain and cold outside and coming into my house.  Which ICK!!!!!!  And then we are having these black milipede looking things that just randomly show up and creep me out, and so it was time for a complete purging of anywhere bugs could hide (still working on it, but we're getting there).  Every knook and cranny has been been getting scrubbed with bleach water to kill anything that might be lurking and while I was doing that I started getting other stuff done on the organizing front.

One of the big projects was the kitchen.  I realized that my cabinets were bowing, bad, in some cases and I had to do something to stop the problem from getting worse.  So, I went through and figured out which cabinets had some support built into them and went to work.

Welcome to the new kitchen cabinets, designed in probably the craziest system possible.  The cabinets are getting organized by weight.

So, the old glasses cabinet became the baking cabinet.  I need to adjust up the top shelf so that my hand mixer can stand upright, but everything fits alright.  You can see where the shelf, especially in the middle, was bowing pretty bad.  It has a lot less weight on it now, as does the top shelf, so hopefully that will help the shelves not bow constantly.

The cabinet that used to hold my measuring cups and things for baking, which can actually take a decent amount of weight as it's got small shelf space, I used to put our most commonly used cups and glasses in.

Our corner cabinet had the sturdiest build to it as it doesn't have the cheapie adjustable shelves with the plastic tabs to hold them, but instead had actual shelves built into it.  So, the bottom shelf houses the plates and more cups around them.  The next shelf up has bowls and yet more glasses and cups around them.  And the top shelf has instant oatmeal and food items that might not be safe for Alvah, so we keep them up and out of his reach and out of sight.

This was the cabinet where I had my mixing bowls originally and had things like cereal and stuff stored.  The cereal and things went to the hallway closet (no other cabinet had shelves tall enough to work) and I moved my light weight Tupperware dishes and things into it.  The bottom shelf resembles Swiss cheese as the previous owners drilled a bunch of holes through it to hang a paper towel holder under the cabinet, and it just made the bottom shelf that less reliable.  I don't know if the picture really shows how badly the bottom shelf bows, but it really does bow pretty bad, so I'm hoping the Tupperware dishes will work better in there.

And this is the cabinet that used to house the plates and bowls and things.  The shelves were suffering from the weight (you can still see where the top shelf is bowing from the weight from some of the dishes my grandma gave to me and a couple of special occasion dishes), so I moved some Tupperware storage containers here as well as a couple of other "miscellaneous" pieces (like the ice cream bowls and the salad dressing containers) to help alleviate the weight on the shelves.

It's definitely a system that has taken some getting used to, but we're starting to figure it out.

I also cleaned the screens this week as with the cottonwood pollen they needed it and I took down all of my pots and pans and cleaned my pot rack thoroughly.  I had some lids from old pans on top of the pot rack, so after thoroughly cleaning those, I put them into better storage where they won't get a bunch of grease settling onto them like they did when they sat on top of the pot rack.

Oh, and in case some are wondering where we got a pot rack like this one.  That's actually a remnant of cable tray (it's used in commercial electrical work and you hang it to literally lay data cables and things on the track to keep them tidy in ceilings and things) that my husband saved from the dumpster one day along with a few other small pieces that he ended up using as shelving.  I realized that it would make a good pot rack, so I stole a piece and had him hang it for me.  Some "s" hooks from the hardware store and we were in business :).  It works great and fit perfectly in the space.

I did find when cleaning it that since the metal was kind of rough in places that it was hard to actually get all of the dust and old grease off of it (I have no actual working hood in my kitchen...the hood butts up against the bottom of a cabinet and doesn't do anything for getting stuff OUT of the kitchen), but when I finally got it done it looked good and I was happy with it.  And really for a pot rack that cost me like 6.00 in "s" hooks and other small parts to secure the thing...I am not complaining about any little hiccups cleaning it *laugh*.

4.  The son has been destroying DVD's of late.  He goes through phases and this is one I was hoping wouldn't come back.  He waits till your back is turned doing something and than will stick a DVD into his mouth because he likes the sensation and just destroys the DVD with his teeth marks.  My husband and I decided it is time to pull some containers from storage and to just start boxing up movies and accessing them through the containers as we need them to try and minimize the damage as we both know there is no way we can afford to start replacing movies left and right.  The one that got to me the most this week was him destroying my "Family Fun Edition" of "The Secret of NIMH".  That's one of my favorite movies and it really bugged me that it was gone.  I bought the son a digital version of said movie for his I-Pad (he loves the movie too, so I didn't want him to be without it) and I will pick up a replacement copy of said movie for myself soon (luckily it's a cheap movie to replace).

