Monday, February 18, 2019

Money Saving Monday (times 2): Money Saving Weekly Recap

I am slowly coming up with a slogan for every day of the week for the stand in Frugal Friday post days, which shows how sick I've been and how sad it is that I need to do that at all.  So, welcome to "Money Saving Monday" for the last two weeks.

By the way, Happy President's Day to everyone in the US :).  I had hoped to celebrate today by making a cool Martha Washington recipe I found on "18th Century Cooking" on YouTube (Orange Fool for those curious), but I'm still out of it, so we're having bratwurst, sauerkraut, baked potatoes and salad.  I was going to make German cucumber salad to go with dinner, but my cucumber went disgusting mushy in record time, even by Alaska standards, so we'll have salad with tomato (a luxury I indulged myself in at the store was buying one Roma tomato as they are currently like 2.99 lb) and carrot in it instead.  Note to self:  Buy another cucumber and try again.  But, yeah, that's my frugal fail for the last little bit as cucumbers aren't cheap either *sigh*.

Anyway, back to the last two weeks and what I've been up to.  Being sick, mostly.  It really stinks.  I woke up feeling GOOD Valentine's Day and was good all day long and it was wonderful and the husband and I spent a really nice day together along with getting shopping done and paying bills since it was also pay day.  I hadn't felt good in months, so I was thrilled that maybe, just maybe I was on the mend.  And then Friday rolls around and I woke up with a sore throat, a congested head and a nasty cold.  So, this weekend where I had planned on getting the house detail cleaned, I spent most of it on the love seat in the living room feeling icky and trying to rest and drink plenty of fluids to get over the cold as soon as I could.  I'm feeling more human today, so I'm praying *knock on every wood substance* that I'm hopefully going to kick this thing decently quick.

Believe it or not, though, despite catching every bug like it's the greatest sale in the world, we did manage to get stuff accomplished around here, so let's get to that!

1.  My husband kept asking me what I wanted for Valentine's Day and I kept telling him not to worry about it as we've spent so much money the last couple of months due to the earthquake that I was actually burned out on spending money.  The last thing I wanted him to do was go and spend 25.00 on a bouquet of roses or something.

While we were out shopping, though, my husband told me he'd be right back and he needed to go and get something.  I didn't think anything of it and kept shopping, although he was gone for a little while, and when he finally rejoined me and told me he couldn't find what he was looking for I just thought, "Ah well" and got the rest of the shopping done.  Well, when we went out to the car with the groceries I was surprised and touched to find that he'd gotten me a single rose for Valentine's Day.  He'd actually gone up to the floral department counter and gotten one special for me so he didn't have to pay a huge price for a larger bouquet that was already prepared.  He even got me a yellow rose, which was my dad's favorite flower.  Somehow that made it even more special to me :).

2.  Used store shopping went really well the last couple of weeks.  First up there was the daughter's upcoming birthday and when we were at the used store I looked around to see if I could find anything she might be interested in.  My favorite local thrift store has smaller sized kid toys separated into these clam shell type things (usually old berry containers people have donated) and you can buy a grab bag of smaller toys for like 1.50 to 5.00 depending on value and demand.  I looked through the clam shells and was shocked to see one jam packed full of stuff my daughter would absolutely love to get for 2.50, so I quickly snatched it up.  While going through the stuffed animals I also found a brand new stuffed horse for 1.00 and one of the Palace Pet critters with the tags still on it, so I grabbed that as well.  I felt great about what was in the clam shell when I finally got to go through it (seen above there with the horse I bought in the background).

Then we were at Value Village later that same week and I found the perfect gift to give my daughter from her brother.  The daughter is obsessed with unicorns and things at the moment and I found a nice little unicorn curio box for 1.50.  She might be able to fit a few necklaces in it or small little collectibles but that's about it as it's not that big, but I know she won't care once she sees the unicorn *laugh*.  Since a bunch of her little knick knack type of things got broken in the quake, I was really happy to find this for her.

So, for less than 10.00 birthday gifts for the daughter are done.  I was hoping to feel better so I could make her something, or at least finish the pillow case I had hoped to give her for Christmas, but that just isn't in the cards at this point, so at least she won't be disappointed in her birthday gifts.

3.  We stopped in at another local used store to find a big cart full of frames on sale for .10 each.  You know, this in itself shows how much my outlook has changed over the years.  There was a time when I would have bought a ton of frames at that price, but instead I bought one to replace a frame that got partially broken in the quake and called it good.  I still need to mount some hardware on the back so I can hang it on the wall, but for .10, I'd say I'm ahead of the game when it comes to expense *laugh*.

