Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

Enjoy the shot from inside my fridge from a few days back.  I should have taken an up to date picture, but plain forgot *laugh*.

Well, one of my goals for this year was to get back on the menu planning bandwagon, so I was happy that I was able to sit down today and make a menu for this week.  I sat down while my son was in therapy and used my smart phone to look up the ads for the week, figure out if there was anything we absolutely we could not live without that was on sale (there wasn't) and then started to build the menu plan from what I had in the house.  And here's what I came up with for this week.

Wednesday:  Meatloaf (use rest of hamburger in fridge), baked potatoes, salad.  Strawberries (defrosted and mixed with sugar) over ice cream for dessert. 
Thursday:  Pizza and breadsticks 
Friday:  Roast chicken, stuffing, green beans.  Pumpkin pie (use pie in freezer) for dessert. 
Saturday:  Easy to stuff Manicotti, home made bread, salad 
Sunday:  Pork chops, rice, applesauce 
Monday:  Chicken tortellini (use leftover roast chicken) with vegetables (whatever needs to be used up in freezer) 
Tuesday:  Beef Roast, roasted carrots and potatoes, home made bread

To bake:  Bread (Saturday), cookies (Saturday, for after school treats)

Breakfasts:  Mini Breakfast bakes (in air fryer), french toast with bacon and fruit, toast with butter and jam

And there you are folks.  My menu plan for the week.  How about you?  Planning anything good to eat this week?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Totally Saving Tuesday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Wow!  I finally found the time and energy to blog.  Yay!

I've been super busy around here lately and then combine that with a nasty cold my son brought home with him from school, which he then gave to my husband and myself and's been a rough go of it energy-wise the last couple of weeks.  Somehow despite it all I managed to get things done.  

The last couple of weeks saw me have to go in for a bunch of different appointments on top of normal stuff.  I had my son's IEP last week, which went okay, I suppose.  I had to answer a whole new scad of questions about if I'd tried this or that type of feeding therapy with him as they want to try more intensive feeding therapies at school (which I warned them about how he'd turn on food and starve himself if you pushed him too far, so to be careful, but was totally okay with them doing feeding therapy for sure) and they got kind of disheartened when they found out that I'd tried everything they'd suggested for at least a year or more with him.  Bright side is that his diet is SLOWLY, ever SO slowly, expanding.  He'll play with apple slices at the table now and scrape little bits off and put them in his mouth.  For him that's a big step, so I'm hopeful that maybe something will start to stick with him.  

At least he's growing well.  We went to his psychologist appointment and found out that he'd grown two inches in the last three months and had lost three pounds, so the doctor's are super happy with his weight and as for height he's huge for his age, so they definitely have no complaints.  

Past that we had our normal scheduled stuff which got kind of waylaid due to the cold the son brought home and just trying to get things done around the house and stuff, so let's get to all of that "stuff" and how we managed to save money the last couple of weeks.

1.  I completely gutted my hallway closet this week and reorganized it from top to bottom.  It was a huge mess of stuff everywhere after the earthquake, but the door closed after unceremoniously stuffing things back in the door, so I kind of just shut the door and ignored it to get to other things that needed to be done first.  Once my new mixer came in, though, I knew that I needed to do some reorganizing as I had some plans to free up counter space in my kitchen by making the hallway closet more functional.  So, the final results are up top there.

I took the white baskets that used to sit on top of my water softener in the pantry and used them to store some of the son's school snacks, mainly his Cool Ranch Doritos and Cheetos.  I took the blankets that used to be on the top shelf and stored them in my "oh my Gosh everything is stuffed into this sucker" master bedroom closet.  I've got plans to organize that as well, but one step at a time.

I do like the new organization to the hallway closet, although losing one shelf that I had used to store food made storage a bit tight.  It is nice having the mixers off of my kitchen counters though and everything being stored within easy reach is nice as well.  Having the food processor off of the top of the kitchen cabinets (it was so tall it was the only spot I could find to store it before...I adjusted the height of the shelves in the hallway closet after gutting everything out of it) will make it that much easier to use as well, which is definitely going to be kinder on my arms and back having to lift that sucker down from over my head.

I kept my new canner in the box nice and safe (paranoid I am) and placed it on the top shelf of the closet as well and then stored things like my canning lids and canning tools by it so it'll be all ready to go come canning season.  I was even able to fit my brining bucket for the Thanksgiving turkey up on the top shelf as well, which was always a pain trying to find somewhere to store it before.  I put some small Tupperware containers that I don't use too often in the bucket to keep them up and out of the way.  

