Thursday, December 26, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (for December)

Merry (late) Christmas, everyone!  And Happy Holidays (to cover my bases)!

I apologize for not blogging more this month.  It's been crazy around here.  But, hey, enjoy the shot of the new love seat with the the grey slipcover on it (I love these silp covers as they fit the new love seat so associate link, I'm just sharing :) and all of the Christmas pillows on it (I was actually able to put out all of the Christmas decorations this year, so yay!!!).

First there was me fighting my health.  I was really going through an uncertain period with my health there.  While on Valtrex to battle a secondary infection that settled in after the initial staph infection I woke up with my lips broke out in lesions and swollen (and might I say REALLY hurting bad).  I went back to the doctor to try and figure out what in the Heck was going on, but I kind of baffled them, which is always a great feeling (sarcasm...where would we be without you?).  They ended up putting me on Prednisone to reduce the swelling in my mouth and told me to take Benadryl as well when suddenly I broke out in blister-like swelling places in the roof of my mouth that were working their way down my throat.  It was terrifying to be honest and I was scared to death I was going to end up in the hospital battling God knows what.  Luckily, between the Prednisone, the Benadryl, the Valtrex and the loads of vitamins I started popping in earnest to try and boost up my seeming-to-be-floundering immune system, something caught and seemed to hold.  I've been off of medication for about a week now and so far *knock on wood* the infection seems to not be coming back, so I'm praying I'm finally on the mend.  But, yeah, the steroids and the Valtrex did funky things to my system so I didn't feel well while on them on top of just being REALLY fatigued fighting off whatever the Heck, so we got school work done and the usual things around here and that was IT.  I just wasn't up to doing much else.

So, once I was off of medication this last week and had energy and was feeling a lot more normal, the race was on to get things done around here, especially once we officially went on Christmas break starting Saturday.  We worked through a lot of weekends to earn this time off, so I was really proud of the daughter for sticking with the dedication to keep going to get us to off time :).  As soon as break started, I started baking, mainly because I had to as Christmas was approaching fast, so I ended up working through this last weekend too just to get stuff done.  I really wanted to give out gifts this year to the family as the last few years I haven't had the money, or the energy, to do more than my husband and kids, so what I ended up doing was making Pepparkakorsugar cookies and Swedish Heirloom Snowball Cookies (I use all pecans when I make the recipe, which is what my mom always did...they are so bad for you, but so yummy!!!).  I did end up buying some cookie cutters I fell in love with while watching "Northern Heart" on YouTube, which were these cookie cutters (no associate link as they aren't even available at the moment) and used those on the pepparkakor as I really loved the idea of being able to hang cookies on the side of a mug or cup.  I have to say after trying all of the cookie cutters the heart was the only one that I would recommend getting.  It was the only cookie cutter I had good success with where the cookie would come OUT of the cookie cutter in one piece once you dipped the cutter in flour, where the other cookie cutters just had too many sharp corners that the cookie could get stuck in.  

I pulled all of the bananas that I had been saving up in the freezer and made this recipe for bulk banana bread, which thank GOODNESS I have a large mixer as this recipe really put it to the test as it makes four large loaves of banana bread at one time.  The recipe came out okay, really dense, but okay, although some of the loaves, by the time they were done, were a bit on dry side.  I will probably end up making the recipe again at some point, but mess around with it a little bit to make it more to our individual tastes around here.  I then made Simple One Hour Homemade Bread two loaves at a time until I had enough between the banana bread and regular bread to give out to each of the families I wanted to give to.  I also made Swedish Saffron Buns.  I had wanted to make them for St. Lucia Day on December 13th as part of a lesson with the kids on Christmas traditions around the world, but we didn't make it as the saffron I ordered came in a few days late.  Instead of the traditional "S" shape the buns normally take I just formed them into spiral shaped rolls and put them into a 9x13 baking dish and then once I soaked the raisins in boiling water for a bit I put two to three of the raisins into the top of each bun before baking.  The rolls came out tasting REALLY mild, like too mild for my tastes, so next time I think I'm going to use a recipe that calls for more saffron, but for a first try making home made buns, I think they taste pretty good and look really festive :).

So, that was my two days of solid baking that I ended up doing this week.  

On top of school work we have been in the middle of a three year review for the son to evaluate his progress and to tweak his goals (potentially) on his IEP and things, so we've been running around back and forth to appointments between that and his therapy and things.  Bright side, though, is we had a chance to see his contact teachers at the home school while we were going in for appointments, so while we were there I figured we'd give them a Christmas gift and work it into our home school projects around the house.

Well, we stumbled across a Scandinavian tradition of feeding the birds at Christmas, so I thought it would be fun for the kids to give out bird seed ornaments to people to hang up on their trees this Christmas.  I found this recipe and ended up using some unsalted sunflower seeds I had in the freezer that I only used once in a while (the only way I could buy them was in bulk, so I had tons of them).  I wanted to make several different types, but a lot of recipes called for peanut butter and yeah...that was DEFINITELY out (and I didn't want to use our really expensive peanut butter alternatives around here).  The mixture for the ornaments comes out SUPER DUPER sticky, to the point that non-stick cooking spray helped me not at all, but still I made Alvah help me with the ornaments (I think this was the first time in history he actually was requesting I wash his hands after touching a sticky texture), and the best part was Alvah was SO proud of the ornaments when they were done.  I used embroidery thread to make hangers for the ornaments because I didn't have twine and I ended up just kind of trussing the ornaments to make hangers as the whole straw trick didn't work worth a darn for me, so I just didn't bother trying to make holes for the string.  The teachers and therapists were thrilled with the ornaments and Alvah was so proud and thrilled to give them.  It is not often that the son shows real pride in something he did or accomplished and it just made my heart so happy to see him get such a kick out of giving the ornaments away :).  

We did a short little blurb about the gift and printed it out to include with the ornaments.  It read...

"An Explanation of Your Gift: 

As part of the holiday season this year, our mom insisted we study Christmas traditions from around the world. While studying the Scandinavian countries we found a tradition in which the peoples from Finland, Sweden and other Scandinavian countries would put out food for the birds at Christmastime as a way to show goodwill to God's fellow creatures. In some countries they put out food for the birds and didn't even eat Christmas dinner until after the birds were finished eating! 

We wouldn't want you to wait for the birds to finish eating before getting to your Christmas festivities, but we thought it would be really cool to make some treats for the birds that you could hang outside on your trees, so you can watch the birds feed and at the same time take part in an kind of neat tradition at the same time. 
Enjoy your bird seed ornament and we hope the birds do too! 

God Jul! (Translated: Good Yule!) and Merry Christmas!"

Got to love it when you can lump a writing assignment in with making a gift *laugh*.

While digging through my desk and organizing I finally found the Christmas cards I had gotten for free through Shutterfly last year that I had never gotten a chance to send out last year because of the earthquake, so I sent them out this year (good on me for choosing cards that didn't have a year printed on them *laugh*) to my family back East so they could get updated pictures of the kids.  I have to say that I felt really good getting things accomplished this holiday season, even if it was an insane race to get things done in the meantime.

Unfortunately for the husband and kids, due to me being sick for so long and things I just ran out of time to make them gifts for Christmas.  I was planning on doing a marathon run yesterday to try and get them done, but my husband and daughter convinced me to just give them their gifts late and just relax and enjoy what little remained of Christmas.  I'm glad they did that as I didn't realize how tired I was until I was able to sit down for more than five minutes :).  The plan is to work on their gifts over the next few days and give them their gifts a little bit late.  They all know what they are getting as they helped me pick material (or in the daughter's case the embroidery colors), so they are still looking forward to getting their gifts and I'm happy I have a bit more time to focus on what I'm doing and do a decent job on the gifts.  So, yeah, be prepared for late gift posts this year.  