5.  So, being broke is probably the worst possible time to want to start redoing your home decor, but I am determined to try and get some things to just make things look nicer and more finished around the house.  I've had the same home decor items for YEARS and they are looking tired in some cases.  So, I sat down and made a list on top of a few items I actually need.  So far I'm not having any luck finding a new strainer/colander (I can't believe how rare those are to find at the used one I found at a used store a while back I think was for home decor type of use only as the handles are falling off and it's actually rusting, which shouldn't be happening with stainless steel) or a copper bowl (to whip eggs easier...I've wanted one for years...still no luck finding one, but hey, I'll keep looking), but I DID find a few things on my list the last couple of weeks!  I found a nice silverware holder for 1.00 (it had gotten stained by a blue marker or something leaking on it, so it was cheap).  It took a good day of cleaning and running it under a lot of water to remove the blue dye from it, but it cleaned up nicely and now I have a nice looking silverware holder :).  My old system was a basket I had found with mason jars stuffed into it which worked OKAY, but was hard for the daughter to see what silverware she needed to grab to set the table.  It's a lot easier now and it looks a lot nicer.

I also found a kitchen clock for 1.50 (not seen as I haven't taken a picture of it yet) that my husband and I are going to work on repainting to look more vintage, but that was another item off of my list. 

We also bought my daughter a bunch of clothes this week as she's grown about two sizes so far this summer.  Definitely a needed development on her part as she was the smallest kid in her class, I think, but not the cheapest thing to field.  We spent 30.00 on clothes for her, but I comforted myself knowing that we got her about five different outfits with that money (including a nice looking dress shirt to wear over her beloved leggings), where if we had gone to the box stores we wouldn't have been able to get half of that.

6.  Back to the house and organizing.  I redid the layout of my living room the last couple of weeks to accommodate shampooing the carpet, for one, and to give more people good views of the TV.

The kids love the new position of the love seat, I like the position of the rocking chair for the days where my back is hurting me and everyone can see the TV well and now we can run the remotes easier as the furniture is lined up with the TV and DVD player a lot better.  I still have more shampooing of carpets to do, but I'm getting there slowly but surely.

7.  We dropped off donations to the used stores the last few weeks, which was nice to be able to reclaim space and get some clutter out of the house.

8.  I used up things in the freezer that needed to be used and incorporated them into the meal plan this week.  We had a sheet pan dinner with kielbasa, brussel sprouts, green beans and a couple other different types of vegetables that needed to be used from the freezer one night and tonight we had Cornish pasties with cherry napoleons for dessert (basically some puff pastry I needed to use from the depth of the freezer that I baked in small rectangles and then carefully cut in half when done and filled it with a mixture of whipped topping combined with thickened vanilla pudding and then some cherry pie filling for the final layer in the middle.  Sprinkled some powdered sugar on top and voila!  Fancy dessert and really yummy!).

9.  I started hitting Pinterest for some ideas on what to make for Fourth of July decorations to add to what we already had around the house.  I have some ideas, so we'll see how it goes making them in the coming days :).

And yeah...there's other projects that aren't quite done yet, but I can safely say that I think there isn't a room in the house that hasn't been worked on the last couple of weeks.  How about you?  How have you all been?


  1. It was good to hear from your Erika. I figured when you didn't post last week that either your computer was playing up again or you were really busy. I am so glad that you children are doing well with their summer classes. And the areas of your home you have been working on look great! I understand about sagging shelves. One cupboard where I keep lots of tins and bottles has sagging shelves. Yesterday I rearranged things so that as many heavy tins and bottles as possible are on the strongest bottom shelf. I dread one of the upper shelves breaking and having smashed bottles of pasta sauce everywhere. My dream is to one day have strong metal shelving for my food storage, but in the meantime I, like you, make the best use of what I have. Your pot storage rack looks awesome. I hope your next week is another good one and your son continues doing well with his summer classes.

  2. Pauline in Upstate NYJuly 1, 2018 at 4:49 AM

    Hi Erica, I just have to tell you how very much your posts inspire me. Both here and on Prudent Homemaker, your can-do attitude and creativity in the face of challenges come through loud & clear — and you are *so* talented! Sometimes you make me laugh (the story of the moose in your garden), not that it was at all funny for you to lose your garden but that you are defeated by a moose (!) while the rest of us complain about rabbits or raccoons or woodchucks — as with some other things, Alaska’s garden critters are on a whole different scale from most of the Lower 48! (And I *do* love Alaska — have been twice & hope to return someday.) Thanks for sharing the parenting stories, too. You and the woman who writes the blog “Notes from the Frugal Trenches” both do a lot to increase awareness of how parents of special needs children cope with daily life and what kinds of support a nearby friend might offer.

  3. I figured either you were super busy or your computer had completely died. I hoped it was the former! And I'm glad to hear that it is.

    So glad to hear that your children are doing so well this summer! That's so encouraging.

    We'll say a few prayers for your friends - our neighbor's went through that a few years ago and, man, losing your home for any reason is rough and a fire can be particularly traumatic. You're a good friend to help as much as you can! I am sure they appreciate it.

    I love your pot rack! I don't have a place to hang one but I love the way they look. Did you try flipping the shelves over so the bow goes the other way? We did that when we had less sturdy cabinets and it seems to have extended the life of the shelves. Your rearranging looks so nice. You're inspiring me to get rolling on my cleaning out and rearranging! I need to get through summer session first though... :)

    I hope you have a wonderful week!

    1. Yeah, I've flipped the shelves multiple times over the years, but they got to a point where they were bowing faster and faster and I had nightmares of them breaking and beloved dishes broken all over. When we have time and money we are hoping to, one day, feel the kitchen, but in the meantime I'll just make do :).