2.  I found a microwave cart on Amazon that was on a daily deal thing decently cheap and I had desperately wanted something to help expand space in the kitchen a little bit, so I ordered it as it would fit in the small spaces I had available in the kitchen.  I had hoped to put the microwave on said cart, but when I put it together the "standard microwave" that the description said it would hold should have read "dorm microwave" because there was NO way the microwave was going to fit on a cart that small.  But, I quickly figured out other uses for the cart. 

I moved the block freezer into the living room for now as I'm using it and couldn't fit everything that was in it into the other freezers at the moment (frozen milk takes up a bunch of space, it seems) and put it next to the sideboard for the time being.  I reorganized the top of the sideboard to fit the new microwave.  The new microwave is smaller than my old one (on purpose as I don't use the microwave for as much as I used to), so I had to move some things around to make it all work, but I got there.  

After I moved the block freezer I put the new cart in the hole that was left by the freezer in the kitchen and then put things on it that I was always trying to find room for as they were a bit awkward to store (like the Pullman pan and the muffin tins).  I ended up placing the new pressure cooker on top of the cart to not only have a good place to use it (since it's out in the open air versus under a cabinet it will work a lot better for venting steam), but I also found I had to place something on top of it to keep the cats off of the top of it, so it did me a double benefit being on top of the cart.  I then placed Sputnik (the air fryer) on the bottom shelf along with the new blender (the above picture is missing the blender jar as it's in the dishwasher when I took the photo) so they were easily accessible (and I don't have to haul the air fryer down from on top of the fridge whenever I want to use it, which is quite often anymore).

3.  Shopping went well this week.  I was able to pick up some meat decently cheap and got some pork ribs on personalized price for decently cheap, got some thin cut steaks for 50% off, picked up some bacon on manager's special for 3.50 lb (well for, what, 12 oz or whatever bacon is down to now per package) and picked up spiral sliced hams on sale for 1.29 lb.  I picked up two and we cut up one and used it for lunch meat the last week.  

On the produce end I have to say the biggest score was I had a personalized price of 2.99 per 10 lb bag of potatoes, so I got two.  My daughter has found that she likes home made oven fries, which are actually so easy to change up the flavors of and make decently healthy, so I was happy to pay out for the potatoes as making these things myself is SO much cheaper than buying the store bought bags of fries and things.

4.  I got an offer from an online spice company to take a survey and you would get a 5.00 credit.  This was enough to order one spice blend for free from them, so I took the survey and got a spice blend for cheaper than I could buy one at the store (since I had to pay a minimal shipping charge).  This was a small business I had ordered from in the past and they had taken FOREVER to ship my order both times I had ordered from them, so I had kind of boycotted buying from them after that.  They actually stalked my e-mail and begged me and others to give them another try as they had improved their inventory and shipping speed and things, so I decided to give them another shot.  And I was pleasantly surprised as my order got shipped immediately and I received it in good time.  

I really liked several of their spice blends when I had originally ordered from them (I had ordered a killer deal through Groupon a good number of years ago to try out their products), so I tucked away this experience in the back of my mind to maybe order some of those spice blends later on if, and when, I had the money and opportunity to do so.

5.  I ordered a free  magazine subscription from Freebizmag.

6.  I got one of my break down of benefits sheets in the mail from my insurance company and was happy to see it was the breakdown of the urgent care visit I had gone in for back in October.  I found that the urgent care was going to owe me 99.00, so I called their office last week (which I had to play phone tag for quite a while until I got to the right person) and asked if they had any idea when I'd be getting my refund check in the mail.  They hadn't gotten paid by the insurance company yet when I called, but she told me to call back this week and make sure to stay on top of it as she said as SOON as they got paid she'd put a rush on my refund check as she knew after the earthquake people could definitely use the extra money.

7.   I was going to make tacos for dinner last night, but discovered we were out of black olives.  Instead of running to the store I came up with another plan for dinner and just rolled with it, thus saving me having to waste gas for a special trip to the store.

8.  I had a couple of pairs of jeans that were starting to fall completely apart, so I went to the used store and was able to find a couple of pairs of jeans in near brand new shape for 5.00 per pair.  They were designer label jeans (which I could care less about names on clothes, honestly) and seemed to be of really good quality, so I am hoping they'll last me for quite a while.

