Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times a Lot), Plus a Garden Update

Yikes!  It's been almost a month since I blogged.  I have good reasons though, so strap on your seat belts.  It's been a crazy, busy and wild ride around here.

First, a big thing that happened is that my husband got a promotion at work.  It went through FAST, but it's been kind of an adjustment to say the least as we had to go through the entire promotion process and then get used to the shift change on top of it.  Yup, for the first time in, what, three years, my husband is not on the night shift anymore.  He just started his new shift this week and we're still getting used to him being home at night.  I'm really loving it, honestly and I'm happy to have him home at night :).  The new promotion doesn't really give us a "raise" in the grand scheme of things.  When you work the night shift at my husband's workplace you get 2.00 more per hour because most people don't like to work the shift, so we lost that when my husband went to the day shift.  Basically once the "raise" kicked in and the shift differential kicked off we'll be at about a wash when it comes to pay.  But, bright side is that when my husband has to take time off or take sick days he won't have to worry about losing the grave differential on the paycheck, so there is that.  And he gets his own parking space at work, so hey...there are perks ;).

Another big change, and not a good one in this case, was that the pool where my kids have taken swimming lessons (and learned so, so much) these last few years closed its doors permanently.  The pandemic and the subsequent restrictions and social distancing guidelines just killed the business (I mean not being able to touch a person that you are trying to teach to swim?  Yeah, that wouldn't work).  It was depressing to say the least and I know Tina, the owner, isn't alone in the world with losing so much to this mess.

I'm not sure what is going on with Alvah and therapy at this point either.  The owner of the business has been completely silent these last months and I know she owns businesses in a bunch of states now as she was expanding her therapy business.  How she could afford to stay open through this entire thing...I have my doubts if we are going to have therapy when this is over, let's put it that way.  So, yeah, I've been e-mailing people like the Center for AAC and Autism and other people trying to find courses I can take in LAMP Words for Life (Alvah's talking program) and things so that I can take over that job on top of homeschool and things since I have no idea when, or if,  we'll be able to get therapy again.

Right, off of the more depressing downsides to the last few weeks, let's get to some other things that happened.

1.  I'm trying really hard to stock, and really if I can, overstock, my pantry in preparation for the coming months.  So, part of that plan is to preserve nature's bounty as much as possible.  So, I decided to try and make dandelion capers to use in cooking later on.  My daughter went and harvested the dandelion buds and out of an entire pint of dandelion buds with the greeny part still attached to the bottom of them, once cleaned and plucked, made one half pint of dandelion capers.  I looked at the one jar and REALLY didn't want to pull out my big 23 quart canner to can one jar of capers, so I quickly went out to see what else could be harvested to can as well.  I found that the chives in the front garden bed have really LOVED the last couple of years of complete neglect that I've given the bed and really expanded, so I decided to pickle the blossoms off the chives.  The blossoms themselves should taste like cocktail onions from what I got reading online and the vinegar is good for making salad dressings and things out of, so double benefit there :).  I pulled out just a regular stockpot to can in and placed a cotton pot holder in the bottom of it so that the jars took the canning process okay without breaking from thermal shock,  It worked great and I didn't have to boil a bunch of water in my big canner to do it.

A shot of the finished product is seen up top.

2.  I harvested some rhubarb today and will definitely be harvesting more this season.  My rhubarb is really loving the cooler weather we are having this summer, which is nice.  I put up a big bag of rhubarb in the freezer today and am planning on using it a bit later in the week, so it'll be nice to put up a bunch of it this season.

3.  I finished the kitchen and hung everything up.  I was really pleased as I was able to find room by cleaning out the bottom of my china cabinet (which required me to clean out closet space in bedrooms and things to put the sheets that were in the china cabinet elsewhere) and putting all of my dishes and things in the china cabinet (which was a double relief for me to do as now they are better protected in case of an earthquake and things now) and finding room in the pantry and things to place most of the items that were on top of the cabinets in other places.

It really makes the kitchen look SO much less cluttered by doing it that way.  I was even able to put all of my flour containers and things on one of the kitchen carts so that I have more counter space to work with.

I moved the freezer over so that I could use the top as a counter extension when needed again and have actually been using it to hold paint brushes and things to keep them out of the way and in one place.

I wish I could show how well the yellow paint in the kitchen matches the yellow in my frog print, but it really does and I'm doubly thrilled because of it *laugh*.

I put the flatware boxes on top of the kitchen cart in the corner of the kitchen to keep them within easy access of the table.  So far it is working well.

The microwave, for the curious went on top of the sideboard.

You'll notice that the wall going from the kitchen to the living room ended up remaining yellow.  I had an entire gallon of yellow paint left over after the kitchen and instead of having it go to waste I used it to make an accent wall into the living room instead.  It actually came out looking really nice and it matches the yellow throw pillows that I made for the loveseat (you can't really tell in the pictures as the sun is shining on the cushions, but they actually do match well :).

