Monday, September 24, 2018

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

Delayed again!  In this case, though, I was primarily busy, so I'm not going to complain.

A lot happened last week to make up for all of us being sick for basically two weeks straight.  This week is another week where there is going to be a lot going on.  Fall is usually a harried time of running around, long nights and long days trying to jam everything in that needs to get done on top of normal everyday things that need to be done, and so far this year is shaping up to be no different.  I can hear the tick tock of the time slipping away as winter creeps, not so slowly, towards us.  I've got tons to do still around the house to get ready for winter, as does my husband, so we're both trying to get stuff done before the snow flies.

And so let's move onto what happened this week!

1.  Probably the most fun and frugal thing we did this last week was we went to the Special Edition of the Fall Festival at our local U-Pick farm.  I absolutely love this event as special needs kids get to go and have fun like other kids and parents get the comfort in knowing that there are a LOT less people at this event compared to the normal one that goes on the day after so you can keep track of where your child is a lot better, it's a lot less high energy and the kids can just go and have some fun.  We even ran into one of my son's classmates and we got to hang out with her and her mom, which was fun and I got to meet someone new.

By far the most favorite part of the event for the son was the tractor rides (always, ALWAYS a huge hit with him as they take you on a hay ride around the farm.  And it's pulled by a tractor, which Alvah loves machines, so double huge fun for him) and they had these giant orange balls that they decorated to make look like jack-o-lanterns that kids could climb into and roll around in.  The son was in heaven as not only could he climb into the ball and find zen (which he did numerous times...he didn't want to roll around, but he had a blast lying in there), but he could also get out, put his shoes on and push the huge balls around the field.  Since he loves to slap balls and roll and spin things, this was probably the closest he'd come to his most favorite thing ever.  If they loaded that sucker up on a trailer and took him on a ride around the farm in that ball...I don't think we would ever be able to top that *laugh*.  A pic of him pushing the pumpkin ball around is seen up top there :).

2.  I harvested rose hips a bit earlier and was about as disappointed in them as I was trying to harvest raspberries this year.  We just got so much rain that the rose hips were definitely mushy, some of them were rotten on the bushes even.  Normally if you are a real super berry picker up here you pick rose hips after the first frost, but by the time the first frost gets here there won't be any rose hips to harvest at all, I'm thinking as they are just nearly too far gone to pick now.  After scrounging around everywhere I could find, I finally found a quart of rose hips.  Not a lot.  I threw the bag in the freezer and wondered what I could do with the rose hips.  And then one of our blog readers suggested a book to me from the 80's called "Alaska Wild Berry Guide and Cookbook", I ordered it as soon as she suggested it and it came in this week (which was fast!) and I was thrilled to find a recipe I could use my meager amount of mushy rose hips for:  Rose hip ketchup.  I took the Ball book of home preserving that I have to make sure that the processing times and things were right on the ketchup (15 minutes versus 5 to 10) and made sure the materials would work okay to can and went to town making the ketchup.  I did end up making a more thin ketchup than the recipe (and Ball) called for, but the first time I ever made ketchup I totally screwed it up by cooking it too long (it went gritty) so I took the cautious way and just made it a bit thinner than I thought ketchup should be.

3.  I then perused the Carrs ad for this week and was THRILLED to find that they had cabbage on sale for .69 lb!  That's unheard of cheap.  FINALLY, a produce sale that I could afford to get some food preserving done this year!

I have plenty of sauerkraut left in the pantry (thank goodness) as the mice weren't able to get to those jars, but the canned coleslaw I made last year got destroyed, so I decided I definitely wanted to can more of that as last year's batch the flavor was good, but since I had to use the outer leaves of the cabbages (as that was all that was left after the moose got through with them) the coleslaw was tough.  I definitely wanted to can plenty of it to be around this winter, so I went and got enough to make a double batch of the coleslaw.

I even had a personalized price on green bell peppers of 1.25 each (that's cheap up here) so I grabbed two of those (versus the red ones the original recipe recommended) and made canned coleslaw yesterday as well as the aforementioned rose hip ketchup.

From one quart of mushy rose hips I was able to get four 8 oz jars, so I am calling that a win.  And from one head of cabbage I was able to get five pints of coleslaw (I have one more head of cabbage to go, but didn't have room in my fridge to salt two heads of cabbage at one time, so that's going to have to wait until hopefully tomorrow...if the son sleeps tonight), which I thought was pretty good, really.  I did make the first batch of coleslaw less sweet than the original recipe called for.  Even though I always drain the coleslaw before consuming it I wanted some options on the sweetness front, so I halved the original sugar called for in the recipe.  The second batch I make I'll keep the original sweetness level to try and bribe the daughter to eat her vegetables this winter.

