Monday, July 27, 2020

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

Okay, first, I just want to assure everyone that no, we were no where NEAR where that really big earthquake was and we are just fine :).  Actually, we didn't feel a thing (for which I'm thankful for, honestly), not even a tiny tremor as the earthquake was WAY far South of where we are.   Even my husband's uncle, who lives down South, said everything was fine where he was, so it's all good.  I'm sorry if I panicked everyone by not posting after the earthquake.  Honestly I didn't even know it happened until my mom called me in a panic because the news reports were mentioning Anchorage (which is on the coast thus part of the tsunami warning that went out to basically the entire coast of Alaska) and she knew that my husband worked in that area and was all worried he was taken out by a tsunami or something.

I was going to blog earlier (to help assure people we were okay), but was down all weekend pretty much with a bad headache (at least typing was not on my list of "can dos"), so that didn't happen. 

Right, so let's get down to other business.

What have I been up to lately?  Well, I finally got independent learning plans (or ILPs) into the home school and got those approved for the kids.  Curriculum that I ordered through the home school came in (including the Radish box and Kiwi crates, which astounded me how fast we got those in), I got the one book that is on back order with Moving Beyond the Page ordered and in and we are ready to go to start school next week (a couple of weeks early compared to the public schools up here, but we want to bank some time ahead so we can hopefully take December off for the Christmas holidays :).  It was such a HUGE relief to get that all done and supplies in as there is a huge demand for home schooling right now (go figure) and so a lot of home schooling curriculum suppliers are running out of things pretty fast.  Thank goodness I'm kind of obsessed with getting things done in and in early, so we are at least good to go and I don't have to panic about trying to figure out where to find materials.

The next thing I've been working on is I have been working my tail off trying to get my bedroom to not be a horrible cluttered mess.  This had to start somewhere so I ended up having to clean my bedroom closet first (you can scream like a scream queen from a horror movie now as that is pretty much what I did when I opened up the closet and saw what was ahead of me *laugh*).  I brutally decluttered things out of the closet and moved things around, which led to me donating a bunch of things to the used stores, but got me to a point that I was able to fit a couple of big items in the bedroom into the closet, thus giving me room to move stuff around.  I've got plans for the bedroom in the next couple of weeks and am trying REALLY hard to get it painted this week if I can, so hopefully it'll all work out so I can get done before school work starts up again.

The next big thing that happened was the son's sleeping medication just plain stopped working.  It has been slowly getting worse in its effectiveness, but this last week it just plain quit.  I started giving him the max dose I was allowed to give him to see if it would work, but I think all it did was make him sick feeling, because last night I just plain decided not to give him the med (I mean when his sleep schedule has been to sleep from 6 am to noon every day, what is the point?) and he has been so much happier today, so much more energetic and so much more like his old self that I'm really glad I stopped giving him the medication.  I have a virtual appointment with his doctor on Wednesday and we'll see what she has in the way of advice or guidance to see if we can get him a bit more sleep (and better quality of sleep to boot).  I have to say I loved it when he was sleeping and I'm already really missing it as he does okay with little sleep (so it seems), but it is downright killing me.

So, on the money saving front...

1.  We made up our first Radish box "Ticket to Tokyo" last night for dinner.  The son actually did seem happy to help in his own way and tore up a bunch of seaweed sheets when he realized how brittle they were, happy as a clam until mom shrieked like a cartoon character when she realized what he was doing and was able to save two sheets to make the sushi rolls with *laugh*.  Luckily, I was was able to save the torn seaweed sheets and added some to the yakisoba noodles (basically noodle stir fry) and it just added one more veggie to the mixture.  I did NOT use short grain rice for the sushi rolls and just used the medium grain rice I had in our normal stores.  It worked perfectly fine, I just added  a bit of extra water to make the rice super sticky when I cooked it :).

The box called for certain vegetables, like Napa cabbage.  Well, Napa cabbage is going for roughly the same amount as a down payment on a car right now (my jaw dropped at the price), so I said "no" to that one and used some bok choy that came with our CSA box instead.  Kohlarbi was one of our vegetables this last week, so I used it in the sushi rolls and in the yakisoba noodles because why not?  And really, everything turned out really well and I was really happy with everything.