So. now that the holidays are over and we can get back to a more normal schedule I can finally get back to work doing things around the house and stuff, so be prepared for more blog posts again.  I'm looking forward to getting back to a more normal frame of mind for sure.

So, saving money!  Believe it or not, yes, in the midst of everything I was able to save money this holiday season.  So, let's get to that!

1.  My husband took time off so he could have an actual vacation this holiday and one of the things we wanted to do was go out to eat at Red Robin since the son loves it so much.  I redeemed credit card rewards and got a 25.00 Red Robin gift card and my husband got an e-mail giving him a free kid's meal if we bought a burger, so we combined the gift card and the promotion to get out of the restaurant spending less than 20.00 for all of us to eat.  

2.  I was at the store one day and went and checked out the reduced meat section.  In it I couldn't believe the deal I found!  I found that there was a manager special on 93% lean hamburger for 4.59 lb and there was a TON of 1 lb packages for 50% off!  I grabbed ten as that was about all I was going to be able to fit into my freezer and am now stocked up on nice lean ground hamburger for 2.29 lb.  Can't beat that!

3.  We found that our local meat market was having a really good deal on Bone in rib roasts for Christmas, so I had my husband stop off and buy the holiday roast there instead of praying for a good sale at our local stores (which worked out well as the local stores sales were so-so this year and you were expected to buy a really large roast, so buying it at the butcher shop was definitely a better way to do it).

4.  We were able to wrap all of the presents with wrapping paper we had from previous years and while digging through things getting the school supplies straight I found some tape I had bought on clearance for future school projects, so we didn't even have to buy tape this year, which was a nice change of pace for sure.

5.  I was able to replace a bunch of pans and things that got dented and/or scratched up bad in the earthquake that haven't been surviving very well with gift cards my family sent for Christmas.  I found that USA pans were on sale really cheap if you applied coupons that were available on Amazon, so I was able to get some 1/2 sheet pans, a new cupcake pan (now I have 2 I have enough to make a full load of cupcakes and I can throw away the other rusting one) and a few other items that I needed.   I was also able to get a few items I'd really been wanting for years, but never had the disposable income to even want to afford, so I'm really happy that I'll be more easily able to do some neat cooking and baking in the coming year thanks to those purchases and with the coupon codes and things I was able to pretty much double my buying power and buy things I wanted versus needed, which was a nice holiday bonus for sure.

6.  My mother-in-law took the daughter to "The Nutcracker Suite" that I'd purchased tickets through the home school for earlier in the year.  They both had a blast and it was actually longer than the home school thought the performance would be (an hour versus a half hour), so the tickets (which were already really cheap at 6.00 a piece)  gave us even more bang for the buck than we had first thought they would.  And the best part was that the theater that the performance was at was really close by so my mother-in-law didn't have to use up a bunch of gas getting to the performance.

7.  I used materials I had around the house to bake gifts for every body (with the exception of the saffron and the cookie cutters, which I purchased with rewards from my Amazon credit card, so I didn't pay any money out of pocket for them), so all everything costed me was time.

8.  I took advantage of baking sales to get butter for less than 3.00 per pound (there was strict limits on the amount you could buy, though).  The three pounds I have left after baking should last me for quite a while (I have found the secret to making stick butter last forever is to buy a big thing of spreadable butter once a month and so no one has to blow through my sticks of butter :), so I was happy.  I also took advantage of baking sales to get brown sugar and powdered sugar for 1.49 for 2 lb bags (I had personalized prices on them, so was able to purchase both types in one week too, which was nice).

9.  While delivering a few Christmas gifts we were able to visit with family that we don't get to see too often, which was a lot of fun :).

10.  I was able to avoid buying things with all of the online Christmas sales and things that were going on.  I just plain deleted the e-mails without opening them.  Great way to save money  is to avoid temptation *laugh*.

11.  We had a few VHS tapes that my family had sent me years ago with old Christmas TV programs from my childhood on them that we would watch every year.  Well this year the VCR decided to eat one of the tapes.  I was a little upset at first, but then figured that I could probably find all of the programs online to watch.  The only program I had to actually buy was "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (which I used part of my family's gift cards to purchase that), which I got in digital format and the rest we were able to look up on YouTube or watch through Amazon Prime video for free.  It was a blast for the kids as they were able to watch their favorite Christmas programs as many times as they wanted without me having to say no as I didn't want to put too much wear and tear on the old VHS tapes.  

12.  We went and checked out local Christmas light displays one night, especially a local neighborhood that we visit every year that the entire neighborhood puts up tons of Christmas light displays and sets them to music on their very own radio station that they broadcast around the holidays.  We had a lot of fun, donated a few dollars to help keep the display going (they were talking about shutting it down due to electricity costs so the local community was really pulling together to donate to try and help them keep the display going for future years) and we even went and parked and watched the lights for quite a while from a good vantage point.  

13.  We were worried we might not have a white Christmas as the snow we had melted and then the temperature tanked below zero in no time flat.  Surprisingly it started to snow on Christmas Eve and it is still snowing today.  The daughter was through the roof over having snow on Christmas.  I'm just glad I don't have to drive anywhere today as the roads are awful (my husband went out and got a haircut and came back with tales of all of the wrecks he saw) and I'm looking forward to a kind of relaxing day as we even have leftovers in the fridge to eat for dinner.

14.  I had a bunch of different bonus reward coupons that Carrs/Safeway offered me to load to my card.  By the time the 3.00/15.00 produce purchase and other coupons were applied with the bonus rewards I was able to fill up my truck for cheap on top of getting a really good deal on groceries, so definitely win-win as we definitely used up a bunch of gas this last week.

15.  I was able to redeem a e-coupon I was able to load to my card for a free box of organic feminine care products.  

16.  I finally, I think, got everything done on the paperwork end to renew the son's insurance for the coming year and I got his new insurance card in the mail, so yay (and phew) for that.  I'll wait and see if I get any amendment paperwork in the mail or a phone call about stuff from the state, but I think that things didn't get horribly messed up this year (unlike last year) so I have to say I'm relieved about that for sure.

17.  The daughter's test results came back on the learning disability end and she was diagnosed with mild dyslexia in both numbers and letters, so she starts tutoring for that in the coming year.  I was happy to hear that the dyslexia was minor (don't ask me specifics about what type it is and what causes it as I got kind of lost in the explanation part with being sick and all) and the therapist thought she would really benefit from some tutoring and we were likely to see improvement decently quick.  I've noticed with home schooling that the daughter is already improving in the writing and reading department just because of the one on one teaching and her being able to take her time with the things that give her trouble, so I'm glad she's going to be getting some extra help and hopefully we can get her caught up more to her grade level :).

And, yeah, I think I'm going to call it good there.  I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of things, but honestly I didn't make a list the last three weeks as I was too busy and just didn't think of it.  But, yeah, I DO have plans for blogging more regularly now and actually have a few blog posts in the works for some new segments to the blog in the coming year, so keep an eye out the next week as I introduce some of those things.  And, yeah, I'll leave it there.  I hope you all had a GREAT Christmas holiday and are enjoying some nice, relaxing, time off this holiday season!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Man, this post is really late.  It's been so insanely busy around here I completely forgot what day it was until I looked at a calendar and then I'd run and do the next thing on my list.  So, no worries all, I'm still alive.  Just REALLY tired after this month.