The recipe I used for the canned coleslaw by the way is on Chickens in the Road and I actually found it through a canning group on Facebook I'm a part of which is VERY careful on making sure that recipes are safe to can before letting them get posted, so hopefully that'll make you feel better about pickling cabbage.  After I fill the jars with the brine, I put the full jars into hot, but not boiling, water for a few moments to get the jars more up to temperature before putting them into the hot water bath canner.  This is to help alleviate my fear of breaking jars due to thermal shock, but do what you will.

4.  My daughter came out to meet me after school on Friday all kinds of upset as her jacket zipper wasn't working.  As soon as I got time I took the jacket and tried to figure out what was going on with the zipper and if it could be fixed, even temporarily, until winter jackets could start going into rotation and I would have more time to figure out how to replace the zipper.  It turned out that the zipper had a loose tooth in it, probably from her forcing the zipper up past fabric jams in the zipper over time.  After trying to bend the tooth back to where it needed to go, I figured out that it was a losing option, so I just pulled the loose tooth out of the zipper.  Luckily, it works fine now, although I warned the daughter a LOT that the zipper was going to be weak in that location and to nurse it along until I had time to install a new zipper.

5.  It was a good week at the used store last week.  The biggest find was I found a beautiful vintage colander.  It had everything I wanted.  Small holes, feet (so water would drain down the sink and not just pool around the colander), solid handles and everything riveted together.  For 2.50 it was totally worth it!  I've already made pasta in it about three times now (the son loves his pasta) and the angel hair pasta might slip through the holes a little bit, but not enough to actually fall out of the colander and it works beautifully.  It's not dish washer safe (I'm pretty sure), so I just hand wash it after I drain the pasta out of it and hang it back up.  Easy peasy :).

I stopped by Target earlier, but couldn't find the colander that one of our blog readers recommended that was cheap, so I was so happy to find a colander that would work great, would last and was, indeed, cheap :).

I also found a ice cream storage container in brand new condition for 1.00, which was neat as I've had one of those in my Amazon cart on the "save for later" function for years.  The Tovolo containers are supposed to be good for keeping home made ice cream concoctions fresh, which is good since it seems that ice cream is going back to the production lines where all I can find it vanilla that is safe with the son's peanut allergies, so if we want chocolate chip ice cream or something it's up to me to make it.

I also found some really good quality fondue forks for 1.00.  This was kind of a "I don't really NEED this, but it's so neat" type of purchase as I have a fondue pot, but the fondue forks I have are really cheap, and I mean CHEAP, quality.  I'm hoping to get a kit to make cheese fondue soon and try out the fondue pot I have for a night of fun with the family, so these were a nice addition to those plans :).

Last up I was able to find a few Corelle serving platters for 1.50 a piece and I bought a Corelle cereal bowl to replace one that my daughter accidentally broke earlier in the week.  It was kind of funny when it happened as she was so upset and horrified that it happened and I kept telling her that it happened and I knew it was an accident and to not worry about it.  She did learn the valuable lesson that if you drop Corelle JUST right that it not only breaks, it shatters into millions of pieces.  I kind of shocked and thrilled when I found the used store had the cereal bowl AND the platters that day as it's not an everyday find at the used stores to find Corelle there.

I was even able to find some short glasses to replace ones we've broken the last three weeks or so.  It's just the season of things breaking and it was time to replace some things.  The daughter would put the glasses into the sink wrong and they'd break, one of them broke in the dishwasher (good old clunky grindy) and one of them I just plain dropped when I was picking it up to load it into the dishwasher and I broke it in the sink.  The glasses were .50, so I was okay picking up four more glasses to add to the cabinet.

Funny enough when they rang everything up there was a sale going on, so everything all together only cost me 8.00 and that included a few tools my husband bought as well.  I was definitely okay with that :).

6.  I got some freebies this week.  One of my friends sent me some coupons and one of the coupons was for a free 8 pack of Arrowhead sparkling water.  And while checking Just 4 U last week I found a E-Coupon for a free can of organic diced chiles, so I grabbed both of those when I went shopping.