4.  Carrs/Safeway has started up their Monopoly game again this year and per usual my son's normal "diet" consists of bonus ticket items, so I end up with a stack of Monopoly coupons when I check out.  I haven't really won much in the way of instant win items, but I started collecting the "second chance" tickets with a unique code on them that you could enter online and see if you won anything else on the ticket.  When I logged onto the site and entered codes I found that basically you have a chance of winning a certain amount of tokens with each code and then you can spend those tokens on different items, entries in different sweepstakes and you can even save the points/tokens up and redeem them for shopping gift cards.  I was thrilled when I realized how this system worked this year and started inputting all of my codes as I'd get the tickets because I also found out that you can redeem 30 tokens/points for a free gas reward that they'll load onto your card for you (you can only do this a maximum of five times over the life of the Monopoly game, though, so keep that in mind if you go to do this :).

I looked through the products that you could redeem your points for and 20 points would net you like a free small can of tomato sauce, a free powdered gravy mix and other things that I'd won in the Monopoly game in the past, which I was kind of "meh" about.  Anything that was actually really worth getting was about 60 points (free french bread and such), so I then focused my attention on the free gas reward for 30 points and went onto the Just4U site to see what I could net with one gas reward (Safeway/Carrs has started a new thing where you can redeem your gas rewards for free products and things in case you aren't near where there is a fueling station or if you don't want to use it for gas/fuel) and I found that this month (the rewards you can redeem change every month) they had a free dozen eggs for one fuel reward.  So, I redeemed my points for the fuel reward, went onto Just4U and got my free dozen eggs loaded onto my card.  So, I picked those up when I went shopping last week.  I did this with the express purpose to use the eggs to make Eggs Benedict (which the eggs were nice and fresh and it worked fabulously) and things and I was really happy how it all worked out :).  I'm hoping to redeem gas rewards over the course of the contest and just use them for free groceries instead of just getting off an additional .10 per gallon of gas, but we'll see how it goes as I want to see what will go on "super sale" with the rewards for groceries program.

5.  Speaking of Eggs Benedict, I used the free eggs, some English muffins I found in the depths of the freezer, some little bits of ham I found that needed to be used up and a powdered mix for Hollandaise that I was gifted to make Eggs Benedict for dinner one night.  Was it as good as legit, from scratch, Eggs Benedict?  No.  Did it work?  You bet.  For a meal that cost next to nothing to make I was happy with how it turned out.

6.  I stopped in at a new store that has opened up in the area called "Ten Below".  Think of it as kind of the Alaska equivalent of say Dollar General, but all the products start out at 1.50 and go up from there.  I wasn't over the moon excited by what I found in the store, but I did find they had foaming carpet cleaner for 1.50 per container, so I got four in the hopes of cleaning my stairs and maybe being able to get a bit more of the teriyaki sauce that stained the hallway carpet out.  I also found they had a thing of hair elastics, a decent amount, for 1.50.  Since the daughter keeps stealing my hair elastics I got the elastics and stuffed them in with her birthday gifts in the hopes that she will stop stealing what I have left.

7.  There has been an uptick in crime in our area (well along with the rest of the Valley really) due to bad law and things (don't get me started, trust me) and I didn't like the idea of people being able to see into our den when the light is on because all we have up is cheapy bamboo blinds that came with the house when we bought it and I found when you got the least bit close to the house you could see right into the den when the inside light was on.  I had gotten some curtains at the used store with built in room darkening panels in them a while ago, so I did a quicky job of putting one up over our front window in our den.  We don't have a traditional curtain rods on the windows in the den due to how the blinds are made, so I actually ended up tucking the curtain around the old blinds to hold it up for the time being until I can come up with something better to hang the curtain.  I have to say the curtain isn't what I would call my normal tastes (I bought the curtains because the curtains cost WAY less than buying room darkening panels on their own), but it fits the window just fine, goes with the coloring of the room (oddly enough) and it has the side benefit of helping to block breezes that are coming in through the window as the windows definitely leak more since the earthquake.  So, for the moment I'm happy with it.

8.  I watched a bunch of videos for free on the internet as I was lying down feeling icky. 

9.  I managed to reorganize the kitchen and got all of the dishes that were up above the cabinets down low in one of my bottom corner cabinets instead so that if we get a bad aftershock or something I won't have to worry about losing what casserole dishes and things I have left after the quake.  This also took weight off the top of the cabinets and will hopefully help to keep the tops of the cabinets from bowing in and such as I found out how thin the tops of the cabinets were when I started checking them thoroughly after the earthquake.