Well, before I begin, I feel I really need to acknowledge the fact that today is the one year anniversary of the November 30, 2018 earthquake.  An event that, literally, shook our lives and has seen us scrambling to recover ever since.   I know a lot of people up here who are pretty much spending today standing in a doorway for fear that mother nature will repeat the event, but I've gotten to a point that if you live in fear, fear will rule you, and honestly I don't want to live like that.  I did for a few months after the earthquake, for sure, but you can't live like that forever.

What has happened?  Tons.  So, let's get to the recap of everything.  I'm just going to work money saving things into the actual recap, otherwise I'll forget things.  Trust me, it's been a crazy, what, 20 days or so since my last update?

First, we awoke one day to see that winter had, officially, arrived.  We were up early to get a head start on school work and after working on it for a while I realized that it was approaching dawn, so I stuck my head out and took some pictures for you.  Sadly, the moon didn't turn out as awesome as it looked in person (when do pictures ever really capture what you are looking at?), but everything really looked cool in the dawn early light.

Might I just say how I'm really enjoying the snow when we are getting it this year in a way.  It covers the roof of the barn that is caving in since the quake (it lost a main support bean so the middle of the roof is sagging), you can't see the missing gutters and things.  Everything just looks pretty and I can sit, enjoy it and realize that any work that is left has to be put aside until Spring, so why worry about it :).

The snow actually melted into the less desired ice rather quickly, but it was pretty while it lasted.

People from areas that get snow in the winter are like, "You can move on now!  I've seen snow before" but I hope those who come from environments that don't get snow at least enjoy the show ;).

At this point the cats took off at a run, landed in the snow and got upset that outside was broken, so they went back in.  But, I got one last shot before the sun was completely up for the day.  Well at least until the clouds moved in and everything was grey again *laugh*.

Right, moving on!

Next up on the recap is that the reason I haven't blogged during the weekends like I've  been planning on.  The daughter and I made a deal that she could take time off of school, but ONLY if she worked ahead, working through the weekends, to make sure she had time off "banked" to use for things like Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas break (we are hoping to take the week of Christmas off from school work).  So, we've been working through the weekends the last bit, thus the reason I have been having a hard time finding time to do much outside of day to day activities.  It's been busy!

And then there is the day to day activities!

The in-laws have been really generous in allowing us to use their dumpster the last bit, which I'm really grateful for as money has been flying out the door whether we wanted it to or not.  The husband had a bad pain in his ear, so he ended up going to the doctor's and getting diagnosed with a sinus infection (which, honestly, I think he's been battling for months and finally succumbed to), so he ended up on antibiotics.  There was the daughter's orthodontist appointment with impending bottom braces news.  There was the full dyslexia and learning disability testing we took the daughter in for, which will cost money when insurance figures it all out.  And I'm on antibiotics round three to try and get rid of this darned staph infection that just refuses to die.  It's been crazy around here.  

The daughter went in for her baby sitting boot camp class and learned a lot of first aid techniques and is now, officially, accredited in Red Cross first aid training and CPR for the next two years.  I'm very proud of her for getting through the class and doing so well :).  We are hoping, with the love of swimming she's found since she started that she might one day want to get certified as a life guard.  Not only is that a really awesome skill to have, but it will also allow her to get a decent job when she gets older that is always in demand somewhere :).

Homeschooling the son is getting more into a groove around here.  He's definitely put me through my paces trying to find things that would work well for him.  I finally used part of our allotment with the home school to get him a new tablet and the Apple pencil (I keep calling it the IPen and I swear it'll remain such in my head).  I loaded his LAMP program to the new tablet and I went searching and found a bunch of free apps to use for him on top of a few I already had on our cloud.  I've gone through probably 20 or more apps to find ones that worked well for him, but he's now doing really well!  He does the tripod grip so much better with the new stylus pencil than he was doing with a marker (I theorize it has something to do with the weight as the Apple pencil is heavier than a traditional writing implement) and he's making forward progress.  Which makes me really happy as he's stagnated at public school the last few years. 

Feeding therapy makes him grumpy, but he's still tasting things and sniffing things and experiencing food more.  He's not happy about it, but he's doing it (bwahahahaha!).

Anyway, back to the dumpster angle (sorry tangents are going to happen on this post as so much has been going on).  Like I said the in-laws have been really generous with the use of their dumpster the last bit, so I (with help from my husband and a cordless saw) able to break down the couch and get it thrown away a few weeks ago.  

So, after I cleaned up the den after that and rearranged things, I put together the new chairs.  They are surprisingly comfortable, although I had to immediately make throw pillows for them as they are so deep I can't touch the floor if I sit all the way back in them.  

I was so happy that I had collected those sheets and things to try and make a fall themed quilt a while back, because the yellow sheet I found matches the walls in the den PERFECTLY, so the throw pillows look really nice in there.  I used recycled fill from the couch to stuff the pillows (more pillows are in the plans in the next bit to not only use up some of the leftover fill, but because I need some pillows), so they cost me basically nothing to make.  

I moved things around in the den so that we could have unobstructed access to the coat rack, which has been nice.

Unfortunately, moving things around also revealed to my husband that we have some pretty significant feeling cracks in the slab underneath the carpet in the den (it has a really thin carpet pad in there, so goodness knows if we have more cracks in the master bedroom to worry about as the pad in there is a lot thicker and could hide some issues).  He asked my brother-in-law over to check out the cracks and unevenness in the slab through the carpet and they both agreed that we probably need to pull back the carpet to see what we are dealing with in the damage area.  They are both pretty certain that we don't have any severe structural problems to worry about as our doors and windows work, nothing is obviously severely cracked in the walls and stuff, but we might have to jack hammer up our slab, fix the ground beneath and then pour new slab, which would cost...we'll just say more than I care to think about and leave it at that.  I'm am going to live in ignorant bliss until my husband wants to tackle that issue as I honestly don't know if I want to know at this point.

Anyway, onto cheerier subjects!

Another thing we have been up to is that we got our bathroom cabinets in and installed!  I am so thrilled with them.  The new vanities have drawers and the sinks we got at home depot are nice and deep (and only 50.00 a piece about), which replaced our falling in cabinets that had sinks that were cracked in the ceramic coating the cast iron  and losing porcelain since the earthquake.  We got just regular Formica counter tops installed on them, which is a lot more bulletproof than a lot of modern materials that are being used.
 We went with one sink in the master bathroom again to replace the old cabinet that also had one sink.  I know that two sinks is more modern, but if we had put in two sinks we wouldn't have been able to install the towel/linen cabinet on the left, which is by far one of my most favorite things EVER!  I FINALLY have a spot to put towels downstairs!!!  I still get a thrill opening the door and seeing towels folded up inside of it instead of having them out on the white cabinet where they could collect dust and things.  

We used the old faucet from the old downstairs sink and put it in upstairs in the other bathroom to save ourselves a bit of money.  It works a lot better than the old faucet did and my husband was able to get a drain kit to repair the broken drain so that we didn't have to replace the entire faucet.  We did have to buy a new faucet for the downstairs sink, so we got a nice dark brass faucet which both my husband and I really love.  It looks awesome in the bathroom and everything.  We were worried we'd have to replace the medicine cabinets, but after we installed the new cabinets, we both decided that the medicine cabinets didn't look bad and we're just going to leave them for now.  I still need to touch up the paint in both bathrooms where the cabinets went in (you can see a patch of white over on the right hand side above), but for the most part the bathrooms are done and I'm relieved.  The bathroom old bathroom cabinet in the master bath (the one that the above replaced) had gotten so wet in the past and the earthquake dislodged the sewer drain just a tiny bit, but enough to leak drops of water so there was mold under the cabinet that needed to get killed with extreme prejudice.  After going to town on it with nearly pure bleach, it cleaned up nicely and now everything is done right and working like it should.  Getting mold like that out of any house is a good thing, so I'm very glad we caught it by replacing the cabinet and it is fixed.  Huge relief.