The water especially came at a good time as I didn't QUITE have enough water to last the daughter for two weeks for school lunches (the husband and I have been grabbing water as we need it too, so it went down faster than I was hoping it would), so this will get her through until pay day (and the bottles are MUCH better quality so they are great to refill at home with regular water and save us yet more money that way).

7.  I got my latest mission from My Magazine Sharing Network, which came with a free small bag of dry cat food and a two pack of individual wet cat food to try out.  Belkar wouldn't get her fluffy butt out of the way for me to take the photo (she REALLY wanted to try the cat food), so enjoy the photo bombing cat *laugh*.

The cats liked the gravy out of the Meow Mix and Belkar liked the Blue Buffalo dry food.  So, I would say it was a success of a mission.

8.  I mended a pair of my husband's jeans (okay, so I sewed a button back on, but I'm counting it anyway ;).

9.  I tried a new recipe to use rhubarb in creative ways.  I made Rhubarb Pork Chop Casserole.  I had mixed feelings on it.  The stuffing had good flavor, but the fresh bread crumbs made the stuffing gummy and library paste like after it got done baking and while the two parts were kind of underwhelming apart the pork and the stuffing together worked quite well taste-wise.  I liked the dish really as I like rhubarb.  The husband and the daughter weren't overly impressed with it.  So next time I'll try something else.  But, yeah, if you want to make the dish I'd mix the rhubarb mixture in with the pan drippings and things to combine it all together and then just mix in some dry croutons or something to make the stuffing to keep the mix from getting too gummy.

10.  I ended up really messing with my phone last week as it kept getting slower and slower to the point it wasn't functioning very well at all.  I'd been playing a bubble pop game while waiting for my daughter to get out for the day but found out when exploring my phone that it took up a pretty substantial piece of phone memory.  I just deleted the app and then went through and started removing anything that I didn't use and couldn't see myself using, removed the e-mail function from the phone (it took up a lot of memory and never worked right when I'd go to check the e-mail anyway) and things like that.  The phone is working much better now, the battery is lasting a lot longer as well.

To compensate for giving up my favorite time waster while waiting for my kids, I instead decided to just start re-reading some of my favorite books.  So this last week it was rereading Victorian Farm, which has been fun.  I'm looking forward to reading more books in the coming months while waiting for the kids.  During therapy I'm hoping to start working on embroidery projects again, so hopefully I'll start that this week as well.

11.  I watched programs on YouTube and other free services this week, like always :).

And there you go folks.  Some of the things we were up to last week.  How about you?  Your week go well?


  1. It is early morning here and I am just playing with my tablet before I get up. You already have me counting my blessings when you talked about cabbage being cheap and the price of peppers. Here in western NY, I will pay .29 a pound for cabbage and sometimes peppers are 4 for a 1.00. It is wonderful Alvah got to have a day with so much fun for him. I know it is a special memory for you to. Have a blessed day. Gramma D

  2. Your kitty is beautiful! Kitties always seem to insert themselves in wherever they're not needed. I have a picture of mine sitting on the side of the low notes of the piano yesterday. WHY???

    You had a great week at the used store! That colander is gorgeous (and I love the rack that you have to hang it on!!! The only place I have to hang a rack is over my island, but we're tall people and I think there would be a lot of head banging- not the fun, musical kind- followed by swearing). I went to ours this week, but only came home with a stack of books for my daughter.

    I'm looking forward to seeing more of your embroidery, you always do such lovely work! :)

  3. What a wonderful Fall family outing. It was great that your son was able to do some of his favorite activities. Looks like you had perfect Fall weather too.
    What a deal on cabbage. I live in AR and 67 cents a pound is out regular price. (Which I think is high.) It goes as low as 37 cents a pound around St.Patrick's Day.
    After reading your last post, I better understand the challenges of getting good produce in Alaska. Thanks for such an educational post. Thanks for a great blog. I have learned so much, about Alaska, and the challenges faced by families with special needs. Erica, you are a wonder woman!

  4. I've been following your blog or a few months now and wanted to let you know how uplifting it is. You are one amazing woman and you have such a beautiful family. I enjoy seeing how people in other areas of the country live and you definitely face different challenges in Alaska versus here in Iowa.

