Monday, August 31, 2020

Shopping Goals: September 2020

 I know this is a day early, but hey, better a day early than late right?  I'll take accomplishments where I can get them right now ;).  And note to self:  Update the pantry photo *laugh*.

Well, it has been a while since I've done one of these posts. Luckily, now that schoolwork is underway with the kids and we're getting into the groove, doing blog posts seems to be a bit easier as I can type them out as the daughter is working on other things.

When it comes to shopping goals, it's been kind of difficult to form a definitive “plan” of what to get or buy with how weird the supply lines have gotten.  Luckily, when it comes to school supplies, I'm pretty well stocked as I bought supplies in bulk for the kids' extensive school supply lists for public school. So, I have a huge box of glue sticks, a box of water color sets and other things for the kids to use as we need them throughout the school year this year. So, it's nice to have that savings, especially right now :).

Shopping goals this month might as well be titled "I can't find this stuff in the local stores and if I can I can't get enough to fill in the holes in my pantry" as most of it is just stuff I am ordering from Amazon. 

So, without further ado, let's get to it!

Shopping Goals: September 2020

Regular Stores (only IF the garden fails to produce a decent amount on the produce end as I do plan to harvest this month):

  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Cooking Oil (if I can't find a good enough deal locally, I'll order some from Amazon instead) (no associate links follow, I'm just sharing the links):

  • Rice a Roni, 12 pack (I got mine for less than 1.00 per box when I ordered it): I like to keep some boxes of this around and we finally ate the last box I bought years ago, so I want to get some more for the pantry. We'll eat it per package directions, or I can use the rice and pasta mix to make other dishes without the flavor packet (which I have done in the past :). I paid for this with credit card rewards.
  • Barilla Thin Spaghetti Pasta, 20 Pack: I have been having a hard time finding more than a couple of boxes of pasta at a time at the store and I like to keep a year's supply of pasta around at one time (if I can) as we eat pasta a lot with the son. I couldn't find angel hair pasta (the son's favorite), so I ended up ordering thin spaghetti instead. I was able to score a 20 pack for  1.00 per box of pasta, which will get me right near my goal of how many boxes of pasta I wanted to keep in the pantry and at a WAY better price point than I can find at the store right now. I paid for this with credit card rewards.
  • Libby Canned Beets, 12 pack (No longer available on Amazon). I got the 12 pack for cheap (like 10.00 for the case) and already got it in the mail, but it is going to count against next month's shopping budget.
  • Seventh Generation Professional Glass & Surface Cleaner Refill, Free & Clear, Unscented, 128 fl oz (Pack of 2). I needed cleaners and couldn't find much at the store, so I ordered these as for a two pack it was around 20.00. I'll refill my spray bottles with them.

All of the above items are already ordered (in some cases they were back ordered and finally shipped this week) and will be in after September 1st so I just counted them on next month's shopping.

And there you go folks. My shopping goals for this month. How about you? Got anything you are buying this month?s is one day early, but hey, better early than late at this point ;).

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Culinary Inquiries, Explanations, Explorations and a Menu Plan!

When it comes to food and eating around here, I've been getting some inquiries on how things are going on that front here, asked some questions about some of the ingredients I've mentioned and/or shown on the blog recently and other things.  So, I figured I'd kind of conglomerate a few of the posts I was working on into one big post and just hit a couple birds with one stone (I hope *laugh*).  

First up, people have been asking me how the freezer inventory system I mentioned here was going for us this year.  

Well, the short answer's not.  

"The best laid plans of mice and men" pretty much sums up the whole idea of having a freezer inventory going and just rotating things out as I needed to.  I'm not downing the original plan.  It's a good plan.  I stand behind the idea of it and I think it would work.  On a normal year.  Unfortunately, the year, as everyone knows, got turned on its ear pretty early on and the plan pretty much immediately fell apart.  Suddenly supply lines became unreliable, food shortages hit with weird things being out of stock (and still being sporadic in supply, like chicken, or yeast, etc) and there are some pretty dire predictions on how things, such as meat, are going to be this winter in the availability category.  So, instead of doing a freezer inventory like I had planned, I immediately changed plans to a pretty simple one.

