Friday, July 5, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (x2)

Delayed again on the posting front, but I do have things to report. 

Oh and warning.  The following post contains affiliate links.  If you order through these links I get a small commission from Amazon for pointing the sale their way.  Ordering through these links will not cost you any extra money and I thank you if you choose to use them.  If you don't want to use them just be sure to close out the window you launch Amazon in and then look up Amazon through your regular method and go about your day.  Thanks!

First, I want to thank everyone for their advice and things of late that I haven't gotten around to thanking people for.  Your advice on how to use up sour cream was a great help and worked great in using up the considerable amounts I ended up with after the Monopoly game. There were other recommendations that seemed to go unnoticed by me, but they did not and I really do appreciate them.  It's been crazy around here and I just plain forget to take the time to thank people from time to time.  So, thank you :).

The first thing to report is I did, indeed, go to the doctor's for my back and I actually went to my husband's chiropractor who I have been really impressed with as he's done my husband a lot of good with his back, so I figured I'd take the chance on him.

I'm very glad I did.

First, the good news.  My hips are actually in really good shape and when I explained to him about what I'd done carrying my son around, the masses of laundry I have to do each day with him and other things over the years he actually told me he was impressed with how good of shape my hips were in and that I'd actually done a good job of taking care of them.

The bad news is that it isn't my hips causing all of my problems.  It's my back.  Specifically an overly compressed disc in my back that is compressed down to the point that it has spread out and is hitting the nerves on either side of my spine causing a "hot nerve" situation and it has been causing a myriad of problems for longer than I had imagined, including the "I feel like someone took a crowbar to the sides of my legs" situation I found myself in every evening.  He stretched out my back, gave me a bunch of exercises to do and after a purchase of a 23.00 exercise ball I have been making sure to do those exercises every day.  The exercises basically stretch my back out, a lot, and it allows my disc to go back into a more natural position instead of being squished down where it shouldn't be.

And I have to say that the 150.00 I spent on that appointment was the best money I've spent in years.

I have been really surprised at how many problems began and ended with my back and I honestly think I've had a disc problem since my children were born as I haven't felt this good, in a lot of ways, in a lot of years.  Problems that I had equated to other things have lessened or gone away completely as I've stretched my back out.  The constant fatigue I seemed to fight has gotten a LOT better, my legs don't hurt constantly, my walk (I always seemed to drag my right foot when I walked) seems to be doing a lot better and my back always going out and giving me headaches has gotten so much better that I can't tell you how much better I feel.  I crave doing the exercises he gave me to do at night as my back now, not my legs, starts to really hurt by the end of the day, and after the exercises I'm actually able to sleep at night and I'm getting a WAY better quality of sleep than I was.  So, yeah, even though I have to now baby my back, I'm not going to need hip replacement surgery anytime soon (God willing) and I have ways that I can help my back that aren't going to cost me a fortune to do.  So, yay for being able to share some good news :).

Next up on the list of things to share is that it is ridiculously hot here.  We are looking at the 90's up into next week (yuck, yuck, YUCK!!!).  Everywhere you go, air conditioners are sold out and we are praying for rain (next week we might see some, hopefully).  Luckily, my husband put in the air conditioner when the temps started hitting the upper 70's and we knew it was going to get worse, so we have managed to mess around with fans and things to the point where it still gets hot upstairs at about 7:00 in the evening or so, but we can get it cooled back down by about 11:00, so the kids can actually sleep at night.  I even put up the extra black out curtain, like the one I have hanging up in the den, over our front door to block out as much sunlight as possible to try and avoid as much of the "baking effect" as we can to help keep the house cool.  It's been working relatively well all things considered, although the son has taken over the kitchen and is literally camping out in front of the air conditioner during the day.

With the heat up here also comes wild fires and right now we have just tons of things burning.  You walk outside and all you smell is smoke and the air quality is terrible.  My poor husband has been living off of his inhaler for weeks, same with my mother-in-law, and I'm doubly grateful for the air conditioner as it at least stops us from having to blow masses of smoke around the house to try and stay cool.

With the heat also comes the want to not turn on the oven unless I absolutely have to, so the electric pressure cooker has been getting constant use around here.  It's been kind of neat having the opportunity to mess around with it more and I even found that the Gourmia electric pressure cooker (the one I have) actually has a manual time function like the Instant Pot, so being able to convert Instant Pot recipes is just a matter of upping the liquid involved (my cooker calls for at least 2 cups of liquid) and I'm ready to roll.  I even pressure cooked hamburgers last week and I have to say they came out really well.  

