Monday, October 4, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

 Yeah, I know, this is really late.  It's been really busy around here.  Not in a good way, but busy.

First up there was all the medical stuff.  I've been doing stretches that my chiropractor recommended and taking my medications as needed, but one day my back had just like had enough or something a few weeks back.  I had a spasm in my lower back while I was standing up and cooking dinner and suddenly my right leg just went dead.  Not numb, not tingly,  just dead.  It was a rough weekend as I had to think about where I was going to move before I moved so that I could put my right leg forcefully where it needed to go.  Walking like that is kind of difficult, I have to say.  I started getting intermittent feeling back in my leg and then it would randomly go dead after that.  Monday rolled around and I ended up going to the doctor where I acquired a few new prescriptions for a muscle relaxant and a course of steroids to relieve any internal swelling in my back.  I also ended up with some referrals.  And so it was off for a MRI on my back the next day, which was a fun experience.  Got the results of the MRI back the day after that and found out that it was completely normal and the doctor had no idea what was causing my back problems.  

So, it was then a referral to physical therapy and this time?  This time I went.  Mainly out of desperation to see if someone could help me get my back to cooperate again or even tell me what in the Heck was wrong with it.  Despite the estimated 225.00 per visit price tag attached to it, I wanted to give it a shot.

So, my physical therapy eval was Friday and I'm going to go once a week for a month to see if I can get my back working right again.  The physical therapist thinks that at some pint in the past I probably injured my back, worked through it and ended up getting an uneven musculature and stuff from it, which has progressively led to the problems I'm having now.  It makes sense, really.  I have exercises to do every day and I'm religiously doing them, so hopefully this will work.  I'm praying as I can't afford an appointment once a month, let alone once a week, so I'm determined this is going to work one way or the other.

The cost of the MRI and the physical therapy is definitely going to max out my deductible for this year, so meeting that deductible is going to put me in some nasty debt.  I just pray it is worth it in the end.  Between that and the worldwide economy...finances are pretty freaking terrifying right now and I know I'm far from alone in that area right now.

By the way folks, side note here, I just wanted to let you know that if you stop by and wonder why you aren't getting e-mail updates on the blog, it is because feedburner (the guys who used to do my e-mail updates) aren't doing that anymore.  If you would like an e-mail letting you know when I update, please e-mail me at makedohomemaker (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll try and get an e-mail list up and get that e-mail off to you folks in a timely manner.  Sorry about not letting you know about this sooner.  Honestly, I spaced it with everything life has thrown at me the last few months.

With the state of everything in the world, I got an e-mail from one of my readers asking if maybe I could share some extreme hard times recipes and skills that people might need.  I am totally willing to do that.  I'm going to try and see if I can dig out my great depression, WWII rationing and other recipes and I'll try and share those on here as well as maybe some more tutorials on how to darn different items and things.  At this point I'm figuring this is something people can probably use, or if nothing else find inspiration from, so I'm going to make a point to do that.  If I can help at least a few people, I'll feel it was completely worth it.

Right, so let's get to money saving things that have happened the last bit.

1.  We went to the Fall Festival Special Needs Edition again this year.  Unfortunately, winter decided it wanted to come early that day so it was sleeting, snowing, raining and COLD.  The kids still had a blast, but man, it was cold.  We made it an hour and half and then went home.  My mother-in-law went with us.  It was fun.  Just cold, wet and short *laugh*.  I got no pictures this year because of those factors as all I got was photos of rain drops and blurry things in the background.

2.  I found out that we are getting a PFD this year and how much, and when, it was going to be.  I talked to my husband about shortages and all and we both decided that if we wanted to stock up on food and things we'd best to it now before price increases kicked in or, worse yet, before things weren't available at all.  So, we went an put groceries on the credit card over the weekend and will hopefully pay the credit card back down when PFDs come in.  I'm glad we did it, honestly, as much as I hated to put money on the credit card, because when PFDs come in it is really typical for Alaskans to go and stock up on food for the winter (really it is one of the few times of year that Alaskans tend to have a decent amount of income at their disposal to do it).  Food is already kind of thin at the stores right now, so one good PFD run on the stores and we could be looking at some pretty nasty empty shelves for a while. 