The plan breaks down as this.  Stock up on meat as it is available.  Stock up on meats I know we will eat and just creative in the way I cook those meats as needed.  DO NOT waste freezer space on things that are on sale cheap that you MIGHT eat sometime in the future...maybe.  Start to weed out things that I got on sale cheap in the past that we hadn't eaten yet to reclaim that freezer space for things I know we will eat and fill in those gaps as I can.

And that, my friends, is it.  No "shopping sales" or anything like that comes into play here.  In my mind there is no point in trying to shop sales for more than say, fresh produce or something (and that is a crap shoot), as supplies of items is so unreliable that I don't see the point in wasting gas and going into the stores and than finding that they don't have what I needed to get anyway.  We always kind of had that problem up here, but with Covid it has gotten way worse.  Canned goods were out of stock so much and still sell out regularly up here to the point that I just started buying in bulk from Amazon as I could find things and just paid what I had to stock up on things.  I'm super glad I bought that freezer full of beef when things first hit as the price on meat has gone up and I've even noticed that the beef package I bought has gone up in price by a significant amount since I got mine (by like 500.00).  I go into the physical store once a month, if I can get away with it, to pick up my son's prescriptions and while I'm in the store I'll go and see what I can find for things like chicken or pork chops to supplement what I have in the freezer (or like the last time I went in I got some ground Italian sausage and some breakfast sausage as well as we were out of both).  Past that we just get whatever we can through the order online and pick up at the store program.  Is it the cheapest way to do things?  No, not even close.  But it is the best way to keep Alvah safe as he plays with everything when he is in a store, gets sick at the drop of a hat as he doesn't understand the whole "keep your hands away from your face" thing, won't wear a mask for more than a few seconds and I want to keep my kids (and others) as safe as I can.  

When it comes to putting up baked goods in the freezer, I threw that idea out the window pretty much on day one when the pandemic started to really take off.  I don't want to waste the space in the freezer with bulky baked goods like loaves of home made bread and things.  I'd prefer to save that space for the veggies I'm putting up in the freezer for this winter with the CSA box and things.  And honestly, I'd prefer to save the flour and make baked goods when we need them to just make that flour stretch further.  I'm supplementing with home ground flour from the many buckets of wheat I have, but I want my nice commercially ground flour to last as long as I can to make my life easier.

So, yeah, hopefully at some point in the future I can pick up the freezer inventory idea, dust it off, and try it again.  But, it isn't happening this year that is for sure.

Next up is the questions with people asking me about some of the ingredients that they've seen in my posts (wait until I show my pantry if you think those are different *laugh*).  Since Covid hit, I've been trying really hard to focus more on feeding therapy with the son (since he doesn't have swimming or therapy anymore, or at least for the foreseeable future), so I have gotten some odd to some ingredients to add to my repertoire.  For instance, the spatzle threw a few people.  Spatzle are just German egg noodles.  I am hoping that they'll be close enough (since I got commercial ones instead of making them myself) to regular wheat pasta that he might start eating them.  That will give him a bit more nutrition in his diet.  Same with the black rice.  If I can get him to start eating just tiny bits of that, it has SO much more nutrition than white rice, that I'd be super happy paying for it.  Feeding therapy is basically like throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks sometimes, so if you start seeing some oddball things showing up in photos, those are probably things I'm throwing at that proverbial wall *laugh*.

I've also been trying to source more food with just more simple ingredients, trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup more for the sake of my family's health.  It's led to more nutrition label reading (I already read them obsessively looking for that peanut allergen warning) and then sourcing things out.  That has led me to getting more things imported in from Europe and countries that I know will declare peanut on their labels to keep the son safe, so yeah, um...I've gotten some interesting things added to the pantry this last year.  Some of the things are just to try out, some for nutritional profiles that I was impressed by (my family is going to hate me by the end of the year probably as they are looking at a foreign fruit and saying, "What is THAT?" *laugh*) and some things I just ran into in cookbooks and wanted to try out (like the juniper berries are to use in some German dishes that I ran into that sounded good and I knew, having had juniper berries in the spice cabinet before, that you can't really substitute out juniper berries with other spices).