I'm going to call it good there.  I am sure there is more that I did the last couple of weeks, but my brain is blanking and I'm going into nasty coughing fits and desperately need a cough drop (and the cough drops are downstairs), so I'm going to button it up here.

How about you?  Been up to much around your place?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Shopping Goals: February, 2019

Well, I'm officially still putting "2018" instead of "2019" on things.  I had to fix the subject of this post *thumbs up* doing great!  I'll have to add "stop putting wrong year on things" as part of my monthly goals for this month *laugh*.

I wish I felt better, but at least I'm up to about 70% I'd say.  Everyone in the household still feels like they got hit by a truck and are feeling icky on and off.  The daughter is currently lying down in bed with a headache and stomachache and I know it's due to this virus just NOT letting go.  It's miserable.  But we are getting over it.  Slowly, but surely.  Emphasis seems to be on "slowly".

I know this post is taking up the spot of where the "Frugal Friday" post should be, but I'm still working on it, so you get a substitution post instead.

Shopping goals for this month have definitely gone diverse on me.  I had hoped to be able to keep it simple with just some basic groceries and a "get daughter gift for birthday" in there as her birthday is this month, but, once again, things happened and so it's gone pear shaped on me. 

First there was the cake pans.  The cake pans that I bought new less than two years ago and SHOULD still be nearly brand new.  The cake pans I've babied and made sure to always hand wash, not use anything the least bit sharp on and everything else they tell you to do that will make your pans last and last.  I made cake in them and the cake stuck, even after greasing the pans.  This irritated me as they are SUPPOSED to be non-stick.  Then, after I washed them and dried them I was putting them away when I noticed rust already developing on the pans and that the non-stick finish was so thin in places that it was nearly non-existent.  The same thing happened when I went to use my muffin pans.

This whole scenario just irritates me to no end.  It's almost like it doesn't matter how much you spend on baking pans anymore (and believe me I've spent a decent amount on some of them cumulatively over the years), you end up with pans that are just crappy quality and die on you if you bake the least bit in no time flat.  So, after looking at my past records and realizing how much I've spent on baking pans the last five years, trying to find ones that would last more than three uses before starting to die, I took the plunge and put some USA pans on my Amazon store card.  I figure I'll pay it off and then order a few more to replace the warping, rusting, sticking piece of crud pans I have and just start getting some nice quality baking pans a few at a time until I don't have to worry about buying more for quite a while.  Take that sub-par quality items!  So I have two round cake pans and a muffin pan coming in early next week.  That was part of the "diverse" turn the shopping list ended up taking.

Next up was cat food.  I needed to buy some cans to supplement out the cat's wet cat food until next payday, but also wanted to buy something that Belkar, otherwise known as the "I hate food cat" would actually eat before she blows away in the next wind, and I found that tuna fish was on sale this week for .59 a can with a digital coupon.  Belkar loves tuna fish and the tuna fish was actually cheaper than buying a few cans of cat food, so the cats get a treat of tuna for a few days before we get paid next.  They seem very happy with this situation *laugh*.

Anyway, now that you've listened to my shopping list tangent, let's get to the list!

Regular Stores:

  • Cream cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Buttermilk
  • Breakfast Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Pillsbury Chocolate Frosting (for son's cupcakes for daughter's birthday)
  • Tuna fish for cats (done) (contains affiliate links):

Target/Used Stores:

  • Birthday Gifts for Daughter (I actually found a really cute gift at one of the used stores today that I know she'll love, so I'm a bit ahead on that anyway :)

And there you go, folks.  My kind of odd shopping goals for the month.  How about you?  Need to get anything this month?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Totally Saving Tuesday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2)

First I want to apologize to those who may have e-mailed me some concerned e-mails over the last couple of weeks and I might not have answered.  I've been pretty out of it the last couple of weeks and just haven't been up to much.

Basically we all got miserably sick around here with two different viruses.  First one my son brought home a cold and made everyone sick and then as soon as we started getting over that one my daughter brought home another virus that has cold symptoms and disperses it with stomach upset over the course of over a week.  Between the two viruses the kids have been sick, one or the other, at least a couple of days a week from school and I never have gotten a chance to get well and feel better for more than a day before I got sick again.  Not fun at all.

This last virus my daughter brought home has been utterly nasty for me.  How sick have I been?  I have gotten not much sleep the last week, have not eaten much (I kind of force myself to eat, but all I really have craved is hot liquids to help reduce the swelling in my throat and occasionally tonsils) and all I had the energy to do was basically get the kids back and forth to school and therapy (when they were up to going), get necessary appointments done (more on that in a minute) and do the minimum of things otherwise because I'm just so worn out feeling.  I've drank a lot of coffee and finally found the time to binge watch the entire series of Downton Abbey (yes, all six seasons of it) as I wasn't up to doing much else.

