Okay, since it's Tuesday it would TECHNICALLY be times 3, but I'm calling it two as I'm hoping to get another Frugal Friday post up this Friday, so it'll all work out in the end. *Messes around with beads on abdictus* yeahhhh...we'll go with that *laugh*.
Anyway, what have we been up to the last few weeks. TONS would be the short answer. Some good, some bad. So, let's break it down.
First there has been my husband's health, which has been crazy of late. First he went to the free clinic that his union provides to get his ankle checked out. He'd folded his other ankle when he was climbing off of a ladder, so he was worried he'd hurt the other leg somehow, but found out that basically he's getting older and just needs better inserts in his shoes. While he was there, however, they took his blood pressure and it was pretty darned high. He felt fine, though, so the doctor on duty told him to go home, wait a day, take his blood pressure and if it was still high to go and see our family doctor.
Well, in short he checked his blood pressure as directed and it was still really high, so he went into our family doctor. He then told the doctor all of the things I'd implemented to keep our diet decently low in sodium and the doctor pretty much told him "congratulations, you're a victim of genetics" and put him on blood pressure medication. Which, after messing with the dosage the last couple of weeks, I think we are on the right track and his blood pressure is doing a lot better. Bright side as well is that they did a bunch of blood work on the husband and found that his cholesterol and sugar levels were good, so all of the effort I've put into keeping our diet decently healthy seems to be working :).
Then last week rolled around and the husband woke up on Wednesday to find one of his eyes all swollen up. He tried Benadryl and that didn't seem to do much, so he went back to the doctor to find out what was going on with it. The doctor was pretty sure it was allergies, but put him on antibiotic drops just in case there was an infection. It seems like his eye is finally doing better *knock on wood*, so hopefully we're on the mend with that.
Then there was the home front stuff on top of that. I went downstairs one night to see the cats doing their best to dig through the walls at the bottom of the stairs. I was kind of confused at first, but when I went into the laundry room I found the distinctive pile of mouse droppings. I looked and sure enough there was a hole around where the stairs met the floor at the bottom of the staircase. I immediately went and shoved aluminum foil into every gap and hole I could find, much to the vexation of my cats. The next day I went outside to try and figure out how the buggers were getting in this time. Well, I definitely found it. The earthquake really moved the front of our house, I guess, and the front porch acted as added weight to move the house back and forth. As a result under the front porch, where the mice got in last year, was woefully unprotected. The brick I had put over the hole had moved a good foot off of the hole, the aluminum foil, though, was in place. The biggest problem, though, was that the foil was now useless as there is a good sized gap between the dirt and the foundation where the earth had gotten compacted forward during the earthquake. I went and grabbed gravel and filled up the hole down as far as I could around the ground wire hole (where they had gotten in last year) and planted the brick over it, but otherwise there isn't a whole lot I can do at the moment as we have fencing around the bottom of the porch with gaps just large enough for me to fit my arm through, but I can't reach as far as I need to to fill in the gap that developed. So, I did the best I could and will make sure to be vigilant looking for any telltale signs of mice.
Bright side is that I DID go in and look around the pantry and didn't find any evidence that the evil disease ridden creatures were getting into the pantry at all, so at least the steel wool and aluminum foil are doing their job so far. For the time being, however, the door to the pantry is wide open so the cats have full access to ANYTHING that they might need to deal with. I'm taking no chances.
There was also my truck. The service engine soon light has been on in the truck pretty much since the moment we bought it as we have a fuel vapor leak in the truck somewhere. It hasn't been a problem in the truck running, but it does make the service engine soon light come on and stay on. Then we went to go out last week and the truck just ran awful and now the service engine soon light was blinking. Not good. The husband went and plugged in his code reader and found that the 8th cylinder was misfiring. He then started trouble shooting the problem, found it was the coil, went and got parts and fixed the truck. We spent about 65.00 between the part and buying a testing device for the coil, but if we had brought the truck to a garage we would have paid at least 100.00 just to diagnose the problem. Once again I'm so thankful to have a husband who knows how to do things :).
So, yeah, this is definitely going to be a year where I'm going to be trying to figure out how to access our health reimbursement account through our health insurance as I'm going to need it to pay for all of the medical bills that will be coming down the pike.