9.  I started to put things that were in Rubbermaid totes around the house away bit by bit this week.  I'm praying that I waited long enough and we don't get some nasty aftershocks that will knock everything off of the shelves again, but there comes a point where you have to just hope it'll work out and put things away.  I was tired of tripping over totes of videos and things.  

10.  I mended some holes that had appeared in some of the comforters.  Still have more to go, but at least I made some progress.

And there you are folks.  Some of the stuff I've been up to the last couple of weeks.  I'm sure there is more, but honestly I've been so busy and not feeling great I just didn't think to write things down as I did them.  So, how have you been?  Getting stuff done around your place?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019: Yearly Goals

Okay, so first I'm sure a lot of people are saying, "Hey, you forgot your 'Year in Review' post" when it comes to 2018.  Well, I tried.  Really I did!  I have worked and reworked a post about 2018 about fifteen times in my head over the last week and a half and I finally came to the conclusion that writing about it at the moment is just depressing as all get out and honestly?  I just plain don't want to relive last year, even through a blog post.  There was a lot of cruddy to muck through to get to some nice things that happened last year and I just didn't want to go through it all again. 

So, instead, I decided that the best thing to do was to just plain close the door on last year and just move on as well as I'm able to work up from this point on.  It just seemed more productive somehow.

Ironically, after saying all of that about not wanting to relive 2018, the one huge goal I have for 2019 is this...
After.  One step at a time.
Recover from 2018. 

I have a lot to recover from due to everything that happened last year and that is what is taking up my time, my energy and my resources until...who knows when, so it seemed like the best goal I could come up with.

The disaster assistance inspectors came and inspected the house this week, which was definitely a good thing and got us moving in a forward direction when it came to getting some assistance in fixing the house.  I looked at the paperwork they handed me and I found that the grant everyone can get is only up to about 17,000.00 per household, which works for us as my husband is pretty confident we can get the chimney replaced for that much, but it makes me sad for so many others who lost their homes to the earthquake and realizing that 17,000.00 isn't going to go very far at all for those poor folks. 

I also just wanted to say, "Thank you" one more time because it truly needs to be said.  Due to the generosity of others I have a working kitchen and appliances (well mixer should be here tomorrow :), a working spice cabinet, a working laundry, children who were able to get their lives back to as close to normal as we can get at the moment (thanks to new DVD's that their partners got destroyed in the quake and familiar and loved snacks), the ability to can food for next winter and was able to see a doctor without freaking out how I was going to be able to pay for it.  I feel really and truly blessed in so many ways in the middle of so much loss and struggle.  So, thank you once again! 

So, right, onto the other goals for 2019!

1.  Repair the damages from the earthquake.

This one is going to be ongoing and rough I'm sure.  I'm still not sure what condition things are going to be in come break up because the ground is going to defrost and then we'll see what kind of damage that might reveal and goodness knows what condition the outbuildings will be in when that happens, or the road, or our's a big ol question mark until that happens.

Th first priority is getting the chimney ripped down, the roof capped properly and a new chimney put in.  Hopefully the disaster assistance will pay for that...we should know in about 2 to 3 weeks what we're looking at in the way of assistance.  Along with the chimney getting replaced I'm also going to have to figure out our electric bills and how to get that all back under control as the disaster assistance isn't going to help us pay that it looks like, but I have faith it'll work out somehow.  We've had some nasty aftershocks the past couple of weeks with the 5.0 last week and we've had at least three over a 4.0 this week (one a 4.7 that went on for too long from what people were saying...we were actually at the pool with the kid's swimming lessons so we didn't feel that one thank goodness), so I'm worried about what damage might still occur from the aftershocks, so we're just taking it one step at a time around here.  Nails are popping out of the walls more and more everyday, cracks get larger, the kid's bathroom the vanity separated completely from the wall and needs to be completely reattached to everything...the list goes on.

But yeah, the earthquake and recovering from it are the main priority bar none.

2.  Pump up the food storage/Recover the Food Stores

I lost so much food storage last year.  Between the mice, the earthquake and the larder beetles and the fact that I couldn't put in a was rough on my food stores.  So, this year I'm hoping to start to rebuild my food storage to a decent amount.

