Friday, June 21, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (x3)

One of these days things will stop happening and I'll be able to get back to a regular blogging schedule.  Sigh.

My dad used to say that there was an old Chinese curse that went something like, “May you live in interesting times.”

Boy, am I feeling that right now.

Week before last started out pretty productive and I really felt like we were on the upswing, finally, when it came to life throwing us unexpected curve balls and was hoping that we could finally start moving forward and getting things done.

Then last Monday happened.

My husband was sitting at a red light on his way home from work when a fully loaded dump truck side swiped his car and damaged another car. Thank GOD no one was severely hurt as that truck could have literally driven right over the top of a smaller car (such as the one my husband drives). It's a miracle that no one was severely hurt, or killed, in the crash. Our car took the most damage and the passenger side of the car is pretty much gone, so it was towed to the same body shop that did our car when we got rear ended a few years back.

So, the last couple of weeks have been anything but productive on the home front. We've had calls from insurance companies, loads of paperwork to fill out for the police department and others, calls to the body shop to see if they have done any under body exploratory on the car yet (SO far it looks like the side of the car will need to be replaced and we'll need a new tire, but it's repairable, but we're not sure what damage might be hidden in the frame underneath when they start tearing the car apart to fix it, so we're in a holding pattern waiting for news), visits to the chiropractor for the husband (he sprained his neck in the crash) and other things. Thank goodness for full insurance coverage on a vehicle as Geico has been really good about everything.

On my part, I have been doing everything in my power the last bit to show my husband how much I love him and how much we appreciate him. I keep going back to how that accident could have gone and am just so grateful my husband is still here. We are both just kind of worn out feeling right now and tired of having to jump from one crisis to another, but I got the back up vehicle we have insured until we can get our other car back on the road so my husband has something to drive back and forth to work. We have rental on our insurance policy but they only cover up to 50.00 per day for five days and then you have to start fighting it out over the rental fees. Since we are going to be without a car for at LEAST two weeks as we wait for parts, I just didn't see the point in fighting about it when I can insure the car for about 100.00 per month, full coverage (which is a lot cheaper than 50.00 per day) and we'll see if we get our other car back or if it ends up getting totaled for one reason or the other.

So, yeah, monthly goals got pushed aside and shoved into a box marked, “later” until everything with the accident is taken care of and things. I'm still hoping to get a few more things on my “to do” list done, but we'll see how it goes.

On top of everything, my hips have really been giving me problems the last bit, especially my right hip. They ache during the day and when I lay down at night they start to really bug me to the point I can't sleep. This is one of those things where I'm pretty sure this was a self-inflicted condition which I knew would come to haunt me one day. Basically, I have a special needs son. For a long, long time he was a flight risk and the only way to keep track of him and to keep him calm when doing things like waiting for my daughter after the bell rang and stuff was to pick him up and hold him on my hip. When he was little it wasn't that big of a deal, but as he got older, and taller and I was carrying around an 80lb plus kid on my hip for quite a while, I knew that it would effect me later in life. But, I didn't see anything else to do at the time, so I willingly decided that I would pay the price.

I don't regret the decisions I made at the time, but now I need to go to a doctor and see what I can do to help it as much as I can. Hopefully I can stave off things like hip replacement surgery and things later by tackling the issue early. I can hope anyway. At the moment if I can figure out what to do so I can at least sleep at night, I'll be happy. Wish me luck there.

So, let's get into more frugal matters as I don't want the post to get too depressing or something.

