Monday, March 30, 2020

Making Do Tip #2: Ways to Get Around No Yeast


So, number two on the e-mail problems I've gotten is people e-mailing me asking what to do if they can't find yeast at the store.  A lot of the people who have e-mailed me were saying that yeast is kind of gold plated right now and they can't find it anywhere and they would like to be able to bake bread for dinner.  Bright side, there are definitely options available to you if you don't have yeast.

Right, first up, if you have old yeast and you are not sure if it is good or not, before you waste it by baking a round flat disk of hard instead of bread go through this test to check if your yeast is still working or if it is indeed dead.

So, let's say your yeast is dead or that you don't have any in the house at all.  If you are in that situation, might I suggest these alternatives for you?

1.  Make Irish Soda Bread  (this doesn't even require baking powder, only baking soda, so you can conserve that precious commodity :)

2.  Make Branch Bread or some other flat bread/cracker.  There are a bunch of recipes online.  You can even make Ship's Biscuit.  Just be careful you don't break teeth on those :).

3.  Make biscuits/scones (you can find numerous recipes online for more if that recipe doesn't suit your needs)

4.  Here are some roll recipes I ran into online that I've been wanting to try to get you started as well for quick dinner roll ideas...

5,  If you have a bunch of flour you can use up to keep it going make a sourdough starter and you'll have as much leavening as you need so long as you keep the starter fed and alive.

So there you go folks.  If you don't have yeast, just get creative :).  You'd be surprised how many recipes out there don't call for yeast if you are willing to look for them.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap


It has been a kind of stressful week with worry about loved ones on opposite coasts from me and things, so I am kind of glad to be able to sit down and write about something familiar.  Namely, what we did to save money the last bit!

1.  My son is studying the plant life cycle as part of home school right now, so I decided that when we planted a mini terrarium that I would plant the Aerogarden at the same time so we could compare how quickly the plants grew in both environments.  

The Aerogarden, after working GREAT for like two years straight, after an earthquake and things, is working a lot more finicky than it used to.  I have to carefully lift the lid with the plant pods in it and scrub the aerator holes every time it come out of hibernation (to open them up wide) or it doesn't get enough air flowing through it.  It is a real pain in the neck.  If I had the money I'd upgrade to the newer spiffy Aerogardens with way more growing holes and the spiffy LED lights on them, but stuff like that is definitely out of my budget for the foreseeable future, so scrubbing the old aerator is the best bet at this point.  Bright side, hopefully within the month, we'll have romaine lettuce straight from the "garden" to eat.  Since we are currently experiencing hurricane force winds (some people are reporting gusts up to 90 mph in my area right now) and have tons of snow still on the ground, having something growing...it makes the house a bit brighter and makes me feel like I'm doing something to help secure some food security around here.  


2.  We all got a haircut this week.  My husband cut my hair, I cut the daughter's hair, the husband and I both cut the son's hair (he isn't thrilled with getting his hair cut) and I even tried my hand at giving my husband a trim (while sweating bullets as I didn't want him to look awful since he still has to go to work every night being an essential service).  He assured me that I did an okay job and we'll just work on me trimming a little bit more every week until he has something resembling an actual haircut going on.  We aren't even sure if barber shops are open right now and honestly neither the husband or I were thrilled with him going somewhere to get his hair cut even if they were open with how things are.  

While awaiting the next trim, I'm studying YouTube videos on how to cut hair and am hoping to have an idea of how to do it before I have to trim him up next.

3.  While out getting the son some French fries (the lack of a regular therapy schedule gets to him from time to time right now) I let the family stay in the truck and eat while I ran into the store to see if there was anything that I could get in the way of food.  I managed to hit the store right when a truck came in (yay!!!) and I was also thrilled to see that they were putting limits on bread, milk and other necessities, so hopefully I won't have to panic about where we could find fresh milk for the son to drink.  I was able to get some cheese, bananas, another big bag of potatoes (which my WWII rationing books might as well be titled "1001 Ways to Make Potatoes Into Everything"), some lettuce (which was awesome as we were completely out of everything but potatoes around here) and some other things we needed.  It was a relief to find food in the stores, I have to say, even if the choices were limited and things like paper products and some meat was still non-existent.