    2. Redo not feel. Auto correct doesn't even make sense sometimes lol!

  4. I'm still working on reading this, but before I lose my thought...mashed potatos... even with the cannery closing, you can still order online from the bishops storehouse. The selection is smaller, and its a case at a time, but I think shipping is built in the price. Thats what we have to do. I'm very addicted to the dehydrated refried beans, Ive never liked refried beans but thesr are like bean dip!!!

    1. Heres the potato flakes

  5. I have a couple of cheap white plastic colanders I bought at Target quite a few years ago. They can strain a pound of pasta easily. Maybe give them a look? The price here is listed at less than $3.

    Krissy in Sacramento

  6. Wow, you have been busy! I like your pot rack and your cupboard reorganization looks super. We like Bob's Red Mill creamy potato flakes instant mashed potatoes. Nothing in them but potatoes!!
    Your living room organization looks cozy. Thanks for the inspiration to get moving and get some things done without spending money : )
    It sounds like you all are having a good summer.

  7. I'm hoping to get a bunch of organizing done this week, as I'm not working with my niece or nephew. As you know, special needs kids take a lot of time and energy. I'm amazed you get all that done! I'm finding that all I can do is follow my nephew around trying to frantically pick up after him as he leaves his wake of destruction. (I just got back from taking him camping for a week and we had fun, but what a mess.). He's fun, but messy:)

  8. Holy cow, your organization looks GREAT! I badly need to clear out my cabinets; I've got cups from when my son was very young (he just turned 16), and stuff we haven't used in ages. I'll get around to it! I had a bad week with pain, so I didn't get as much done as I'd like. Maybe this week will be better! Today's at least a start; we're going to drop some stuff off at the thrift store. Yay for decluttering!

  9. The living room looks great. I love how you looked at the piece of metal and thought, "That's a pot rack"! I think sometimes the most fun of homemaking and frugality is when our imagination kicks in and we see things in a new way.

  10. I am back! I have finished reading all of the posts I missed and now am caught up. What a great one to end on. Your living room looks great, mine looks like a tornado just went through.

    I am sorry you are unable to have a garden this year but I understand. It is a huge amount of work but your time needs to be dedicated to your children. My garden is much smaller than years past and I am still far behind.

    You inspired me to try a new recipe today. It was "Otto's Onion Pie" and was a recipe I had seen in an old cookbook years ago. I thought about it when harvesting onions this week. It was one of those weird recipes you always want to try but never do...I know you understand. Anyway, today I picked the onions, sauteed them in butter, toasted the pie shell, reached into the refrigerator to get the rest of the ingredients and...almost everything was gone! The family had helped themselves while I was working in the garden. I substituted almost everything and don't know what I created. That was our weird dinner.


  11. It's nice to read a new post. Like other readers stated, I thought maybe you hadn't posted because your computer was acting up. Glad to hear it was due to being busy - and oh my, what you've accomplished is terrific.

    Around here, we've been doing a couple of small renos like replacing a basement door, a bathroom drain and a ceiling light fixture. My husband planned on doing a few more little things around the house but he suddenly felt feverish with a toothache and the entire left side of his face was aching with pain. He took some tylenols and went to bed. In the middle of the night, he awoke with intense pain again and we ended up going to the emergency ward. Luckily we didn't have to wait too long, only 5 hours, and he was diagnosed with an abscessed tooth and given prescriptions for anti-inflammatory pills and antibiotics. After filling the prescriptions, we went home and he immediately fell asleep for nearly 12 hours straight. The pills helped greatly but he's certainly not back to "normal". I'm amazed at how much an abscessed tooth can knock someone off their feet.

    Here in Canada, Monday was our holiday for our Canada Day celebrations, therefore doctors and dentist offices were closed so I'm hoping that I'll be able to book an emergency appointment with the dentist Tuesday. So with all that happening, our weekend to do some small renos AND have a relaxing holiday Monday didn't work out quite as planned. Poor fella!

    As well, my daughter's birthday was on June 28th and we were going to celebrate it on Monday.
    That also didn't happen because of the hubby's health issue so instead we'll celebrate her birthday next weekend. (My husband's not home all week, so any get togethers with family or friends, parties or any home projects are done on the weekends only. Those 2 days a week are precious to my family.)

    And I can sympathize with Jeannie. I hate it that when I have a recipe planned BECAUSE I know I have the ingredients on hand, only to find out that the family ate what was needed to make the dish. That happens to me all the time, and I find it frustrating. Like Jeannie, I can sometimes make substitutions, but at other times, making the dish at that moment has to be scrapped entirely :)

    Well, have a great week everyone!

    Pat from Canada

  12. The areas you have worked on look great and that's very clever how you re-purposed the cable tray as a pot rack!

    Regarding your husband's paycheck being lower despite the raise, I would encourage you to go ahead and ask payroll right away and not wait. They certainly could have made a mistake on their end or there might be something else going on, but either way better to start getting to the bottom of it sooner rather than later.