I thought about it and a lot of what I'd like to put up is canned/tinned foods that are good for 10 to 30 years at a time.  This will allow me time to rotate out my food storage without worrying about rotating it as often as home canned foods and with them being in metal cans I don't have to worry about mice eating into them or bugs or earthquakes breaking them.  So, my goal is to hopefully take out 25.00 a month and to buy a few cans of food storage with that 25.00.  This money will come out of my normal food budget as that's the only place I'm going to have money to use toward that goal. 

I am also hoping to find some money, or if I can route out the materials around here to build with materials I have on hand, and make some shelves for my master bedroom closet.  The main purpose of these shelves is to, hopefully, work to hold the cans of food storage in a nice, and organized, fashion (since my main pantry is pretty tiny and I kind of need it for other things) to make it easier to rotate my food storage around as needed.  I'm figuring I don't need a HUGE area or anything, but I definitely want to get more organized when it comes to my food storage and things this year.  The earthquake really hammered home to us how much we needed to focus more on getting the whole situation with the loss of food stores last year resolved and in a way that was safe from vermin and aftershocks as much as possible.

Hopefully this will work out. 

3.  Prep for Success in the Kitchen

I have thought and thought about how to make things a bit easier for me in the kitchen as I find I get behind on the menu planning and things with how hectic life gets and I'm scrambling, again, to get food on the table and make things that the family actually want to eat.  So, I have worked really hard the last month to figure out how to make things work better and more efficiently, especially since time being a precious commodity has taken on whole new levels of meaning with everything I've found myself juggling of late..

I'm hoping to cook with beans more this coming year to add more protein to our diet, which means pressure cooking as making beans in a pressure cooker is SO much easier than in like a crock pot or something.  My sister bought me a electric pressure cooker for a late birthday gift and it should be in by Friday.  It's a Gourmia pressure cooker versus an Instant Pot, but it got good reviews, so I think it'll be fine for me (she was all worried as she couldn't really afford to get me an Instant Pot and I had to assure her that I had a Crockpot Express before because I didn't want to pay for an Instant Pot either *laugh*).  I did love having an electric pressure cooker for things like beans and making meat super fast on nights that just everything was conspiring to make you have to eat out, so I was really touched and thrilled when she told me that. 

In other news, so many things broke or have broken since the quake I feel weird as it seems every time I turn around I find myself facing a new appliance or having to order a new appliance.  The latest one I'm having to replace is the blender attachment for my Viking mixer *sigh*.  It seems in one of the aftershocks we've had of late the blender jar hit something in my sideboard just right and started to crack...or the main quake did it and I just didn't notice at the time...I'm not sure.  It's working still, but it's got a slow leak in it and I don't know how much longer it will last, so I wanted to make sure I had a back up plan.  I have a spare blender jar for my Viking around here SOMEWHERE, but I honestly am not sure if it is in the house or the storage van...I suspect the later, which means I'll find it in one piece or broken sometime this year hopefully, so yeah...a second blender it is.  Luckily I had some Amazon credit and I used some of that to order a new Oster blender that was decently inexpensive and got good reviews, so here's hoping it does everything I need it to do until we can afford to buy the type of blender my husband would like me to own (he wants to get a nice commercial grade one that parts are readily available for and is able to be worked on, and fixed, easily, but those are outside of my price range at the moment). 

Anyway, with all the new appliances and things that I'm going to be getting used to in the kitchen this year I can safely say it'll be a year of experimentation for sure.

4.  Reorganize, Reorganize, Reorganize!

This is one that I've actually been doing as I clean up things after the quake, but I'm still hoping to expand it as I go along.  I'm trying to see the silver lining in losing so much stuff and so I'm really trying to think of this as an opportunity to streamline how I organize things around the kitchen and elsewhere.

Some of these things are having to get done out of necessity.  Like I want to put any casserole dishes or other breakable baking things that are left down LOW, like in lower cabinets, so that they are way less likely to get broken during aftershocks and things, so that means completely redoing the kitchen make stuff as earthquake "friendly" as possible.  This will hopefully reduce damage during the coming months as we continue to get aftershocks. 

I'm also hoping to keep things like my new canner in boxes and packaging as much as possible until I need to use them for something to help protect them as much as I can during the coming months as well, which means that I am going to have to find room to do that as well.  I'm hoping to find room in the hallway closet for both food and appliances, which means other things need to get put somewhere else or otherwise get taken care of.  I'm determined to figure it all out, get some type of "system" going and move forward from there.  Things have been so chaotic that I'm seriously craving organization, order and stability.  I might not be able to control the "stability" aspect in things, but I can try to wrestle some sense of control out of a pretty uncontrollable situation.  So, I'll be working on that in the coming months.