I took the old white cabinet and cleaned it up and then moved it into the den for the time being.  The husband is going to work on building shelves for the den, but until then I figured the shelf could be useful holding books and things.  It actually does look nice in the den (I know it's still terribly cluttered, but it's getting better slowly but surely), so I'm happy with it.

I finally found time to get the sauerkraut ready to ferment.  It took forever to find time, but finally this week, the day before Thanksgiving in fact, I knew that I needed to get the sauerkraut done or I would lose valuable fridge space to the cabbages.  So, I got the sauerkraut ready to go.  With the staph infection and things I made sure I was super duper careful (I'm normally very careful with anything that has to do with canning, but this time I was even more paranoid) so that the finished product would be safe.  I still need to find room in the pantry for the fermenting jars, but I'm glad that stage one is on and working.

We put up the brand new Christmas tree yesterday.  We were careful choosing the tree and shopped around to find the best deal.  We went with a pre-lit LED tree (I honestly couldn't find a unlit tree that was worth buying) and the son LOVES all the color changing settings the tree has.  I love the fact that it has a nice metal stand and is pretty solidly built, so it stands up straight without benefit of a bunch of ropes and ribbon holding it.  

Thanksgiving went well.  No major catastrophe happened.  I was able to use the free turkey I got from Carrs last year for our Thanksgiving turkey this year (and I got another free turkey at Carrs last week which then took the place of the other turkey I used in the freezer for next year) and stuffed the carcass into the crock pot after the meal (or most of it as the bird I ended up for our turkey this year was nearly 20 lbs) to make some really yummy turkey stock out of.  I'm looking forward to making turkey noodle soup later with that stock :).  I didn't need to buy potatoes for the rustic potatoes gratin recipe I make every year because I had the free potatoes I harvested from the experimental farm.  I was really happy with how Thanksgiving worked out this year and I got a ton of turkey left over to make different dishes with, which (to me anyway) is a wonderful thing in itself.

So, yeah, between all of that and therapy and just general running around (like my husband and I rushed to get last minute Christmas shopping done when my son was at therapy and my daughter was at a club meeting at the home school offices because the daughter won't have another club meeting until January and we knew we needed to get things done and hidden NOW *laugh*), it's amazing I remember what my name is.  

I know there is more to the list of things that has happened around here the last 20 days or so, but I'm going to call it good there as I hit all of the main ones (I think).  How about you all?  Been busy this month?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

So here we are at antibiotics round 2.  I was off of antibiotics for, oh, about 24 hours or so and then I woke up yesterday morning to my face swelling up again.  Luckily (I should include this on a Frugal Friday post, but I'm going to be lazy today *laugh*) the doctor's office was good about just calling me in another prescription instead of making me go in for another visit (thus saving me nearly 200.00 for the visit) and the new antibiotics are doing a LOT better at making me feel better, so I'm glad of that.

Believe it or not, this actually plays into food *laugh*.

While sick, I ended up watching a lot of YouTube and things because I was just feeling so rotten the last thing I wanted to do was do much more than doing the kid's school work and getting the son back and forth to therapy.  We ended up eating way too monotonous of meals while I was sick just because I wasn't up to doing much at all, so while the pressure cooker was doing its job I would sit and watch YouTube.  I stumbled across a channel called "Northern Heart" which is a vlog type of channel by a woman who lives in the countryside in Sweden.  My dad had always compared his visions of Heaven (he had a lot of near death experiences with his heart) with the beauty of Sweden.  His mom was full blooded Swedish, so his Swedish upbringing had a big impact on me when I was young.  So it has been a lot of fun for me to see the scenery of Sweden.

Another thing that watching her channel made me remember was tons of things I'd nearly forgotten from my childhood.  Days before my parents fought all the time and my mom used to make things for my dad around the holidays.  Days of mince meat pies, saffron buns with little raisins stuck into them, Swedish holiday pastry rings and Swedish/angel chimes playing above little glowing candles.  It really brought a smile to my heart to remember those days.  In later days when my parents didn't get along for most of the year, somehow they did make an effort to around the holidays.  But really the only hold over of Swedish traditions that stayed through all of those years was we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, instead of Christmas Day like all of my friends (which I always considered myself fortunate for celebrating it when we did), and we always went to Church before coming home and opening presents.

Anyway, the memories of all the now exotic to me food made me realize how monotonous our menu really had been of late, so now that I was actually feeling HUMAN again today (how happy I am to report that) when I went shopping I decided to put together some more fun menu items for the coming week since I had a bit of wiggle room in the grocery budget.

So, be prepared for some interesting additions to this week's menu *laugh*.  So, let's get to it!

Tuesday:  Cheese fondue with bread, fruit (I just bought a fruit tray from the store as it was WAY cheaper to buy produce that way.  Grapes are up to 4.99 lb alone, so yup...fruit tray it was), leftover beef and pork, sliced apples (on top of the fruit tray since apples weren't part of it). 
Wednesday:  Easy Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker Chicken Gyros .  Daughter's request (which thrilled me honestly).  Fruit salad (made from tonight's leftovers) on the side. 
Thursday:  Pizza and bread sticks 
Friday:  Chicken salad (the kids are going to help me cut up some hard boiled eggs and some lettuce and things.  We'll have it with peanut free walnuts from the pantry, dried cranberries from the pantry and some sharp cheddar cheese from the fridge :). 
Saturday:  Meatloaf, leftover salad, mashed potatoes and gravy 
Sunday:  Chicken noodle soup with grilled cheese sandwiches  OR Ruben sandwiches (if I can remember to buy some Swiss cheese, which I keep forgetting)
Monday:  Spaghetti (use leftover meatloaf in the sauce), home made rolls, salad
Breakfast:  Yogurt Parfaits (I bought plain Greek yogurt and we'll use honey to sweeten it and use home canned blueberries and cherries from the pantry or jams and jellies we have to flavor them :), cranberry orange muffins and banana bread muffins, cinnamon bread (hopefully I'm still having decent amounts of energy to do things like this), English muffins or toast, cereal, oatmeal with toppings (nuts, raisins or craisins, spices, syrup, etc).

Lunches:  Leftovers, grilled hot dogs, cashew butter and jelly sandwiches, other things as they come to mind.

Feeding therapy items:  Leftover spaghetti (pasta with a teeny weeny bit of tomato sauce on it for Alvah to try), leftover salad (he is going to be expected to at least taste Craisins, lettuce and things), mashed potatoes, chicken broth, tomatoes, grapes, sliced apple.

And there you are folks.  Hopefully our menu plan for the next week (fingers crossed I continue to feel better).  How about you?  Have anything good on the menu this week?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Right, so here it is.  The promised recap of money saving things I've done the last little bit.  

Unfortunately, it is kind of a balance this time.  We ordered bathroom cabinets, which definitely cost money, I had a doctor's appointment so more money and we found out that we are going to have to pay for bottom braces for the daughter in a few months which was yet more money yet.  And the daughter went in for dyslexia testing yesterday (we are waiting on the results) and that will be more money going out the much depends on insurance.  BUT, it was balanced out by a few things, so let's get to those :).

1.  Yes, I had a doctor's appointment and had to get on antibiotics to get rid of a staph infection.  BUT, I did not *knock on wood* end up in the hospital before I caught on something was amiss, which I've known other people who weren't so lucky.

