Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Frugal Friday: The Under Siege Edition

Right, first a warning.  This post is going to be dark and depressing.  I've tried to rewrite it to avoid it being so, but it just ain't happening.  So, please, keep that in mind before reading.  If you've had a bad day, unless you are of the "misery loves company" school of life, you might want to avoid reading this until your day is better.  Hopefully once things go better than they have been for me you can read this without it dragging you down into a depressing place.

I feel beat down, devastated, defeated, anxious...I'm pretty much riding the roller coaster of ugly feelings right now.  It's been a hard week and a half.

First there were the moose that stopped me from putting in a garden this year.  Than there was the larder beetles which have had me detail cleaning the house every day and keeping me on my toes this summer to try and stop them from taking over any area they possibly can.  I lost seeds.  I lost some stuff, I had to declutter hardcore to find nesting places.  I flared up my bicep tendinitis and have suffered from a severe lack of sleep, but I was making progress and feeling like MAYBE things were starting to climb out of the nose dive they were in.

Then, last Tuesday happened.  It was the final, "What cosmic force did I seriously tick off somehow to bring this on" type of moment for me.

I went into the pantry to move what was left of my potatoes to a basket since the plastic bag they were in kept falling over.  Immediately when I opened the door the cats both ran into the pantry, which they had been doing for about a week, but since it had been cold and wet out, I just figured they were bored and wanting to check out the one area of the house that they didn't have normal access to (since the door to the pantry is normally closed).  Boy was I wrong.  So, so wrong.

I moved the potato bag and felt my heart hit my feet when I saw the distinctive black pellets sitting on the small wooden slats that the water softener attached to.  Mouse droppings.  Lots of them.  Coming from someone who is so very careful to try and keep things out of reach of any type of vermin and someone who the rest of the house might look like a tornado hit it, but the pantry is ALWAYS clean and organized (as well as I can with the amount of space I have), this was my worst nightmare.

That was a long night.  It was the last night Armina could stay up late before we had to get up early for school on Thursday, but I needed her help to gut as much as I could out of the pantry to help the cats have access to the walls and to start to figure out the extent of the damage the mice had done in the short time they had been in there.  I KNOW they couldn't have been in the pantry more than 3 weeks because I just got done reorganizing and moving things around again and we had also just added salt to the water softener not that long ago (and there had been no mouse droppings on the slats at that point), but the mice were like a destructive army to anything they could find a way to get to and boy did they do so much damage in the short period of time they had been in there.

I lost crackers, drink mix from the LDS cannery (which sucked because our local cannery is shutting down with the farm it is located on getting sold) and dried fruit as those were in the metal baskets on top of the water salt tank and were the most obvious damage I found, at first.  The best I can figure the mice climbed the cords for the water softener to get up there as the baskets were decently high up, but accessible via the cords if the buggers were determined.  There was mouse droppings around the entire edges of the room.  I found a hole behind the canning shelves where they mice must have gotten in at, I figured, as I found that everywhere else in the pantry the drywall doesn't quite reach the floor (since it's unfinished in there) and you could clearly see nice, unmarred 2x4 staring back at you.  Except for the back wall.  The 2x4 was missing there along the bottom edge.  Somehow the mice had come in from outside as they always do up here when it is cold and wet (EVERY house no matter how immaculate can end up with mice up here...if it's warm and dark they'll find a way in), gotten under the drywall along that wall and just gone to town on anything they could get their little teeth into.

I made sure that the floating wooden shelves by the door were still secure and the mice couldn't climb up onto them any way shape or form (thank GOD the pasta was on those shelves) and let the cats run around in there the last week and a half, figuring that they'd either kill the mice or the little blighters would get too scared to come out of the wall and eventually starve to death.

And so, I've spent the last week and a half just figuring out the extent of the damage the vermin wrought while cats squeezed in around me to check anything I uncovered.  Luckily, the only things I had on the floor of the pantry in the slanted area was all in metal cans or were stored in heavy plastic containers, as I tried to keep things safe from mice when I'd put stuff away, so I was hoping the crackers and the dried fruit would be the worst of it.

And then, today, I finally started pulling out all of my home canned goods to help the cats get full access to the back wall of the pantry.  And I cried buckets, and I mean buckets, of tears.

Quick PSA:  Erika listened to the "experienced canners" on various boards she followed who told her she MUST store canning jars without bands on them because the bands could trick you into not knowing a seal was broken on a jar.  This was a REALLY, REALLY STUPID thing to do as that gives mice access to the edge of the canning jar, the lid and the darned seal on the jar!  Don't be stupid.  Don't be like Erika.  Store your jars with the bands on, just loosen them if you are worried about a false seal or something.

The mice managed to find the one hole in the cardboard that spanned the gap between the canning shelves, climbed up the little metal lip of the canning shelf up and onto the cardboard and went to town on everything that I had stored on the bottom canning shelves.

So much wasted food.  So much wasted work.  So much money lost.  So much mold.  The above picture was taken in progress of going through everything once I got it out of the pantry. 

All my home canned peaches.  Gone.  Pears.  Gone.  Home made pickles.  Gone.  Relish.  Gone.

The list goes on.  Jams and jellies and applesauce survived, thank God, as those were on the top shelf where the mice couldn't climb, but about 90% of everything that was stored on the bottom of the shelves was lost.