5.  Move Forward.

I'm determined, somehow, to move forward this year.  Finances are uncertain, we have a bunch of new debt to juggle and other things to worry about, but I'm determined to somehow work it out, get it figured and start to work our way out of the hole we are in, again.  Luckily with my husband and family behind me I have a great team at my back, so I'm sure we'll find new ways to save money and get done what needs to be done while doing it, somehow.  I'm praying with every molecule that makes up every fiber of my being that we have a good year, financially and otherwise.  I desperately need it to be.  I have hope. 

One way I'm hoping to move forward this year is to start up my monthly goals again.  I find that I get more done when things are written down, so with the ever expanding list of things to get done around here I'm figuring that doing goal lists can not hurt to get those list of things accomplished.  So, be on the lookout for that.

I know this list isn't really all that long in the goals department, but man I feel like I'm staring down a very long, twisty highway and the weather is uncertain, visibility is poor and I'm worried about what could be in the road ahead as I start out on the journey this year.  I actually feel gun shy to even step up and tackle the year at this point as I feel kind of beaten down at this point.  Last year gave me a lot of grey hairs, for sure.  A good portion of myself wants to find some well entrenched fox hole, slap a helmet on my head and just take cover and pray that things pass over, but I know that things don't get done that way and it wouldn't be any better once I finally climbed out of my hole. 

So, as I climb into my spiritual tank and start off down the road ahead, may God watch over us, may the visibility be good, the road clear, the view nice and the missles getting launched in our general direction be few and not devastating. 


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Man, this week (last week, whatever you want to call it) was busy.  I started this post yesterday, but was so busy with cleaning and things I just didn't get it done until today.  Hopefully things will start to tone down at some point so we can take it easy and rest for a few days.  It'd be nice.

Can I just say it's COLD here right now?  The temp outside this morning was reading -20 and it's cold in the house because of it.

The temperature has tanked outside the last week, actually, which is pretty typical of January and the electric heat, while keeping the pipes from freezing and keeping it warm enough in the house so wer'e not going to freeze to death or anything...I'm sitting around in a heavy fleece sweat shirt, wrapping up in a blanket and am still cold and the heat is cranked up pretty darned high in all of the rooms.  We got a general contractor to come over and evaluate the damages to the house and things so we'll have a good estimate to show the disaster relief inspectors when they show up to inspect the house (it is one of the things they ask for, so I'm glad to get that done).  I was glad he was able to make time for us as the chimney lost another like 1/2 of a brick the other day after we had nasty winds all night long and I SWEAR it sounded like the chimney was collapsing when that one little half brick went.  You could have peeled me and the cat (that was sitting on my lap at the time) off the ceiling when that happened.

The general contractor did tell us, which backed up what the disaster relief people told me when I've called a couple of times to see if I could get an update on time tables and things (which they couldn't really help me on time tables, but hey, it's worth a shot), that because our main source of heat is out we should be bumped up the list of homes to get disaster assistance.  So, here's hoping they come soon or it's going to get to the point where we are going to have to figure out SOMETHING to get the chimney torn down, capped, and then formulate some type of plan to get the chimney replaced and get the heat turned back on.  I got our electric bill in for last month (which kicked on November 23rd, so we even had a week or so reprieve on the bill before the earthquake upped the bill through the roof) and it was about as brutal as I feared (thank goodness for budget billing at times like this!), but at this point I'm just going to keep track of how much it adds up to extra and see what our tax return ends up being and see if I can put some money aside to cover it, just in case.  I was wondering about oil run electric heaters and supplementing with those a bit, but when my husband brought up the safety hazard they presented with Alvah around, I quickly realized that a child in the burn ward was not going to save us anything and shelved that idea.

Cleaning, it seems, is finally getting somewhere around here, which is definitely an upper. We've gotten the upstairs at least back up to functional again and today we hauled off another big load of stuff to the dump, which helped to free up room and make things look like less of a mess. Which was another upper to the mood for sure.  I've started to tackle our master bedroom closet and try and find some new semblance of order to it, as I've had to put the Christmas decorations away in there for now as they normally go out on our storage van and there is NO WAY that's going to be a place to put the decorations away anytime soon.