Oh and just because I keep forgetting to take pictures of the actual CSA contents when I get them, I figured I'd share a picture of the inside of the fridge instead.  I LOVE having the problem of "where am I going to stick all the fresh produce" when I get some at the moment.  It is a huge thrill for me to have this much fresh produce in the house right now :).

The box called for chicken tenderloins, but unfortunately chicken is really hard to find at the stores right now unless you want wings or a whole chicken (so it seems the few times I go into the store anyway) and I finally ran out of the boneless skinless chicken thighs I got from the butcher.  So, instead of chicken teriyaki skewers we had pork teriyaki and I just ended up baking the pork and peppers in the teriyaki sauce as I don't have any skewers either.  Sometimes you just make do with what you have and call it good.

I used 1/2 of the English cucumber we got in our box the week before last to make pork gyros for dinner one night (I love farm fresh vegetables versus store bought as there is NO WAY a store bought cucumber would last two weeks in the fridge up here) and then I used the other 1/2 in the sushi rolls.  For the gyros I used a pretty old container of plain Greek yogurt I got for free at the beginning of the Monopoly game with Carrs this last go round (before the pandemic made me just not caring about the game anymore).  It was more like cheese versus yogurt so I added a bit of sour cream to it to loosen it up.  It worked great and no one missed the meat being pork instead of chicken, which was good :).

2.  I had wanted to get some really good German take out for the husband for his birthday (it is this week), but our local German restaurant didn't survive the pandemic *sniff*, so I went to good old plan B.  Amazon.  I ordered a German dessert mix and a few small items I'd need to make hunter schnitzel (do not to ask me to give German names to that as I'd slaughter it) and hopefully we'll be good to go on the new "at home restaurant" style meal.  Here's hoping it all works out well.

3.  My electric pressure cooker died on me last night and started leaking steam everywhere and then when I went to use it again (after replacing the sealing ring and a deep, deep cleaning) to give it a heat up and then a pressure test it failed both admirably well.  I use the pressure cooker actually quite regularly, especially to cook things like beans, so I know I'm going to have to get a new one.  I am depressed about it, I'll admit it, as it is going to cost a decent amount of money to replace (at least as small appliances go).  I redeemed my credit card rewards through Amazon (that I got for ordering the kid's home schooling curriculum stuff through and will get reimbursed for) and will be able to get at least 30.00 off with gift cards, so that is something anyway.

I am definitely not going with a Gourmia brand one this time, that's for sure.  That sucker lasted less than two years and I sure did not use it everyday like a lot of people do with their pressure cookers (and yes, I called the company to ask their advice and didn't get anywhere).  I guess with pressure cookers you get what you pay for.

Anyone got recommendations on a good brand of pressure cooker to buy?  I'm not sure if I want to buy an Instant Pot as it sounds like the quality control is all over the place (at least via Amazon reviews), so I'm definitely open to advice in this area.

4.  I had a personalized price of .43 per lime this week at Carrs (UNHEARD of cheap), so I used the personalized price to get 5 limes through my online order.  Since the personalized price was for large limes (which is all they have listed online), but the store didn't have any, they replaced my 5 large limes with 5 small ones, but only charged me for one large lime.  So, I got 5 small limes for .43!  I have to say as awesome goes that was pretty awesome!

5.  I continued my quest to fill up my pantry as much as possible before winter.  I took what I had left from my grocery budget after getting what we needed at the store and ordered things from Amazon in bulk to fill in holes.  I got enchilada sauce really cheap (like 12 big cans of enchilada sauce for less than 12.00, which at the store those size of cans normally got for at least 3.00 per can) and a flat of  Van Camps baked beans for decently cheap (I'm trying to make things like baked beans from scratch as much as I can...or at least I WAS until my pressure cooker died, but I wanted to make sure I had them for those nights when you just don't have the energy to bother).  I also blanched and froze bok choy and kale from our CSA box to add to out winter stores as well.

6.  I requested a free sample of unscented/hypoallergenic spray deodorant to try out on the son and see how he reacts to it.  The free sample shipped this week, so we'll see how it does when it gets here.

7.  We ended up with hornets building a nest in our roof, and at a really nasty spot to get to.  I went and bought Raid at the store (which you need a treasure map to find hornet killer it turns out), which turned out to be on clearance, so I got it for 50% off normal price (which was nice as I had to guy two containers worth to get rid of the hornets).  My husband managed to outlast the hornets by spraying the entrance to the nest enough that it seems like the hornets finally died or moved on.  Since the nest was right by our front door, I was happy to see them go.