4.  I called around to my local medical offices, including our pediatrician and our doctor's office to see how THEY were doing and if they needed anything.  They were shocked and rather touched I thought of them.  If you have extra toilet paper or other supplies that you might be able to spare, please be sure to check in with your doctors to see if they need anything.   The stress we are under is multiplied by about 10,000 for those working in the medical field right now.  I am hoping to sew some masks so that my husband's work will have some should they need them and to make sure our doctor's offices have some if they need them, but that is IF I can get the kids to bed at a decent time (since we are back to schoolwork this week I have a much better shot) and find time to pull out the sewing machine and get some work done.

5.  Just a side note, but as I run across funny things, nice music, free things companies are doing and things during this time I'll be sharing them on Facebook.  I'm hoping to compile a list as I run across things (as it seems like this whole situation might last a while), but in the meantime it's just a lot easier to hit "share" or just paste a URL into the Facebook field instead of having to create a new link page and everything.  

6.  I mended a few shirts that had holes in them.

7.  I spent many free hours the last few weeks taking a detailed inventory of my food storage.  I am working on compiling it all into a spreadsheet so that I'll be able to keep everything super organized.  Other than my time this has been free for me to do and will hopefully make it so I continue to rotate my food storage in a good, timely fashion and also makes it so that nothing (and I mean NOTHING) goes to waste around here.

8.  With therapy being closed with everything else, I have definitely saved money by not going anywhere for the most part and have saved the money in the way of gas usage.

9.  The sun has come back to a good point where I am able to (on non-hurricane-force-winds days) turn off the supplemental electric heat in the house during the day.  Hopefully this will see a reduction in our power bill as it got scary during the cold winter.

10.  I tightened up some furniture and other small maintenance needs to avoid doing delayed maintenance, including replacing batteries in smoke detectors.  

11.  I began Spring cleaning a little bit.  My goal is to start doing a few tasks a day and then hopefully I'll be done with Spring deep cleaning in no time :).

12.  I cancelled my daughter's orthodontist appointment to see about bottom braces and told them I would reschedule when the world wasn't crazy anymore.  They understood and were really good about it.

And there you go folks.  My rather short list of things going on around here.  I'm trying to make more a point to write things down as they happen, but I've been so busy and preoccupied that I just plain haven't thought to do it much the last little bit.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Tips for Making Do #1: How to Make Baking Powder


NOTE:  The stuff in the green jar above there is baking soda.  I have a big bag of baking soda I pull from, so I keep it in a jar.  Sorry if it makes a confusing picture :).

So, I said in my last post that lately I've been getting some worried e-mails from people.  A LOT of these have been revolving around stores not having some things in stock that people need and a lot of worry about what is going to happen on the other side of our "current global situation" (there, that sounds less worrisome doesn't it?) when it comes to prices of goods and how the economies are going to recover and how quickly.

Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball on what is going to happen or how long things are going to be uncertain and crazy.  But, one thing I DO know how to do is to adapt and make things work. Heck, you are talking to a woman who studies rationing and things and actually really enjoys it.  I'm weird, I know.  But anyway, due to life in general and things I do find that I am decent at adapting when I'm short of something.  That includes when I don't have enough of something to get something done in the kitchen and just adapting to see what might work.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it works with...interesting results...and sometimes it really doesn't work at all. 

This, this tip though.  This one works.

For those who have e-mailed me in a panic asking what to do because their stores are out of baking powder, I have something that I have tried myself and it DOES work (my daughter was diagnosed with an allergy to corn years ago...long story).  Making your own baking powder. 

A couple of things to keep in mind.  This is NOT the cheapest way to get baking powder.  Honestly, if you can find it at your local stores, I'd try and get some there, but if you can't find it at the stores, you have to adapt.  Second, this tip will get you SINGLE acting baking powder, not double acting.  Double acting baking powder has two rises built into it:  One when the liquid hits the dry ingredients and one when heat is applied to the mixture.  So, be sure to add this baking powder right before you introduce your liquid ingredients and are going to, say, throw your cake into the oven.  Third, since this baking powder doesn't have any stabilizers built into it to keep it "fresher longer" I'd only make enough of this to last you a bit at a time (as it will lose potency as it sits).  If you are only making enough to get you through a recipe or two, you can omit the corn starch (you can also use arrowroot or potato starch if you have allergies to corn), but if you are going to store it, don't leave the starch out or the mixture tends to set up into a solid brick pretty fast.