We had some pretty nasty aftershocks last week, which we haven't had any in a couple of days that we can feel, which actually has my nerves as on edge as getting them as I'm like, "Man, are we going to have another bad one now?"  The aftershocks were hitting at least once a day last week it seemed, one day we had three even, and they were ranging from 3.6 up into the upper four range.  We even got a 5.0 on New Years Eve, which was bad enough to scare the crud out of everyone and by the time it ended we were all in the doorway scared to death that we were getting another bad quake.  It was easy staying up till midnight that night and I welcomed in the New Year for the first time in years...normally I just go to bed.

Aftershocks after a quake like the 7.0 of November 30th can go on for months and there are a lot of shot nerves up here right now from them.  The one bit of comfort I've found in all of this was liking "The Alaska Earthquake Center" on Facebook.  They have given updates after each aftershock, are tracking the aftershock pattern (which is tracking normally, which is good) and when they put out an article where they combined all of the energy released from the initial quake versus the energy released from the aftershocks (all 6000+ of them) it turns out that the aftershocks have only released 10% of the energy as the initial quake did.  THAT was comforting as every time there is a bad aftershock everyone freaks (including me) that November 30th might be happening all over again.  We all have earthquake PTSD at this point up here.  We're all just trying to get back to a point where we can live our lives normally again.  With each bad aftershock that gets pushed back and nerves run high again.  It's rough, but we're all getting through.

My birthday went so so.  The son was in a kind of needy and cranky mood due to the uptick in the aftershocks, so I ended up making a cake mix and throwing the son's beloved Pillsbury frosting on top of it and calling it good.  I had hoped to make pound cake or angel food cake for dessert instead, but that just wasn't in the cards.  Hopefully I'll be able to make some a bit later on.  Since the family hadn't gotten me presents for my birthday (I can't IMAGINE what other things the family had to focus on *slight laugh*) I guilted (ahem, scuse me, "convinced") the daughter into helping me clean the upstairs for my birthday instead.  My husband brought me home a Cinnabon for breakfast a bit later in the week as a late birthday gift and that was pretty awesome (cinnamon rolls are my weakness :) and I ate it for breakfast over two days (those things are HUGE!).

Right, so let's get onto the money saving things that happened this week.

1.  Coffee has been a huge Godsend the last month, even more so than normal.  Heat, comfort and caffeine in a cup just can't be beat at this point.  So, I was thrilled to get coffee this week!

I went to Carrs to get a few groceries a few days after Christmas and was thrilled to find seasonal coffee on reduced 50% off.  I dug out a Signature select one as I had a 1.00/1 coupon loaded for the Signature Select bagged coffee loaded onto my card.  Between sale, discount and coupon (as well as a personalized 10% off of Signature Select breakfast items, which for some reason took the 10% off the coffee...not complaining!) I got a bag of coffee for 1.85!  I have no idea how the coffee tastes as I didn't read it closely enough and I guess it is supposed to taste like it has white chocolate in it (I'm hoping it tastes okay as flavored coffee is hit or miss with me), but I'm hopeful it'll taste good.

I also got a few jars of mince meat on clearance for 50% off (which came out to about 2.00 and some change per jar after a coupon I had for it loaded onto my card) as I didn't have a chance to buy mincemeat on normal holiday sales and was happy to find it.  And I got some Christmas themed gallon sized freezer bags on clearance for 50% off which after I realized they were on sale as well ended up being about 1.75 for the box.  I would have gotten a few more boxes for that price, but could only find one, but hey a box of 28 for 1.75 I was happy with.

In other Christmas clearance finds this year, we went to Target to see if we could score cheap wrapping paper as after like five years the wrapping paper I had bought on clearance 90% off finally was running out.  I was kind of disappointed as it seems Target isn't immediately putting their wrapping paper and things on clearance 75% to 90% off right away.  The wrapping paper was only 50% off, but since we were there I just grabbed a few multi-packs of wrapping paper and called it good.  We still walked away spending less than 6.00 for all the wrapping paper and it'll last me years, so it was an okay find.

I went to Carrs yesterday to take advantage of value packs of chicken being on sale for 5.00 and a few other really nice sale items that I wanted to get and was happy to find the Christmas things on clearance for 75% off.   I was able to pick up a few bags of bows for .37 per bag (my son LOVES to play with the bows, so it was worth it) and a thing of gift tags for .27.