1. We got our septic pumped! I was so relieved to get that done. We'd gotten a recommend to definitely do it after the earthquake to make sure the septic was in good shape and to pump out things that ended up going into the system post earthquake as well (like broken glass and things), so I finally just made the appointment and we got it done. Our septic tank looks to be in good shape and our leech field is doing well, so I was super happy to hear that. I also now know how much, approximately, it will cost to get the septic pumped in the future (about 200.00) so hopefully I can put that money aside to get the job done every two years (which was what the guy recommended with the size of our septic combined with the size of our family). Always good to have numbers to work with instead of dreading how much things will cost when you get them done.
2. I was on Amazon one day and was amazed when I pulled up my shopping cart to find that one of the “price changes” they notified me about was boy's underwear in my son's size for 2.00 per package of 7! And they were not add on items. You could only order a max of three, but boy did I do that as my son needed underwear. And the full order actually came, more's the miracle! Usually when I run into a deal like that, that is too good to be true, I end up getting sent like one pair of underwear per order and then have to get my money refunded and stuff. So, now my son is good for underwear for a little bit and I paid less for three packages than I would have normally paid for one.
3. My son's back pack started to fall apart, so I decided to see what I could find for clearance sales on Pottery Barn Kids for a new lunch box and back pack (as my son has been using an old lunch box of his sister's and he's not been overly happy about the pink lunch box with butterflies on it). I found some really great deals and went to check out and was really sad to see that the
“free shipping” that used to apply for those items to Alaska as well as the Lower 48 was no longer honored for Alaska and I was looking at 10.00 per item to ship them up here. I refused to do that and ended up going through LL Bean (I would have gone through Land's End instead, but I saw some of their back packs in Sears a bit ago and wasn't impressed with the quality) and getting a clearance lunch box and a back pack on sale. Even at higher prices it was still cheaper than Pottery Barn kids would have been. I'm sad that Pottery Barn did that with the shipping as I really liked their items, but such is life. The new back pack and lunch box are not the quality I remember from LL Bean growing up, but they'll do for a while. At least they guarantee their items for a year (which is sad that they don't do the lifetime guarantee anymore, but a year is better than nothing), so if the zipper or seams go I have some recourse to getting a replacement.

4. I found some curtains at the used store that would actually span the distance across my window in my bedroom (we have windows that are like 3 feet high by nearly 6 feet wide, so they are difficult to fit). I had to buy four panels (which were each like 90” high...they pooled on my floor from my ceiling when I was measuring the length of the window, which was impressive to say the least) to make sure I'd make the length without coming up short and the curtains had large metal rings built into the curtains which wasn't going to go with my curtain rod. So, I knew I had some creative sewing to do. I cut off the metal rings on the top of the curtain panels and then sewed the curtain panels together by twos to make two larger panels out of the four. I then measured and folded the curtains over at the height I wanted as the curtains were kind of thin and I wanted to get as much insulation and light blocking capabilities out of them as possible. I then sewed a new top onto the curtains for the curtain rods to fit through and thought, “Yay! I'm done!”

Then I went to hang them up and realized that there were thin parts in the curtains, like they had been up against a heater or something that wore them down a bit on the liner side. I knew that the curtains would be weak at those points and wanted to mitigate against it, so I decided to sew in my own liner into the curtains. I looked through my fabric and found a lighter blue fabric in my stores that would work for the height and lengths I needed. I sewed the liner onto the back side of the curtains and then hung them up. I took my old curtain rod system apart. It was an old track system where you pulled the cord and it would open and close the curtains for theory, but it never worked well. I removed all of the track system hardware from the curtain rods and then hung them back up and just reused the rods, which worked perfectly.

I have to say that the finished curtains are not my dream curtains by any stretch, but they work, only cost me about 12.00 for the materials (the curtain panels were 3.00 each) to put together, they don't look like hotel curtains (which, I swear, the old curtains were old dark beige hotel curtains), they aren't falling apart (which the old ones were) and they do lighten up my bedroom a bunch, so I am happy with them.

5. For Father's Day my daughter really wanted to get my husband a gift. Instead of spending additional money (which we really didn't have) I suggested we make him cookies and a card instead. She was thrilled with the idea and my husband loved the gifts. We went out to dinner a few days before Father's Day to celebrate the day early (since my husband works nights and would be asleep for a good portion of Sunday) and used a gift card my Mother-in-law had gifted us to help pay for the event. We had a lot of fun.

6. The last time I bought a bulk thing of flour, I was thrilled and kind of surprised to find flour in an old fashioned cloth sack versus paper AND it was cheaper than buying the bulk thing of flour from our local bulk store. I bought the flour, emptied it into my bulk five gallon bucket for flour storage and then washed and dried the sack. The sack shrank significantly in the dryer, but it was still large enough to cut the seams out of it, hem the edges and turn it into a really nice flour sack towel to use for the kitchen. For about 20 minutes worth of work I thought it turned out really well!

7. I used up leftovers and started to work on a detailed inventory of my freezers to figure out what we needed to use up. I've been rotating out anything old and will worry about replacing them with newer stock when sales come up later. I'm overall pretty happy with what I'm finding in the freezers as nothing has been too terribly freezer burned, nothing has been super duper old and worrisome about how good of quality it is or anything like that. So, I'm glad that I'm getting better about using things up as needed to stop things from getting buried too long in the freezer.