Right, so now that the specifics are out of the way, here's the recipe.  Bright side is that you might not have baking powder at home right now, but odds are you have a lowly bottle of Cream of Tartar sitting in the back of your cabinet that you bought for some reason or the other and it is now begging you to use it ;).  My husband and I have also found that while baking powder is a bit hard to come by at the stores at the moment, you can still find baking soda and cream of tartar, so at least we have that going for us!

So, here is your basic ratio of ingredients:

  • 1 Part Baking Soda
  • 2 Parts Cream of Tartar
  • 1 Part Corn Starch (if you plan to store)


To make 1 TBS of baking powder:

  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp corn starch (if storing left overs)


So, to make a container of it (1/2 cup worth), the recipe (that I use anyway...I do a lot of baking and find that I DO use all of this before it goes bad on me) is...

To make 1/2 cup:

  • 2 TBS Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Cream of Tartar
  • 2 TBS Corn Starch


Procedure:

1.  Combine baking soda and cream of tartar in a bowl.  To break up any clumps and to make it smoother, I use a whisk for this (be careful as it is powder and will fly!).  Mix in the corn starch (if using).  Store in an airtight container (I use an old baking powder container OR a mason jar, depending on what I have) between uses.  I also mark the date on the container or lid of the mason jar when I make this so I have an idea of when I want to use it by (I usually go for six months, but I have had this stuff last a year before I ran out of it).

Use as you would single acting baking powder.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Home Schooling Special Needs Children: A Few Resources We Use


Note:  This post does NOT contain affiliate links.  I'm just putting this post together in hopes of maybe helping someone out during this trying time and maybe point them in a direction they might not have thought of before. 

I have gotten e-mails this last week.  A lot of panicked e-mails, really (and BOY do I understand, trust me).  And I want to thank those who have reached out to me asking for my help.  I am honored and humbled that people would like to ask for my help with anything, let alone on matters of things like cooking with things you might have on hand and having to ration what they have and such.  And then there are the people who suddenly found themselves homeschooling overnight and I have gotten e-mails from people who have found themselves homeschooling their special needs kids and trying to figure out anything to help their kids not lose skills and hopefully help them through this whole crazy time.

I will share my small list of things I'm doing to save money in hopefully the next couple of days, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a few resources and things I've found have really worked for me teaching a non-verbal autistic little man this last school year.

I pray that some of these things might help parents who are just looking for things to try.  I am going to try and keep the items free or at least the price as low as I can get to recommend as I know everyone is panicking with money right now. 

Keep the faith everyone and hang in there.  We are, literally, all in this together, and we will see this through to the other side. 

So, without further ado, here is a list of things that I have found useful and, in some cases, things that I plain can't live without around here!

First up are Apps on the I-Pad.  If you go to the search function and search for these they SHOULD pop up...I hope. 

Apps I Love (I-Pad)

1.  Injini

This was like 35.00 when I purchased it and I can't see what the price is now as it just shows up as purchased on my end, but it is a GREAT package of activities for autistic or special needs children.  There are cause and effect games (shave a sheep, hatch baby chicks, pop colored balloons that then name the color, etc), tracing activities (to practice lines, letters and the like), puzzle activities, matching...it is amazing how much you get with one program.

2.  Write My Name by NC Soft/Injini

I believe this program was free or darn close to it when I got it for the I-pad, but it has been a WONDERFUL resource for tracing words, letters and also name recognition as you can make name tags that your child than uses to trace the names of the people you put into the program.  For instance I have Alvah's name in there so he'll learn to recognize and write his own name, his sister's name (which he hates as it is so long *laugh*), mom and dad.  After we master those I'll move onto grandma and grandpa and cousins and such.  It is an INVALUABLE resource to me and I would not be without it!

3.  Cause and Effect Sensory Bundle/Sensory Light Box/Sensory Sound Box

Guys I can NOT stress how much these little programs have helped with sensory input for my young man and I have had Sensory Light Box for YEARS.  The programs are inexpensive and are worth their weight in gold.  They have different effects that the child can choose from to appear on the screen (which they can control the background of said main screen as well) and each one seems to hit a different sensory need with my little guy.  The sensory sound box, if played at high volume (of which the son only KNOWS high volume on the I-Pad it seems) can drive you a bit loony if you hate hearing things like sirens and things at high volume, but  if anything he loves the sound box more than the light show.

4.  Little Fox Nursery Rhymes

A fun little app that will help you to sing a few nursery rhymes to your kids while letting them manipulate a bunch of fun things on the screen while you do it.  It even has a fun little karaoke room that kids can visit and record their own music in.