2.  This was a pretty cool find, so I am actually pretty excited to share this.  With my dough hook not working right on my mixer and my husband and I realizing that the mixer was going to need to be replaced eventually (since fixing it with no parts being available isn't really an option) and things, I started looking around to see what I might want to replace said mixer with.  Now, mind you, I was looking way into the future here and while I had a little bit of money set aside to help pay for one (thanks to some birthday money from family and a friend of mine) I figured it was just going to have to be a start of a slush fund to either get a new dough hook (if one ever popped up on E-bay) or a new mixer or bread maker.  So I started researching mixers.  I looked into Kitchen Aid, but was unhappy when I read more and more reviews and seeing what kind of corners Kitchen Aid had started to cut over the years, so I decided Kitchen Aid was a "no".  The only other industry standard I could think of was Bosch as that is the mixer that a lot of people I knew had and swore by it.  When I had bought my Viking I had looked into the Bosch, but there was some quality control things that had come up with the Bosch that I didn't like, so I had passed up on the Bosch and gone with the Viking.  It seemed that Bosch had gotten those issues under control over the years and was back to being a mixer everyone raved about, but it was also nearly 500.00 for the mixer!  That was not going to be in my price range for a long while, so I put that name aside and kept looking around to see what else was out there.  And I stumbled across a pretty neat deal.

Bosch owns Nutrimill, who up till now is best known for making grain mills.  Recently Bosch opened up Nutrimill in the US to make mixers over here from what I read (Bosch is a German company) under the Nutrimill name.  But, here's the cool part.  The Nutrimill mixer is a bit less powerful than the Bosch Professional mixer (650 watts versus 800 watts) and comes without the ability to run the blender and food processor attachments (which I have a food processor and can definitely find a blender later), BUT all of the Bosch attachments other than the two mentioned fit into the Nutrimill Artiste mixer (bowls, cookie paddles, the works) and are made to be compatible with the Bosch. The kicker is that the Nutrimill Artiste mixer is a LOT less than the Bosch!  Like nearly within my budget affordable.

I was 58.00 short to buy the Artiste mixer and was trying to figure out what to do as I wanted to order the mixer before it went up in price (as it was a pretty new mixer to the market I knew it was only a matter of time before it started going up in price big time) and then I saw a little ad blurb on Amazon about opening an Amazon Prime card and getting a 60.00 credit.  Since the same bank that runs the Care Credit card also ran the Amazon Prime card (and my husband had been wanting to get a dedicated credit card for Amazon purchases anyway so we didn't have to use our check cards so much online), which I have a really good history with that bank (Care Credit is the only thing I have on my credit at this point) I applied, got approved, and ordered the mixer and thanks to the 60.00 credit on approval I have enough money to cover the mixer 100%.  I even have six months to pay the mixer off interest free, so if unforeseen expenses pop up before the bill comes in (which after the earthquake it seems like life is just taken up with unforeseen expenses) I'll have time to pay the mixer off in the next six months (I have the money set aside, though, and am planning on just paying the bill off when it comes's hoping that works out).

But, yeah, if you want a high quality mixer, but four to five hundred dollars is outside of your price range, check out the Nutrimill Artiste mixer.  It might just be within your budget (and no, I'm not representing anything here, I'm just excited about finding a mixer within my budget that people rave about *laugh*).

3.  For a Christmas gift to the family we got a Roku stick for the TV in the living room with part of the gift card my sister sent us for Christmas.  This worked out really great for the son as he's found himself somewhat obsessed with a few shows on YouTube and being able to stream the programs upstairs stops him from waking up my husband when he's sleeping during the day downstairs.

4.  For New Year's dinner in my family we traditionally always eat sauerkraut and pork for good luck in the new year.  I hadn't defrosted any pork the day before to make for dinner and was wondering what to do, so I ended up throwing a pork loin roast in the crock pot with a couple of jars of sauerkraut and put in on high.  I wasn't sure how well it would turn out, but it ended up actually being really tasty and my husband was able to bring the leftovers to work for lunch and things so it worked out really well.

5.  My mother-in-law was nice enough to babysit the kids one morning this week so my husband and I could go to the postal annex and wait in line to get packages picked up.  I was impressed in that the lines at the postal annex are still really long, but at least the lines are moving this year because they have two people working the window instead of one.  So, I was at least happy with that as instead of hours waiting in line at the postal annex we have been averaging about an hour wait or so instead.