I think I cried enough tears today to fill an ocean.  My husband came home and tried to cheer me up as he was happy to see that some canning had survived.  Until I pointed out to him that what he was looking at was 1/3 of what it should have been.  Thank God I didn't have a successful garden this year, in a way, because it I had lost the normal amount of canning I have after having a good garden year on top of what I already lost...I honestly think I'd be in the mental ward right now wearing paper shoes.

I'm overwhelmed right now and waiting for a swarm of locusts or a raining of frogs to finish everything off.

I have no idea how to replace everything that I've lost.  I have no idea how I'm going to clean and sterilize the pantry with a unfinished concrete floor, a mop that is falling apart, a space that a broom won't even fit into and everything.

I moved everything out of the pantry today after finding the jars and am just letting the cats have free rein in the now vacant room.  I have a board with some weight behind it going about a foot up the door to the pantry, so the cats can get over but a mouse is going to have a heck of a time getting out, and we'll wait for a few more days.  If nothing pops out of the gap, my husband is going to go through and spay foam the gap in the baseboard to seal it, we'll secure a 2x4 securely along the wall to hopefully button stuff up better and I'll rethink how I do everything, again, in the hopes that I can save some food for winter yet, somehow.

This has not been a good year so far.

This is going to make vacuuming to keep larder beetles at bay really really difficult.  My brain shuts down thinking about it.  I just don't want to deal with it right now, so I'm not.

I do want to throw some good things onto this post, though, just to prove some decent things happened this week, so let me list those.

1.  I got an e-mail offer from Tiny Prints for 10 free thank you cards and envelopes.  I had received this offer a while ago and got some thank you cards for me, but this time I decided I'd get some for Armina with her name on them.  The plan is to start to put together free things like the thank you cards and put together a cute little stationary kit for her for Christmas.  I think she'll enjoy it and so far I'm off to a good start with 10 free thank you cards and envelopes (photo missing because honestly I couldn't find a place to take a picture right now...I have stuff stacked everywhere).

2.  We got the free photo prints in from Snapfish.  My husband was especially thrilled as we got a picture of Alvah smiling when he was younger, which didn't happen too often in pictures.  I'm hoping to frame those and stick them on the gallery wall sometime soon.

3.  I got heavily inspired by reading Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Manual and really loved the nice, clean and organized laundry she has (of course she has a HUGE house so it's a lot easier to achieve that look in a house like that).  I decided I might not be able to achieve the beautiful and clean look she had going, but I could still organize things and make things look neat and tidy in the laundry room.  I was able to rearrange things to the point I could fit the toilet paper and paper towels I'd gotten from Amazon (as well as the laundry soap and the hand soap and such) and things sitting on the shelves above my washer and dryer looking nice and tidy.  I grabbed a little "s" hook I had around the house that we used to hang the Christmas stockings on and I hung my hand broom from the bottom of my ironing board to get it up and off the floor and where I could find it easily. 

I used a wooden caddy I had that originally housed blocks and that I have moved around from one place to another over the years and I put it to use to house some of my cleaning supplies to keep them organized (like I have sponges tucked into the caddy toward the front), but also to kind of hide them a bit so the shelf doesn't look so cluttered.  By reorganizing the shelves I even managed to fit y scrub bucket onto the shelf, which will hopefully keep it out of the way of the son and the cats and stop them from making the crack in said bucket worse.

I moved one of the black metal shelves back into the laundry room, but instead of just using it to organize cat food and cat things, I instead used it to organize my ironing things, the cat food and other various little household items. 

I managed to rearrange the wall in such a way to fit my step stool over by the washing machine and managed to fit the carpet cleaner into the corner.  I have to move the trashcan and do a bit of rearranging to get the carpet cleaner out, but it's worth it as it was sitting by the upstairs bathroom in the hallway before this, so it's nice to have it in a better location.

I rearranged the top of the freezer and got it to fit both of my pressure canners, my meat slicer, the cat carrier, a foot soaker that my husband likes to use from time to time and my Food Saver (which is hidden by the meat slicer). 

4.  I took a shower caddy that has been in the kid's bathroom since we moved here, and which the kids never used (it was up high for one, but also the shower head in the shower in the bathroom there doesn't really fit the caddy, so it was on the opposite wall from the shower head, so hard to reach when giving the son a bath and things).  I took it off the wall in the kid's shower and moved it downstairs where my husband desperately needed something exactly like that as he had shampoo, soap and such scattered around the bathtub like mad.  It works a lot better in its new location.

5.  Warning:  If you are a champagne lover you might want to skip this part because I'm about to offend you.  Seriously. 

While gutting the pantry, I stumbled across something I could use.  About ten years ago (give or take a couple of months) I decided to put together big gift baskets for all of the family members.  They were elaborate affairs and in some of them I included alcohol.  Well, I bought one too many bottles of champagne and not being one to waste anything, I kept it to save "for a special occasion" or to use as a gift or...something. 

Anyway, when we moved the bottle moved with us.  I ended up sticking it in the depths of the pantry and it got buried somehow stuffed alongside the canning shelves.  When I was moving stuff out of the way for the cats, I found it, and was actually kind of happy I did.  I've been out of cooking wine for months now and I have a few dishes that I really like to have cooking wine for.

