Sunday, May 26, 2019

Super Savings Sunday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2)

I actually had to double check the calendar and the blog to make sure that it had actually been two weeks since I blogged.  I've been so busy I'm lucky my head is attached or I would have misplaced it a good week and a half ago if that makes you feel any better *laugh*.

Things have been crazy here with the end of school closing in like the Great White from "Jaws".  We got a letter in the mail from the school saying they had concerns about the daughter's grades and I was worried when I saw she was getting a "D" in math and was actually failing her handwriting course (which was just basically a fluff class that the kids were supposed to take for fun).  When I confronted the daughter it turned out she was behind in the handwriting class, which led me to having to basically drag her by her hair through the two packets of work she had yet to do for the class as quickly as humanly possible.  That took a good week of time.  Then I looked at her grades in Math and was disappointed to see that while she was making a very solid "A" on classwork and homework there were exactly two quizzes, which she failed, and they counted for so much of her grade that she was getting a "D".  When she failed her last quiz which led us to panic as she would have gotten an "F" at that point, I took her and talked to her teacher after school.  He was really nice and I explained how much work Armina had been putting into math including looking up YouTube tutorials and other educational materials on her own to try and improve her quiz grades.  He let us make up all three quizzes for extra points at home and told me how proud he was of Armina for trying so hard and he could see how much she was, indeed, trying.

I have to say, in a side note, that the quizzes we had to find the correct answers for and show the work how we got those answers?  Those suckers were HARD!  I feel for the daughter as I would have failed those quizzes too in high school, let alone in junior high.  Getting the daughter to turn in the corrected materials was like pulling out her toe nails, but we got there.  Man, Junior High and the attitude that comes with that age for kids...ugh.

We got over those hurdles (she got an "A" in the handwriting course after getting caught up by the way *laugh*) and then got slammed with another surprise.  She had told me that she had a project on National Parks for science class, which confused me as I would have thought that was more of a social studies thing and then she told me that they had to do a diagram for the project, which confused me further.  Ya know, it would have helped a LOT if she had actually told us that all of the instructions and things were online about a month ago.  But, nope, she waits until the project is actually late to tell me that she had to do a diagram, a 3-D Model (which all I could think of was we had to do a relief map, which totally panicked me as she chose Acadia National Park, which is over 40,000 acres and encompasses islands, mountains and other things) and she had to do a slide show.  When she FINALLY led me to the instructions online I completely panicked when I read what the project entailed.  You were supposed to do a diagram, a 3-D model and a slide show, quite true, but it was on three different geological forces that helped to shape the park of your choice, not on the park and it's touristy bits.  So the daughter's slide show had to be completely redone (thank goodness so much can be done online now a days), she had to do a diagram of the life cycle of rocks (which I have to say turned out well) and we were supposed to help her make a 3-D model of something else that helped to form the park.  We went through a bunch of different things that formed the park and finally, after a lot of thought, settled on glacial forces.  We also had to do the project in a weekend versus over the course of weeks because of the daughter getting confused about how it was all supposed to go down.  If we'd had more time we could have come up with some pretty awesome stuff for how glaciers formed the landscape (the husband had a really neat idea for an actual moving example), but we were already late turning the project in so we did the best with what we had in as short of a time frame as humanly possible to get the project in at least CLOSE to when it was due.

The final results on the model of glacial advance is seen up top there.  We used paper bags for the frame for the mountains and then formed them with lots and lots of home made salt/play clay and used a ton of food coloring of various colors to make different shades of brown.  I think all totaled it amounted to about 10 cups of play clay and you could still see paper bag poking through in parts.  I used polyester fiber fill for the snow, the daughter colored some paper in various shades of blue to help make the actual glacial part of the equation, painted the sky (which she didn't have sky blue, so she made due with aqua) and helped to paint everything (thus the kind of odd pattern the paint takes in the background), we used glue and sand to help give texture to the ground and just did the best we could with what we had at hand.  The finished project was not light and I ended up handing it to her science teacher when he came into school instead of just leaving it in his room as he came in kind of late (which after hauling it across the building twice and then having to hold it for 20 minutes until he came into the school...I was tired and a bit cranky, so when he offered to carry it to his room I was only too delighted to shove it into his arms *laugh*), so I was happy to see that he really liked the model and was showing it off to teachers and the principal when I left.

School is over for the year as of Thursday and I have to say that it was a heck of a school year and I'm glad it's over.  We are going to take a few weeks to just try and take things a bit easy and then I'll work on getting the son into more intensive therapy for the summer  and summer school will start in a month, but for the moment, I'm just taking a deep breath and feeling glad that we made it through the school year and it's over.