5.  Make a Scene 

There are a TON of different types of scene apps you can buy depending on what your child likes.  I own the Under the Sea one as the son loved "Finding Nemo" and still seems to really enjoy the scene.  I also have a Make a Scene farmyard app and the son really likes it.  What I like about them is that the app names the animals and things as the child adds them to the scene so you get a LOT of practice with word association as they play with the app.

6.  First Words Sampler (FW Sampler)

This is a great program to start kids with letter tiles.  It names the letter as you work with said letters to build a word and then repeats the word, complete with a short animation, when the child finishes the words.  My son still loves to play with these games and he started with them a LONG time ago :).


For Kindle:

1.  You can get these on I-Pad as well but the Toca Town series (there are other apps other than Toca Town, but if you type that in it'll pull them up) is really great for kids to basically play pretend in a technology based environment which my son seems more comfortable with. 

2.  Kidlo Beginning Math

I have the "limited" version of the program as it's one of those apps that charge a monthly fee and I do not have the money for that.  But, the addition and subtraction free games are more than enough to help Alvah practice math.  I especially love the Math Wheel game as it makes random math problems so it forces him to learn new math problems as we play it.


Written Materials:

1.  Books!  Lots and lots of books!

A lot of libraries have programs where they will mail you books right now if you take them out online, so there is that option if you have it in your area.  You could get Kindle versions of books if need be and search for free options to not worry about spending too much money.  But, seriously, reading to your child is such a huge benefit to them, and to you.  I know you have heard it all before, but really even if your child sits there and whines the entire time you read, they are getting something out of it.  I have read a ton of books to Alvah this year and he finally found a book he likes for me to read to him, "Clark the Shark" (a great one to read to a kid who tends to have quirks like shrieking at loud volumes, inadvertently wrecking things, eating off of other people's plates and things).  I think Alvah really relates to Clark in the book and it is the first book I've read him he's actively liking me to read.  So, don't give up if they keep acting like they hate what you are reading to them.  It might be a matter of finally finding the right fit :).

2.  Cut and Paste Workbooks

Right at the moment the son and I are working out of, "Cut and Paste Science" (no associate link or anything, I'm just sharing here) and I love working in this method of learning for a lot of different reasons.  One is because it helps Alvah keep the ability to use scissors, which is always a good thing.  Next we have started writing his name at the top of papers when we work with them so he gets name writing in with the lesson as well.  And lastly, and this is a big one, it is helping me to root out what kind of word recognition he actually possesses.  I cut the words out on the horizontal in strips and then I have him cut the vertical lines to cut out all of the words.  I then put them down on the table, read the sentences to him (right now we are doing the plant life cycle) and give him the answer and then ask him where that word is with all of the words cut out on the table.  And he is doing a LOT better than I thought he would, which is great because it is helping me to realize he's further along with reading than I originally thought he was :).

I actually have a math workbook and a few others on order with Amazon and am looking forward to getting them in.

If you don't want to invest in workbooks, there are resources you can use online to buy just a certain worksheet or  you could just try your hand at making your own in a free word processing program like Open Office.  Just a thought :).

3.  Jumbo Coloring Books

I love this Melissa and Doug Coloring Book.  It is huge, so it's easy for the son to work on with markers, the pages are thick so the markers don't bleed through and with it being vehicles the son doesn't mind coloring in the pages.  Get this and a package of markers and you are good to go with some fine motor skills!

4.  United States Coloring Book --  Dover Publishing  We are studying United States geography right now and this coloring book is great for that.  I am throwing the book onto my scanner/copier and making coloring pages to learn from and then going to the state pages to get different facts and coloring pages and things to supplement the lessons.  It's actually rather fun.

Board Games to Play:  

1.  Zingo Games (Original Zingo, Zingo 1,2,3, Zingo Word Builder, Zingo Sight Words)

I got these on recommendation from the son's ABA therapist and I love them!  I have the Original Zingo game and the Zingo 1,2,3 game to help build his math skills and they are awesome!   It is a really simple Bingo based game to play and it is great as multiple members of the family can play with your special needs child and make them feel not excluded (and once they learn to play they get the happy feeling of winning against family members as well).

2.  Learning Resources Mini Motor Math Activity Set

This is a racing game that requires beginning math skills.  I got it because the son loves cars, but I really love it because it makes him do things like roll a dice (which turns out is a hard motor skill to learn) and it motivates him to do basic math skills like number recognition, addition and counting skills.