1. And then there was my big project over the last couple of weeks. I've been really kind of frustrated and helpless feeling that I can't help the husband with the chimney and I kept trying to figure out how to help him get things done as we have so much to do. So, I figured I could take a nail set around the house, start nailing nails back into the ceilings and walls, patching the holes and then start painting one room at a time. So, this week it was the bathroom. Since I'm the one painting, I'm picking the colors. Bwahahahaha! When we bought the house the entire house was white inside and textured. I hate textured walls by the way. Anyway, I made sure that the rooms for both kids were painted before we moved in as I wanted to them to feel like the rooms belonged to them, but when it came to the rest of the house everything remained white. I'm still going to be stuck with the main part of the house being white as it's such a wide open area I really don't have much of a choice, but I figured I could at least paint the other rooms.
So, I went and nailed all of the nails back into the walls and ceiling, sealed up the cracks in the drywall (let's hear it for DAP, or bathroom rated caulk for those who don't recognize the brand) and then applied a good coat of oil based primer (basically Kilz, but the store version of it).
And might I just say that this process took FOREVER with the texture on the walls. I ended up with two days just into putting primer on the walls. The texture and old paint on the walls just absorbs paint, so it took a lot longer than I had hoped.
Bright side once the primer was on the paint went on great. I had picked a light silver color. I ended up with a blue grey color instead (why doesn't the paint ever match the color on those little sample cards?). Bright side is that it still matched at least one shade of grey in the shower tiles and on the floor, so it worked out.
Ways I saved money while doing this project?
- I did the work myself instead of hiring a contractor to do it.
- We got a discount on our painting supplies by getting things on sale.
- The only brush we bought was a four inch brush and we bought some inserts for our paint roller. Otherwise we used tools we already had around the house for everything else.
The final color on...
And how the bathroom looks now after a good thorough deep cleaning (and scraping off of the tiny little dribbles of paint that always seem to find their way onto objects no matter how well you put down drop cloths...
We also ended up getting a new towel rack and things for the bathroom as the old ones were cheap wood ones and were REALLY falling apart after the masses of pounding they took in the earthquake. The vanity is also going to need to be replaced as the bottom is falling in bad since the quake (not sure why, but it was cheap to begin with as well). I screwed the vanity back tight to the wall again and then took an oak board I had and put it across the bottom of the vanity so I could at least put things under the sink again without them trying to fall down into the middle.
2. I went out and foraged in the yard and did find we had a few raspberry bushes actually produce some raspberries (more is the miracle with how low they got chopped down by the moose last year).
I picked enough for the daughter to have a small snack and while I was out I picked some rhubarb and some wildflowers.
3. I attempted to make Old Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake with the rhubarb I picked. Attempted should be the word of the day there. I was distracted by my kids. My daughter forgot how to do everything on her own but breathe, so it seemed and the son was running around like a maniac, dumped a DVD into my cake batter...it was nuts. So, I read the recipe completely wrong and put the cornstarch and sugar concoction on the fruit instead of over the batter (I'm sure my mind went to pie making and was like, "Right, rhubarb pie filling on the bottom..."). Turns out if you do that you end up with an odd tasting rhubarb cobbler instead of a cake. So, now you know. Anyway, I ate a bunch of it myself as my family wasn't keen on eating it, but I did find the almond extract to be overpowering in the recipe. So, I'm going to try the recipe again, but I think I'm just going to double the vanilla extract and call it good.
3. So, Prime Day came and went last week. I actually, for a change, found things that I needed. I made out a list beforehand to see if any of those items went on sale decently cheap on Amazon, and was actually able to check a few things off of my list. I got a two pack of gel pillows (which I have one that my husband and I end up trading off, along with the down pillows and then we end up compromising on who gets what when he has his nights off) for less than 20.00, got a six pack of battery powered, motion detecting LED lights (for the pantry as one of my battery powered lights got crushed in the quake and the other one doesn't really light up the entire pantry all that great), an art kit for the daughter for Christmas and some toys for the son for Christmas as well. I was even able to find the husband a watch that they had on special for 28.00. I know it's not a GREAT watch by any stretch, but he hasn't had a working watch in a while, so I figured it'll do :).