One thing people who aren't from here don't get, but quickly learn when they move here, is that we are pretty much the end of the line when it comes to the supply chain.  Anything that stores can't really sell in other places they throw on a plane to Alaska and figure that Alaskans will buy it.  For instance Fred Meyers in our local area were selling 1 gallon jugs of mayonnaise a bit ago for 1.00 a pop, but you had to buy a minimum of 10 to get that price, as the local stores had ordered quart jars and stuff like normal, but had gotten shipped gallon sized jugs of the stuff that Fred Meyer couldn't ship to other places and we got stuck with it.  We are used to things like that up here.  On top of that our cost of living up here is high just because of where we are, so we are seeing price increases hard up here.  My jaw dropped when I saw that bulk packages of hot dogs had gone up 4.00 since I bought them a few months ago and a lot of items had gone up at least 1.00 per item.  When you ship things as far as Alaska, we get hit hard by shipping costs being added onto items up here and when fuel pries start increasing?  You'll see prices go up exponentially hard and fast.  

I'm not saying Alaskans are panic buying or anything, but I think a lot of Alaskans are just going to go out like normal and buy groceries and when, and if, we are going to see those items come back in stock is debatable.

I was kind of impressed in a way that a lot of staple goods, especially beans and rice, were pretty much gone from Three Bears when we went shopping and PFDs aren't even in yet.  I was able to get more expensive medium grain rice, which was okay since we like to buy that kind anyway, but that was the only rice they even had left on the shelf, so I'm glad we like that type.  Things like cooking oil, vinegar and other staples were getting kind of thin as well, so I was very glad we were able to find what we did and get it while we still could.  It is looking like it is going to be a really rough winter, so I'm doing my best to prepare and fill holes, even ones I didn't think about, to see us through this mess as well as I'm able.  I'll be sharing some of my more odd, thinking outside the box, things I'm doing as well, so you can either maybe get inspired by it or think I'm crazy and laugh hysterically at me.  I'm okay with it either way.

3.  When it came to regular grocery shopping the last few weeks, Carrs gave me a bunch of bonus rewards every shopping trip and also I ended up with a coupon for a free 10 lb bag of potatoes!  So, I definitely took advantage of the free potatoes :).

I also redeemed some gas rewards for...

A free rotisserie chicken (which I then used to make a casserole, which then lasted us many meals during the week.

I then redeemed some more in the next couple of weeks and got...

A thing of frozen raviolli

A box of frozen soft pretzels

Two cans of green beans (I actually redeemed the reward for "two cans of vegetables" and thought I'd be able to get something more interesting, but green beans was all Carrs had that day, so that is what I got.

A free quart of vegetable broth (I bought three more so I'd have enough to brine the turkey at Thanksgiving).

A free bag of tater tots (for tater tot casserole was the original intent...we'll see if that is what I use it for :).

4.  I mended a couple of pair of pants for the son.

5.  I really tried hard to make sure we did have things to eat around here even when my back was really bad.  I was decently successful, which made me feel good that we at least didn't have to spend money on that.

6.  I put potential Christmas gifts for the kids in my cart on Amazon and waited until I could get prices I was happy about before I ordered said items.  It definitely saved money doing it that way.

In other news, Christmas this year isn't going to be terribly exciting when it comes to gifts, but I ordered things that we needed (new sheets for each of the kids, some new shirts for the daughter, new PJ's for the son) and a few things for fun (books and a few art supplies for the daughter, some sensory toys for the son), but yeah, this year is going to definitely be more geared toward "personalized needs so the items feel special, but definitely needs" type of gifts.  The budget stretches that far, but it is going to be tight just with medical bills let alone what else might be coming down the pike.

7.  One of the things that my daughter did at the Fall Festival was they had a booth where you could paint a pumpkin.  She picked a pumpkin and did a fun Halloween design on it and then, after we got home, I checked the sticker on the pumpkin and found we had received a free pie pumpkin.  That was a cool score.  So far the pumpkin is still hanging in there and not showing signs of going bad, so hopefully it might last till Halloween.  We shall see :).  No matter what it is future pumpkin puree for the freezer.

8.  I have gotten really good about making bread once a week so that we have fresh bread all week long to eat with dinner and to eat as toast (the daughter loves that way of eating it).  

9.  We watched some free on Prime videos the last couple of weeks that were more Halloween themed.

And there you go folks.  I'm going to call it good there mainly because I've been writing this post on and of all day and I'm going blurry eyed.  I hope you are all hanging in there and things aren't too hard on your end.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Thrifty Thursday: Thrift Store Finds

First, I sincerely want to apologize for the ginormous banner ad at the top of the blog annoying everyone who sees it.  Google made me make some changes to the blog code (advertising permissions and such) or my ad revenue would be cut off and now, no matter what I do to the code, what gadget I turn off, no matter what invisible entity I swear at, I can not get said banner to disappear (did manage to get rid of the various pop up ads that were taking over the screen when you pulled up the blog, though...I hope).  I will continue to work on it, but if it is still there when you are trying to read the blog...sorry...I'm trying.  I keep thinking of starting up like a Patreon page and doing some video tutorials on things like darning and such to hopefully help some folks, and things like this REALLY motivate me to try and figure out how to make that stuff work.

