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?


  1. Sorry about all the after shocks - that has to be scary. WOW you did great with the mixer!!!! Congrats!
    Have a blessed week.

  2. I'm sorry to hear of the aftershocks; those have to be frightening for the whole family. It sounds like you're at least making some progress and getting things back to a certain level of normal, so that's good. I'm crossing my fingers that your heat issues are figured out quickly!!!

  3. I just think about you all the time and worry, so happy you are getting some where in the clean up and reorganization.

  4. Well done with the mixer. I'm glad you are making some progress with clearing up after the earthquake. It must be so frustrating to have all that mess but pleased you are all safe. The aftershocks must be frightening.

  5. I don't know how your home insurance/disaster relief works, but if our electric bill goes up because our heater is broken and we are using space heaters, the added cost is covered. It may be something to look into!

  6. The ONLY good thing I see about that mess is how nice it will be to have every single corner of your house spotless all at the same time once you get it cleaned up! Or, if it's like around here, at least the areas that my children don't mess up after I finish them:) This is one time that I wish everyone on blog-land lived closer--we could call up a work party and come help!!!

    It's a great idea to make lists of the things you need to re-stock. I hope you find rock-bottom prices on many things you need and some that you just want.

    My husband made me a very nice, very inexpensive, greenhouse from boards (many salvaged) and greenhouse plastic at our old house. It was supposed to be temporary, but instead lasted for several years. When we could afford it, he bought corrugated plastic and replaced the plastic on the sides with that. The roof was always plastic. He used PVC pipe to hold the roof up. At this house, he built a small greenhouse last winter, using the same principles--a fairly lightweight wooden frame, the more permanent corrugated plastic sides, and a PVC pipe and plastic roof. Because we now live in town and have much less space, he made it on the concrete out back, and made it so that he can unscrew the bolts and we can take each side piece and lean it up against the shop wall (on the outside) if we need to, and so that we can move it if we need to. But, we didn't do that this fall. We left it where it was. I can start seeds in there, and will do that before long. So, maybe you guys could get some PVC pipe, some greenhouse plastic, and some scrap boards somewhere, and at least get a temporary one this year and then make it better when you can. I searched my back posts for a good picture of it, and this one is the best I found (and it's not that great!). But, hopefully, you can get the idea of what we did from it, and maybe come up with some other ideas from other sources as well.