To further the culinary adventures we are having...well there is me and my love of cooking and just exploring different things as they look neat.  For instance we recently tried Okonomiyaki (if you want a more Americanized version that is probably cheaper to make Budget Bytes has a pretty good one here) because I had a ton of cabbage to use and the daughter and I got into watching "Little Forest" on Amazon Prime video at night.  The daughter actually asked for me to make the "cabbage pancake" and after a little research I found out what it was and made it.  I made ours with bacon instead of pork belly, made and used some dashi stock in the batter (which honestly if you can I would suggest doing that or adding a bit of fish sauce to the water or something and making your own "pseudo dashi" as just using water would make a really bland pancake) and while I did order actual okonomiyaki sauce from Amazon (which I am glad I did as it is basically a sweetened sauce made of vegetables, which would be hard to replicate), once I read the reviews on Kewpie mayonnaise I just used Miracle Whip instead and it turned out pretty tasty (sorry purists).  The husband and I were kind of "meh" on it as to us it tasted like a cabbage pancake (go figure), but the daughter really liked it.  So, while I'm not going to go crazy making it into regular menu rotations or anything (as it is a fair amount of work to put together and cook), I might definitely make it again if the daughter asks for it :).  

With home school this year we are also doing some culinary explorations.  The Raddish boxes have been fun so far and that adventure will continue through the year (which should lead to some interesting menu plan additions) and so far we had to make, of all things, an ancient Mesopotamian/Sumerian meal to go with the daughter's history unit on Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.  We were instructed to make a salad with certain vegetables in it, a lentil stew (meat was optional and yes, it literally just said "meat" as your ingredient.  Lamb was suggested, but I used beef because that is what I had) and flat bread (I ended up using their suggestion for pita bread as I ran out of time and couldn't make the flat bread from scratch).  The finished meal, minus dessert, but plus added crumbs on the table (it was kind of a late dinner, I was tired, and I forgot to shake the table cloth...what are you going to do?) is seen above (we had grape juice, versus the wine and/or beer that was suggested with the dinner :).  

The dessert was interesting.  It was a dessert where you took plain yogurt, added honey to sweeten it and then you took fruits (fresh and dried), which was dates, figs (reconstituted), apples (we just had a couple in the fridge) and pears (we used canned as that is what I had) for us.  You then took your fruit after you reconstituted your dried stuff and you mixed the fruit with honey as well and then put it on top of the yogurt.  And I have to say that while this was something that was hard to source ingredients for (I had to order peanut safe dates from Amazon and also had to order lentils from Amazon as well, along with dried mint), it came together in the end really well.  I even got Cilantro the day before from our CSA box, so I was able to use fresh cilantro versus dried in the recipe.  

The lentil stew was REALLY good (I put the link to the Pinterest image version above as it is easier to read).  I was really impressed.  Even the husband liked it and took the leftovers to work for lunches (which you KNOW he liked it if he is willing to eat leftovers).  And really, it isn't that expensive to make (really the mint and the cilantro are the most expensive things if you have barley and lentils).  The dessert was really good too and really simple.  I also learned that fresh dates are worlds and worlds above the dates we can get in the stores up here and I will definitely look to purchase fresh in the future if I need some.  I thought I hated dates until I ate this menu.  And don't worry date fans, I did store my dates in the fridge per the instructions on the package, so hopefully they'll keep moist and good for a while that way.

Nice thing about the school related menus, as well, since a lot of it is feeding therapy/speech therapy related, I can get reimbursed for my materials.  So, at least the culinary adventures are a bit more affordable this way as I can use our school allotment to help us pay for it.