Other Things You Can Do:

1.  Cook With Your Kids

This one is a hard one for me right now as I am loathe to waste absolutely anything, but I have the kids help where I can.  IF you can find baking mixes that call for like just water to be added or minimal ingredients, those are good ones to work with if you can to get the kids involved in cooking.  The son has been helping me to make banana bread when I find a couple of bananas in the freezer that I want to make sure get used and I let him mix the wet ingredients together and things.  He's been really liking being involved in the process.

2.  Dance with Your Kids

My husband found me Caramelldansen on YouTube and it has been GREAT at getting the kids to move around and exercise via dancing (and yes, we have seen every single language version at this point I think *laugh*).  It's a really simple dance to do and yes, I do it too.  Making a fool out of myself dancing around like an oddball is definitely in the normal right now *laugh*.  We all need a laugh at the moment.

3.  Do what you can to keep active

Play with the kids outside if you can can.  Unfortunately, this doesn't mean with other kids, but just you and your kids.  Do what you can to keep your kids in a good head space and active right now and playing outside is good for that. 

Keeping the kids grounded is important right now (I know I'm singing to the choir here).  For instance, the daughter and I had decided to take this week off for Spring Break versus earlier in the month like the public schools did and even with all of the craziness in the world going on, I kept to that plan as she had earned the time off.  Even though our activities we had planned on doing this week were called off, just having some relaxing time off for the daughter has been priceless for her. 

4.  When all Else Fails:  Get Creative

I've found this is especially important with the son right now.  We spent a good three hours this week one day just watching Leapfrog videos and me counting it as school time.  Watching something educational that your child enjoys watching?  Sometimes that is going to be as good as you can do and that is OK!  Don't beat yourself up and expect your kid to stay focused for six hours or heck to be focused every day period.  Trust me, they don't do that at public school either.  I aim for an hour for the son for actual hard core learning and than we work on little activities (helping mom set the table or helping to clean up a mess, combing our hair, etc) throughout the rest of the day to support our IEP goals and just general life skills types of activities.  It has been working well for us and it really has helped the son focus when we are working on actual school work because he can see the end of it and know that less stressful things are coming down the line. 

Well, there is a list to get you started on this crazy journey all.  If you need a shoulder to lean on, have a question you think I might even conceivably know the answer to or just need someone to talk to, feel free to e-mail me at makedohomemaker (at) gmail (dot) com.

Hang in there all!

Monday, March 16, 2020

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu


I had planned on sharing this post earlier tonight.  And then Alvah took a pretty good fall and was really having a rough time breathing afterwards.  Since he can't tell us what is wrong or where it hurts, the husband and I immediately got everyone into the truck and we took him to urgent care.  Bright side, the doctor is pretty sure nothing was broken (he's just bruised up a bit) and Alvah really liked the doctor and was really good for him, which was a big relief for us on a bunch of different levels.  It was really nice seeing a doctor talking directly to Alvah, explaining what he was going to do to him and asking him permission to do things instead of talking around him.  Alvah, I could tell, was really happy about that and was more than willing to work with the doctor after he did that.  But, yeah, it was an eventful evening for sure.

On the food front lately we've had some rather neat dishes that I made.  I finally got to making Konigsberger Klopse and my husband absolutely fell in love with it.  It was pretty good.  It is hard to describe the flavor of the dish as it's kind of complex and unique, but it was good.  Definitely not something I'd make every day as it is not a cheap dish to make (although it makes a TON if you use the recipe I linked to), but it is definitely going into the "keep it" category of recipes.

One recipe I've made several times in the last month that I really love, is composed of decently simple ingredients and is pretty cheap to make is Easy Shrimp Scampi.  I usually make it with about a pound of pasta and we have enough for at least two meals, which is always nice.

So, anyway, let's get to the menu plan for this week...

Monday:  Chicken Noodle Soup and Bread (I used up what was left of a rotisserie chicken, an onion past its prime, some frozen carrots and pieces of my celery that were getting kind of limp to make the soup and then I made home made noodles to put into it.  Worked well!) 
Tuesday:  Lamb chops (freezer), mashed potatoes, salad  
Wednesday:  Easy Pad Thai  (I'm definitely going to have to mess with the recipe a bit as we don't have things like fresh green onions right at the moment, or fresh cilantro, sooooo I'll have to make do with what I have :) with chicken as the meat and maybe frozen peas or a few Asian style veggies cooked up in the Pad Thai. 
Thursday:  Beans and Kielbasa with Rice (I have a thing of kielbasa in the freezer I have to use up). 
Friday:  Free pizza and home made bread sticks (may the free pizzas be decent tasting!) 
Saturday:  Breakfast Dinner (maybe waffles or Swedish pancakes...still deciding) 
Sunday:  Beef teriyaki, rice, edamame.