2.  Yup, the bathroom cabinets cost money, but we are getting really good quality cabinets from an outfit with a really good reputation and we are even getting a linen cabinet built into the master bath vanity, so I'll finally have a place to put towels :).

3.  We went in for our orthodontist check up and got the daughter's spacer removed off of her bottom teeth.  She gets to go back in the beginning of the new year to get bottom braces figured out, which is going to hurt when it comes to that bill.  BUT, we've known for a while that she was going to need bottom braces, she's still young so her teeth will move a lot easier (making the whole process easier on her), she managed to get her baby molars out by herself so that we didn't have to pay to get them removed (which saved us a bunch of money) and she gets to be dental mechanism free for Christmas and was for Halloween as well.  So, hey as bright sides go, those are pretty good!

4.  We finally got someone to test the daughter for learning disabilities!  I'm just thrilled to get it done at this point, to Heck with the costs involved.

And now onto the money saving things that have happened the last bit!

1.  Well, a neat side benefit I've found on homeschooling the kids is that I get to be part of parent groups for the home school which gives me all kinds of neat little things I learn about.  For instance I found out that our local school district has sales where they get rid of overstock things they don't need for really cheap at their warehouse.  We decided to zoom over there on the last day of the sale a few weeks ago and found that they had books for .10 each and there were pallets and pallets of things to go through.  We found a bunch of books on all kinds of different subjects for super cheap (the box of books seen up top).  They also had a pallet stuffed with file cabinets and they were 5.00 a piece, no matter how big.  I have been needing a good filing cabinet to keep records for the son and financial records in, so we bought one and my husband went through and found a REALLY heavy duty filing cabinet for us.  I moved it across the den to the its new home by my desk so I can safely attest to the fact that the sucker is HEAVY *laugh*.

2.  Through a homeschooling event, I was able to sign the daughter and my mother-in-law to go and see a performance of "The Nutcracker Suite" in December.  It's only the highlights of the ballet, so it is not really super long (which is good since it'll fit into my mother-in-laws schedule that way) and there is a brown bag lunch event after that students can attend to meet the cast.  It was super cheap for tickets, so I signed them both up.  

I have to say how thrilled I am to be able to let my daughter go to events like these now.  With the discount pricing I can actually afford for her to go, where normal ticket price events there is NO way I could afford to do these things.

3.  My in-laws were nice enough to let us throw away the old love seat pieces in their dumpster before it got picked up so we didn't have to pay for another dump run to get rid of them.  I was also able to, by taking it apart myself, reclaim some of the wood pieces so that my husband can use them at  a later date for some other project.

The space to the center there is where the love seat was previously jammed.  Yay for reclaimed space!

Now that I know what I'm doing I've found that the couch is going a LOT quicker than the love seat did.  I know how the pieces fit together now and am able to get them apart a lot easier.  Exhibit A:

I was able to get all of that done yesterday :).  

I am going to save a bunch of the stuffing that was in the back and arms to make pillows out of, which is definitely cheaper than buying fiber fill for things like that.

4.  I was actually really sick for Halloween, unfortunately, and spent a good part of the afternoon in bed.  There was kind of an odd silver lining.  A couple of days before Halloween the husband was supposed to have a pot luck at work and we signed up to bring brownies, so I had managed to bake brownies.  Right before my face started swelling and I got sick.  My husband had to call in sick the night of the pot luck because he was really worried about my face swelling up (as was I, honestly), so we had a tray of brownies to use for Halloween treats.  I had promised the kids cookies, but I just wasn't up to making them, so my husband took the daughter with him to the store and they bought some peanut free sugar cookies from the bakery at Carrs/Safeway (not the cheapest option, but the kids enjoyed them) and some Chips Ahoy cookies for the son (they are a favorite of his and I don't buy them very often anymore).  I then popped a huge bowl of popcorn and after going to a local Halloween event we came home and watched movies and ate popcorn and treats.

I had gotten a really good personalized price on pumpkins, so we got our usual Jack O' Lantern pumpkin and then I got a few small ones for the kids to design and carve.  The son wasn't interested (thus why the one pumpkin isn't carved out), but the daughter had a blast making hers (the one with the eyelashes *laugh*).

5.  I repaired another hole in the yellow comforter I try and keep on my bed.  I really like the comforter and tried to figure out a way to keep the comforter alive longer.  While on Amazon I found some duvet covers that were like 10.00 per set ( these ones associate link or anything, just sharing).  They are up to 25.00 per set, but I have to say that once I got them in the mail they are really good quality sets and hey for the 10.00 I paid for two off white sets and a one aloe green set, I am really happy with them.  Hopefully they will allow my poor comforter to live for a while longer since I won't have to wash the comforter as much this way.

6.  I took help where it was offered.  The missionaries always ask if they can help with anything when they come to visit and I always say, "No, I'm good.  Thanks."  I was so sick with the staph infection, though and I knew my husband desperately wanted to get some things done before snow started flying.  Things that included some heavy lifting.  Things I wasn't up to doing in my current state (and honestly, I doubt I'd be up to them yet...I still get winded easily after that whole mess).  So, I called the missionaries and asked for help.

They came over with a few other church members one day last week and helped to do a few quick things that the husband just plain needed help to get accomplished.  We repaid them for their kindness with lunch on the grill and Gatorade.  They were thrilled we asked for help, even though I still feel bad having to ask for it, as they need to do so much good will work as part of their mission.  And now, at least, we are a lot more prepared for snow fall.

7.  I was able to take advantage of a deal at Carrs where if you spent 100.00 in one shopping trip you'd get 10 gas rewards.  I spent little over 100.00 for the two weeks of groceries we'd need (I'm pretty set for Thanksgiving except for a few tiny things that I still have to get, so that helped to keep my costs down) and used one of the fuel rewards to load a coupon to my card for a free 18 pack of eggs (which I'll get the next time I go shopping).  I then used the fuel rewards to fill up my truck (which desperately needed gas with all the running to therapy and things I do), which saved me a bunch of money :).

8.  We had fun watching programs that were included with Amazon Prime on the TV at Halloween.  The kids really liked, "If You Give a Mouse a Pumpkin" and have even watched it a few times since Halloween.  I went on YouTube and looked up, "The Berenstain Bears Meet Big Paw" and the kids have been having fun watching that too, especially the son.  The daughter and I also fell in love with a BBC production of "Sense and Sensibility" that is available for free with Amazon Prime and we've watched it a few times.  The series starred the actor that played Mathew in "Downton Abbey" as Edward, which it is always fun seeing members of the cast in other places :).

9.  I was contemplating getting our cat, Prince, micro chipped as he's always losing his collar and escaping outside.  I was worried about how much it would cost when I suddenly, and quite fortunately, got a letter in the mail from the outfit this his micro chip is registered through offering me all kinds of services for twenty some dollars a year.  I didn't realize that the pound micro chips the animals, so I now have the microchip number and everything in the event I need it.  I was happy as this saved me a trip to the vet only to find out that the cat was already micro chipped *laugh*.

And there you go folks.  Some of the things that have happened around here of late.  How about you?  Had anything neat going on in your lives?

And, yeah,  I think I'm going to call it good there.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Monthly Goals: November, 2019

Our front yard as of yesterday.  We haven't gotten buried in snow yet, thank goodness, as there is still so much to do around here.  Not trying to brag or anything to those poor souls down South that have been getting buried in snow the last month...just grateful we aren't in that camp yet.

Right, first, I know the Frugal Friday/Savings post for the last bit is missing around here, but I'm just going to skip it until this Friday and try to get back onto a regular blogging schedule instead of doing the whole "skip two weeks and play catch up" thing I've been having to do since the earthquake pretty much.

