Thursday, November 19, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times nearly 2)

Man, I'm tired.  Daylight savings really wholloped me this year, mainly because it threw off the son's schedule and I've been fighting him on going to bed even more than usual because of it.  Le sigh.

Sorry it took so long to compile this post together.  It's been kind of rough digging up things that have saved us money as it seems like money is just flying out the door as soon as my husband's paycheck comes in anymore.  Just the price on groceries alone gives me hives.  But, I'm determined to find the bright points though, so let's get to those.

1.  One of the things I decided to incorporate into our lesson plans this year is some fun stuff to do around the holidays and incorporate things we can use for gifts as well.  So, I ordered a beeswax candle making kit at the beginning of the school year (as close to a pioneer craft as I wanted to do with the son as you roll beeswax candles versus having to juggle boiling hot wax) and we made candles yesterday.  The kit didn't make nearly as much as it promised (well, we could have made the amount they stated IF we made a bunch of birthday cake candles out of the last sheet of wax, which was kind of a rip off), but the candles we did make turned out decently cute.  My daughter, especially, is looking forward to putting the candles into Christmas gifts this year :).

2.  The husband went and got his oil changed on his car and at the same time got a recall issue on his car taken care of, so it was good that he was able to get both things done at the same time.  He used the lifetime oil changes we got on the vehicle when we bought it so we didn't need to pay anything out of pocket for the oil change.

3.  The sleep pants that I bought back in high school finally started to disintegrate on me.   I can't say that the pants haven't fulfilled their duties admirably and the 8.00 per pair I spent on them at Target back in the day...well they definitely paid for themselves many times over.  I ended up going on Amazon and found a couple of pajama sets.  I got one with shorts and one with pants and got both sets with a panda theme to them, so that the shirts will be interchangeable.  Since one shirt is a short sleeve and one is a long sleeve, this will serve me decently well I think.  I ended up having to order myself some new t-shirts as well as a bunch of t-shirts I have had forever started to fall apart as well.  I'm just praying things are decent quality and that they'll last me a while.  I'm going to pray anyway.

4.  I made out Christmas cards and got them mailed off early for a change!  I'm so proud of myself as this never happens *laugh*.  I even made Alvah sign his name on all of the cards so we got fine motor skill practice in as we filled out the cards.  He wasn't happy when he had to sign his name for the 8th time, but hey, it worked *laugh*.

5.  Our state went back on voluntary lockdown starting Monday of this week due to Covid spreading and the ICU beds (we only have 215 in the state or something close to) are quickly being taken up by patients with it.  My daughter got severely depressed by the new lockdown as she was hoping we could go and do stuff again soon, so to cheer her up a bit, we started to decorate for Christmas early.  We've just done a little bit of decorating every day (like yesterday we made the candles to put in Christmas gifts, etc) and we'll finish up by putting the tree up the day after Thanksgiving.  This doesn't take any money to do since we're just digging out decorations we already have, but it has definitely helped to raise the spirits of the kids, so I think it's worth it.

6.  When I realized that lockdown was coming I went to the store and tried to get as much as I possibly could for Thanksgiving and Christmas bought in the way of supplies.  Unfortunately, I wasn't alone in this way of thinking so fresh herbs were COMPLETELY gone already (as well as a bunch of everything else as people, once again, stocked up for the time ahead...up here I can't even say it is panic is just stocking up, but our inventory is so limited things run out FAST and stay that way for quite a while when something like this happens), so I guess I'm going to get creative with dried herbs for the turkey this year.  At least I bought vegetable stock for the turkey brine over a month ago when it was on sale, so I'm not completely up a creek.  I ended up buying so much I was able to get a free turkey.  I pulled out our free turkey from last year and put it in the fridge to defrost for Thanksgiving and put the new turkey in its spot in the freezer.  We'll have that turkey for Thanksgiving next year.  I know it seems kind of weird to do it this way, but one thing I learned when we were really, really poor was that this way I have security knowing that no matter what we have a turkey for next year.  It gives me a tremendous sense of relief to see that turkey there, so I have no problem with that turkey taking up room in the bottom of my freezer all year.

7.  Our lunch containers for the husband have slowly broken over the years and I realized that I really didn't have enough left to do things like freeze him some meals for quick grab lunches or anything or he'd have nothing to take fresh lunches to work in.  I ended up buying these Rubbermaid containers (no associate link or anything, just sharing).  So far I really like them.  They are definitely lighter weight than the easy find lid Rubbermaid I had gotten in the past, but I really like how many divided containers this set came with as it allows me to do a divided bento-like lunch set up for the husband so he doesn't have to worry about all the food blending together and I don't have to worry about packing up four containers for his lunch and can fit it all into one or two, which saves time, space in the fridge and space in the dishwasher later on :).

8.  I made our yearly recipe for aged eggnog and got it in the fridge to age for the holidays.  I'm determined to work drinking a little of it here and there into my diet.  I don't drink at all except for little glasses of eggnog this time of year, so I'm determined to at least enjoy it :).  That and non-alcoholic glogg.  I became addicted to that stuff last year, so yeah, that's on the menu for the holidays as well =D.