Breakfasts:  Cream of Wheat, oatmeal, English muffins, items in the freezer (see, the photo up top DOES make sense *laugh*).

Desserts:  Left over cherry pie (in fridge), home made ice cream (choice of strawberry, chocolate or chocolate chip in the freezer...I've been busy what can I say), cake (defrost from freezer and figure out icing and filling).

Snacks of Consequence:  Celery chunks with free hummus (currently sitting on a plate in the fridge for people to just take out, dip and graze as needed), crackers and tid bits of cheese (which I am going to do another plate for the cheese in the fridge so people can graze as they get hungry).

And there you go all.  Our menu plan for the week.  How about you?  Trying anything good while you are at home the next week?

Frugal Friday Freak Out: Greetings from Oz


I know it has been a while since I blogged.  It's because well...life has been insane and unreal.  Honestly I haven't felt this sense of unreality since the earthquake.  I just keep having this weird sense like this is something you are supposed to wake up from and it not be real and then you realize that this is reality now.  It's weird.  Everyone can guess as to why I'm feeling this way right now, since so many people are dealing with much the same situation.  Honestly, the last possible thing I've kept track of the last few weeks has been saving money.  In fact I've been spending money, putting money back on my credit cards I just paid off and I don't regret doing it.

When I saw the virus spreading, I knew it was only a matter of time before it hit the US and then when it immediately hit Washington with Seattle at ground zero pretty much, I knew that all frugal bets were off and I started to really stock up on food because if Seattle went down hard we could potentially get our supply lines to Alaska cut off.  I bought every box of shelf stable milk I could get my hands on to help stretch fresh milk if it starts to run out.  I bought five dozen eggs to freeze (that's one of the projects I'm doing this week) so I'll have them for baking later on in case I can't get fresh eggs for a while.  I bought some apples and potatoes as they will store for a while, got some seed pods for my Aerogarden to grow romaine lettuce so we'd have something resembling fresh produce in case it got hard to come by (and hey, if it didn't run out it would still give me lettuce that the rabbits couldn't get a hold of that I could grow over the summer).  I got some flats of juice from Amazon so that the daughter will get some vitamins and minerals from that source.  I ordered anything I could think of that the son would eat if I could order it and if I couldn't order it I would pick up what I could at the store and squirrel it away on the sly in the pantry, under the bed...wherever so the son didn't know it was in the house.  I'm still panicky that I don't have enough of his trusted foods in the house, but at least I'm better than I was before.  I made sure I had cleaning products, paper products and pet food stocked up (which I managed to buy all of those things before it got crazy), stocked up as much as I could on the son's medications and general medications for the house on medicines we use regularly (like my husband's acid reflux medication).

When contemplating what I should buy for the house, I actually went to my WWII rationing books (I know, it seems paranoid, but it was a place to start) and checked out what things ran out in the shops first and then stocked up, as much as I could, on those items.  I made sure we had soap products, including laundry soap (thank goodness as those things are impossible to find now, it seems), made sure we had eggs, etc.  My mom kept telling me I was being overly paranoid, but I'd rather be overly paranoid and be okay to suddenly panicking and not being able to find anything when we needed it.

Between Seattle being impacted and then Washington and California going down with more and more cases, I have been panicky that Alaska might very well get our supply lines cut off.  This means things like food and basic necessities for living could very quickly run out up here and no I'm not talking about toilet paper (although that is now sold out, it seems, even Amazon is out of it).  As I've covered in the past Alaskans, if they have been up here for any length of time, know that they might get cut off and be on their own for things like food and such at any given time due to all kinds of different circumstances.  Food insecurity is a very real thing up here and right now...well I'm scared, I'll readily admit it.