So, I had my husband pop the cork (I'm a wimp) while I stood safely out of the way (note, once again, I'm a wimp).  The champagne is actually pretty tasty after aging all of this time and I think I offended the husband when I told him what I was going to do with it.  The only problem I'm having is that the fizz in the champagne won't quit.  Seriously.  It's been at least a week and I STILL can't put a wine stopper in it without it blowing the stopper back up again.  It's crazy.  So, I kind of have a wine stopper sitting in the bottle, unsealed, and am storing it in the fridge.  Hopefully it will go flat sometime soon so I can use it better for cooking wine.

6.  I need a break.  Since I can't take one, I've taken small amounts of time and escaped onto Pinterest making a new board for fall and looking up pretty autumn pictures and neat sounding autumn types of recipes.  It works and takes my mind off of things for a while.

7.  Alvah has been doing great in school so far this year and they are really thrilled with the progress he made over the summer with ABA therapy and things.  He even took a few bites out of an apple and a cucumber today!  Hopefully they have more luck getting him to actually keep the foods he tries, but I was thrilled to hear that news.

8.  Armina has been coping with middle school and is actually doing pretty good so far.  Her biggest problem was getting her to concentrate on her locker when she would tumble the combination as she had a tendency to overshoot the number she needed.  I checked in at the office this morning and took about ten minutes to walk her through opening her locker over and over and over again and pointed out to her the mistakes she was consistently making (the biggest one was settling on 4 instead of 3 like she should have).  I was rewarded with her coming out super quick this afternoon (where since school started she was consistently one of the last kids out it seemed) and her proudly saying she was a lot better at her locker now and she thinks she's got it down.  I was happy that a few minutes to just point out to her where she had to correct herself to make the whole experience go better, worked.

And yeah,  other than that it was the usual back to school stuff.  Medical paperwork, dropping off pamphlets explaining what cyclical vomiting syndrome was to the new nurse (who seemed very on top of it and actually seemed really nice, which was good), getting the daughter used to the new schedule and getting her stomach in line with said new schedule, getting the right type of Benadryl to the nurse for the son so he wouldn't gag on the Benadryl when they gave it to him...all of that stuff.

So, how did your week and a half go?  Please tell me better than mine.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This whole, "getting the kids up to get ready for back to school" might not be wearing on the kids much, but BOY is it killing me!  Between the daughter finding it possible to stay up late no matter what you do and a son who refuses to sleep all through the brain is officially jello.

This week was kind of crazy on the shopping front.  I had to go to the store Friday to pick up the son's medications before they ran out and while there I wanted to pick up some stuff that was on 5.00 Friday as the deals I wanted to get for back to school were good deals.  When we get paid this coming week I'm going to have to figure out a way to get as much from the budget as possible to get the daughter an alarm clock for her room (her request...kind of shocked me when she asked, honestly, as she HATES getting up in the morning) and any possible school supplies she might need.  We were going off of the school supply list that they had posted online for her school per grade, which was ridiculous (I mean 96 pencils per student per year?  That's nuts!), but after talking to the front office and getting no answers on why we had to do general school supplies when my daughter was going to have 7 different teachers this year and no answers on even where to drop off said school supplies...yeah we are going back to just supplying her with what she needs when she needs it and to heck with it.  So we'll see how the open house goes early this week and at that point I can figure out if we need anything and get in contact with a friend of mine as she offered me some school supplies if we needed them (hopefully we won't need them, but we shall see :).  Anyway, after we get paid I also have to pick up some things for school this week for the kid's lunches and things, so hopefully we'll still have a few dollars left in the bank after that.  Fingers crossed. Anyway, then we went back Saturday to get Benadryl for the kids and get a few freebies. It was kind of a "doh" type of additional trip, but I guess that happens.

When it comes to what else I did this week, well, I did get quite a bit done around here along with the ever present cleaning, so let's get to that!

1.  I finally gave up on getting the Lazy Susan cabinet in the kitchen repaired.  I was going to take the shelf completely apart and see if there was a way to repair the shelf myself (seeing how it has been MONTHS since I was trying to get the thing fixed and haven't been able to use it for much at all since, seeing as how it was taken about 3/4 of the way apart), but then found when messing around with it that the bottom shelf, on top of the top shelf, was also cracked, not as badly, but at that point I gave up, put the shelf back together (which is a LOT harder than taking one of those things apart as getting everything aligned and balanced right so the cabinet worked was actually a lot harder than I had planned, but I got there) and tried to figure out what to do with it.  The bright side to it taking so long before I got fed up and just figured out a way around the situation is that I haven't used the cabinet for food items in months and had learned to live without it, so when I realized that putting food back onto the shelf wasn't going to work (too much uneven distribution of weight was just going to make the problem worse), I decided to think about alternative uses for the shelf.
I finally, after a lot of thought, turned it into an appliance cabinet.  I've been wanting to put my appliances somewhere that wasn't the hallway closet for a long time, as I want the hallway closet to become more about food items for school lunches and snacks and things like tablecloths and things (tablecloths and dishtowels and things I hope to someday move to the china cabinet with the other linens, when I can get that all rearranged).