Just as a side note, I found the secret to finding good recipes for the pressure cooker.  I don't use Pinterest.  I haven't found more than one good recipe for the pressure cooker on Pinterest, so I went to just Googling anything I might want to try in the pressure cooker and I look for a recipe to make.  So far I haven't found one recipe I was disappointed in by doing it that way, so I'm going to stick with that method in the future.

Some of the recipes I've made the last bit (other than the link to the hamburger recipe above)?

  • Instant Pot Pot Roast (I used a sweet onion versus a yellow onion and didn't make the potatoes with it, but man this made the BEST gravy!  I even froze what was left even though I knew it would separate on defrosting just so I wouldn't waste the stock/gravy!)
  • Instant Pot BBQ Chicken (this was really good!)
  • Instant Pot Korean Pork Chops (This was good but BOY did it take a lot of soy sauce!)
  • I also made beef Stroganoff in the instant pot (I just looked up a recipe on All Recipes for that one), Burgundy Beef tips (which was good, also from and just cooked some marinated chicken breasts in the pressure cooker yesterday (more on that in a minute), which turned out well.  Overall, I am super happy with the pressure cooker and it has certainly more than paid for itself not heating up my kitchen the last couple of weeks :).
The state shut down fireworks yesterday due to the super dry conditions and wanting to avoid setting yet more of the state on fire.  For the first time I can remember even people down on the lake down the road from us didn't set of fireworks and it was nice and quiet last night.  The state makes up for the lack of fireworks in July (it's light up here still at night, so a lot of people don't even bother on not dry years to set off fireworks) on New Years Eve, so I'm sure they'll save the fireworks for later in the year :).

We invited my father and mother-in-law over yesterday for dinner.  Since my father-in-law is diabetic and has been having problems with his sugar, we didn't have the usual Fourth of July fare.  Instead I made salad with marinated and pressure cooked chicken breasts with home made balsamic vinaigrette (which actually ended up being a balsamic and red wine vinegar concoction as I ran out of vinegar...oops) .  It was really tasty and healthy and everyone seemed happy with it, so I call it a success :).  I bought the chicken breasts on reduced when they were also on sale and froze them ahead so we didn't spend much money, at all, on the occasion.  My in-laws even brought over pre-sliced up watermelon for dessert :).

I hope everyone in the U.S. enjoyed the holiday yesterday, by the way :).

So, yeah, let's get to everything else that has been going on around here!

1.  My neighbors down by our bank of mail boxes used to own a flower store in the area and they always have beautiful flowers in bloom and everything smells heavenly coming from their yard.  I really wanted some fresh flowers in the house, but also knew buying a bouquet for ten dollars or more wasn't really in the budget, so instead I went out one morning this week and just picked some wild flowers.  I am hoping to pick some more soon as it really did help to brighten the place up a bit.  

2.  The cushions in the love seat have been getting old and breaking down to the point that they were getting pretty flat.  I went through my materials and grabbed the old cushions from my son's glider rocker that finally fell apart and used the foam to help to plump up the cushions on the love seat.  The cushions were still worn down a bit, so I took the mattress pad from my bed that was getting old and kind of worn out.  I folded the pad up and just stuck it under the cushions.  It makes the cushions go up higher than they should when the pad "inflates" overnight, but at least the love seat is a lot more comfortable to sit on now.

3.  We had more earthquake damage make itself known the last couple of weeks.  The first was my electric kettle.  It had been leaking from the plastic window since the earthquake, but I had been trying to hold it at bay with some clear silicone on the outside of the pot.  Well, it finally started leaking too much around all parts of the window, so I had to order a new kettle.  I ordered one this time without a "window" in it to try and stop that problem from happening again.

Another bit of earthquake damage that showed itself in a big way was the son's dresser.  I knew that some plastic brackets had broken in the earthquake, but I thought they were just small trim pieces and that the dresser itself was still sound.  Well, I was wrong.  It decided to show me how wrong, by the side of the dresser falling off.  I managed to hammer it back together enough to get it downstairs and the husband thinks he can fix it.  

I decided to put my old dresser that was in the den into Alvah's room instead.  I think it will work better.  It is solid wood, well built and it is up on legs so I can actually recover DVD's from behind it without having to move it AND I can vacuum under it without worries.  In the case of the son, these are all big benefits.