I also made Hunter Schnitzel one night for dinner and another night I made sausages with "fancy" German Sauerkraut (basically home made sauerkraut stewed up with some stock with added bacon and a few ingredients.  Can you tell I got a German cookbook for my anniversary?  *Laugh*),   It has been a lot of fun exploring the foods of different cultures of late and I'm looking forward to trying out more new recipes in the future.  I figure this year might not be working out the way anyone was planning on, but that doesn't mean cooking has to be boring :).

So, yeah, basically my pantry items have expanded this year to include things like Japanese ingredients, German ingredients and other eccentric ingredients (like I now have mint and dates in my everyday'll be interesting).

Right, so now that I've babbled about everything in creation, let's get to this week's menu plan, shall we?

This week's Dinner Menu

Wednesday:  Sliced beef in gravy (using left over beef roast), mashed potato and turnips, salad.

Thursday:  Hamburgers, french fries.

Friday:  Chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice, spiced black beans (use dried beans)

Saturday:  Grilled pork chops, grilled corn on the cob, garlic toast (home made bread).  

Sunday:  Home made pizza (or stuffed manicotti...still up in the air on this one), bread sticks, salad.

Monday:  Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps (Raddish box recipe) 

Desserts:  Melon (honeydew, Wednesday), strawberry cheesecake, lemon bars.

Breakfast items (to make):  Zucchini muffins (Raddish kit recipe).

And there you go folks.  Tangents and a menu plan for this week.  I'm so happy I got at least a menu plan worked out *laugh*.  How about you?  Eating anything interesting lately?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2)

 Man, I'm behind again when it comes to blogging.  I keep hoping things will work out so that I have time to get some back blogging (of which I have about, oh, 18 unfinished posts to finish up and publish...doh), but it seems like life keeps throwing things into my path and I just run out of hours in the day.

So, what has been going on around here?

Well, a lot.  A friend of ours has lost their business and income due to Covid and now they are having to move into a small apartment they have on their property and having to rent their house to hopefully survive.  We made them a care package of food to help supplement what they are getting at the food bank and dropped it off to them this last week.  Things are rough for so many people right now, including so many people I know.  I wish I could do more.  As is with prices continually going up on pretty  much everything, it just seems like money never goes far enough for us, so I can imagine what it is like for so many others right now.

Then we ended up with another mouse problem.  Bright side, it did NOT get into the pantry (thank goodness) and the steel wool seems to be working well to keep them out of there.  Downside is that due to the steel wool keeping them from getting into the pantry, the sucker got caught in the wall and was stuck in the wall between the pantry and my master bedroom.  It was LOUD trying to gnaw through the wall to get into the bedroom and the scratching and everything and I think I didn't get any sleep for a few days as a result.  I even took the trim off of the bedroom wall, opened a hole a bit in the sheet rock on the bottom of the wall and really tried to help the sucker get out of the wall so it could "play with the cats" for a few moments before the cats dispatched it.  Instead it ended up dying in the wall, so I've been leaving windows open and the furnace turned off a lot to help air out the downstairs until the smell dissipates.  The husband wants to open up the wall to try and see where the mice are getting in at so that he can close up the hole, but he's not sure when he's going to find time to do that, so we'll see how it goes on getting that problem buttoned up, hopefully soon.

So, as a result of the mouse and the cats trying to dig through the walls to get to play with a new toy, they managed to dig out a bunch of the steel wool I had around the pantry walls.  So, that led to more than a few days of gutting the pantry and leaving spaces open for the cats to access so they didn't break anything trying to get to the wall and, once they had given up on the mouse being alive, it was a matter of slowly working on getting the pantry reorganized and put back together.  In the process a lot of cheap cardboard "pantry pack" boxes broke on me, resulting in me bruising the Heck out of my foot in the process, which then led me to getting frustrated beyond belief and then finally giving up and going on Amazon where I put 100.00 on my Amazon card to get a can organizing pantry system going.  I immediately started to experience buyers remorse on making the purchase because we are broke and don't have money and such, but at the same time I realized that I really had to make some investment in organization and storage just to make sure things get rotated correctly and I don't go insane (or break a foot) in the process.  I ended up ordering a couple of these units (no associate link, just sharing) as they are adjustable and have really good reviews.  We'll see how it works out.