Right, so the next big thing to happen is due to the disaster loan we have through the Small Business Association.  We're grateful to have the loan and we have a ton to do with it, but there is a catch in that you are supposed to spend the money within one year and anything you don't spend you are supposed to return.  Which "one year" by Alaska terms means we have about three to four months to get everything done outside that needs to be done (or at least buy the materials necessary to do the rest of it should we fall short of time) period.  Working in the winter up here just doesn't work.  I sat down and had a long talk with the husband about what to do about that as normally I'm running around like mad during the summer trying to get foraging done, getting produce bought and canned, getting things grown and preserved for winter and just tons of stuff.  We tried to figure out where I could put in a small garden to grow even potatoes or something, but we just couldn't find a good spot as with the gutters needing to be replaced, a new chimney needing to be constructed, a shed and barn to tear down and something built in their place the sewer to pump (after all the broken glass and other stuff that went down into the septic we figure it's definitely going to be needed) and just tons to do around every part of the yard and house (including cutting down trees that the spruce beetles have killed)...canning, dehydrating, going to the You Pick farm and the produce was just going to add so much to our already jammed work load that we just couldn't see it happening this year.

A side note, though.  I am hoping to get some lettuce seedlings and find something around here and at least make a small container garden so we can get some fresh greens in our diet this summer, but that's still in the "if I can find time to do it" category (yes, we're that busy).

I sat down and did the books and reimbursed us from the loan monies for money we had spent for repairs and temporary heat and things (I just took the average of what we spent for the electric bill normally over the last two years by month and then deducted that from the huge electric bills we had and put the difference down as "temporary heating costs", which it absolutely has been).  I was able to pay off the husband's last three teeth with the reimbursed monies and we had a bit left over, so I used that to make a huge Costco type of order through Amazon for food and household goods (plus some that I put on my Amazon card and will pay off over the summer).

I'll go more into what I got and why later, but I have to say this was my first time making a huge order of this scale through Amazon and I will NEVER, EVER, EVER do it again!  It has been an utter nightmare!  Getting triple charged for orders, refunded for the wrong items (when things went wrong and BOY did they go wrong), lots of broken glass and disasters when I opened boxes (my dump bill is going to hate us this month), lots and lots of upset calls to customer service, LOTS of complaints filed by me about their shipping department and lots of apologies and refunds from Amazon's end.  Never again will I put in a huge order through Subscribe and Save where I don't have the option to cancel orders when things start to go wrong from the start of things shipping.  I still have a few things I want to order and get in, but I'm making sure I order ONE thing at a time, wait for it to ship and then order the next item.  Anyway, I'll go more into that in my Shopping Goals post and my Monthly Goals post (I'm kind of combining May and June since it's been so hectic and I have so much to do, so June's will probably be early and May's will be well...nearly into June *laugh*).

So, yeah, that all happened.  Let's get onto the money saving aspects of the last couple of weeks!

1.  Shopping has gone okay the last bit and I've been able to work some of my food storage items into the regular shopping without taking significant hits to the grocery budget (like the couple of containers of boxed milk seen in the bulk purchase picture and things).

I also got some freebies.  Carrs had a promotion last week that if you spent 100.00 in one shopping trip you'd get 10 fuel rewards, which we did our big shopping trip that week so I had a ton of fuel rewards between those ten rewards and bonus rewards they gave me for shopping in like the meat department and things.  I was able to use some of the extra fuel rewards to get 7.00 in free meat (which I picked up two things of hamburger to use in meals later on and only paid .28 out of pocket for it) and then I used one reward to get a free dozen eggs.   Neither of those things are shown because I forgot to take pictures of them.

My friend sent me a bunch of freebie coupons for the Monopoly game, which I was thrilled to get, so I went and redeemed those and the few I had left to redeem as well.  I took the free salad and really stretched it out by adding a ton of lettuce to it to make a big bowl of salad.  The dressing included with the salad was more than enough to dress the big salad and the entire family really liked the salad flavors.  It was definitely a nice change of pace :).

The bagels are slowly being defrosted by the daughter and used as basically rolls when she wants a high carb snack and everything else was definitely used.  The strawberries were in the picture because I had cashed out two fuel rewards to get 3.00 off of a produce purchase of 3.00 or more and the 2 lb thing of strawberries were on sale for 5.00 as part of 5.00 Friday.  The daughter just washed them and ate them as snacks over the next few days and it worked out well.