I would have at least posted up an update the last couple of weeks, but the daughter and I sat down and discussed school schedules and she really wanted to take Halloween and the day after off from schoolwork, so I made a deal that if we worked through the previous weekend and worked ahead she could have those two days off.  And she did wonderfully, even going so far as to get an additional day of math done on top of it so she could have a relatively light day yesterday when we "started back to school".

This actually ended up being a Godsend for me as I woke up early last week with my mouth swelling up.  I, at first, thought it was an allergic reaction to something in the air, but after many doses of Benadryl and showers and everything it didn't go away and actually seemed to be getting worse, so off to the doctor's I went praying it wasn't an undiagnosed food allergy.  Turns out I have a staph infection.  Oddly enough I didn't feel bad, with the exception of the mouth of course, until I started the antibiotics.  They are working, but the infection keeps trying to pop up on different areas of my face (which the salve they gave me seems to keep that from becoming a problem).  The antibiotics have also given me a constant headache since I started taking them (which I guess is a common side effect from what the nurse was telling me) and I'm bone dead tired to the point that I've cancelled appointments, leaned on my husband heavily to get the kids from point A to point B for different activities and things and have thanked the good Lord many times that I have a pressure cooker so I only have to stand for limited periods of time to get dinner started before I can sit back down again. 

The nurse, when I called concerned late last week, warned me that staph can be a real pain to get rid of so be prepared to have to do more than one bout of antibiotics if I am not feeling well by day 9 out of 10 on the antibiotics.  I'm not there yet, so I'm praying that the first round of antibiotics kills it and I can start to feel better.

But, yeah, blogging hasn't been in the cards the last couple of weeks, unfortunately.

So, basically that's been my life the last couple of weeks or so.  I'll update a bunch more, hopefully, this Friday and get it all up to speed 100%, but in the meantime let's talk about monthly goals.

I've been in a constant state of taking one thing at a time since the earthquake.  Making lists and things would just completely overwhelm the husband and I both as we realized how much there was yet to do and it seemed like more and more would get added to the list and not much would be taken off.  But, since homeschooling started, I've found myself needing to do lists again or everything just gets behind because I'm a creature that needs to stay organized or things go to chaos too fast.  So, list writing begins anew!

I have a lot of varied things to do this month and it's all things I NEED to do, or in some cases get started on at least, or things will get really complicated in a bad way by the end of the month, so let's get to it!

Monthly Goals:  November, 2019

Repair/Rebuild Goals:
1.  At least START to repair various cracks and things in the master bedroom to get it ready to paint (I decided I am going to at least finish the downstairs and then move onto the's better than the random room repair and repainting I seem to have been doing up to this point. 
2.  Pay for bathroom vanity cabinets (they are on order now) and see if there is an ETA for the cabinets so the husband and I can figure out demolishing out what is left of the old cabinets. 
3.  Shop for new bathroom sinks for when the new cabinets come in.  Pick up more painter's tape. 
4.  Put den back together as much as possible.  Use old sewing cabinet, for now, to hold books that were removed from the bookcases to free up space and gets things a bit more usable in den (making shelves is on the husband's to do list, but he wants to do it right, so it's been slow going as he plans things).  Set up new printer for schoolwork and insurance renewal paperwork needs. 
Finish demolishing old love seat and demolish old couch (this is going very slowly as I've been doing it on my own due to my husband's schedule and things, but I'm getting there ever so slowly).  Set up new chairs.  Use some stuffing from old couch to make new throw pillows for chairs and upstairs love seat (I found that the fill for the love seat upstairs was actually really clean in places, so I'm thinking of reusing the fill from the couch if it is just as clean).  
5.  Set up multi-media shelves in living room to house some of the videos that are currently in boxes (I bought the shelves a while ago and have finally decided to set them up in the living room where they won't impact painting...I hope).
6.  Try and repair the retaining wall for the driveway before the snow flies and covers the stones (trying to avoid the husband taking out the snow blower on a huge stone or something that he can't see).  I'm going to try and get some help with this as my husband can't do it alone and I'm not sure what I will be up to doing.

Winter Preparation Goals:
1.  Take stock of pantry.  See if any holes need yet to be filled in the food storage department.   
2.  Start sauerkraut to ferment (I have the cabbage in the fridge and am hoping to do that this week). 
3.  Take stock of what is needed for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals so that I can pick those up ahead of time (before they are out of stock).  I THINK I'm pretty good on Thanksgiving at this point as I've been picking up things slowly the last few months, but I need to double check and see what I might still need. 
4.  Pick up a few cases of canned peaches (if I can ever get the energy to go to the bulk store and pick them up). 
5.  Get tires changed over on husband's car (done last Friday, so yay for that).

Christmas Prep Goals:
1.  Find a good spot to set up sewing machine to get ready to make Christmas gifts next month (I'm planning on keeping it simple with how our schedules are going, but I do have a list of things I want to make for the husband and kids if no one else).  Make sure sewing machine is oiled and ready to work. 
2.  Shop around for a new Christmas tree (I had to move the tree too many times since the earthquake and pieces are just falling off of it now...or should I say falling out of the box like husband and I looked at it, decided it wasn't worth the cost to repair it and are just going to find a new one...the kids will enjoy helping, I know, as Alvah has really gotten into the Christmas holiday the last few years, so hopefully we can at least have fun doing it).

General Goals:
1.  Schedule daughter for full dyslexia testing (she took the preliminary testing and definitely needs the full test done, so I am trying to get referrals and things figured out for the next steps). 
2.  Start kids on the "Christmas Around the World" unit that I put together after Thanksgiving (I think this is going to be a lot of fun for both kids :).  Do some Colonial crafts and history leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. 
3.  Defrost the bananas I put into the freezer when I got sick and make banana bread out of them (thank goodness I thought to do that before they went bad).  Make cranberry orange muffins to go with them for breakfast fare (hopefully I can do this soon as I want to make sure to keep up with the feeding therapy as we are making progress...slow progress, but progress!).
So, yeah, there's a lot to do this month yet, so hopefully I can get it all done :).  How about you?  Got things you need to get done this month?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Totally Saving Tuesday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This recap is times what, two?  Three?

It has been crazy, crazy busy around here.  But, in good ways for the most part.

It has been a madcap dash to our local mail depot to pick up package after package as school materials have come in the last few weeks.  We invested in a mail pick up service down the road from where we live so we can just go there and grab packages as they come in and that has been worth its weight in gold already.  The amount of time I have saved where I would have spent hours in line at the postal annex with two bored kids has been priceless.  Best investment I've made in a lot of years.

I went in for our contact teacher meeting to hook up the kids with home school curriculum and we found the daughter "Beyond the Page" which is a much more interactive way to learn things (which when I saw it I went, "I want THAT!  She'll do so well with that!" and I have, so far, been right) and paired that with a math program (math doesn't come with the curriculum).  With the son, that was harder as none of the "out of the box" curriculum were a good fit for him.  So, I ended up with "All About Reading" combined with beginning letter books and practice sheets, making up my own science curriculum for him as I go along and "Life of Fred" for math combined with "Touch Math" (a multi-sensory way of learning numbers) and am just basically making up my own curriculum for him, including feeding therapy.  It's been rough here and there the last week as I started to get more things done to work into the son's curriculum and the daughter and I found a groove in which to start getting her schoolwork done (her curriculum finally came in this last week :).

I went and spent more money than I ever have before at Michael's to get craft supplies for the kids for various projects.  I did, however, buy everything with a purpose in mind, so at least I wasn't randomly going in and just buying stuff :).  I was able to get a nice teacher discount at the register, since I guess I am one of those now.  Still getting used to that.