4.  We pulled out the 4th of July decorations and hung them up earlier this week.  I felt bad that I kind of waited till the last minute to do it, but it's been crazy, so the kids were happy that we got it done at all.  I reused decorations from previous years (which the decorations survived the earthquake just fine, which was a happy find) to decorate with.

5.  The son's eczema has gone completely bonkers this summer.  To the point his hands and feet were huge open sores from him itching them so much.  

I called the doctor and she started him on Singulair chewable pills, which he is actually taking with some gagging and things, but he is taking it (more's the miracle as he's so hard to get medicine down) and she prescribed him a steroid cream for his hands and feet, which really seems to be helping to get his eczema to stop flaring so badly.  

In the meantime I also decided to see what I could find to help him.  I bought some more cotton gloves to try and get him to hold moisturizer on his hands, some spa booties to help moisturize his feet and a new type of soap that I found on Amazon that is a goat's milk soap with dead sea mud and activated charcoal in it.  The soap is really good quality and doesn't hurt his eczema when I use it, so I'm going to continue to use it and see what happens.  I also ordered him some oatmeal bath packets that have some herbs and things in them that is supposed to really help eczema and we'll see how he does with those.  He used to be allergic to oats, but in recent years has actually grabbed and eaten raw rolled oats without any reactions, so I'm going to see if he can take the oatmeal bath topically without breaking out.  I hope so as it would definitely not hurt his eczema if it works for him.

6.  I found out from an e-mail the company sent me that my husband's credit card had a ton of rewards points on it from all of the dental bills we had on it.  I went and checked out the rewards and wasn't impressed until I found the digital gift certificate section.  I managed to get a 50.00 gift card to Red Robin (which will be a definite nice treat for us for a couple of meals as it is one of the son's favorite restaurants of all time) and another 50.00 gift card to Amazon.

I used the Amazon card to help pay toward a Spine decompression/Inversion Machine.  The chiropractor and my massage therapist sister-in-law both highly recommended getting one to both my husband and to myself, so I figure an investment now might very well stop us from costly doctor bills later.

7.  The one other purchase I made I bought in memory of Shani.  I had been texting her, but since April I hadn't gotten a reply from her.  I had to clean text messages off of my phone and I have kept every single text she's sent me the last few years, so once I was done I started to read back through the hundreds of  texts we'd exchanged.  As I read, I ran across a bunch of texts we had exchanged a while back about a feeding therapy tool that might work with Alvah.  When I ran across the conversation I actually got kind of excited and  I texted her about it as Alvah has been having fun with an app called "Talking Carl" on the I-Pad.  He doesn't talk to Carl (which is what I was HOPING he'd do), but he does love to feed Carl.  Shani had found and fallen in love with this feeding therapy tool called Milton the Mealtime Feeding Companion as a means to get kids to play with their food and take the stress out of trying new foods.  She had been really wanting to try it out and had thought Alvah would be a great guy to try it out on.  She had been big on getting one for Alvah and we had been working out the best way to work it into his therapy.  And then she had gotten sick.  I had forgotten about it until I went back through our old text messages and thought about him loving to feed Carl and how much it would be great if he'd feed Milton to at least maybe start to play with new textures and things.  

When I texted Shani about it, her daughter texted me back and tearfully told me Shani had passed away a few weeks ago.   

The news didn't devastate me, but it was still rough.  The world is a darker place without her in it, but I am glad she's out of pain and suffering.  Her cancer put her in constant nausea and agony and she died by basically slowly starving to death.  They gave her six months.  She fought for a long time past that.  So, I am glad she's where pain and misery can't reach her anymore and I admire her to no end for not giving up despite all the pain and suffering. I will definitely miss her.  She was a rare person.

In her memory I ordered Milton and I pray that he works to help Alvah eat more real foods.  Shani always loved Alvah and wanted the best for him and worked so hard to get him to eat that I decided to try her newest method on him myself.  May she watch over us and inspire the guy so that this method of feeding therapy works.  

So, yeah, my life in the "spending money" department hasn't been exactly frugal the last little bit, but hopefully something in the money spent will help keep my husband and I out of the doctor's office and the rest will help Alvah with some of his problems in this world.