8. I made menu plans and stuck to them, which it has been nice as I feel a lot less stressed about dinner when I have a plan of action in place. It has also helped with the plan to use up older stock in the freezer as well because I know what I'm having a few days down the road and am able to get meat in the defrosting drawer in the fridge (I turned my bottom crisper drawer in my fridge into a meat defrosting drawer. This keeps cross any cross contamination that might occur from meat juices contained to the drawer so I can just pull the drawer out, wash it and replace it without worrying about any meat juices getting onto other food.

9. My Amazon card statement came in and I found that I had a decent amount of reward points available to spend. Instead of putting it toward my card balance (which was actually turning into a nightmare trying to get it to apply), I went and spent the money to buy my husband an anniversary gift and a birthday gift. I let him pick the gifts from his wish list, so he knows what he is getting, but we ordered him some tools he has been wanting to get for around the house and for different side projects at work and things, so he is happy. I was even able to order him a book I've been wanting to get for him that he doesn't know he will be getting and I spent next to nothing out of pocket to get them after the rebate was applied. Now I can concentrate on getting the bill paid off in the following months.

10. I have been teaching my daughter more domestic skills around the house and have been really happy with her progress learning to do things like laundry (she already knew how to fold, but is finally big enough to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer and start a load of laundry in the washer and such), taking care of the cats, doing the dishes and things. The side benefit of teaching her these things is that the house is cleaner and I'm not so exhausted all of the time trying to do everything that needs to be done. And I'm grateful.

I'm still hoping to start her on sewing and cooking this summer as well. It's been rough trying to teach her things when she was smaller as Alvah took up so much time and energy, so I am glad that she's picking up the skills quickly and we're moving forward at a good pace :). My husband keeps trying to convince her to let him teach her how to fix a car, change a tire and other skills that would definitely be beneficial to know, but so far she's fighting him as she has always hated getting too dirty and the idea of messing around with a car just puts her into full rebellion mode. He has, however, gotten her to start driving the lawn mower and mowing the lawn, so he's sneakily getting her to at least start in on pre-driving skills.

11. Carrs has been giving me some major bonus gas reward point opportunities, like spend 90.00 in one shopping trip and I get 4 rewards automatically types of things on top of just plain giving me four times the fuel rewards for a week on shopping trips. As a result on our big shopping trip for two weeks worth of groceries we ended up with like 14 fuel rewards in one week. I cashed in, I think, like three of them and got a free 24 pack of water, which went into the emergency water storage. I cashed in a few more to get 3.00 worth of free produce. Which, combined with a personalized price of .61 on bananas last week and some personalized prices on melon and things, resulted in a pretty decently cheap produce bill.

12.  I made a frugal recipe my mom taught me to make when I was a young kid one day a couple of weeks back when the weather was set to be hot and I knew no one would want me to turn on the oven.  Behold!  Krab Meat Salad!  I'll try to find time to share the recipe in the next couple of days if I can.  This is one of the few recipes on the planet that calls for imitation crab meat (thus the "k" versus "c" in Krab) I think, but it really is a great recipe to have for hot weather.  The few times I've made it for friends they have all raved about it, so I think my mom did a good job creating the recipe *laugh*.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Shopping Goals: June, 2019

Well, the story behind this month's shopping goals is an interesting one.

Basically, in a nutshell, when I reimbursed us from our loan monies for things we had to pay out of pocket for after the earthquake, we had a bit of money left over so I thought I'd try and do a big Costco sized order of things from Amazon to help build up our food stores that took such a tremendous hit last year with everything that happened around here.  

Man, I had no idea how off the rails that whole plan would go.  

Basically, the normal pattern of events should have been this...

  • Step 1:  Put together a tremendous Subscribe and Save order so that I'd save a bunch of money with the 15% discount, in a lot of cases I had coupons on the items that helped to save even more money to make it even more worth my while.  I knew I would only pay off about 1/2 of the order with the reimbursed monies I had allocated, but I figured with the 5% cash back I got from my Amazon card I could pay off 1/2 of the bill, get some money back on the card from the 5% and then figure out a budget to get the rest of the money on the card paid off as quickly as possible.
  • Step 2:  Wait for the cut off point where they would charge my Amazon store card for everything and then wait for items to get here.
  • Step 3:  Get items in, prepare to put them into the holes I had sketched out on my pantry plan and feel great happiness at the state of my pantry.