I figured an appliance cabinet would work well for the cabinet as this way I have easy access to my most used appliances, and I could stick the lightweight ones on the top shelf (as that's where the biggest crack in the shelving is) and then put the heavier items on the bottom where the weight would be a bit heavy, but more evenly dispersed than if I stacked food items on the shelf.

So far it works well and I haven't noticed any further cracking, so we'll see how it holds up.  The only appliances I couldn't fit in the cabinet were my waffle iron (too tall) and the ice cream maker (which the majority of that stays in the freezer anyway, so not a big deal).  So, overall I'd call it a success, for now.

2.  Shopping went for as little as I could get it to go for this week.  We basically bought the minimum of "boy food" so Alvah didn't starve, and I got a 24 pack of bottled water.  I have a personalized price of 2.45 on the bottled water this week and want to pick up more when we get paid as well.  Not only is getting water this way and then just getting some "to go" mixes to make flavored drinks for the daughter cheaper, but this way we have some back up water to drink if the power goes out.

I also got some more free meat!  I actually found two more coupons for free meat on Just4U (check under the meat category and you might be surprised by some of these coupons yourself).  They were out of the "dinner sausages" (basically doctored up hot dog flavors), but I did manage to get breakfast sausage with bacon added in.

So far I have tried the free hamburger (which contained a lot of fat and the hamburgers I made became mini-burgers by the end, but it tasted okay) and the ground turkey and chicken combo (which tasted like black pepper or something and we weren't impressed with the meatloaf it made), so we'll see how the rest of these products shape up.  Would I spend 7.00 per pound on this stuff so far?  Um, no.  But hey, for free I'll take it :).

I used the overage from the sausage (1.00) toward a box of chewable Benadryl for the kids as their allergies have been awful this summer, so it worked out well.

3.  I ran out of coffee filters this week.  I actually have some on order with my Amazon order that is set to come in this week, so I tried to figure out how to last a week without coffee filters (I have a permanent one, but it stinks and if I have too much sediment in my cup of coffee from the coffee grounds it flares my stomach condition up, so I like to have the permanent filter backed up by another filter to make sure all of the sediment gets filtered out) and decided to go back to my college days when my boss would forget to pick up coffee filters for the commuter center and my friend Dave and I would be working and trying to figure out how to keep our fellow zombies with too little sleep who needed to drive home or get to class, caffeinated.  We used to use a paper bowl with a bunch of holes punched in the bottom of it along with a couple of layers of paper towels to line it with.  It would work alright, so I figured I'd use paper towels for the paper filter part in my morning coffee.  It worked and will get me through till my Amazon order comes in, so that saved me 4.00 off of my grocery shopping for this week.

4.   I have a confession to make.  I've had a hallway table sitting in my Amazon cart "saved for later" (well actually two to three different tables) just as kind of a day dreaming type of thing for a long time.  The idea was to put a table in this corner of my stairway landing to get my vase off of the floor as I thought it would look so much nicer.  Well, I stood on the stool in my laundry room (which we've had since forever and has gone from room to room to room over the years) and noticed it was wobbly, so I thought it might need tightening up.  I flipped it over only to find that one of the major supports for the stool was cracked from all of the use it has had over the years.   I could have just kept using it and hoping that it wouldn't get worse, but instead I decided to retire it.  Instead of throwing it away I put it up on the landing and put the vase on top of it.  It looks nicer than the photo shows.  I'm hoping to put a doily under the vase to cover the carry hole in the stool and see how it looks then.  It's not a hallway table, but it's free and stops me from having to throw something away that can still have some use left in it.  Works for me.

5.  A long, long time ago, my husband's grandfather gifted me a cloth print that his wife had kept a hold of for years and had always wanted to do something with.  Before she died she requested that he give it to my husband and I as she knew that I enjoyed cooking (I didn't know her for very long, but she taught me a lot about cooking in that time) and my husband likes Scottish things.  I have stored and protected the print ever since, but really didn't know what to do with it as it was big and very very plaid, so I wasn't sure where to hang it (or how) and so forth.

Well, this week I decided to say "to heck with it" and just put it in a frame and hang it in Molly and Skip's memories.  And oddly enough, the yellow plaid doesn't really look that bad with the rest of the decor, so I was happy.  To hang it I decided to retire the poster I had from Alton Brown's book "Good Eats:  The Early Years" which I've had hanging in my kitchen for...well as long as I owned the book when it first came out in print, so a long time *laugh*.  I moved the Good Eats poster to the back of the frame so it'll still be nice and straight and protected and then mounted the Scottish print in front of it (with the poster frame inserts flipped over so it gives you a nice white frame around the print you are mounting).  And voila!  A new piece of home decor with some family history attached to it.

6.  An online photo storage and photo gift outfit, Snapfish, e-mailed me and told me that they had some of my photos stored on their site and to keep my account open I would need to make one order per year.  To help me put in my one yearly order they gave me 10 free prints with free shipping.  I was worried about it, as I had no idea how many photos they had of mine as I haven't made an order with them in a long, long time (turns out 10 years in fact when I went to their site).  I was worried I would have a ton of photos and was worried about losing pictures of the kids (as I have already lost an SD card for a camera before and lost about 14 photos) so I went to put in my free order immediately.  Turns out I had exactly 8 photos on their site (which some of the photos were indeed a few of the photos I'd lost on my SD card when it died, so I was super thrilled to find them on Snapfish) , so I just ordered duplicates of a couple (that I'll send to my mom as part of her photo packet at Christmas) of them and voila!  Ten prints are headed my way for free.  I was happy about that.