I want to thank those that e-mailed me with recommendations (or posted advice) for skin creams for Alvah.  I ordered the ones that were recommended to me.  I'm always willing to try new creams with the son's skin being so terrible, especially right now.  Hopefully one of them will work as he's not sleeping worth a darn and a lot of that is just due to him being super itchy.

On the eczema front, I've really started working on feeding therapy hard core.  One of the things that hit me all of a sudden was how much Alvah liked ripping apart the nori when we were making his Ticket to Tokyo Radish box.  Knowing that ripping things and experiencing textures was an important part of picking up new foods, I went online and started researching seaweed snacks.  I found these snacks (once again no associate links or anything) that were made with perilla oil.  I had never heard of such a thing, but after researching it I found out that perilla oil could actually help allergies, so I got those to try out on the son.  He actually ripped apart some so far AND took a bite out of one.  He spit said bite out, but for him to bite it so quickly is definitely a good step forward :).

He's also been big on eating fruit snacks of late, so I ordered some gummy vitamins to try and feed him.  I ended up having to order the Amazon brand gummy vitamins which are REALLY sour tasting, but he's been a trooper about taking them.  I have to rip them into smaller pieces and he kind of powers through eating them, but he is taking them, which is such a relief that he's getting some added nutrition into him.

I also after discovering the YouTube channel "Kimono Mom's Kitchen" on YouTube started watching her videos on how she got her young daughter to start eating solid foods.  Her daughter sounds a lot like Alvah in her eating habits (would NOT eat solids until nine months of age, etc) and she came up with a way to start getting nutrition into her daughter by adding dashi stock to EVERYTHING her daughter consumed.  Basically this was a way to condition her daughter to the flavor and it would kind of bled into what she was eating and she wouldn't notice it.  Since dashi is super healthy and I have a big bag of dashi stock granules in the fridge that I got for Japanese cooking (since going out for dates just doesn't really work for the husband and I, I started making things like miso soup at home when I make a Japanese meal.  It has been a really great, and surprisingly easy, way to make dinner special but without worries about getting pick up and wondering about peanut cross contamination while eating around the son), I figured it was worth a shot to start adding small amounts of the dashi granules to things like rice when I cooked it.  He can definitely taste the dashi, I think, as he doesn't eat as much as he used to when I would make it without (the rest of us can not tell at all), but he IS eating it, which, to me, is definitely a good thing and is getting him just a TINY bit more nutrition in his diet.

So, yeah, none of those things are really "money saving" but to me they were definitely worth the accumulating additional debt over.

Now, onto some money saving things that occurred!

1.  My rice cooker that I got at the used store has just never worked...right, for lack of a better word.  You would plug in the cord and nothing would happen and you'd have to plug it in up to eight times before the menu screen would light up and you could get going making your rice.  My husband took apart the rice cooker last week and immediately figured the problem was the retractable cord making a loose connection.  He removed the old cord and replaced it with a spare cord he had in his spare pieces and parts.  With just labor and a part he had around the house (and some soldering skills) the rice cooker now works a TON better then it ever has, is much faster cooking said rice and it definitely saved me from having to buy a new rice cooker (as the problem with it not powering up was getting worse and worse and I was worried that I'd have to spend money to get a new one) as the son much prefers the rice cooked in a rice cooker compared to the pressure cooker (honestly I can't tell any difference in quality, but he does somehow).

2.  I harvested some lettuce from the garden this week and also pulled the green onions I'd planted on a whim.  I was actually impressed with how big the green onions had gotten and I even had some small onions to show for it!  I cut up the onions and put them into the freezer to use later in miso soup and things.