I used the same bottles of alcohol I used for the eggnog last year and had enough to make the recipe (barely, but I made it :).  I was able to get the dozen egg yolks by redeeming fuel rewards I wasn't using (I had a ton of bonus rewards that were going to expire as we don't go anywhere so I'm not using the rewards for gas) to get a free dozen eggs.  I froze the egg whites to use in angel food cake later (I found that Alton Brown's angel food cake took 12 egg whites, so that worked out perfect).

9.  I have become addicted to this youtube channel.  The gal makes bento boxes for her husband and films it so you can get ideas of how bento boxes are put together.  I've gotten some really good tips on ways to better pack my husband's lunches through the channel (like using rice or parchment to absorb excess oil to help keep things fresher) and it has really improved my ability to fit a good, balanced lunch into a smaller container :).

10.  My husband fixed an issue his car had by himself, thus saving us a TON of money having to take it into a garage and get it fixed.

11.  I bought a boneless pork loin on sale and then thin sliced it (I mean REALLY thin sliced it) to use for schnitzel, Japanese dishes and other things.  Thin slicing it REALLY stretched the meat and made a bunch of different freezer bags of meat.  I'm definitely thinking I need to do this more with beef and pork as it will give us meat in our meals, but also makes the meat stretch, thus saving us money, which with the current economy we desperately need to do.

And there you go folks.  Some of the things we've been up to the last couple of weeks.  How about you?  Up to anything?

Friday, November 6, 2020

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 3)

Well, okay, so technically it's two and a half weeks, not three, but I'm just going by how many Fridays have passed.

It has been crazy around here, per usual.  So, let's break down what I've been up to of late.

First up there was the dentist.  I went in and got my fillings done.  Thankfully, I did not need a root canal.  Unfortunately, between the deep filling I got combined with the first deep cleaning (well any cleaning, really) I've had done on my teeth since high school (spoilers:  That was quite a while ago), the dental appointment ended up taking me out at the knees for a good week and a half.  My TMJ flared, my teeth hurt and I was REALLY worried that the deep filling they gave me had failed as that tooth was so sensitive that eating or drinking anything was not a pleasant experience for a good week.  About four or five days after I got my tooth filled (which I liked the dentist who did the initial dental work on my teeth but then he turned over the filling of the teeth to a lady who did, in the bluntest terms I can come up with, a crappy job.  I can still barely floss the teeth that were filled, I have really rough surfaces on those teeth, etc), a nasty shard of porcelain filling came out from under my gum where I got my tooth filled.  It was huge (or so it felt in my mouth), it was SHARP and as soon as it was gone my tooth felt about 18 bazillion times better.  I called the dental office and talked to the dentist who did the initial work on my teeth and he took some notes to talk to said lady who did the fillings on my teeth as he was not happy to hear about my experience.  He told me to watch for any swelling or additional pain as he was worried about a gum infection after having that shard of filling in there.  Luckily, it seems I'm doing okay since then.  I'll tell you what.  If I could afford my old dentist I would go back in a heart beat.  Unfortunately, this office works with my insurance and makes dental work so cheap I'll probably keep going back just to save the thousands of dollars I would spend at my other dentist.  

At least after this I should only have to go in for cleanings every six months (and I have to say that thee dental hygienist who did my cleaning was awesome!) and keep on my top of my dental care and hopefully I'll be alright from this point out.  Nice thing is my dental insurance covers cleanings 100%, so hopefully, hopefully, as far as dental work goes I'll be alright for a while.  I still have to get the kids in and checked out as it has been almost a year since they were seen last and my husband has to get a tooth fixed, but otherwise...I'm relieved that at least I'M out of the way, if that makes sense *laugh*.

I also got my bifocals in and had to get used to wearing those, which was a kind of hard four days or so as my eyes adjusted to a new way of seeing out of glasses. For the most part, I'm happy with the glasses now and I have to say I don't miss having to switch out glasses every three minutes while doing schoolwork with the kids.

Right, so a couple of people have e-mailed me and asked how the diet is going.  Well, I'm halfway to my goal already, so I'd say it is going really well.  I really like the "Lose It" app.  The one thing that it has done for me, I've noticed, is that I stopped snacking during the day and if I'm really hungry in between meals I find that I'm a lot more careful in what I will eat to get the most nutrition to fewest calories I can out of the snack.  Side benefits of dropping weight have been I'm seeing a decrease in back and leg pain at night (which for me is HUGE as I have been having a hard time sleeping due to my lower back issues for a while now), an increase in energy and an increased want to get my husband to eat healthier at lunch, so I've been having a lot of fun watching Japanese bento videos that people put up on YouTube to try and figure out different lunch options to put in my husband's lunches during the week.  I've found that cooking Japanese food has become more common around here as, so long as I'm careful with the portions on rice, that the portions on my meals are nice and healthy and relatively low calorie.  So, to the people who have asked me to share what I'm doing with the diet, you'll probably see it in my menu plans for the week (if and when I find time to do them...I've been so busy I've been punting from day to day *laugh*).

Right, so let's get onto money saving things I've been up to the last few weeks.