Anyway, here is a post I haven't done in a long while.  I actually have gotten a bit of a list of things I need to look for at the used stores, so we ended up hitting one of our local ones last week to see if we could find some of the things we need.  And, for the first time in a while, I actually found some stuff that I needed.

A pic of what we bought is up top, but I'll break it down one by one.  One of the main items on my list is trying to find some decent long sleeved shirts and sweaters in women's small to medium as those are definitely my sizes now.  All of my old sweaters and shirts are either really stretched out looking now (shirts) or are really just shot (sweaters).  So, I have some hoodies and one sweater that I am wearing now that winter is kicking off early here (much to my dismay we are set to have our first snowfall in the Valley tomorrow...too soon darned it!  Eagle River had their first snow fall earlier in the week, which was even worse).  When the weather started getting colder, I knew I had to start to look for winter clothing as the stores were going to sell out of stuff quickly.  Glad I did as I found a REALLY nice L.L. Bean, 100% cotton sweater (nice and heavy) for 4.00!  I love it.  Kind of nervous of the off white color (I have a tendency to stain things), but hopefully it'll last me a good long time and hey, at least it'll keep me warm!

The next thing I managed to find was a few tablecloths.  Unfortunately, they didn't have the size of the tablecloths listed on the tag and the original measurement tags were missing from said tablecloths, so I had to eyeball them to see if maybe they would fit the kitchen table.  Out of the three I got, one fit the kitchen table (the other two were a bit too narrow, but I'll use them for other things) which I'm showing here.  I really need some new table cloths as mine are getting really stained to the point I can't get the grease stains and things out of them (the son is hard on things), so it was good to add a new one into the tablecloth stock.  It is thin, but it gets the job done and will bead up liquids when spilled if you move quickly to clean it up.  Better than nothing for sure.

I also found a "king size" reversible comforter that isn't microfiber.  (the sweater and stuff is sitting on it in the above pic.  One side is grey stipes and the other side is blue stripes) I really don't like microfiber as it seems to just make you sweat, so I was happy to find a comforter that would fit my bed for 10.00 that wasn't microfiber.  It really is more queen sized than king sized, but that's okay because it does still fit my bed, so I'm definitely okay with it.  You can tell it is cotton with how well it wrinkles, though *laugh*.

Also, you'll look at the picture and think that my bed is exceptionally short due to the thing cutting off the picture on the left side, maybe?  That's actually another comforter I have folded up across the bottom half of the bed as I'm really trying to avoid turning on the electric heat in my bedroom until we have no choice in the matter (the kids have already had to turn their heaters on with how cold their rooms are getting at night).

So, there you go folks.  Not the most exciting "oooooo! Neat stuff!" type of haul I've ever had, but definitely some welcome finds to help make living a little bit cheaper.

How about you?  Found anything good at the used stores/thrift stores/charity shops of late?

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

August/September Amazon Haul

 Note:  The Frugal Friday post will hopefully be on Saturday this week (we have plans on Friday so hopefully will be busy in a good way) and I'll give you a recap of the last two weeks and what has been going on around here.

When I asked if people would like to see what I'm purchasing on Amazon, I got a surprising number of people e-mailing me and asking me to share, so I wanted to post up what I got from Amazon for my August/September Subscribe and Save order.  My current Subscribe and Save delivery date is set at the last day of the month, for some reason as it used to be set in the middle, so while I ordered this stuff back in August, I was still getting some of this order in last week due to shipping delays and things, so that's why I put August/September.  I have another Subscribe and Save order for the end of this month set up, and I'm hoping this one goes better as last month a bunch of stuff got back ordered till November and things and I ended up cancelling a bunch of orders so I could go and get what I could at my local stores instead as I needed said items.

The following break down won't match the picture above completely as I did grab a few things to act as "Stand ins" for other things I bought in the photo.  For instance I grabbed a can of mango slices to stand in for pineapple as the pineapple got buried at the bottom of a pile and I plain didn't want to mess around with juggling flats of cans to get it out.