But, yeah, I'm kind of numb when it comes to how much money I've spent the last little bit.  Even though, up here anyway, we get an education allotment being in home school and I can put in for reimbursements for a lot of what I've bought, I still feel numb.  Spending large amounts of money goes so against the grain anymore, that even when I have good reason it still feels like I'm doing something wrong.  Probably not a BAD knee jerk reaction to have.

So in other news, one thing that has been able to happen the last weeks in home school is we are getting out and doing a lot more with the kids.  We don't want the kids to become shut ins at home and want to make sure they get a decent amount of social interaction and exercise.  The son has been getting a decent amount of social interaction at therapy and stuff, but we still want to make sure the kids get out and do things now.  So, I got busy finding things we could do.

So far, we have...

1.  Hit up a free event at our local experimental farm.  They ended up planting 144 different varieties of potatoes this year and did a bunch of irrigation experiments to see if it would help scab (spoiler:  It did) and now that harvest time for the potatoes were upon them, they took samples of all of the potatoes to study but they had a bumper harvest that they decided to pass onto the community if people were willing to come in and help dig the potatoes.  I IMMEDIATELY went and registered for the event as passing up free potatoes?  There was NO way I was going to miss that :).

They gave us a bag when we showed up, walked us through how the potatoes were laid out and let everyone go and pull the potatoes from the mud by hand (as we are now getting plenty of rain) and just go to work.  It was a lot of fun and everyone was polite and in a good mood, despite us all getting rained on.  The husband grabbed the kids, neither of whom wanted to help me pull potatoes and he walked them around the farm until I was done filling my bag.

My haul is seen above after I let the potatoes cure for a bit and then brushed the majority of the dried mud off of them.  Believe it or not you are looking at about 10 varieties of potatoes in that basket.

I found out that the local experimental farm tends to have free harvest events for the community after they donate a bunch to the local food banks if you are willing to show up and donate your labor, so I'm definitely keeping an eye on their events from this point onward :).

2.  Took the daughter to a free club that parental volunteers put together at the home school for kids around her age.  It was a GREAT way to get the daughter in with kids of her own age and they played a bunch of board games, did some art, talked a bunch, laughed a lot and overall had a great time.  The club meets several times a month, so I'm definitely making a point of taking the daughter to it.

3.  Took both of the kids to a free gym day for home school kids at our local Sports Center.  The daughter especially had a blast, but the regular gym class that the gym was pushing would have cost a fortune out of the kid's allotments to join (400.00 a quarter), so we passed on it for now.  We figure if we have money left of the allotment later in the year and the kids are going nuts we might sign them up for a quarter and get them extra exercise, but for now we decided to pass.

4.  Scheduled my daughter for a free dyslexia and learning disability screening at my son's therapy place.  I had seen online that they were going to have them at their Halloween party later in the month and texted my son's therapist (as she's also the owner) and asked her if I could schedule the daughter for testing.  She offered to do it for free this week instead, so wish us luck there.  I was able to cancel independent testing I'd scheduled elsewhere that was going to cost us 500.00 to get done (and was like me trying to pull out their teeth to get ANYTHING done in the way of sending me paperwork, giving me calls back, etc).  So, yay for finally, hopefully, finding out how to help my daughter to learn better.

5.  I was having major problems reading and so I ended up admitting defeat and scheduling an eye doctor's appointment when it got the point I couldn't read things I needed to (like receipts to double check what I'd bought at the store and things).  While cleaning out bookcases and cabinets in the den I found an old pair of prescription sunglasses that the frames were nearly brand new and decided to take them to the appointment with me in case I needed new glasses.

Good news:  My far sight is doing great and is remaining stable.

Bad news:  I needed reading glasses.

I decided to get reading glasses instead of bifocals because I can still read just fine to do things like drive, the only thing I can't do is read printed books without me having to find a sweet spot about two feet out from my body and that made reading fine print impossible.  I gave them my old sunglasses and asked if they could use the frames from those and they said sure!  AND they were able to make my new glasses at their own lab, so I only had to wait 15 minutes before I had my reading glasses in my hand.  Double bright side is that because I didn't need to pay the co-pay on the frames and only on the lenses I only ended up spending 25.00 on my reading glasses.  Definitely saved money!

6.  I took the kids in to get their flu shots.  They are covered by insurance so they cost us nothing and one more chore is done for the year.  Both of the kids did stellar at the appointment, which made me proud as the daughter tends to be terrified of needles.

7.  I ended up with a ton of bonus fuel rewards one week at Carrs and decided to use them at the pump instead of on food this time around as I have been doing a ton of running around to and from the home school and things.  I had so many fuel rewards from the bonus rewards (like I had 10x the fuel rewards if you spent 100.00 or more) that I was able to fill up my truck for a little more than 20.00!!!  I was thrilled!

8.  In other news, PFD's came in.  I used part of them to pay off the credit cards, pay for school supplies (things that I wanted to get, but didn't want to ask the school to reimburse me for) and used part of them to pay off my long standing dental bill that I've been paying on for YEARS.  It felt good to get at least one bill paid 100% off this year.

9.  I also used part of the PFD to get a few things we needed at the store.  Bright side is that due to the things I got earlier in the year I didn't need half as much as I would normally have needed.  I got pasta, some canned peaches (we were out actually out.  I only got 6 cans and will need to see what type of deal I can get on some bulk packages of cans), black olives and a few things like that, but overall we were pretty much stocked up on things.  It felt good to not have to spend a ton to stock up for winter this year, I have to say.

10.  I got the new love seat put together and got the old one ready to go to the dump, so that felt good.  Since the love seat ended up being white more than "cream" as they said it would be, I felt really glad that I bought a slipcover from Amazon (it was cheaper than through Target and had really good reviews) and put it right onto the love seat when I put it together.  The slipcover fits so well I swear it was made for our particular love seat so I went and ordered another one in a different color from Amazon so I will have a second one to put on the love seat when I am washing one of them (best possible way to assure that the new love seat stays in decent shape, I think).

11.  I found that I could listen to the soundtrack to "Poldark" through Amazon Prime, which thrilled me when I found out that a lot of the songs that were sung on the show were part of the soundtrack.  The daughter and I have been having a good time listening to the soundtrack during snack time and things while we are working on schoolwork.

12.  I've been watching horror movies and Halloween themed things since's October and all and I got to see a pretty decent documentary on how we got some of our Halloween traditions and myths and just the general history of the holiday.  The daughter actually enjoyed it more than I did, which surprised me and made me happy that she was enjoying learning about things.

I also watched, "The Woman in Black" a horror movie starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.  I didn't dislike the movie, but having watched some truly spooky and just out and out scary horror movies in my time (might I suggest the classic, "The Changeling" starring George C. Scott if you ever want to sleep with the lights on for a few days *laugh*) the movie was so slow getting started I nearly gave up on it.

For fun I also watched, "Clue" a movie that I have seen tons in my time and I NEVER cease to laugh while watching.  The daughter especially loved Tim Curry in it.

13.  I used a coupon I received in the e-mail to get money off of some Christmas gifts from Land's End for the daughter and son and was able to get free shipping with said code as well, no minimum purchase.  I was really thrilled to get the discount and the free shipping as it really made the clothing and shoes I got for the kids (including some new winter boots for the daughter) decently cheap.

14.  I also took advantage of an online sale at that if you bought 50.00 in toys you would get 10.00 off.  Since I spent over 35.00 I got free shipping (I made sure all the items I bought qualified before buying them) and essentially got a 10.00 toy for free after the sale.  Since with our schedule and the fact that I have at least one kid home for the most part now (with the exception of club meetings and other outings) I figure buying Christmas gifts online was the best possible option, I am really happy to stumble across good deals when I find them to help keep the costs down.