7.  I went and had some fun looking up meal prep ideas on Pinterest to make some nice lunches for the husband and daughter.  I even found some fun lunch box themes for Christmas and Halloween and things (I'm getting way too excited about the idea of cutting shapes out of cheese again *laugh*).  I have a lot of materials to make Bento box cute lunch box ideas as when my daughter got diagnosed with her stomach condition and lots of allergies, I tried to make her lunches more exciting and cut with Bento.  It failed miserably with her as she just wanted kid kibble types of foods and  just rebelled at the idea of my home made jello from pure fruit juice and things, but I didn't get rid of the materials, just put them away and figured she might be more open to me cutting veggies and fruits into flowers someday, so she's totally getting suckered into dealing with it more this year ;).  My "plan" (if it can be called that) is to hopefully get meal prep done as much as I can on Sunday for the week so that I'm not waking up at 5:00 in the morning like a zombie and trying to put lunches together or the family will be eating goodness knows what during the week (I am NOT a morning person, despite what my son has tried to turn me into over the years).

8.  There were a couple of offers that were offered to me in my e-mail or online that looked like great deals until the shipping came into play (both deals I was thinking about getting promised me free shipping on the items even).  Instead of purchasing the "deals" anyway, I just walked away.  I figure free shipping is either free or I don't have to buy the item.  I don't like to be misled and I sure can't afford to pay more than they are saying it will cost in the e-mail.

9.  My son's teacher was nice enough to e-mail everyone an amended school supply list for my son's ABA classroom.  I still don't have all of the items she is asking for (paper plates, plastic cups and things aren't really in the budget right now), but I know she'll be okay with me bringing in what I have and I'll provide more throughout the year to help out.

10.  When we found out my daughter's open house for her new school was going to be at the same time she was supposed to have one of her last swimming classes, I asked her swimming instructor if she could swim during my son's class instead (which is two hours later than hers is).  She was more than happy to do that for us and my husband to help her out will get into the pool and help instruct the kids as well (he was a lifeguard in high school and can still swim like a fish).  My husband has been able to swim with the kids one week (as he was off and could get enough sleep to get into the pool with my daughter's class as well as my son's class) and with my son one week, so I'm happy that the kids are being able to spend good learning time with their dad during these swimming classes.  I owe my mother-in-law a lot for doing this for us as the kids have learned an awful lot this summer and it has allowed my husband to spend good quality time with the kids, which is something he really wanted to do this summer too.  Thank you, Stacey!

And there you go folks.  Some of our adventures this week.  Other than my husband's car getting possessed by a demon somewhere in the distributor cap (Garfield in Paradise reference for the curious) and then later just starting up like nothing had happened, after my nephews were nice enough to come help push the car out of the driveway where it was blocking us from going anywhere and back into the garage where it belonged (thanks guys!), it was an eventful, but quiet type of eventful week.

How about you?  How did your week go?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

I am happy that I had a chance to sit down today and actually figure OUT a menu plan for this week.  Saying it's been hectic around here would be a gross understatement on things between cleaning, new school preparations, back to school preparations and everything else.

When it comes to the menu plan this week, I'm working on using what we have in the house.  I'm out of produce pretty much, at least fresh (all I really have left are root vegetables and apples for the daughter's snacks), so things like salad are out until payday next week (we don't really have any money at all till then).  So, I'm just going to work on using up things I know I have, like I still have fresh potatoes and I do have one bag of pre-made meatballs that have been sitting in the freezer for a while, so I want to use those up.  So, let's get to the menu for this week!

Thursday:  Hamburgers on home made bread. tatar tots, apple pie for dessert 
Friday:  Pan fried pork chops, apple sauce, baked potatoes 
Saturday:  Ham slices (pre-cut in freezer), pea soup (I'm going to take Julia Child's "Edible Pea Pod Soup" recipe and tweak it to use frozen peas instead as I love the flavor of the soup I made last year :), rolls 
Sunday:  Meatball subs (make rolls), French fries, Mince meat tarts for dessert 
Monday:  Parchment baked fish with julienne  vegetables (onions and carrots), rice 
Tuesday:  Country fried steak, cheesy mashed potatoes, green beans 
Wednesday:  Roast chicken, stuffing, roasted potatoes, cranberry sauce (make from the whole cranberries that are in the freezer).

Breakfasts:  Easy croissants (I found a bunch of different recipes online, so I'm hoping to make the dough tonight to have for breakfast tomorrow with jam), toast, granola, cereal, oatmeal.

And there you are folks.  Our menu for this week.  How about you?  Got anything neat planned for meals this week?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Monthly Goals: August 2018

Hey look!  I'm doing this post before half the month is over! 

*Looks down and mumbles, "Sure, it's 1/3 of the way over" then looks up and smiles like nothing has happened*

Yeah, not half of the way over!  I'm calling that progress!!!