In between everyone being sick I found that Alvah had a loose tooth and was grinding his teeth to get rid of it.  He HATES having loose teeth and will work harder than any kid you've ever seen to get a loose tooth out of his mouth pronto.  Looking at his front teeth, though, I realized he'd actually chipped some of his front teeth, or so it looked (he hates anyone messing with his mouth, so it's kind of hard to tell) being so determined to get the offending tooth out.  So, an emergency visit to the dentist was in order and while he didn't find any cracks or severe chips in the teeth I was worried about (which was good) the dentist, while examining his mouth, found that at some point Alvah had pulled another loose tooth that I was unaware of completely out of his mouth and it had not come out whole.  So, it turns out, that Alvah has one sharp spike of a baby tooth sticking out of his top gum and he's got another small piece of tooth stuck in the gum as well.  So my husband and I found another reason completely to be worried.

We're going to give it a month as the tooth doesn't seem to bug Alvah as it is at the moment, to see if the adult tooth coming in will help to push the other fragments out (a slim chance from what the dentist said, but a chance) or if Alvah might get a want to pull the other fragments out himself.  Otherwise when we go back if the tooth fragments are looking like they aren't moving we'll have to face the real need to knock him out and remove the fragments while he's under.  We've only ever had to do dental work on him one other time where we had to knock him out when he was younger to cap one of his teeth and I have to say the prospect of knocking him out his no less terrifying now as it was then.  I had a bad reaction coming out of anesthesia when I was in high school getting my wisdom teeth out where I started going into shock and my older sister is allergic to at least some forms of anesthesia, so to say I get TERRIFIED at the prospect of them putting Alvah under is a huge understatement.  I'm doing a lot of praying that we'll not have to worry about knocking him out yet.  Maybe at some point when he's older, but not any time soon.  I don't know if those prayers will be answered, but I can pray anyway.

Between that and a book report my daughter had to get done before midnight on Saturday (you had to turn it in online) and we were working on said book report at nine on Saturday night because she put it off till the last minute and I am definitely ready for a week where I'm feeling good and not having a ton of stuff to do.  My husband and I are completely exhausted and we still have tons of stuff to do between us that we're working on slowly but surely to recover from the earthquake and things.

So, yeah, be prepared as the frugal list for the last two weeks is going to be relatively short as I have been busy with sicknesses around here and stuff, but haven't really gotten a lot done around the house and things as much as I would have liked to have.

So, let's get to what I could find time, energy and gumption to get done around here.

1.  When my son was in therapy last week my husband and I hopped over to a few local used stores to look around.  I was hopeful I could find a few things on my earthquake list that I hoped to maybe find at the used store and get off cheaper than buying off of say Amazon or somewhere.  And I did REALLY well!

First off, I was finally able to find a few milkshake glasses.  A lot of huge root beer mugs we used for making milkshakes had gotten broken in the quake and I'd been looking for replacements and I was fortunate enough to actually find REAL milkshake glasses!  I was able to find two at one used store and two at another.  They don't match, but I am not picky especially since they were only about 1.00 per glass versus 20.00 for four new :).  And my daughter loves them a lot more than the big mugs because they are "fancy and easier to lift" than the big stein type mugs we had previously.

I was also able to FINALLY after many, many years of looking managed to find a good pizza pan!!!  I am so very thrilled with it.  I've only been able to find the glorified cookie sheet pizza pans over the years and I didn't like them as well as the pan pizza style pizza pan, so to get one of those for 1.50 was a huge find for sure.  And I found a nice sized Tupperware cake keeper that is JUST the right size for a double layer round cake, which I have also been looking for forever as I only have bigger cake keepers.  I'm going to donate a bigger Rubbermaid cake keeper I'd found in the past now that I have the Tupperware one and I'm really looking forward to using it a lot in the future.

I also found a book I've looked for a great many years and had wanted to get for a great many years since I'd first read it back in college.  "The Story of Art" was my favorite all time textbook in college and I had wanted to keep it so very badly when my Art Appreciation class was over (I adored that class and if I had taken it my Freshman year versus my Senior year I would have ended up being an art history major instead of a Marketing major I can tell you that), but I ended up selling it back because I was desperately trying to save up money and the book sold back for the same amount I'd bought it for, which wasn't cheap.  And I've searched for any and all copies and editions of the book I could get a hold of ever since.  This was the first copy I've ever run across in all of the years I've looked and for 3.00 it was totally worth the price I paid for it :).  To anyone who has an interest in history and how art was shaped by it, this is definitely is a book you want to get for your shelves, but be prepared in that even past editions of the book (of which there are many) are not cheap.
I was even able to get myself a potato ricer for 4.00.  I am always striving to get smoother home made mashed potatoes and I can not WAIT to try this out to help with the job!  I've wanted one of these for a long time, but could never justify the expense of buying a new one, so I was happy to find an in brand new shape one for so cheap!