8.  Our lawn mower broke down for the first time in eight years.  It is a 30 year old lawn mower (at least) and has worked really well for us, so my husband is going to attempt to get parts and fix it (it is a Craftsman brand, so goodness knows if parts are available or not anymore with Sears going out of business).  Here's hoping it can be fixed.

9.  I fixed a couple of holes in a comforter and hemmed a few pairs of pants this week.

And now onto the garden update!

If there was one word I could give to my garden the last little bit, it would be "ignored".  Between the son not sleeping, his eczema going crazy, all the home school stuff I've been juggling and everything else going on (new pay schedule at work for the husband, allergy flare up with the daughter so we have to make sure her eye isn't swelling up on her, etc etc), I just plain forget about it sometimes as we've been getting enough rain I haven't had to worry about it dying from not getting enough water or anything.  I finally went and checked it yesterday for the first time in a couple of days.  I have to say out of everything the weeds are growing the best. 

The lettuce was finally grown enough that I thinned it a bit and we tried the lettuce.  It is VERY bitter tasting, probably due to all of the rain we've been having and I'm going to have to use it sparingly.  Luckily we've been getting an entire head of lettuce each week from the CSA (and a huge head at that), so we aren't hurting for salad fodder, but that was kind of depressing.  We have a few broccoli sprouts that survived whatever bug onslaught was taking them out, but they are so small I doubt they'll get to a point I can harvest anything by the end of the summer.  The peas are growing (yay) and I keep putting them onto the trellis to climb and keep them off the ground (they stay on the ground they are getting eaten, so I want to make sure they have every chance to get big and produce).  The peas are a variety that only grown to about 2 feet in height before producing, so I'm kind of hopeful they'll start producing peas sometime soon.  If I only get potatoes and peas out of the garden this year that'll be something and I'll count my blessings :).

And there you go folks.  An update on what we've been up to this last week.  How about you?  Been up to anything?


  1. I made sushi last weekend - I use pudding rice because it's dirty cheap (1/10 of real sushi rice) and with my cooking skills I haven't notice any difference. So pudding rice it is.
    My as son lives in a diffirenet planet if we consider his sleeping pattern. His day and night is not 24hrs, but more like 30 to 36 hours. He is awake around 20hrs and then sleeps at least 12hrs, sometimes up to 16hrs.
    Because he's not at school nor working, that's all right. He's happier, calmer, more content this way than he ever was with "proper" rhythm. If we lived somewhere else, this would likely be a problem, but here in the middle of nowhere it's ok for now.

  2. My husband and I discovered that Home Depot sells Craftsman parts. We have a Craftsman lawn tractor and wondered what we would do with Sears(Canada) gone. We were at Home Depot for other stuff and came across Craftsman. Just thought I would let you know. You can definitely order parts online as well as we have done numerous repairs on our tractor.

  3. I purchased an 8 qt. Express Cooker from Crock Pot 2 1/2 years ago. I read a lot of consumer reviews. Most of them agreed that the Crock Pot pressure cooker was better than the Instant Pot. Mine has not given me any trouble. I don't use it everyday as some do. I do like it though. The non-stick coating on the insert makes it very easy to clean and it never has any burn food in the bottom. My only problem has been trying to find extra seals and another insert. My problem with that is the 8 qt. pieces are hard to find. Since it's not the famous Instant Pot, it was less expensive. The recipes work the same though.

  4. Glad to hear that you are safe and that the earthquake didn't impact you - I did think of you when I saw the news.
    I've always been afraid of pressure cookers - I remember my mom using one - so I'm afraid that I can't help in that dept.
    Good luck with the stocking up - it must be a special challenge in Alaska. Do you have a date in mind as to when you need to be ready for Winter?
    I hope your son has a better week.

  5. When I heard about the earthquake on the news, I instantly thought of you. So glad your family is ok !

  6. I have been happy with this pressure cooker:

    Cuisinart CPC-600N1 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker, Silver

  7. Don't give up hope. My autistic grandson has a wicked case of atopic dermatitis. But puberty has given him some relief. Hopefully your son will get some improvement as well.