How the ACTUAL series of events went ended up being this...

  • Step 1:  Put together Subscribe and Save order like planned.
  • Step 2:  Wait for cut off point where Amazon would start to charge my card for orders and send them out. 
  • Step 3:  Thank the Lord I stalk my credit card at all times because things quickly went South and I found at least three orders that I'd gotten tripled charged for and had to call Amazon and get charges reversed.
  • Step 4:  See where Amazon shipped things in boxes together that had me concerned to say the least.  Glass bottles with heavy flats of cans, etc.
  • Step 5:  Get items in the mail.  
  • Step 6:  Look at terrible state of box in some cases the items came in and know that the items inside are trashed, or open the box and THEN know what terrible state the items came in.
  • Step 7:  Call Amazon ticked as all get out after getting boxes of broken glass, SEVERELY dented cans, open and leaking boxes of dried items.   Lodge complaint against the incompetent shipping department and get refund issued.
  • Step 8:  Repeat steps 4 through 7.

This has been an absolute nightmare the last month.  You know it's bad when you get actual undamaged items in the mail and it seems out of the ordinary to say the least and you feel like you won some type of lottery.

Right, let me quickly go through my thought processes on what I ordered, because it seems like a weird conglomeration of stuff otherwise.  First I went through, figured out what I lost in the freezer and the pantry during the earthquake and ordered as close to direct replacements as I could think of.   Second I ordered things you can not safely can at home (dairy, bread, eggs, pureed potatoes and squash, not pickled cabbage, cured meats, etc).  Third I ordered things that I never really had much luck canning and having turning out with any success (greens for instance) and then the last category was things that looked kind of neat and exciting to add to the menu later on (I'll highlight those when I get to them).

So, let's get to the list of things I got.  I will list them separately with items that came completely destroyed to those that came in decent shape for anyone curious about ordering these items in the future.  I would get a refund in for an item and then look on Amazon for something to replace the item that I got a refund with in a lot of cases as I'd get, say, a few cans that were salvageable from a case and wouldn't want to take the chance on the item again, but would also have a few to try, so I would go and see if I could find something else.  This rarely worked as in a lot of cases the replacements came damaged as well.  The list I ordered though is long, I spent a lot of money, but am hopefully stocked up again for quite a while.  So, the fact that so much went wrong with everything was doubly upsetting to me as Amazon was definitely making money off of me last month.

Note:  No, the following items do not contain associate links.  I would feel hypocritical doing so.  I was that disappointed in how this went down.

Things that came in one piece:

I got all of the following canned puddings for about 5.00 a pop, which it surprises me how expensive they are now.   I ordered all of the following together, got it in one box and it all came in okay.
  • Glory Foods Seasoned Cabbage (Pack of 6):  There are cheaper options on Amazon in case you want to look, but they weren't peanut safe, so I went with these instead.  Used the quail egg refund to pay for it.  Cans came dented, but usable at least.
  • Jello Instant Pudding, Coconut Cream, 6 pack:  I can't find this flavor at my local store anymore, so I ordered it on Amazon.  Came with a couple of small dents in the boxes, but nothing leaking and in okay shape overall.

  • Read, German Potato Salad, 15 oz. (Pack of 12):  These Read products came packaged in special boxes called "Amazon can shippers"  which I think some companies are actually having specially made.  The cans were all braced apart with cardboard, had very nice buffers between them and damage and came in 100% perfect shape (for a change!).
  • Read, 4 Bean Salad (Pack of 12):  Read is made by Libby's by the way in case anyone is curious :).
  • Lucy's 100% Lime Juice, 1 Gallon:  Yes, I ordered a gallon of lime juice!  Limes are terribly expensive up here, this is 100% real lime juice and I love Brazilian Lemonade (which is just lime aide made with sweetened condensed milk) and so does the husband and daughter.  So, I bought this with the express plan to (when I open it) freeze it in muffin cups and ice cube trays to use in recipes later on :).  For 14.99 for a gallon of lime juice (you can also get lemon juice for that price), you can't really beat that.
  • Media Crema Table Cream Cans (Pack of 12):  Used the refund from the Sweetened Condensed Milk  to buy this and see how it came (I'm a glutton for punishment).  This actually came boxed like the Read products and all cans came in perfect shape.  So, yay for that at least.
  • Tamanu Oil  I bought this to try on Alvah's eczema as it got a lot of great reviews from eczema suffers online.  He seems to really like it and will ask you to spray it on his eczema.  It does seem to be making a difference in the patches as well, so I'm glad I ordered it.