Our CSA boxes the last few weeks have been really nice too.  We got a TON of zucchini (two of which I actually gifted to our friends in their care package as they wanted some), turnips, potatoes, broccoli, edible pod peas, daikon radish, strawberries, tomatoes and other things.  I've really enjoyed the variety of things we have gotten from the box this summer and I'm really glad I used part of our stimulus money to spend the 200.00 on the box.  We've definitely gotten more than 200.00 worth of produce out of the box and it has allowed me to put up a bunch of different vegetables for the winter time, which we'll definitely appreciate this winter :).

3.  I was able to actually get chicken at the store, which was great and has officially made it so that the meat is stocked pretty well for the time being.  I am hoping I can keep it that way in case of further shortages, especially this winter.

4.  The daughter needed a new pair of sneakers, which was my fault for waiting so long to get her some.  She has been in the same size of shoes for a few years now, so I just was not used to the kids wearing out shoes before they outgrew them.  I used an online converter to figure out what her size would be in women's shoes compared to kids sizes and went on Amazon.  I found some good sneakers for her for MUCH less than buying them from local sources and they should be in on Friday.  Hopefully that will help to alleviate her hurting feet when we go out anywhere.

5.  Speaking of going out places, we have gone a few places this summer.  The latest one was this last weekend we went to visit Willow and show the kids what there was to see.  

We parked the truck and took a very short hike to check out the old highway that they replaced years ago (the new highway is over the railroad tracks there) and my husband told the kids how he used to travel the old highway when he was a kid.  We had a good time and it is easy to social distance when you basically just take a long drive *laugh*.

6.  I put in an online order with Carrs.  They had melons on sale for 3.33 a piece for mini watermelons, honeydews and cantaloupes.  I ordered one of each, figuring there was no way that they wouldn't be out of stock on at least a couple of them.  Well, I ended up with all three *laugh* so we've been eating melon for dessert the last little bit.  I have to say I've been enjoying it greatly, especially since it didn't cost us much to get them.  

7.  We invested in a big container of food grade CO2 at a local business.  It was kind of expensive this time around as we had to buy the canister, but the refills will be cheap now that we have the container.  I bought a CO2 converter hose set up online to refill Soda Stream bottles from a big CO2 canister, so we should be good to go on refilling the Soda Stream bottles on our own instead of having to pay for new canisters or refills, and at a much cheaper price (a really big bottle of CO2 will cost us less than 40.00 to refill while a new Soda Stream canister costs us that much).  So, now I'm looking forward to trying out new flavors of sparkling beverages now that I don't have to worry about hording the CO2 for the son's soda.

And, yeah, I'm going to call it good there as I have to make lunch for the kids and get started on afternoon schoolwork.  I hope everything is going well with you all and here's hoping I can get back to blogging regularly again here!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2), Plus a Garden Update

Believe it or not I am working on blog posts, but I just got delayed due to school starting around here (we decided to start early so we could book time to take more time off at Christmas) and also, it turns out, by stopping the son's sleeping meds, not only did his mood improve dramatically but it also ended up making his digestion start working overtime, so I've been dealing with some bouts of unpleasantness in that area of late.  Between all of that and his eczema flaring badly, it's been kind of rough around here of late when it came to finding time to get things done.

I honestly almost didn't write about money saving things that have happened of late, as there isn't a whole lot to report.  But, I'll give you a rundown of things that have happened of late.

1.  First big thing to report is my husband finally got time to work on the lawn mower.  He bought parts and replaced and tinkered and nothing was working to get the mower to actually fire up and run.  He finally pulled the heads off the lawn mower to find the motor just full of gunk (mud, etc) and he realized that some major seals failed.  So we are looking at basically an engine rebuild or having to buy a new mower.  We're not sure what is the most cost effective at this point.  We just decided we're going to just let the lawn go, probably until winter (we don't have an HOA or anything to worry about) and if worse comes to worse we'll rent a push mower to do the front lawn so it doesn't look too horrible.  Over winter we'll try and save up enough money to hopefully cash out a new mower next year or be able to cash out a new motor.  It seems to be the best recourse at this point to avoid having to put over a thousand dollar onto a credit card or draining our savings down to nothing to pay for one.