I also took advantage of Prime Day sales on Seventh Generation products to get some super concentrated laundry detergent for less than 10.00 for a bottle. It's scented, which I normally don't get, but I'm looking forward to trying it as I haven't bought scented anything in YEARS.
4. Used shopping went well a couple of weeks ago (I am still searching for a new shower curtain for the kid's bathroom as the one we have in there right now keeps shrinking every time I wash it and it is developing holes...it's really old and I got it for free years and years ago, so I can't complain, but now I need a new shower curtain.
I did, finally, find some prints to replace the prints I had made for Alvah for his room as they got wrecked in the earthquake. I found these really pretty sailing boat prints, so I got them and hung them up where the old prints used to be. Since I'm thinking of going for a "things that go" type of theme for his room, I think the prints will work well in there when all is said and done. With the race car banner I made it looks like there's a regatta going on instead of a car race, but it'll do ;).
5. While at the used store I also ran into a nice fake plant that would fit on top of the towel cabinet in the hallway. I was thrilled as I really wanted something like that to finish up the look of the cabinet and I could put my stereo away unless I was using it (thus saving it from getting dusty).
6. Shopping went well this week. I had a personalized price on Rotisserie chickens, so I took advantage of it as they were giving them to me for 5.00 a piece. I went in and got four of them, two of which were on reduced for 50% off (who can beat 2.49 for a whole chicken????). I put them into the freezer whole in freezer bags and will take them out when I want a quick and flavorful dinner.
There was also a coupon online that you could load to get a container of ice cream for 1.49, limit of one and while at the store getting milk I got a coupon that printed off at the register for 1.25 off of the new style of ice cream for Carrs (the not-quite-half-gallon size). I combined the coupons together at check out to get a thing of ice cream for .24! Yeah!!!
Just4U also offered me a free box of blueberry Cheerios this week, so I picked those up yesterday as well when I went to get groceries. My husband refuses to try them as he doesn't like fruity cereals, but I'm kind of hoping that the daughter might like them. I'm curious to see what they taste like myself.
7. We got our refund check in from our home owners insurance this week. I get mad at them for doing invoicing our bank for the full amount and then proceeding to send me a refund check, but they have been doing it so long it ceases to surprise me when it happens. I talked to my mortgage company on online chat and asked if I put the money back into escrow would it make a difference when they went to calculate the mortgage payments at the end of the year and he said it wouldn't make any difference as they go off of the invoice that was given, how it compared to last year and then they figure out the difference between the home owners insurance and the property taxes, add a cushion in on top of it, recalculate the escrow and then the mortgage payment comes out of that. So, I decided to just bank the refund monies and use them to go toward school supplies and back to school clothes for the kids instead.
I went online one day and found that Land's end was having a sale of 40% off of regular priced items and they also had some really good clearance sales on t-shirts and things. Both kids needed clothes and rain jackets. Between the discount code for 40% off I was able to get rain jackets for less than 25.00 a piece, got t-shirts for about 5.00 a piece in different colors for each child and other things (like another bathing suit for Alvah and another in the next size up for him). I spent more than 75.00 so I got free shipping on the clothes as well.
The daughter needed a new lunchbox and desperately wanted another back pack as hers was falling apart even after light use last year. Her aunt had gotten one for her for Christmas, but it is still a bit big for her (the daughter inherited my short gene), so I went on Land's End when they were having a 50% off sale on backpacks and lunch boxes a few days ago. I was able to get a back pack that I THINK will fit the daughter well (I hope it's not too small for her...she's at an odd height at the moment), got an embroidered unicorn on the pocket for her as well (she saw one in the catalog and fell utterly in love with the idea of having a unicorn on her back pack) and got her a new lunch box and I still, even after shipping, paid the same amount as the back pack would have been normal price WITHOUT embroidery or anything with it.
8. I mended three t-shirts that had holes in them this week.
9. We were invited to dinner by my in-laws and I got to see one of my sister-in-laws and her children as she was invited too. It was a lot of fun, the kids had a blast and I didn't have to cook. Always a nice change of pace :).
10. I darned one of my socks.
11. I cleaned out the drains in the bathrooms to make sure they continue to flow well.
And there you go folks. A quick recap of what has been going on around here. How about you? How has the past couple of weeks treated you all?