Came Damaged/Destroyed:

Betty Crocker Loaded Casserole Potaotes, pack of 6 (two boxes had actually been opened and then taped shut and another box was open and leaking) .  Got refund.
Hunt's Tomato Ketchup No Salt Added, 12 pack (two bottles came with the lids broken, but at least they are usable and the safety seal wasn't broken) 
Del Monte Green Beans, 12 pack I got two flats of these as they were less than 12.00 when Amazon first listed them.  I got one flat that came in nearly perfect.  The other one looked like someone took a sledge hammer to the entire flat of cans.  They went in the garbage and I got a refund. 
Tiptree Apricot Preserve (came completely shattered) 
Tiptree Black Currant Preserves (came completely shattered) 
Solimo Honey, 32 oz. (Came broken and leaking all over the place) 
Butternut Mountain Farm, Maple Syrup, 32 fl oz.  (first one came leaking and awful, they sent a replacement that they shipped Fed Ex and came in one piece)

Right so the following came completely destroyed in one box.  Amazon shipped a replacement box, which came with only half the order being broken and destroyed over the other 1/2.  They shipped me a final replacement minus the liquid items as I demanded a refund on those to avoid more crap going into my dumpster and the third time the dry items all came in one piece, more's the miracle.

  • 3 pack of Kraft Parmesan Cheese (the second box of broken items I received the cheese was packed in a plastic bag, so actually survived, so I ended up with six bottles by the time it was said and done)
  • 4 pack of McCann's Irish Oatmeal.  I can safely recommend this item as the Oatmeal actually comes packed to survive a nuclear holocaust!  I would have saved the first batch of oatmeal in the first box, but everything was coated in broken glass, syrup, oil and everything and I just didn't want to get hurt.  The second box, the box was dented and sticky, but able to be salvaged, so I ended up with 8 tins of oatmeal by the end.
  • 6 Pack Smuckers Hot Fudge Sauce (came loose in box in both the original and the replacement box.  The second box, somehow, five bottles survived and only one got broken and went everywhere)
  • 6 pack of Smuckers Caramel Sauce (not as lucky as the hot fudge sauce...all broken in both shipments)
  • Smucker's Low sugar Strawberry Preserves (same fate as the caramel sauce...bought some at the store.  More money, but at least wasn't broken)
  • McCormick Taco Seasoning, 24 pack (survived the third replacement shipment and they accidentally sent me two, but let me keep the second one)
  • 32 oz container of olive oil.  Yeah, shipments one and two the item came dented in, broken and leaking, probably because EVERYTHING WAS LOOSE IN THE BOX and with all the broken glass flying around the darned thing didn't stand a chance.  Sorry, not upset at all.  Ahem.  Bought a replacement bottle at the store instead.
  • 12 packs of Blue Diamond Bold Wasabi &Soy Sauce Almonds.  Shipment one, destroyed.  Shipment 2, box opened and packs everywhere, but some are salvageable.  Third one came in one piece.
Sylvia's Mixed Greens (Pack of 12):  This looked great when I first got it in and then I actually lifted the cans from their case and found that every single can was dented, on the inside of the can, where you couldn't see.  The middle cans were SEVERELY dented to the point of ridiculous.  Managed to salvage maybe five cans out of twelve.  Got a refund. 
Roland Quail Eggs (Pack of 6):  I got these to use in salads and to use in some European recipes that called for them specifically.  I used money from one of my various refunds to pay for them for free (I ended up with a gift card on some refunds).  A bunch of the cans came damaged.  Got, yet another, refund, but got a few cans to experiment with I guess. 
LaLechera Sweetened Condensed Milk (Pack of 12):  Sweetened condensed milk is terribly expensive at our local stores and this seemed like a great deal to make Brazilian Lemonade with later on.  What a mistake that was!  Got a crushed box in the mail (after Amazon shipped it Parcel Pool and it took forever to get here) with loose cans in it and every single can was dented, all but one so severely there was no way I was going to chance using them.  Got a refund. 