8.  We have been having a good time watching programs that are included with Amazon Prime.  I became addicted watching "Poldark" in the evenings when the kids were SLOWLY going to sleep  and we also found out that "The Dark Crystal" and a few other movies we really love were included with Prime.  The son has even discovered "Popular Mechanics for Kids" and has been having a blast watching the series.  So, at least I feel like paying for Amazon Prime isn't a complete waste even when I'm not ordering things.  We're at least using it and making the most of it.

9.  We didn't do anything for our anniversary last week except have a nice evening at home with the kids.  I was happy with that as it was a nice night to be sure :).

10.  The owners of the pool where the kids take their swimming lessons called up my husband a few weeks ago and offered to let us use the pool as they were redoing the pool, were going to drain it in a couple of days, repaint it and they wanted to know if we'd like to go swimming before then.  My husband actually ended up helping one of the owners with a problem they were having with some of their lighting, but the kids and I went swimming and had a great time (he even sent us off with some smoked pork sandwiches he made and the husband took them to work for his lunch.  They were really good!).  I felt bad that my husband had to sit out on the swimming, but the kids were majorly thrilled that they were able to go swimming again as they have missed it this summer.  It had been quite a while since I had been swimming and I have to say I was happy that I was able to swim so long and so well without being completely knackered.  It's always good to know you haven't lost skills over the years and still have a decent amount of lung capacity left.

I grew up by a lake in Maine.  We were right around the block from the lake and I spent my entire childhood swimming my summers away.  It was nice getting back into the water again especially with the kids being able to swim with me for a change and enjoying themselves.  I am thrilled they have come so far in learning to swim :).

And I'm going to call it good there as I have got to get the leftover salad on the table so we can eat dinner.  How did you all do the last couple of weeks?  Well I hope?


  1. I could not believe it when I saw that it was hitting over 90F in Anchorage this past week! BC and Alberta are the same and have been battling various forest fires for a couple of months now. We had another big fire in Northern Ontario but temperatures cooled down a bit so I believe it's now under control. There is on indigenous community that seems to get evacuated every year - either because of flooding or because of fires!
    We had a very late start to summer but have made up for it this past week with temps in the high 90'sF and awful humidity. Yesterday it was just so hot that you didn't want to do anything but today is gorgeous - about 25C (80F) - clear skies and a lovely breeze - I wish it would stay like this for the rest of the summer!
    I'm just going down to drop off a gift card and a thank you card to our superintendent as she has had an awful week. Our water went off about 10pm on Monday night but I didn't find out until I turned on the news the following morning that the sewer line from the city to the building had become blocked and flooded the bottom two floors - this bldg. is built into the side of a hill so those two floors only have 5 units each but it was a mess. Cleaning and sanitation crews have been in all week and things seem to be ok now - insurance companies will be dealing with the city for the next few months! I'm on the top floor so it didn't affect me.
    Then I just found out that my neighbour two doors over was discovered dead on Friday afternoon and it had been a few days. She was only discovered because a friend called the super and asked her to check as she hadn't been able to get hold of her. The poor woman was about 15 years younger than me but had a drinking problem which had started to cause heart problems and apparently that's what took her. I didn't get home until late on Friday and missed the whole commotion of ambulances and police!
    My freezer is well stocked with meat and seafood so I've been concentrating on buying vegetables this week with some milk & Greek yogurt added to the haul. No carbs as I'm doing keto so that has kept costs down. I have to use veg up quickly as I'm finding that it spoils faster than I would like! Trying not to over buy so it doesn't get wasted.
    Hope this week is a bit less hectic for you and that you don't find anymore earthquake damage!

  2. Good news about your back - I hope you continue to feel better.
    Sorry to hear about the death of your friend. I really hope that your son is able to make more progress with learning to eat different foods.

    It seems that every blogger I follow writes about weather these days, amongst other things. I didn't realise that Alaska got hot weather. I assumed that because you get very cold weather in winter with lots of snow that your summer temperatures would be mild. Where I live in Australia we are experiencing a very mild winter, which is nice, but it does not bode well for the summer.
    I hope that overall life continues to look up for you and your family.

  3. Sounds like you may have degenerative disc disease which is essentially arthritis. I was diagnosed with that after a year of believing I had hurt my hip. I hope you feel some relief soon. I know how terrible the pain can be.

  4. In a little late to the party here. We don't have Red Robin where I live, but I've heard their fries are the best! Hope you guys enjoy your visit there.