The other news on the freebie front was that I ended up winning not one, but two 5.00 grocery gift cards with the Monopoly game.  I asked the manager of our local store if I could redeem both of them and she got the answer that you could only win one of each prize, so I gave the other pieces away to someone who could use the 5.00 grocery gift card.  I used my 5.00 gift card to help pay for weekly groceries, which worked just fine and helped to save me a bit of money.  I had a coupon loaded onto my card for a free 4 pack of batteries (it was just on Just 4 U for me to load), but the batteries were sold out, which was a bit of a bummer, but oh well :).

Overall, I have to say that this year with the Monopoly game I didn't win as much of the instant win paper prizes as I did last year, but with the second chance game and things I was able to more than make up for not winning those prizes.  I was able to get 25.00 in free groceries by redeeming codes for gift cards, was able to get some free groceries on top of it and yeah...I was happy with how it all worked out this time around.

2.  My husband and I went used store shopping last week and as a surprise to both of us we fell in love with a painting they had there.  It was painted by someone in '66 and we just loved how the boats looked on the water.  It cost us 20.00, which is more than I would normally pay for anything like that, but we both decided we needed to buy it.  It was filthy, so I carefully cleaned it when we got it home and it lightened about three shades and it still needs a frame.  The canvas is actually stretched and mounted directly to plywood, so it's hefty.  Luckily I was able to find studs in the wall really easily as the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks have pretty much popped all of the nails in the walls through the sheet rock, so who needs a stud finder?  We'll have to build a frame for it eventually, but it's up and looking nice in the meantime :).

3.  While at the used store we also found, of all things, a silver ware case for 4.00.  It was a small one, but I bought it because the basket holder I had for our everyday silver ware was just not in good shape after the earthquake.  It leaned, a lot, and kept falling over.  The new case is a bit small so we have to lay the butter knives down below the silver ware slots, but overall I am really happy with it as it is definitely protecting the silver ware from dust and things a lot better than the old system.

4.  So, Mother's Day.  Really, the only thing I got for Mother's Day from the daughter was a hard time, which I have to say irritated me a lot as I was behind on everything household related due to her school work debacles.  The son wasn't feeling great, but for the most part was in an okay mood, which was enough of a gift for me from him.  The husband though was super nice and picked me up a small bouquet of carnations on his way home from work.

He was also able to find me something that we had been looking for for a long, long time and meant a lot to me.

Right, story time.  Get a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy ;).

When my husband and I got married many years ago we quickly decided to forgo the big church wedding in favor of a simple Justice of the Peace type of wedding instead, figuring we'd save the money for things more important (which, when he got sick later that year ended up being a REALLY wise choice).  As a result we got next to no wedding gifts.  Our neighbor at the time, however, was one of the few who did give us a wedding gift and we received a beautiful glass candy dish.  It was really a beautiful piece.  It was shaped like a basket, was one solid piece of red glass that had been shaped (complete with handle) to resemble a flower harvesting type of basket (by hand from what we could see of the glass work).  We treasured the gift, but unfortunately, we also lived in a small apartment with no space for anything like a curio cabinet or anything and one fateful day the dish got broken.  I was heartbroken as not only did I love the dish itself, but we also lost one of the very few wedding gifts we received.

Believe it or not, even though it has been many years since the dish got broken, we have been on the hunt for another dish that looked like it ever since.  We knew that the odds of it being one of a kind were high and didn't have much hope of finding a dish even CLOSE to what it looked like, but we kept looking.

This Mother's Day my husband gave me a red glass basket candy dish that he had found at a local antique and consignment shop while hunting around for a Mother's Day gift.

No, it's not anything like the old one was shaped.  This was one is much smaller, has embossing on the glass and was probably mass produced.  But, you know what?  I'll treasure it just as much as the original, or more, as it showed the culmination of a lot of years of searching on mine and my husband's part and really I was just thrilled to get it.  I immediately knew where I would put it and I finished up the top of the new bathroom supply cabinet with it.

I think it's lovely and I definitely treasure it.

5.  I dug around and managed to dig up 2.00 in change so we could take the loads and loads of cardboard we had to the recycling center.  Considering how much that would have taken to throw out in the landfill it was DEFINITELY worthwhile to recycle it and hey, it stopped it from having to get thrown into a landfill too!

6.  We have been exploring more and more the shows and titles we can watch as part of our Amazon Prime membership and I have found some really neat things to watch.  Some of these include:  "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" 1981 BBC TV series (I love the actor that plays Ford in that series), the "Little Women" anime cartoons from the 80's, which my daughter has been loving to watch, "Word World" and "Sid the Science Kid" which the son has been loving watching and Rifftrax movies that we we can watch and not have to buy to watch.