Farmer's Market Organic Sweet Potato Puree (Pack of 12):  6 out of 12 cans came severely, severely dented.  All cans were loose in the original shipper box with a shipping label slapped on top of the other shipping label and a nice "heavy" sticker slapped onto the box.  There was a hole in the box that I really think came from the warehouse as it looked like an old hole and there was an old, dirty, dent in the can beneath it.  Salvaged a few cans and got a refund.
 Now the damaged goods, also take into consideration that I got refunded for the wrong thing on TWO occasions and had to get that fixed, got actually charged instead of refunded on another order (which baffled the person who then fixed it because they couldn't figure out how that happened) and other fiascos.  Like I tried THREE times to order chutney because I've always wanted to try it.  One order got lost in the mail somewhere, one order got cancelled because the item got sold out before they got to shipping me my order (got to love Amazon Prime and how they treat Alaska) and the third one got destroyed in shipping to the point that the post office actually rejected the shipment as hazardous and shipped it back to Amazon themselves before it even GOT to me.  That's when I gave up on that.

I learned my lesson well.  If I can find something local (or in the case of the chutney I can't even FIND it locally) I'm buying it that way or probably doing without.  It's worth the extra money to not have to worry about something potentially coming in completely destroyed and unsafe.  My dump bill was TWICE what we normally pay due to the extra weight from everything I had to throw away.  Wish I could charge Amazon for that.  

Anyway *ahem* I am hoping to pick up a few more things around at the stores like black olives, frozen fruit, vegetable oil and the like, but I am definitely done ordering stuff from Amazon in the way of food for goodness knows how long.  I used the last of the refund Amazon credits to buy myself some new sneakers (which I did definitely needed) and got the son some underwear and I'm just going to work on paying off the Amazon card and not worrying about using it for anything other than Christmas gifts and things.  So, so done.  Which is sad, in a way, as I've ordered things from Amazon for years, but I'll tell you what.  It's like as soon as I started paying for Prime, my satisfaction level with Amazon has gone through the floor.  I can't complain about the customer service, I guess, as they issued refunds without complaint (although I was nearly begging them to let me ship things back to them after the third or forth item came in destroyed so  I could show them how terrible of a packaging job they did) and gave me canned apologies every single time, but I kind of just want my items to get to me in one piece and things to be done right the first time if possible.  I get that mistakes and accidents happen, but this goes beyond the point of ridiculous.

So, there you are folks.  My "Amazon bulk order" experience.  May you learn from my folly!  

Monday, June 3, 2019

Money Saving Monday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I'm proud of myself.  TECHNICALLY I'm only a day late in posting this since I posted so late last week.  Hey, I'm counting it *laugh*.

Life has been insanely busy of late.  We had Alvah's psychology check up last week and his doctor was happy with how he was doing so we don't go back for another three months.  Therapy last week was a huge screwy mess as the owner/boss was on vacation, was the only one with access to the computers and the staff had no idea who was scheduled for what and when.  We went for Alvah's first appointment last week and they had to scramble to find a therapist to take him because he wasn't even on the schedule.  When his second appointment of the week rolled around, I called the office that morning and found out that he was on the schedule...completely at the wrong times (yes, times, they had him in at multiple appointments) and he was double booked with another kiddo on his one therapist's schedule so she asked if we could just cancel Alvah for that day.  I was okay with that as we had a lot going on last week and I could use the reprieve of one more thing to do.  I finally sat down and thought about things as Alvah had to get up early about 85% of the time last week and decided that this week, with no appointments looming over our heads, that I was just going to cancel therapy this week and try and give the guy an actual summer break for this week. 

Next week we start therapy four days a week for two and a half hours at a shot and then the week after we stack that on top of summer school starting so the guy is going to be in therapy and summer school essentially an entire school day for three days a week.  This also means an insane amount of pick ups, drop offs and getting him to eat lunch in between therapy and summer school, so I'm going to be running around like mad trying to get things done around his schedule for the next month.  It will be worth it if  he doesn't lose any skills this summer, or better yet makes some forward progress.  I just feel bad for the guy as it's going to be intense and I doubt he's going to like it.