You know, the summer just never seemed to get started up here this year.  We had a handful of good days mixed in with TONS of overcast and rainy days and today it was just pouring all day.  It's been a depressing summer overall, weatherwise.  Luckily, I didn't do a garden this year as EVERYONE'S gardens are failing up here this year.  Even things grown in greenhouses have had mixed success this year, the U-Pick farm just opened a few weeks ago (which is way behind schedule for them) and, yeah...I'm kind of glad I've been able to stay inside this summer and not been out fighting moose and slugs and weather.  Sure, I've made up for problems fighting inside bugs *grumbles nasty things under breath about larder beetles and all the various and nasty ways they should die*, but I can't imagine how bad of shape I'd be in if I was fighting battles both inside and outside.

I do still feel odd not having tons of things to do in the garden on my goals list, though.   Now, this month instead of harvesting various things from the garden and yard, I get to focus on a ton of things that need to be done in the house.  I'm kind of looking forward to tackling some of the things that need to be done around here, but it is challenging with not a lot of disposable income to speak of.  So, we'll see how it all goes as time goes on.

So, here is the long and varied list of things I want to get done this month still (or in some cases at least get started).

Sewing Goals:
  • Make new curtains for master bedroom
  • Finish embroidering daughter's jeans (first project in question seen up top there)
  • Continue to work on quilt (I'm getting there...slowly) and hopefully get the first square done.

Organizing Goals:
  • Finish Boxing up movies in living room.  Reorganize shelves with books and things.  Go through boxes, reorganize them to be more cohesive (as I know things have gotten shuffled bad over the years), label said boxes and see about storing them in the den (hopefully the boxes will keep Alvah out of the videos better).
  • Work on weeding out things in laundry room.  Get rid of things not needed.  Start to try and reorganize the room better so that all cleaning supplies (like the carpet cleaner and things) can be stored in there in an organized fashion.  This is going to take some time as I know I need to find things to hang the broom, mop and things on the wall to save room, I'd like to get some brackets to hang cleaners and things from, etc.
  • Start going through master bedroom closet more and start getting rid of things that we don't use or aren't needed around here.  Start to reorganize so that the space is used better.
  • Go through desk.  Weed and organize.
  • Move things around to make master bathroom more organized (this is basically taking things we already have and repurposing them to work better somewhere else, if that makes sense).
  • Go through china cabinet, especially lower cabinet and see about getting rid of some things (or moving them) so that more room can be used for linens and other household items.
  • Continue to organize around house so that the stuff coming in on the Amazon order goes into place neat and tidy.

Home decor goals:
  • Redo decor in master bedroom to go well with new curtains.
  • Hang up shelf in kid's bathroom (I made a small shelf in college and want to hang it up in their bathroom as it will go with their bathroom theme :).

Cleaning Goals:
  • Continue to clean and battle the bugs.  There that was easy *laugh*.

Food preservation goals:
  • If raspberries ripen at mother-in-laws see about going over and picking some.
  • Make pea soup to freeze and use later
  • Make tomato soup to freeze and use later
  • Make chicken stock to freeze and use later (I love my soups ;).
  • Keep eye out for good deals on produce and possibly buy some extra to preserve for winter.
  • See about getting a few more flats of strawberries to freeze to use in things like strawberry shortcake over the winter months.

And there you go folks.  My most important goals for the month.  Yes, I have other satellite goals that I'm hoping to maybe get done, but doubt I'll be able to do it without finding the ability to spontaneously clone myself.  How about you?  What are you up to this month?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Shopping Goals: August, 2018

Man, I'm tired today.  I am attempting to start getting the kids up earlier in the morning.  Their sleep patterns have really suffered this summer, to the point that the last couple of weeks they are staying up till 1 am or so and getting up at ten no matter what I do to try and dissuade it.  So, this week I'm working on getting them up at seven in the morning and then next week at six as we have to get into the habit of getting up early before school starts next Thursday.  Not fun, but necessary.  Combine that with Alvah's eczema flaring bad over the weekend to the point that even with the clonodine's help to get him to sleep at night, he hasn't slept in about two days now, and's been a fun day so far.

I've made some headway with getting some shopping goals from last month accomplished.  I was blessed with money I could spend on Amazon.  Per usual with me and Subscribe and Save orders, I think and think and think and redo my order about 18 bazillion times before I settle on what I want to spend money on.  I ended up completely redoing my Amazon order for this month and ended up getting less cleaning supplies and more food for school lunches and things.  Enjoy Life products were on sale last month as part of Prime Day specials, so I got some of their trail mix to put into my daughter's lunches and for snacks (since peanuts are obviously out for us with Alvah's allergy). I also ordered another container of Seventh Generation laundry pods as they actually came out with a 30% off coupon this month for their products.  Between that and last month's Prime Day coupon on the laundry detergent I will hopefully be set on laundry detergent for a while.  I'm really looking forward to my Subscribe and Save order coming in this month as it's all things we could really use around here and will also help me store up some food for winter (like BBQ sauce and tomato sauce, for instance).

In order for the money I had for my Amazon order to go further I cancelled the order for the bleach pods and the chlorine free bleach pods and just went to the store and bought a bottle of cheap bleach and a bottle of chlorine free bleach.  The bottles don't go as far as the pods would have, but they were also a lot cheaper, so it was worth it.  I used that money on Amazon to put toward paper towels and toilet paper as we are in desperate need of both and with the son still kind of still learning the ins and outs of potty training (as he didn't potty train till he was seven) he is kind of blowing through toilet paper and wet wipes (which is good that he wants to be independent in that regard, but isn't great on the money saving front).  I was also blessed with some vacuum bags and some lemon pie filling, which was an upper to my month :).