    I love that you have a fall festival day just for the special needs kiddos - what an awesome thing to do for the kids. Those big orange balls sound like fun! I have the same colander and love it - what a great find! And I'll be on the lookout for those special ice cream storage containers - I'd never heard of those before. Anyway - just wanted to say hi and let you know you have a wonderful blog! Take care :)

  5. I have that same colander. I love it. It was my Grandmothers, she was born in 1900. So I think these are very old.

  6. My mom used to have a colander like that, but the finish was very, very warn. When she died, I couldn't bare to use it because I couldn't stand the feeling of it against my fingers (I hate to touch frosted glasses too). I know, it's silly, but it is what it is! :)

    Rose hip ketchup? Is it a savoury sauce or slightly sweet?

    I do a lot of canning, but never thought to can coleslaw until I saw such a recipe on another blog recently. I think it sounds like a great idea and will have to try it next year. This year, we are moving by November, and therefore I haven't canned anything extra for fear of the jars "popping" in transport. Whatever harvest I've purchased, I just froze instead including heads of cabbage that I've purchased for 49¢ a pound. I'm walking a fine line of eating down our storage for the move, yet also freezing the season's produce while on sale to have over winter. Cabbage, by the way, freezes great to use in cabbage and rice casseroles (like cheater cabbage rolls), soups or as a side dish on its own. So, Erika, this is an option if you want to have it on hand, but not pickled as in the coleslaw. But I love to can, so will look forward to getting back in the swing of things next season.

    It's wonderful Alvah had such a great time! My nephew has Asperger's, and would love to be at a festival such as this, but so far, nothing has ever been planned in our area.

    Have a great week!
    Pat, Canada

    1. The ketchup is definitely savory with a touch of background heat to it as the recipe actually called for a dash of Cheyenne pepper to be added. It tastes like ketchup, but with a slightly fruity undertone and then you get the slight heat at the end. It's good. And interesting.

  7. I have that same colander--I think it came in a 'declutter box' someone gave me. I keep my extra eggs in the fridge in it.

  8. Ohhhh that is an awesome event you guys did!! It sounds like he totally enjoyed that!!

    So did you try the rose hip ketchup? How does it taste??

    I had no idea you could can Cole slaw. That's actually really amazing.

    1. It's good! It tastes like ketchup, but with a fruity undertone and then it has a slight heat that kicks in at the end from some Cheyenne pepper that the recipe called for. It's interesting, but in a good way.

    2. Wow, that sounds really good!

  9. What a fun event for your children, especially your son! I kind of like that giant pumpkin ball myself.... ;)

    It sounds like you had a really good week - hurray for cheap veggies! I am so grateful for all the garden produce this year since the prices at the grocery store seem to be going up, up, up! Our peppers have been over $1 (REALLY high for here during the summer months) each all summer, and tomatoes have been pricey too - both are usually dirt cheap since they grow well here. We have both from the garden thankfully.

    Have a wonderful week this week too,

  10. You sounds a lot more upbeat Erika. Glad life is settling down and your health and your family's is better.

    1. Life seems to be settling into a more normal rhythm, knock on wood. It's getting colder so the bugs are dying back in a big way (yay!) and between buttoning up the pantry and letting the cats go on a vermin killing spree the mice haven't been back, double knock on wood. I just feel so good just feeling tired versus sick that I am definitely counting my blessings this week for sure :).

  11. My momma has that colander, and you can bet it will be mine some day. It is the best colander ever! A lucky find for you!
    I like the idea of that rose hip ketchup and I'll bet it tastes wonderful. I admire the way you make something out of nothing!

  12. Erika - this is a very personal question, but have you ever applied for SSI benefits for your son?

  13. Hi Erika. It's been a while since I've commented, but I read your blog on a regular basis, still. When I read that you are thinking of buying a fongue mix, I thought I should comment. I found cheese fondue recipes on Pinterest that you make from scratch. I know your son loves a certain type of cheese, so perhaps if you make your own with that cheese, he might eat it as well. Here is a link that gives 10 different cheese fondue recipes: If you do a fondue recipe search on Pinterest, you may find more ideas that you'd like to try (chocolate fondue perhaps?). Anyways, I hope you find this helpful.

    1. Well, the biggest problem with cheese fondue and Alvah is texture. He won’t do melted cheese or anything close to fondue in texture. Thank you for thinking of it though :). I’ll definitely check out the link for the rest of us, though. I’d like to get more comfortable making fondue type dishes so I can use the pot more :).

    2. My family LOVES it when I make a butterscotch fondue served with pound cake or brownies, strawberries, bananas, pretzels, even popcorn (we have to pour some sauce over popcorn on our plates). It's definitely a sweet treat, so not served all the time, but definitely worth searching out a recipe.

      Pat, Cda