I made an appointment to get our sewer pumped this week as well, so it'll be good not having to run to therapy as the septic pumping outfit couldn't really give us an exact time they'll show up.  It is on a therapy day so at least we'll be here when they arrive.  I'm praying that they'll be able to pump the septic as we have a camper that is in the way of them getting really far back into the yard on the one side of the house and the other side they can drive down into the yard but the husband is worried they'll stick the truck if they try it.  The gal who scheduled us made a note for them to bring extra hose and was totally confident that they'll be able to get it done, so let us pray.  We're overdue to get it done and I'd like to get it done before it becomes a problem especially with all of the things that went down the drain, literally, with the earthquake.

So, other than that, I was super busy (and super sore as a result) this week, so let's get to that!

1.  Shopping went super awesome this week.  We didn't have a lot to get this week with the exception of boy food and milk, so I ran into the store to get those things and while I was there I couldn't BELIEVE the deal I ran into.  They had 3 lb tubes of hamburger on reduced for 6.99 each on manager special and THEN the tubes were marked down 50% off!!!  They came to 3.49 each!!!  I grabbed four as getting hamburger for about a dollar a pound?  I couldn't beat that if I tried.  Honestly, if I'd had more room in the freezer I would have bought more, so I'm kind of glad we didn't have the room in the freezer as we went 3 weeks in between pay periods this time, so money is going to be tight for about a month to recover from that, unfortunately.  I'm trying to be really careful to keep the loan monies as loan monies and not have to borrow from them to keep the trains running on time as the loan is supposed to be used for only certain things and I think that it's important to stick to that.

2.  The super big project I did this week was getting the pantry rearranged and BOY was it an undertaking that took a lot of thought, a lot of effort and a lot of days where the den, bedroom closet and pantry were completely torn apart.  God bless my husband for just rolling with things as I worked on that because that meant that the son had run of the upstairs and it showed by the end of the day.

3.  The first thing I did was to finally muck out and try to reorganize the bedroom closet.  It hadn't really been done since the earthquake.  My husband and I were kind of in the "out of sight, out of mind" phase with the closet as we had so many other things to do, but I had a plan and I needed the closet to do it.  So, I rearranged the closet, got things put back up and put back away and then I grabbed a big Rubbermaid dresser we had in the closet that I had used for years to store various items and I emptied that out to get space (we put the Rubbermaid dresser into the daughter's closet where her dollhouse used to be to get her more storage space...she loves it :).  I then emptied off one of the wire shelves in the pantry (into the den) and moved the wire shelf into my closet.  Then it was a lot of crouching and crawling back and forth under the stairs as I grabbed all of the long term food storage cans and put them onto the shelf in my closet.  The pantry was just too damp to store the cans long term and I was worried they would rust, so I think they'll be a lot happier in their new home.  I'm hoping to store a bunch more emergency type of supplies on the shelf (crank flash lights, sleeping bags, etc) and maybe even store a few blankets and things on the top shelf on top of the boxes.

4.  Next up, I took the buckets from underneath the shelves in the pantry that were by the door and pulled them out and then started stacking up all of the boxes of canned goods I had (I'll go more into all of that later on with the shopping goals post I'm working gets complicated).  I then took the other wire shelf I had in the pantry and put different things on it (since the big #10 cans of food storage were now in my bedroom closet) and then just generally started rearranging things a bit better.  My goal was to make it so I had to duck down under the stairs less, mainly because I'm getting older and my back is protesting (and my knees a lot more) every time I have to spend any significant amount of time ducking under the low part of the pantry. 

The buckets of flours, rice and sugar I put right by the door so I have easy access to them so I can refill my kitchen containers easier (the cat is sitting on top of the front ones).

5.  I put as many home canned goods into boxes and labeled them so I'll know what I have and what needs to be used up.  Unfortunately, I'm probably going to have to use them up rather quickly.  I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably going to have to replace the majority of my mason jars as it seems that the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks have caused more damage than I at first thought (I'm checking the jars pretty much daily anymore).  I'm finding more and more jars that the seals suddenly fail and then when I check the lid and the rim of the jar I find that the rim of the jar has tiny small chips in it, hidden by the lid.  In some cases it seems like the adhesive on the lids manages to suck the lid down and hold the chips in place (for a while anyway) and then the jars fail.  So far I've still got some jars that seem to be holding up, but I'm not sure how long I can count on them to do that, so I'm using up anything with a good seal as quickly as possible, checking the jars for damage when empty (I'm even finding small hairline cracks in jars and things, so I wouldn't want to put them back in a canner for's depressing) and moving on from there.  So, at least by not canning this year I'll have time to start rebuilding the amount of canning jars I have and just start from scratch again next year, hopefully.  I'll have to start small and build up from there, but I've done it before, so I have faith I can do it again.