2.  I finally settled on a Mueller brand pressure cooker as it got rave reviews on Amazon and I have to say so far it has worked great and I'm really happy with it.  It is definitely better quality than my old pressure cooker, so we are already off to a good start.  I've used it to make a pork roast, some rice (my rice cooker is having issues...something to do with capacitors my husband is telling me, so I have to have him look at it so it'll power up correctly) and mashed potatoes.  So far, so good :).

I was able to get the cooker for about 74.00 after an online coupon on Amazon was applied, so I was happy with that as the coupon saved me about 5.00.  Every little bit helps.

3.  I've been doing a ton of rearranging around here and one of the things I did was I went through and found all of my Rubbermaid modular pantry storage containers that I had that I could move things around and use, combined it with a big Tupperware pantry storage container I had and I decided to put some things up on top of my fridge to make them easier to get to (or just put them up there if I didn't have room for them elsewhere, such as the juniper berries).  

Some things like the spatzle and the black rice are part of my son's feeding therapy plans, so I'm going to be happy to have them within easy reach.  

I was even able to stick a couple of containers on each side of the fridge, tucked behind the front storage containers so I could fit a few more things on top of the fridge.  I really like the organization of the items and it actually looks pretty good.  

4.  I fixed a lamp my in-laws had given to us (okay, so I begged them if we could have it, which probably helped to sway them a bit *laugh*) that used to belong to my husband's grandparents.  Grandchildren had played rough with the lamp (it is a "working" spinning wheel lamp, so calls to children like nobody's business) and had broken a few things on it.  I was able to get it mostly working.  We still have to restring it as there is a knot in the string that is on the lamp now that causes the gears to slip and the lamp to come unstrung.  I'm happy I was able to mostly fix it, though, as both my husband and I really like the lamp.  I was able to fix it with parts I already had around the house (I'll share pictures of it later as the ones I took came out blurry).

5.  I completely rearranged the pantry (I know, like when do I keep it the same for more than six months at a time *laugh*) and so far everyone seems happy with the way it is working out.

6.  My mother-in-law called and said that raspberries were ready to pick over at her place.  I managed to get enough for two quart jars of berries.  I had decided that this year I wanted to can the berries whole in syrup to use in desserts and things as just freezing them seemed to lead to freezer burn quicker than I liked.  It was hot and humid and when I saw that I was going to get probably two quarts of berries out of what I picked, I decided to not can them (I'm running out of room on my pantry shelves anyway) in the hot water bath canner, but instead to freeze them in quart jars instead.  It worked great and now I have two quarts of raspberries in the pantry ready to defrost and use in desserts and then I can use the syrup they are canned in for other purposes as well :).

7.  Our CSA has been really helpful in filling in gaps in the freezer for winter storage.  I processed four heads of broccoli this week, a head of cauliflower, some more kale and we are going to be using a big zucchini, some small cucumbers and other items with our meals.  

And now, a Segway into a garden update!

I'm really happy with how the CSA is working out as well...the garden is growing.  Kind of.  I THINK I can hopefully start harvesting lettuce this week.  After a long, long wait.  Past that I don't have any peas developing yet, the chard is just dead in the water and hasn't done anything since it popped out of the ground no matter how much nutrients I dump on it and the Asian broccoli I planted did the same thing.  So, basically I might get enough lettuce out of the garden this year to make a difference and past that I'm just praying the potatoes don't let me down.  It has not been a good garden year.

And there you go folks.  Like I said, there hasn't been much going on around here in the money saving department.  I hope things have been going well for you all and stay tuned.  We've been having some interesting meals around here of late, so menu plans will hopefully be shared again and give some inspiration and I'm hoping to post up my monthly goals here in the next couple of days :).