7.  Speaking of Rifftrax, I've been SLOWLY using up the 10.00 gift card they give out as a Christmas gift to their customers combined with the 5.00 credit I got for shorts we already owned with the Kickstarter campaign this year.  They finally came out with an App so we can access our library with the Roku box and our smart TV, so it's been fun buying a new short here and there and watching it together as a family.  And free is a great price tag to watch new things I have to say.

8.  My daughter ended up with a Sharpie mark on a pair of her pants that she loved.  The mark looked ugly and nothing was removing it, so instead of throwing the pants out or something I just embroidered a flower over the mark in a darker color (in case the sharpie bled into the embroidery floss).  It worked just fine and the daughter was thrilled that I saved her pants from ruin.

9.  I have spent a bunch of time while the son is in therapy to work on menu plans and I have been having decent luck sticking to the plans, which is doubly  nice.  Now that school is finally over I'm looking forward to blogging the menu plans for the week again as putting them up helps to keep me motivated (and keeps my links to online recipes in one place ;).

10.  I added water to the soap containers and shampoo when they were getting low.  I reused hand soap containers and refilled them with soap from another brand of soap refill that I got cheap.  Instead of using expensive tub and shower cleaners, I used dish soap and a scrub brush and lots of elbow grease to clean the tubs and showers.  I  washed out and reused water bottles, refilling them with water from the tap until the bottles started getting kind of brittle from reusing them and only THEN did they go into the recycling box.

11.  I demanded the daughter deep clean her room or the next larder beetle I found I was going to put directly into her room (she was the last point of resistance I was meeting to be able to deep vacuum the house every day).  She not only cleaned her room, but started going through her things and picking out toys that she no longer played with and wanted to donate to the used store.  We ended up giving a few smaller toys to my mother-in-law for my niece to play with when she came over, but the rest my husband and I ran to the used store.  It was nice getting it out of the house and I'm sure other kids will love being able to get the toys to play with.  And my daughter is thrilled to have freed up some space in her room for more art supplies and books (both of which I approve of ;).

And there you are folks.  Some of the events that have happened the last bit.  At least we've been decently healthy *knocking on every wooden substance around*.  How about you?  How has your life been going?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Frugal Friday (late and early): Money Saving Weekly Recap

The last two weeks we've been sick.  Again.  This time the son brought home the cold and was down with it all last week.  The husband, who has managed to skate through most of the colds and things this school year, came down with it next.  Remarkably he and the daughter were down for only a couple of days and then they rebounded from it.  Me, not so much.  I went down with it hard, started to get over it and then it came back, which I knew was not a good sign.  I was so horribly fatigued all weekend I was up to doing not much of anything and I crawled through the beginning part of this week.  When my chest started hurting and my cough started sounding really bad I decided enough was enough and it was just time to suck it up and spend the money to go to the doctor.  Luckily the husband was up to driving me to the doctor or I honestly don't know how I would have gotten there.  I was really, REALLY out of it.  I honestly think after an entire school year's worth of viruses and other stuff my body had just plain had enough.  I mean I haven't felt good since Valentine's Day...that's not a good thing.  After an exam and a chest x-ray to make sure I didn't have pneumonia (which the doctor was worried about) I'm now on antibiotics, a decongestant and lots of water and tea.  My first round of antibiotics was yesterday and I have to say that I'm feeling better than I have in months, which is definitely an improvement, and now I'm just trying to rest today even though my nature is screaming at me to get stuff done.  So, for a change, I finally have some energy to blog.  Yay!!!!

You know it's kind of sad to write that.  Yes, I've been so horribly tired and sick the last couple of months I have had to dig up energy to do anything at all and blogging was on that list.  It's nice being able to think clearly instead of through a fog.  I think I was a lot sicker than I thought.

Anyway, this week's post is early, but is late from last week, so I figured I'd just combine them together.  I'm working on other posts for monthly goals and shopping goals (yes I have long lists for both).  Unfortunately, the frugal accomplishments post for the last two weeks is going to be kind of short as I just wasn't up to doing much at all, so things just plain didn't get done.

But, let's get to the short list I have!