You'll notice the cats decided to help me with the photo taking this time.  Since they would NOT stay out of the shots, I gave up and just let them photo bomb.  Enjoy that ;).

So, yeah up above there is what you see when you walk into the pantry. 

This is where the first wire shelf used to be on the back wall.  I put some emergency water storage by the pressure tank (which I'll rotate out on a regular basis, and I'd like to get a few more packages of water on top of some actual gallon jugs as well).  The Rubbermaid containers house things like dehydrated potato type of sides, pasta, baking mix...things I don't want mice even THINKING about getting into. 

So, here's the other shelf as it sits now.  I've got a bit more stuff I'm hoping gets here in one piece from Amazon, so I' have a few holes in the shelf and I plan on canning sauerkraut this year no matter what (I'm blowing through it and need to start more soon), so I made sure to keep enough room open for those jars.  The Rubbermaid container by the shelf actually pretty much holds just lightweight pasta (manicotti noodles and such) that takes up a bunch of room so it's out of the way for when I occasionally need them.  I also decided to store my super cheap cooking wine down in the pantry so it stays decent tasting to put into things like beef bourgignon. 

On the wire shelves right now I have a 12 pack of BBQ sauce, applesauce, tomato sauce (I'm trying out Amazon's brand because they had it on sale super cheap when I ordered it...believe it or not those jars are plastic...blew my mind), grape juice (I got huge family sized Welch's grape juice containers for 3.14 on clearance, so I stocked up) and a few home canned goods.  The big box contains canning supplies.  A few flats of jars I picked up a bit ago, some spare rings I had, etc, in the hopes I can try to keep things somewhat organized.

This area got a bit more built up than I would have liked, but the cats still have access to the lowest point under the stairs and I have a nice gap around the one wire shelf I have left so the cats have in and out access to the outside wall, so here's hoping between them and the steel wool I won't have problems with rodents from now on.

6.  The condiment shelf remains where it was, a bunch of Tupperware and things to put in here for storage and I put the one box of chunky Musselman's applesauce I bought last year in here too to later use as supplemental apple pie filling.  We went to eat it and it was literally like eating a finely diced apple...I couldn't really distinguish any "sauce" in the applesauce.  None of us were overly fond of the consistency, but I thought it would make a really nice, finely diced, apple pie filling.  I made pie with it a few weeks ago and everyone liked it, so that's how I'm going to use it up.

7.  I harvested rhubarb this week.  Basically the only thing I'm seeing myself harvesting this year as the moose killed as many raspberry bushes as they could get their big old teeth into last year and I have very short tiny little bushes now.

8.  You'll notice I didn't harvest a bunch of rhubarb.  That is because I had a plan for these stalks.  I had some heavy cream left over from a recipe I made a couple of months ago (yes, months...heavy cream actually lasts for quite a while in the fridge :) and realized I needed to use it up, so I decided to use about 2/3 of it and some rhubarb to make Rhubarb Cream Scones.  I made a double batch (I actually made two batches in different bowls to make sure they'd come out well and just measured everything twice) so I'd have one batch to freeze for use a little later on.  They turned out awesome and so, so yummy!  I'm actually snacking on one as I type this...excuse the crumbs on the keyboard *laugh*.

9.  I realized my old rag mop was on its last legs, but I decided it needed to do one more job for me before it got thrown into the trash.  I used it to mop the pantry floor and made sure I went over it twice to get everything nice and sanitary and get all of the broken glass up out of the knooks and crannies as well as anything nasty and/or sticky (of which there was plenty hidden, believe me). 

And so, with a bit of a salute, I put the rag mop out onto the deck to dry and go off to it's final resting place.  I wish I could have recycled the handle, but it was a one piece mop, so the head of the mop was attached, hardcore, and wasn't going to be separated from the handle.

I'll go more into what we have been up to in another post (trust me it'll make sense when you read it), but yeah, that's a bit of what I was personally up to this last week.  The pantry is pretty much done at this point and I have to say it feels good to be done.  Now I can clean up the den with all of the plastic and cardboard in it from me organizing things (doh!).

How about you?  How did your week go?