15.  One of the things that our new home school is great at is doing various field trips, but with a lot of kids in our area enrolled in said home school, our local field trips tend to fill up FAST.  I was having no luck signing up for the ones that popped up when we first signed up with the home school, but once I got my e-mail through the home school and talked to the field rep who told me she always posts up field trips on first thing Monday morning in her e-mail, I am totally on it.  So far, I have been able to sign up for my daughter and my mother-in-law to go and see a stage play next year for super cheap compared to normal prices (the theater is doing a special showing just for the home school at an extreme ticket discount).  I'm super excited for my daughter as I know she really loves plays and the ballet and things and she will have a blast at the event :).

And there you go folks.  Some of the ways we've saved money the last bit.  I hope your money saving efforts have been going well too.  I DO have plans to get back onto a more regular blogging schedule now that we are finally getting into a decent rhythm when it comes to school, so stay tuned for that, hopefully really soon :).

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Please Excuse Our Mess!  We Are Under Construction!

I looked at the date on my last post and feel terrible that it has been so long since I last blogged.  It's just been so crazy busy around here that time has passed at warp speed.  Or so it seemed to me.

Geez, what has been going on around here.  Lots.

So, let's start from the first things that pop into my mind.

One of the big ones, for me, is...

We finally have a working chimney!!!!!!!!!!!  Woohoo!!!!!!

The past couple of weeks my husband has been burning the candle at both ends getting the chimney done and the furnace up and working again and it was so awesome to fire it up.  It is making more noise than it used to (I desperately need to deep clean the furnace and we might have to jack it up to get it more level as I think the earthquake knocked it off of some shims it had under it.  It's doing its job, though, so I'm happy :).

The second thing that has been going on is that we are still not officially starting home school yet.  It has been a crazy last few weeks going to one appointment after another, one meeting after another and getting the paperwork all in and processed to begin home school officially.  With Alvah being special needs the process takes a lot longer with the sheer amount of paperwork attached to him.

And then, long story, but after a lot of talking and a lot of soul searching and then more talking with the daughter, we finally decided to home school her as well.  She has a lot of holes in her education that you could drive a truck through and struggles with math and reading.  I've tried to get her tested for learning disabilities, but the school has always said that since she wasn't flunking they weren't overly concerned about it.  Even though she still has letter reversal and other problems going on.  I was going to go and get her independently tested as she's behind in reading and math, but I was going to keep her in school for social interaction.

And then she was listening as my husband and I were talking about the field trips and other get togethers that the home school does on a regular basis and asked if she was homeschooled could she go to those get togethers and make friends.  I was confused and drilled her about her friends that she had kept since elementary school that were in school with her now and in some cases were in classes with her and she explained that she never really got to talk to her friends or do anything with them because of the way the school was run.  That scratched my brain and I remembered talking to her about her friends and how they were doing more than once, only to have her tell me that she had eaten alone at lunch because she couldn't find any of her friends even if she was in the same lunch as them and stuff.  I realized very quickly that my little girl had been really lonely since she had left elementary school  (which she also explained after we got her to open up about it) and had been toughing out the feelings of social isolation so she wouldn't bother us with stuff like that.  At that point we were done and enrolled her in home school last week.  I go in this coming week to order curriculum for the kids with their contact teacher (which I already got Alvah a really good reading program called "All About Reading" and stuff, but am looking forward to the help with putting together a learning program for Armina).

I have been working on researching everything and working on learning "units" for the kids so I can teach both kids with similar topics on the surface but then go in different paths to better teach their different needs.   I'm actually kind of enjoying it.  I'm determined we are going to learn, yes, but we're going to have fun while doing it!  And I'm incorporating cooking lessons and feeding therapy into their lessons, so both kids will pick up life skills (I hope) while we are learning about standard and metric measurements and mainstream schoolwork types of things :).

Right that leads into the next thing that has been going on which is that I had to think of a place to set up a school room area that the kids could concentrate in.  I immediately realized that the den was the best, and only really, choice to do it, so I've been working on repairing the walls and ceiling and then repainting the den.

This is a huge undertaking for painting and things as the den is pretty much the same size as my kitchen and living room combined and is our catch all room, so it's got a lot of stuff to move around.  After painting is done we are going to get rid of the falling apart couch, get rid of some other stuff and then build bookcases everywhere to turn the den into a library and school room.  Bright side, I'm nearly done on the painting end!  So, yay for that!!!

Now that both kids are home, I've been waking up early the past few days and getting as much done as I can before the kids wake up for the day, which has helped me to get painting done or household jobs before I have to worry about juggling other things.  I'm hoping to keep up the schedule (which is kind of hard as I've been staying up really late too), as I find I like the alone time to get things written down for the day or other things and, of course, just getting more stuff done period.

Right, so a few frugal things that have happened the last couple of weeks.  I'm just going to cover a couple and see about going into more detail, perhaps this coming Friday as there's a lot going on around here and I haven't had time to make a list of it all.

1.  I took advantage of a free event in our area and we went and took a walking tour of our local experimental farm.  The son had a blast, the daughter got cold and was having a hard time concentrating (the temps were in the 30's and there was a lot of standing around and listening, so your ears and nose got cold if you weren't moving and then her feet got cold and she was cold by the end of the tour for sure), I learned a lot and got excited about some of the stuff they were working on, the husband had a good time as well.  While there I learned of another free event happening this week that I've already signed up to attend.

2.  I went and looked at a few places before purchasing some school things for the kids so I would get the best price.

3.  I found some textbooks I wanted to buy for myself on feeding therapy (I couldn't find anything at the local library in the vein I wanted) and asked on a Special needs group I belong to if anyone had a copy of the books I could borrow.  One of the ladies in the group had both books I wanted to read and was super kind enough to convert the books to PDF and e-mail them to me!

4.  We got to start swimming again the last few weeks.  The kids are loving being back again and I'm super glad that the son hasn't lost any skills while we were on break.

While talking to her swimming teacher my husband found that she is going to have a "boot camp" for people interested in becoming lifeguards where they will learn CPR and things.  My husband, knowing how much my daughter loves to swim and how much she loves to teach others, brought up how good of a job being a lifeguard is again to the daughter.  Their swimming teacher, who considers the daughter one of her favorite people, offered to let her come to the boot camp for free and learn CPR and just see what the program is like so she's informed for the future.  We're really encouraging the daughter to go if for no other reason than knowing how to do CPR (even if not certified or anything) is a really valuable skill to know.  And to learn it for free would definitely be worthwhile!

5.  One of the things I found that I really wanted to get the son for homeschool was a device that integrates technology and it called for an I-Pad or a Kindle.  I didn't want to use his talker I-Pad for it and our other I-Pad is way too old to be compatible, so I decided to get a Kindle and was able to jump on a sale where the Fire 7 was on sale for 29.99.

6.   I made banana bread tonight to use up a couple of bananas that were definitely over ripe.  The daughter was at a friend's birthday party with her dad and the son acted interested in what I was doing, so he helped me make banana bread :).  He even smelled the bananas!!!  I know a lot of people would be like, "Smelling?  Really?" but seriously with him just letting it near his face was a big deal, so I am super happy and proud of him.  And hey, the bread came out awesome, so well done, Alvah!

And, yeah, that's about where I'm going to call it good.  Sorry I don't have more to wow you with, but it's been crazy busy around here just covering the few projects I mentioned above.

How about you all?  How are things going around your places?