1.  The Monopoly game this year is now ended, but last week was double (or triple, who knows) game pieces week, so going shopping I ended up with just piles and piles of Monopoly game pieces.  I wrangled the husband the daughter into helping me go through them all to see if we won anything good (note:  We didn't), and then I spent a good couple of hours online redeeming tokens and spending them on the second chance game site.  I managed to score two 5.00 grocery giftcards the last couple of weeks doing that (since they opened that section back up) and those are now sitting in my purse waiting for the next time I need to go shopping.  I redeemed what I had left for a free box of tissues (seen up top there) and a free bottle of water.  In the piles of game pieces we got we also got a few freebie coupons.  I redeemed a free box of water crackers, a free loaf of french bread, a couple of free bottles of water, a free can of green beans (it was actually for a free can of vegetables, but I picked green beans), a couple of free bagels, another small thing of sour cream (which I'm hoping that stuff will stay good for a while if you don't open it as I have a bunch of it now) and a free Refreshe Ice drink.  I THINK I got them all written down, but I might have missed something there (note:  I was out of it).

Overall, shopping went alright.  It probably could have gone better if I'd been well, but I was able to buy meat that was already defrosted and ready to use when I realized I was getting sick, so we had meatloaf one night, spaghetti another night (which I then forgot about it and had to throw away as I was so sick, which still upsets me...I have wasting food) and lamb roast (which I threw in the crock pot).  With the lamb roast, since I have a bunch of canned corn to use up (I still have a bunch from when my in-laws moved that they gave me and I want to rotate them out for more current cans) and some russet potatoes that were going wrinkly (by the way the potato basket is working AWESOME!  I'm really happy with how the potatoes aren't going green and they aren't sprouting that much), I decided to make Quick Potato Corn Chowder.  I added some Bacos to add a bit more flavor and then threw in a bit of garlic powder and a few seasonings, but overall as a base recipe it was really good and the husband actually really liked it (score!).  We had free bread and oven roasted potatoes as our other two sides (in case the other family members didn't like the soup).  Overall it was a pretty simple meal and came out well.

2.  Speaking of the Monopoly game a friend of mine sent me a nice little care package and she included some more Monopoly freebie coupons, which is awesome :).  It was definitely an upper to a pretty miserable and sickness driven week.

3.  I FINALLY got a refund check from the hospital for my overpayment back in October!  The head of the billing department called me again, apologized profusely, and issued another check as the one they sent (supposedly) back in March hadn't cleared or anything, so they stopped payment on that check and sent me another one (I still have my doubts they sent the first one, honestly, but whatever) and it came in this week.  I immediately went and put it into the bank.  I'm so very glad to get that whole super huge mess out of my hair and resolved and BOY if I EVER have to use that place again I am NOT paying them a cent until insurance gets done, no matter how much they try to bully me.  I'm done with that for sure.

4.  I got some more Spring cleaning done (albeit not much) the last couple of weeks.  I got the stairs deep cleaned and shampooed them once.  I still want to go over them again, but hey progress is progress!

5.  I rearranged my kitchen drawers to accommodate losing the old knife drawer because the oven door sticks out more than my old oven.  What I have now works alright, although I do feel the pinch of having one drawer gone in the kitchen.  And I am wondering how long it will take before I stop smacking my poor oven trying to, once again, open the old knife drawer like a dummy.

6.  My son actually found some shows on Amazon Prime that I didn't know we could get for free.  He's been having fun watching old "Word World" episodes, which hey I'm not going to complain about as maybe he's moving forward on communicating :).  I have noticed him babbling more complex sounds of late.  I keep hoping he'll talk, but I also am just happy that he's finally got the whole concept of nodding his head yes and no and what it means.  It's made offering him choices on things a lot easier and stops him from getting frustrated so much.

7.  The new medications the psychologist put the son on are working well!  She upped his Risperidone to a higher dosage disintegrating tablet, which is made by the same outfit that his old pills he used to take well are made by!  He might gag a little on one once in a while, but he's taking the new pills SO MUCH better than the orange pills he was on.  I'm thrilled as it really does help his concentration and mood to be on the higher dose and it is a huge relief to me to not panic every time I have to give him medication on whether or not he'll keep be able to gag the medicine down or not.

8.  My husband traded out his skills for some free swim lessons for the kids.  The lady who owns the pool is closing it for the summer, so they only have the rest of this month for lessons, but it has been nice not stressing about how to pay for swimming lessons the last bit and I am grateful for how far the kids have come in their swimming skills while being in Ms. Tina's classes.  She's got Alvah swimming to the point that he's swimming well in the Special Olympics this year and is actually actively enjoying the water, as is Armina.  I never thought either one of them would get to the point they would enjoy swimming, so I really am grateful for how far they have come :).

And there you go folks.  That's about it that I can remember at this point.  How have you all been the last couple of weeks?  Okay I hope?