Up until late last week groceries were coming in up here still and the stores were stocked pretty well, although toilet paper was a big iffy if it was going to be out or not (I actually saw people going through the store with CART LOADS of toilet paper and was just baffled as to why, I mean if there is one thing that there are alternative means to get around, toilet paper is indeed one of them).  Then the first case of the pandemic hit Alaska and well...to quote Duck from Word World "EVERYBODY PANIC!" (the link is to a really not great quality video of the quote I'm referring to.  Please excuse the shaky nature of the clip, but it was the best I could find).  I don't know if that is really what people did, but I really do get that whole scene just going around and around in my head.

I don't blame people for running on the stores as suddenly the security people were living in that the virus wasn't here were suddenly dashed by reality.  But the fears that I had about things running out was suddenly realized.  I convinced my husband to go the store Friday night so I could see about getting milk (to help milk last as long as I could in case things were going to go crazy) and I was met by a store that was completely out of soaps of all types, wet wipes and diapers were nearly gone, meat was down to a couple of corned beef briskets (thank goodness I had gone on Wednesday to get them as soon as they went on sale) and that was it, and produce was quickly running out.  Luckily, while eggs were pretty much gone, there was indeed milk, so I got two gallons to shove into the fridge with the milk I had already bought earlier in the week.  I picked up more of the son's beloved chips, gold fish crackers, as much boxed milk as I could get that was left and Coke to add to my hoard to help hopefully see the son through this whole mess so he won't starve to death. 

I'm going to really hammer on the feeding therapy in the coming weeks in a desperate attempt to get his diet expanded in case we are without his trusted food items in the future, but I'm really worried right now.  I pray I'm just being overly paranoid, but a part of me whispers that I'm not and that worries me all the more.  The rest of us will be okay, I know that (well, I hope so anyway) as I have long term food storage that I can break into if I need to and my pantry is decently stocked overall, but Alvah...Alvah is the one that terrifies me.  Do we have enough of his trusted foods?  Have I been able to get his medications ahead enough that if we don't get them in for a month will we be okay?  I honestly don't know.

In a kind of amusing sideline, I think Alaska single handedly broke Amazon the last few days.  I'm AMAZED how much things are out of stock or unavailable on Amazon that were available until Alaska got hit with it's first case.  I'm sure a lot of that is people in the bush communities ordering things as my worries about food supplies getting cut off multiplies by about 1000 out there.  But, yeah...I think we broke Amazon *laugh*.

In other news, be prepared for more blogging in the coming days as we have no where to be for the first time in a long time.  Schools are closed, as I said, but being home schooled that doesn't directly impact us...but it does.  Therapy was also closed by the state along with the schools until the threat of the virus is over.  On top of that all the pools are also closed, including the pool where the kids take their swimming lessons (now mind you this is all makes fine sense to me, but man the kids aren't going to get it).  So, tomorrow I am going to get up early to completely rework the son's learning plan to incorporate everything he's been covering at therapy as well as everything he's been working on at home and then I need to expand time to do more intense feeding therapy, get more PE time (basically a lot of recess types of activities) and then schedule the work with the kids around each other so I can get everything done every day.  Hopefully I'll be able to come up with a decent plan of attack on the fly and hopefully there will be a silver lining to this and maybe we'll make some breakthroughs.  Hope is free.  But, yeah, all of the places where I am constantly running to nearly every day of the week are not there at the moment, so I'll have more time to focus on the home front.  Which is good as there is a ton to do around here and a lot of blogging to get done on top of it.

So, how long will it be before we go bonkers with cabin fever?  (sorry for the link to the video but seriously who isn't contemplating how long it is going to be before their children go a bit looney being home all the time?  And that part of "Muppet Treasure Island" always gets stuck in my head when Spring fever and things start to set in)  We shall see. 

So, right, money saving things that have happened the last few weeks.  Well I can think of a couple, so let me share those I guess :).

1.  I got a spiffy new blender!  Target sent me an e-mail with a so much off sale code thing on it and I went and just on a whim checked into the blender I wanted to buy.  I found it on sale for 49.99 and with a couple of gift cards I got for redeeming credit card rewards I was able to get it for 29.99 and then I had some coupons and things I was able to redeem to bring the total down to 24.89!  I haven't used it for much yet, but am really looking forward to making pureed soups and other things that my current blender just gets bogged down and doesn't want to even think about.

2.  I finally canned all of my sauerkraut today (yay!!!  Finally!!!).  After fermenting for so long it was a bit strong tasting but perfectly fine (no mold or anything that could throw off the flavor) and I got a bunch of pints of sauerkraut to add to the pantry tomorrow (seen up top as well).  I also have a canner that the inside turned black from the brine leaking out into the water and creating a chemical reaction and discoloring the aluminum on the canner interior, so I'm also going to have to google how to clean that up as I'm not going to tolerate my nice shiny new canner being black on the inside.