1.  I got my free Christmas cards in from Shutterfly, which they came out cute and I'll have enough to send to family back East, so that'll be great.

2.  I got the plastic insulating panels up in all of the windows around here (see up top for the shot of the living room window).  I saved plastic scraps as I went and was able to do the windows on the front door as well, which has definitely helped with how cold our landing was getting.  I'm praying that with the panels in place we'll see a reduced heating bill this winter as we are already having cold and icy temperatures outside, so this winter might be a cold and miserable one.

3.  We haven't gone many places at all the last bit (I know we aren't alone there), so I had a bunch of gas rewards that were going to expire on my Carrs card.  Instead of letting them go to waste, I redeemed them for a bunch of money off our next shopping trip, a free dozen eggs and a free avocado.  Because of that and shopping sales I was able to cut my grocery bill in half last week, which was nice :).

4.  I rearranged the kitchen, again, and have slowly tried to make it more functional.  I am making progress, so I am happy about that.  I'll try to take pictures after it is all done as I'm still trying to figure a few things out, but so far, so good.

5.  I needed some hamburger from the bottom of our "beef freezer" in the kitchen, so I decided it was good opportunity to take everything out of the freezer and do an inventory of what we had for beef left.  So far, we are doing pretty well, so I am happy about that.  And I remembered to grab the five pounds of hamburger out of the freezer to transfer to the other, more easily accessible, freezers (I pull five pounds of burger at a time, so I don't have to constantly dig to the bottom of the small block freezer to get some).  I nearly forgot, so I was happy that I remembered before I added too much stuff back to the freezer *laugh*.

6.  I pulled out all of our winter coats, made sure they ready to go so that when the weather turned cold the coats were ready to go.   Between that and my husband working hard and getting the garage cleaned out so he could put his car in there, it has been a lot nicer having to go out and about if we need to definitely go somewhere (I forgot how nice it was to have a preheated car in the garage it has been so long since we were able to fit one in there).

7.  I took part in my usual once a year autism research study and was given a 15.00 Amazon giftcard in exchange for participating.  I used it to buy my son some more chewable Benadryl (the stores have been out of it for months and Amazon only has it sporadically, so I was thrilled to be able to order some before we ran out at home).

8.  I found a few series that I had been wanting to see that were free to watch on Amazon Prime, a few for a limited time.  I had fun watching "Cities of the Underworld" as I studied a bunch of the structures they were exploring while I was in college.  So, it was cool to actually see said structures in real time versus as pictures in a text book :).

9.  Halloween passed low key and fun at home.  My mother and father-in-law came over and we had sandwiches for dinner, watched Halloween cartoons and had fun chatting and visiting.  We made chocolates from chocolate we had in the pantry that I'd purchased a while ago on clearance and was safe for the son, made a cake and decorated it with Halloween picks we already had from previous Halloweens, and overall had a fun (and frugal) time :).

10.  I sat down and figured out calorie counts on food for Thanksgiving and ran things by my husband who told me to just not worry about making a few dishes as they were really high calorie.   Since I normally make food that the leftovers last for quite a while, he was okay with me omitting a few things this year for the sake of my diet.  Which I was really touched that he wanted to do that as I was willing to make the other dishes for the family if they wanted them and I would have just skipped eating them this year.  So, that'll save me not only some time, but some money as well, by not having to make those items.

11.  I mended some more holes in some comforters.  I feel like someone sticking their fingers into a dyke at times with how many holes comforters start to develop (blankets get washed a LOT around here with my son), but at least they are still functional even if they don't look the greatest.

12.  I took some older towels, rolled them up, and put them under the doors as draft blockers to help keep out the cold.  I have some actual draft blocking strips that I'm hoping to put up this weekend, but we'll see how the weekend goes.

13.  I found some materials I really wanted to read on various topics in PDF format online so that I didn't have to go and try to pay hefty amounts to buy the books in print.  I do love printed books a lot more than electronic format ones, but I can't complain when the price is free compared to a upwards of 50.00 for the book in printed format (yay for Google books and other online sources).

14.  I taught my daughter a bit of beginners HTML.  She was supposed to go online and find a webpage builder for a school project, but I nixed that and instead showed her some beginning HTML to build the website instead.  It was nice being able to use the HTML knowledge I built over the years to teach my daughter something *laugh*.

15.  I cleaned and organized my fridge.   I only have five more pounds of potatoes to put into the bottom drawer of the fridge and then all of my red potatoes are protected by a nice, cold environment.  I'm hoping to be able to fit the last five pounds in the fridge this week.  It will be just in time as having the potatoes out at room temperature they were JUST starting to sprout.

16.  I cut up the white pumpkin we got from our CSA and the last delicata squash I had and put them into the freezer to use in dishes later on.  They were both starting to look old, so I wanted to get them safely in the freezer before they went bad.  I've found a new love for Japanese style curry, so I am having dreams of having curry with those items in it later in the winter *laugh*.

And yeah, I think I am going to leave things there for now as I've got to get back to doing schoolwork with the son.  I hope you all have been hanging in there and doing alright.  Any cool money saving things happened to you of late?