The second kitchen cart I used to put the syrups for the soda stream and things on  and to store a few kitchen items.  The top I decided to use for a tablet charging station, which has worked rather well so far.

I ended up losing one of the bookcases in the living room when I dared to move it.  It had just suffered too much earthquake damage and just plain fell apart as soon as the other two bookcases weren't holding it up anymore.  So, I ended up putting a bunch of old VHS tapes and things into storage and just doing without the third bookcase.  I moved the loveseat onto the wall to help reclaim floor space in the living room.  It has worked well and I really like the new layout.  I'll have to take a full photo of the living room later (I took a photo but it came out too blurry), but I painted the ceilings white (which was a LOT of ceiling between the living room and the kitchen) and got a good portion of the upstairs hallway done (also white) the last bit.  I then moved into the son's room and got to work.
This room took a lot of repairs.  The sheet rock was damaged in a bunch of places due to the earthquake and just general "son abuse" from long term wear and tear.  We have new flooring yet to install, but at least the walls and ceiling are done./  The room ended up being a darker blue than it was previously, so I installed a lamp in the room to give off some additional light (and give a diffused light option).  The son hated, hated, HATED me working on the living room and his room, but now that both are done he is super thrilled with them.

The corner where his crash pad is right now (the dark blue square in the corner of the room) is going to be where we hang up his swing next as we want to give his one roof support we've been using the last eight years for his swing a break.  But I'm hoping that we can wait until we get his new flooring in before we put the swing in (so we aren't working around it).

And, after a long wait, I was finally able to pull out the vintage Formula One prints I got cheap on Amazon a few years back and put them into frames to hang up on the walls.
The son loves the old Speed Racer cartoon, so I was really thrilled to find this print of the guys doing the running start for the race.

4.  My husband got his truck fixed and running well.  He's been fighting with the distributor on the truck for a long while, so it was good to get that done and working well.  I even ended up helping as he lost a bolt down the back of the engine and I got to shove my small arms and hands into tight spaces until I finally found the bolt.  I've complained about having the same hand size as a five year old in the past (it's been proven to my nieces and nephews when they were five and they were amazed that they had the same hand size as me *laugh*), but it does come in handy from time to time.

5.  My husband installed the new light fixture in the master bathroom and I got the paint finished up, finally, yesterday.  I cut in where the light was and around where the new cabinets and things were installed.  It looks really nice and finished now and I am really glad to have it officially done and looking good.

6.  I was able to get a five pound bag of bread flour!  I have been trying for the last month to at least try and find some somewhere to replenish my stores as I use them and have had no luck finding any.  I, once again, put it in my online order again this week and they actually had a five pound bag in stock!  I felt like I'd won the lottery, honestly :).

And now (since I lumped a ton of what I've been doing together) I do, in fact have a garden update!

Trying to get the garden planted this year has been rough.  Mainly due to the weather.  It has actually been rather cold at night and just a few weeks ago the temp at night was right around freezing, so I was happy when it got warmer and dried out a bit the last week or so.  I spent a good three days just taking the garden weasel and other garden tools to the garden to get it back to bare earth.  The two years of neglect were hard on the garden to make it into an actual garden again.  I had crab grass, waist high dandelions, fiddle head ferns just all incorporated into a huge mass of roots EVERYWHERE and it took a lot of back breaking labor to get the garden back to where I could plant in it again.

I planted green onions (I got bunches of green onions for .50 each at the store one day, used some up, but put some of them in some water in the fridge for a few weeks to grow a nice root system and plunked them into the ground.  We'll see if they survive and grow) and potatoes.  I then planted seeds for peas (a cold hardy variety that only grows to about two feet high) after moving the trellis we made when I last had a garden, Asian broccoli (it is supposed to grow well in cold climates), lettuce and Swiss chard.  We'll see what grows and what doesn't.  The CSA I signed up for should start this week or next, so we'll see what comes in that as well, but at least I am glad that I have things in the ground for better or worse.

I was hoping to plant some more in planter type things up on my deck, but I didn't get to that yet with how busy I've been with everything else, so we'll see if I can find somewhere to get some dirt around here and plant at least some more lettuce.  We'll see how it goes as my "to do" list keeps getting longer and longer.

And there you go folks.  What I've been up to the last bit.  I'm exhausted.  Honestly my exhaustion is suffering from exhaustion at this point as I'm doing things like painting pretty much 100% on my own while juggling everything else around the house, but I feel good that at least things are getting done.

How about you all?  Been up to anything constructive with all the craziness going on on the world?  I hope you all are well and doing okay during this whole crazy time.