And speaking of potatoes (great lead in, Erika.  Thank you, Erika)...

2.  I have finally succeeded in getting my daughter to like home made oven fries, she doesn't mind baked potatoes now and while she misses the processed blandness of store bought instant mashed potatoes (sorry my husband's words, not mine), she's learning to like home made mashed potatoes.  So, it was definitely a good time to start keeping a decent amount of fresh potatoes around.  I sat the bags outside my pantry door and tried to think of somewhere and somehow to store potatoes.  I was going to keep them in the pantry, but it's not ideal and I didn't want to attract mice and I didn't want to give up a kitchen drawer to store them in and things.  So, I finally came up with a plan.

I took a basket that I bought used for 3.00 at a yard sale years ago and had been using as a toy basket in the den ever since, emptied the toy basket into my son's closets (as the toys were 99.9% his) and then took the now empty basket to store the potatoes in.  Next I tried to think of a cloth that would breathe well, but would at least block a decent amount of light and I ended up settling on a big thing of bulk cross stitch fabric I had in my stores.  I just laid that inside the basket to line it, piled the 20 pounds of potatoes I had into the basket and then folded the cloth over the top of them to help block out more light.  I then laid a piece of prettier fabric that I had that was of decent weight and placed it over the top of the basket for additional light blocking.  So far this basket has been working fabulously well to store the potatoes.  I took the vase I had on the landing of my stairs and put it down in the den and then placed the basket in the corner where the vase was.  The landing gets pretty darned cold because of the front door area and then the unheated pantry being underneath it, so after a lot of thought it was the best spot I could think of for storing the potatoes.  It's not the prettiest decor item in the world, but I have to say it ranks up there as one of the most practical and I love being able to access my potatoes so easily where they are.

3.  As you can see from the photo above as well I took some towels, rolled them up, and stuck them under doors and one some window wells to help block unwanted, very cold breezes that we've had.  I'm hoping it'll at least help our electric bill, even in some small way, to help the electric heat work a little more effectively.

4.  I applied for PFD's and after stalking the site, finally got our confirmation of eligibility status.  This is always a nerve wracking process for me every year as I've known multiple people that the state had lost their applications and they'd missed out completely on the PFD.  So, I was happy to have that chore done for the year.

5.  I filed our taxes as soon as we got the necessary paperwork in the mail.  We'll be getting money back, which is always a good feeling.  Per usual, the money is pretty much spent already.  My husband's last three teeth (some front teeth) that aren't capped are finally starting to deteriorate and getting concerning.  The dentist is giving us a really good price on capping the last three teeth as we've been such good customers in the past and the return should make it so we can cash those teeth out and we'll hopefully have enough left to pay the difference in the electric bill come the end of the budget billing cycle.  I looked into energy assistance thanks to the input from a friend, but we made just a bit too much per month to qualify, so hopefully just saving the cash necessary will be a good plan b.

6.  I added water to what was left of the dish soap in the bottle and was able to stretch it out for quite a while doing that.

7.  Despite the sickness and things, I was able to somehow find the energy to cook and we didn't end up having to eat out constantly the last couple of weeks. 

8.  My small block freezer is now full of meat.  My husband and I went shopping and I have to say I didn't really want to go as I was so out of it, but despite not feeling good I went and checked the meat mark downs and my jaw dropped when I discovered value packs of chicken drumsticks on manager markdown for .99 lb and a bunch of them were 50% off!  This equated to huge packages of chicken drumsticks for about 2.00 per package!  I bought four even though I had a decent amount of chicken in the freezer already.  I could not pass up chicken at that price!

I was also able to pick up ham for .89 lb on manager special so we have another whole ham in the freezer for use later in the year :).  We're a bit thin on beef in the freezer as it's so darned expensive, but I at least feel good that we have chicken and pork in the freezer to eat if nothing else.

And I'm going to leave it there.  It's ten o'clock and I desperately want to collapse for the evening.  I hope everyone is well out there and don't worry.  I'm finally starting to feel better *knock on every wood substance that exists* and am hoping to finally start getting back to normal life and a more normal blogging schedule as well.  Here's hoping and praying we can finally start to feel better and stay healthy for a while this time!