6.  I ripped apart my flatware box/caddy that had gotten damaged in the quake to see what it would take to fix it.  I ended up having to cut the felt lining across the seam where the hinges were as the hinges were completely hidden by the felt (so impossible to evaluate or work on) and the felt wasn't moving even after carefully applying some solvent to the old glue holding the felt down to try and get some room to work.  Luckily I was able to weasel my way in and slit the felt and then I took the lid off to see what I could see.  We'll have to put in new hinges as the hinges are bent and I don't think salvageable and they'll have to be moved as when the hinges broke they broke out some of the wood in the lid, but I THINK the container itself is salvageable.  I'll have to carefully tighten up some of the seams on the box as the dove tails got tweaked a bit, but overall I think we can make it work.  I'll carefully glue down the felt again once we replace the hinges and do the repairs, so the hinges will probably be at least partially exposed no matter what, but overall it could be a lot worse.  I'm going to flip the box over when the repairs are done and put "Damaged and repaired after November 30, 2018 Alaska earthquake".  It might not be worth much after having to repair it, but if nothing else it might just become a part of family history.

7.  My husband got new socks for Christmas.  Not exciting, but appreciated :).  This is the second year I was able to give him new socks for Christmas and he finally has enough good quality socks that I was able to go through and find all of his massively holey socks and throw them in the rag bag.  I was happy to see that some of the socks that I had darned were still holding together decently well, so I was able to make a few pairs of those socks as well.  I also threw a ton of old shirts that were just plain worn out in the rag bag and things.  By the time I was done I had a decently big bag full of rags and  I was finally able to get his clothes nice and organized in his dresser and get everything neat and tidy.  I am SO glad I did it as the master bedroom is finally starting to look like a bedroom again instead of just piles of stuff everywhere.  I've still got earthquake piles to tackle and am taking it one baby step at a time, but it's getting there.

8.  I started to make a list to pump up our food storage.  I lost so much food between the beetles, mice and earthquake last year that I'm thinking buying in is probably going to be the way to go for some of it.  I'm not sure about the state of a putting in any type of garden this year that isn't like potatoes (since animals don't eat the plants since they are toxic) as the moose are still passing through the yard (luckily they don't seem to be staying, but the tracks are there) and when the moose were in the yard I looked out one day to see about five snowshoe hares running around the yard.  I wanted to scream in frustration when that happened as it seems the universe is conspiring against my small garden.  I am going to work really hard to figure out a cheap way to put in some type of greenhouse that I can plant some stuff in this summer so at least I can supplement my pantry with the stuff from the garden.  If I can't do that (which with money the way it is, I'm seeing that as an impossibility at this point, honestly) I am going to research what I can put in that will have the least likely chances of getting wiped out by moose or vermin.  Here's hoping I can come up with something.  As is all of my seeds got wiped out by the larder beetles, so I'm kind of down to what I can put together cheap again *sigh*.

Due to making the earthquake list on Amazon, I finally realized the wonder that was the whole "list" option on Amazon (which I'm a "list" person...I absolutely go nuts and make lists for bunches of things because I like to check things off when I get things done *laugh*) so I went kind of nuts with it.  I started emptying out my cart on Amazon, which had a ton in it that I always "saved for later", and started separating it out into different categories (wishlist, things for the kids, things for the home, etc) and I made one for food storage that I'm interested in so I can keep track of prices and things.  I've been checking the food storage list and things daily and if something bottoms out in price I figure I'll order it and put it in the pantry (if we have the money to do it, as it's only a good deal if you can afford it).  This month I ordered a #10 can of chicken bullion and a smaller can of basically dream whip to add to the food storage.  The #10 can of bullion, if I end up opening it, I can food saver the rest of the can into packages to avoid them setting up into a solid chunk (if my Food Saver still works, which I'm praying it does when I fire it up) or something and the dream whip type of stuff can be used in different applications as well.

9.  I finally started to get my act together and was able to get back on doing a menu plan this week (I'll post up that in a bit here as I'm, obviously, behind on blogging here).  It feels GOOD to actually have a plan of attack again and if I can keep on top of it, a menu plan helps out so much with making sure we eat in and that we have enough variety of leftovers so my husband can take the leftovers to work for lunches and not get bored with them.

And yeah, I'm going to call it good there.  How did your week go?  Well I hope?