3.  The Monopoly game at Carrs has been kind of fun this year so far.  I won a Weber grill seasoning shaker (so a full sized free thing of grill seasoning essentially), a free package of Oreo cookies (which is currently in the pantry for the son to have rationed out as treats), a free bottle of antacids (which I haven't gotten yet as the store was out of those too on Friday), 2.00 off of my shopping order, a free thing of tissues and a free box of sandwich bags, not to mention two free bagels and three free donuts.  I also redeemed online codes for two more 5.00 gift cards (but Carrs is currently out of the regular gift cards so hopefully those will be back on stock at some point so I can redeem those) and a free loaf of french bread.  No pictures on those as I got those in the middle of stocking up craziness and forgot to take pictures.

4.  I took a day and baked a ton of stuff to put into the freezer.  I made regular pancakes, chocolate chip and blueberry pancake muffins.  I cooked sausage into sausage patties (1/2 of it) and breakfast bowls (the other 1/2 along with 8 scrambled eggs and a package of old frozen hash browns).  I made a two layer cake and froze both layers to use in desserts later.  I made and froze cranberry orange muffins,  I baked two loaves of bread and froze one for use later as well.  It has been nice to know that when the husband gets hungry on his nights off he can just reach into the freezer and pull out something to eat and just reheat it.  It has really been a godsend on busy mornings the last little bit as well when we were trying to get breakfast out of the way really fast before going to therapy and things.  Now it'll be a nice, stress free way for me to get breakfast on the table in the morning before we start school, so I'm still glad I did it.  And all of the stuff I made (with the exception of the loaf of bread that I had to put on the next shelf) fit on the top shelf of my freezer, so woohoo for that).

5.  I took the opportunity while waiting for my daughter at her dyslexia tutoring to mend one of her favorite sleep shirts.

6.  I filed for the US Census online and saved having to put it into the mail and everything. 

7.  I switched to paperless billing on as many bills as I could as I've found that being able to sign in online really is the best way to track things like utility use and saves me from having to throw away more paper.

8.  I got school work samples in for the kids online.  The brick and mortar home school office is closed to the public right now, but the teachers are still going to be in, so by uploading the work samples online I wasn't late getting them in and saves me from having to worry about passing in physical samples later on.

9.  The daughter and I have been having fun watching different free to prime member movies on Amazon.   We ran into a Christmas themed one called "Christmas Snow" that if you are Christian you should watch.  It was pretty good :).

10.  I used the rest of my old wrinkly potatoes that I helped harvest from the experimental farm to make corned beef, potatoes and cabbage for dinner on Wednesday.  I found a corned beef brisket when I went to the store that was on reduced for 30% off because they had not sealed the corned beef correctly and it was leaking EVER so slightly.  I made it for dinner along with the veggies and it was really good :).  What are we going to have for St. Patrick's Day than?  Stay tuned for the menu plan tomorrow to find out.

11.  I took the opportunity when the house turned into a sauna from the canner running, to turn off the upstairs heaters in the kid's rooms today.  I don't know how much money it might have saved, but hey, every little bit counts.

12.  As soon as I was able to I re-enrolled the kids in home school for next school year.  By going through the same home school as we are currently in (which I really do adore so far) I am going to be able to roll over what is left on our school allotment from year to year and by doing so this time I banked away a pretty decent chunk of change to help pay for schooling next year :).

13.  I started to plan out new pillows for the love seat (I still have the Christmas themed pillows on the love seat right now, they are just turned around so you can't see the Christmas-like scene) and am hoping to get those done here soon.  I sketched out colors and things to compare them to how they would look with the current slipcovers I have for the love seat to see what would go best with the paint colors I have chosen for the kid's rooms and the kitchen as well as the slip cover colors.  Yup, I'm crazy detail oriented sometimes what can I say.  This will hopefully stop me from feeling the need to change out pillows in a couple of months as something about the way the color flows through the rooms would get to me.  I know myself too well, so this was a way to cut off that trend in the bud.

And yeah, I think I'll call it good there as it is getting late, I'm getting tired and I have an early day tomorrow.  I hope you all are doing well and you are dealing with the crazy world events alright.