The only meat I've bought the last month has been the free meat that I got from the Mighty Spark coupons and the fish I got and some other clearance meat, that I wish went further.  Past that there just wasn't good enough sales and not enough money to make that goal happen to any great degree (which mind you I am VERY grateful for what I was able to get).  Greens weren't accomplished either.  Instead I put that money toward fruit and other produce that would be more immediately used.  I DID manage to get a bag of storage onions and some carrots, which I was out of both of those, so it was nice to be able to put those back into my stores.  I'd still like to get another bag of storage onions soon as we do blow through onions around here, but at least I'm not in desperate need of them anymore.  I also had my husband just go down and get a huge bulk box of garbage bags because we've just been blowing through them like mad around here with the beetle issues and all of the weeding I've done.

So let's get to the list of things I would like to buy this month and probably the beginning of next month too the way pay periods are scheduled.

Regular Stores:

  • Garlic:  Minced (jarred) and fresh
  • Storage onions (if room in budget)
  • Lettuce 
  • Apples (additional for daughter's school lunches)
  • Eggs (more than normal to make hard boiled eggs for school and work lunches)
  • Grapes (for lunches...if not too expensive)
  • Tortillas (to freeze for later meals)
Used Stores (or Regular Stores, depending on where I can find them):
  • White Dress Shirt for daughter for orchestra concerts

Bulk Store/Three Bears:

  • Cooking Oil (I might get this at the regular store if the sales/personalized prices are there)  I'm just going to hit the highlights here as the son is rewriting the book on cranky today and needs my attention.

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Cleaning Supplies (on going needs, will get when I have money in the budget):

  • White Vinegar
  • All Purpose Cleaner (refills)
  • Window Cleaner (probably get the bulk container of it and fill up some empty spray bottles around here)
  • Mop and Bucket
  • Broom
  • Dish Scrubbers/Cloths
  • Cleaning Sponges  (found a few buried in the depths of my laundry room, but would like to buy some back ups)
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • DAP

Linens/Bedroom Needs (once again this is an ongoing list that I'll get when I have money in the budget or run into super duper cheap and can't pass up):

  • Queen Sized Duvet (I want to switch to a duvet and just make covers for it instead of having to invest in 4 different comforters a year at the used store that are constantly falling apart and wasting money, not to mention the logistical problem of finding room to store multiple comforters when you have a house that has nothing resembling a linen closet or storage closet period, really)
  • Queen Sized Sheet Sets (we have two sets and both are ancient and worn out)
  • Standard pillows for son's room and master bedroom
  • "Satellite use" pillows or master bed (going to see how far I can get making my own with what I have on hand)
  • Thick Queen sized mattress pad/feather bed (mattress is causing a lot of discomfort in my hips and arms as well as my husband's back and this is going to be WAY cheaper than buying a new mattress)
  • Curtains for master bedroom (I'm going to attempt to make new ones out of materials I have around here).

And there you go folks.  Some of the shopping goals I have this month (well Amazon really isn't so much a goal as that has all the money put aside and is essentially paid for).

How about you?  Got things you need to get this month?

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

You know, I'm officially looking forward to school starting again.  I'm nervous and anxious about having both kids in two different schools and definitely nervous about having to get both kids up an hour earlier than they are used to as they are both not morning kids (well during the school year anyway), but I'm definitely looking forward to being able to have some time to myself to do things like blogging during the day where I don't have to worry about the son getting into things while I'm working on something else.  I'm looking forward to getting back to regular menu plans and things again.  Being this disorganized is driving me a bit batty of late.

This week was insanely hectic.  My husband took a couple of days off, which gave him a five nights off.  Monday he got home from work, mowed the lawn and then slept till about 9 pm.  While he was doing that I dropped the son off and picked him up from therapy and in between went shopping for the few things we needed as it was pay day. 

Then Tuesday we had therapy and swimming lessons for both kids as well as dinner at my in-laws after the swimming lessons were over (which it was about 9 pm when we got home) AND we went to the school and met the daughter's orchestra teacher while the son was in therapy.  Wednesday we had therapy and we went to the library while Alvah was in therapy to see if my daughter wanted to get a book (she did) and after therapy we went to the music store and got Armina the books she would need for orchestra, got her a humidifier for her violin and are on the waiting list for a shoulder rest for when they come in next week. 

Thursday we had the kid's six month check up with the dentist, which blew therapy for that day.  It went well and no cavities to worry about, thank goodness (the idea of Alvah getting cavities gives me huge amounts of anxiety as he has to be put under to get any dental work done, which is always worrisome).  Friday we had therapy and Armina's final violin lesson of the summer. 

Somehow in between everything else we managed to get the kids school shoes, got the kids some last minute school clothes at the used store, dropped off a gift for my sister-in-law to thank her for the violin lessons (jellies and jams are awesome for these occasions) and my husband fixed his car that had broken down.  AND I kept the house clean.

