Sunday, March 15, 2020

Frugal Friday Freak Out: Greetings from Oz

I know it has been a while since I blogged.  It's because 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 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.


  1. WOW - you have been busy - but glad to hear it was that rather than anything else. It must be really tough worrying about supply lines being cut off so its great that you were able to get lots of things before the panic really hit.
    Canada is limiting access to the northern territories as their health facilities would never be able to cope - even the northern cruise ships are to be banned over the summer.
    This city of 3 million has been shutting down more and more everyday. Kids were to be on March break this week anyway - but Thursday they extended it for 2 additional weeks. The next day they closed all public venues & events. Over the weekend people were told not to leave the country and if they were overseas - to get home NOW. Today restaurants and cafes were told to shut down except for take-out and delivery. Malls have already cut hours and many stores are closing totally for the next few weeks. Many people are working from home already and my office should be closed by Wed. - I'm only in for a couple of hours for the next couple of days and then I'll be at home.
    I'm lucky that I'm on my own so I can indulge my reading and Netflix habits. I do feel sorry for all of you trying to keep kids amused while managing your own stress. You have done the best you can and at least your kids can get outside for a bit each day - those cooped up in condos and apt. without even a balcony will be going crazy! I can zip out the back door of my apt. building and go for a walk along the river without seeing anyone except for a few dog walkers so if I get really stir crazy I will do that.
    I hope that things aren't too upsetting for your kids and that all of you stay safe.

  2. I can appreciate your fear of running out of your sons food. Our daughter was very limited in what she would eat. Fortunately she will now eat almost anything as long as there is ketchup with it. I very much enjoy reading about your family and I wish us all luck.

  3. It's crazy here, good wise. The day they announced school closures and the 1st case of coronovirus in our small area I ran out to the stores, even though I had regular grocery shopped the day before and loaded a cart. The rest of us can eat whatever, but with allergies? It's scary. I loaded by cart, despite a few dirty looks and we are set for probably a month. I plan to stop off next week after work and try and restock a few things. My pay has been cut in half. Still gave my part time office job, but not the teacher subbing. Thats ok. I will miss the money but want to protect my kids. My husband got some scary news, his stroke might have come from a brain tumor but he hasn't been scheduled yet with the specialist in another town yet. Waiting, feeling anxious and praying it's not.

    1. Oh no! I'll send prayers his way. Hope everything comes out ok. You guys have had to deal with enough!