It's amazing I remember my own name at this point *laugh*.

In between all the other hectic things going on, there was some money saving things that happened too, so let's get to those!

1.  I finally sat down and forced my daughter to go through her clothes in her dresser.  I'd told her to go through them about fifteen times, but she never had many clothes to show for doing it, so I knew she wasn't REALLY doing it.  So, I sat down and started weeding.  I found some things that were just plain in tatters that my daughter was keeping because she loved the items so much (and some things that were way too small too).  The one item she was in tears over was her favorite unicorn shirt that was way too small for her now a days and had developed a few holes  in the back from being so thread bare.  I felt bad for her about it, so I asked if she would like for me to frame the unicorn picture on the shirt instead of throwing the shirt away.  She jumped at the chance.  So, I took the picture she'd drawn of Elsa off of her wall, carefully removed it from the scrap booking paper I'd used to pad out the frame with (I had her put the picture into her special folder for her artwork to keep it safe), cut out the unicorn portion of the t-shirt and mounted it in the frame instead.  It helped the daughter's heartbreak a little bit anyway.

In other news I'm thinking that a room decor redo might be in the future for the daughter's room.  She is definitely going into more of a fantasy vein in her tastes.  I'm seeing it kind of clashing with the country cottage type of decor I have going on in her room right now, but we shall see how it goes :).

2.  I've spent a lot of time on Pinterest pinning different ideas for meal prepping for the daughter's and husband's lunches.  Armina will be without a microwave at lunch during middle school (as they eat in the cafeteria instead of in the classrooms) and neither she nor her father really like sandwiches all that much, so I'm trying to find other options to make meals that are things they'll actually EAT and also be different than sandwiches.  And things that I can make ahead of time on the weekends for the week ahead so I'm not going nuts all week long getting up super early to make lunches.

3.  I am one of those shoppers that outfits like Williams Sonoma hate as I always wait for a really high value coupon combined with free shipping and then I go and get some low cost item I need.  I got one such coupon this week for 30% off of my order and free shipping with a personalized code, no minimum purchase.  There's a small list of things I need, so I went looking for the low cost items to see if I could get one of those items cheap.  I managed to get a vegetable brush (which I've DEFINITELY needed as my other one plain fell apart) for about 3.00 shipped from Williams Sonoma which beat all the local stores on cost for getting a brush that would work for the purpose I needed it for.  So, yay for that!

4.  I shopped carefully this week as I knew money was going to get tight with all of the school things we had to spend money on.  Freebies (as I posted about last time) and coupons helped and I'm planning only picking up the essentials the next couple of weeks to conserve what money we have left (since next pay period is always our short pay period with the mortgage being due and all).

5.  I emptied out some plastic drawers that had been sitting in my master bedroom closet for years and not only found some of my good art supplies (which I've been looking for for a long time now), but I was also able to move the drawers into the kid's bathroom and used it to hold some spare wet wipes (as it seems I always need them for the son and suddenly I'm holding an empty container of them) and other items we always seem to run out of, need, and really don't want to run into the hallway to get them out of the china cabinet. 

6.  I finally plucked up my courage and went out and checked the raspberries in the yard to see if we had any this year.  I found that the bushes along the very front of our yard had been taken out by a bear (plucked those bushes clean) if the bear scat and the crushed underbrush was any indication, which stunk (and worried me as I REALLY hate when the bears get that close to my house, human beings and the highway as that means they are way too comfortable with all of those things) but the back yard raspberries that survived the moose eating them off have a few on them.  I did manage to harvest a small handful and I harvested a BUNCH of rhubarb this year off of my one monster plant by the house (I really need to take a picture of that's amazing how big it is now a days).  We won't get many raspberries off of our bushes this year, at all, but I texted my mother-in-law and she said it was okay to pick her raspberries again this year.  Since I don't need as much raspberry jam this year, I'm really looking forward to being able to get some bags of raspberries into the freezer as well as get some for other uses.  I'm really grateful to my mother-in-law for letting me pick her berries as those are platinum plated if you buy them at the stores :).

7.  My mother-in-law made my daughter a case to hold her music stand and sheet music so Armina doesn't have to hang them in a reusable shopping bag on her door (which worked, kind of).  She made it out of two old place mats, some old ribbon and a piece of belt material.  It works well and I was impressed with her frugality :).

8.  I got the laundry all caught up and put away and got the bedroom closet a bit more organized. 

I picked up a copy of Martha Stewart's Home Keeping Manual at the used store and was reading it this week (which, by the way, if you want to feel like you are an absolute failure as a home keeper definitely read the book.  Just the amount of dusting you are supposed to do every day blew my mind *laugh*).  I found a lot of good information in the book, including the various types of pillows and what they are used for.  I have some poly fiber fill stuffing and a couple of old pillows that I can use the stuffing from, so I am thinking of trying my hand at making more pillows for my bed as my husband and I are both suffering from discomfort from our bed of late (I KNOW we need a new mattress, but we can't afford it, so I'm going to make it work with what I have if I can).

And yeah, there is more that I did this week, I'm sure of it, but darned if I can remember it all, so I'm going to call it good.  I am working on my shopping goals and monthly goals period and am nearly done, so I'm hoping to have those up tomorrow, so stay tuned for that :).  How did your week go?