Also, please note:  The following post does NOT contain affiliate links.  I'm just going to share links if available to what I purchased and how much I paid for said items.  If you would like to support the blog by purchasing through my Amazon affiliate link, you'll find it on the right hand side of the blog and you can click through to Amazon from there and do your shopping as normal and I'll get a small commission from Amazon (no extra cost to you to do this) for pointing sales their way.  If you do this, thank you so much for supporting the blog and I really appreciate it!

Ok, so here is a breakdown of what I got this time around...

Happy Homes Lemon Extract.  You will notice that on the table it is NOT lemon extract but imitation butter extract.  Yeah, the inventory sticker someone stuck onto the bottle said lemon extract, but they obviously sent me the total wrong thing.  The item was not returnable, but after a call to Amazon customer service I got a refund for the order and they told me to keep the butter flavoring.  So, yeah, that happened.  I didn't want butter flavoring, but that is what I got, so now I'll have to find different ways to use up butter flavoring.

Pillsbury Buttercream Flavored Frosting Pack of 8.  I had a hard time finding this locally and like to keep it in the pantry for a quick frosting base that I can just add like cocoa powder, or lemon extract and things to, to make different flavors of icing.  I got my 8 pack for like 8.94 after the Subscribe and Save discount, so it is more expensive now.

Ivory Soap, Pack of 30 (10 packs x 3).  This was a result of me being UNABLE to find Ivory locally, like at all.  Carrs didn't even have a SPOT on the shelf for it.  Crazy.  My husband uses Ivory exclusively, so I was definitely hunting around for it.  So, I ended up ordering soap through Amazon.  This should last us for quite a while, I hope.  I paid 20.40 for the 30 bars.

Crest Toothpaste, 8.2 oz containers, pack of 6.  These are up to over 4.00 for a tube here, so it was cheaper buying it in bulk through Amazon.  I paid 16.97 for 6 large tubes of toothpaste.

3 lbs Wild Soil Almonds.  These are peanut free almonds that I ran into and ordered.  I got mine for 16.89, though, so I definitely got mine cheaper than they are right now.  It'll be great having this many almonds come Christmas baking time.

Dole Tropical Fruit, 12 pack.  If you watch the price on these, you can get them decently cheap.  I got mine for 14.22.  I have one can standing in for the 12 pack in the photo (I got lazy).  These go for nearly 3.00 per can if I buy them locally, so it is so worth buying them on Amazon.  We actually eat this decently regular around here and I'll had a few maraschino cherries and (now that I have them in the pantry after getting them cheap) some mango slices and we have a really nice tropical fruit salad for a side dish :).

12 pack, Pillsbury White Cake Mix.  I honestly thought this was a misprint when I ordered it.  It was almost a "well I'll get my money back when I don't get the order in" as I thought for sure the listing was for one box of cake mix, not twelve and I was going to end up paying way too much for one box of cake mix and have to get my money back.  I actually did end up getting 12 boxes of cake mix for 5.44.  And yes, I actually GOT 12 boxes in and the expiration date is for December of next year.  I was jaw dropping shocked when I got the order in.  I have no idea why it was so cheap when I ran into it that day, but I'm well stocked up on cake mix now.  One box is representing the 12 in the picture above as I had already put them away in the pantry and didn't feel like pulling out all 12 for the photo.

Au Jus Mix, 6 lbs.  Yup, 6 LBS of Au Jus Mix.  Normally I get the McCormick bulk spices size containers (usually I get a pack of 2 and it'll last me a year) of Au Jus, but everywhere local stopped carrying it except in over priced small envelopes and Amazon wanted a fortune for the McCormick size I normally get.  So, I got a huge container of Au Jus for 19.60 after Subscribe and Save discount.  I officially won't have to buy Au Jus mix for probably forever and I'll even doubly use it in soups and things to add depth of flavor to dishes, but yeah...6 lbs.  That's a lot.  It cost me 19.60 after Subscribe and Save discount, which is where it is sitting today as well, so I'm thinking I got it pretty much regular price.

Jello, Coconut Cream Pudding Mix, pack of 24.  No where local carries this flavor of pudding at all anymore and we eat it quite a bit, especially when I make Mexican food.  Buying smaller sizes was not half as economical as buying it in bulk, so I bought it in bulk and got enough to last us two years or so.  I spent 20.60 after subscribe and save discount, which breaks down to less than 1.00 per box, which is a really good price for pudding mix.  I put one box in the pic above to substitute out for the full order as I had already put all 24 away in the pantry and didn't feel like trying to stack them all on the table :).  We've been eating a lot more pudding for dessert as it is such a quick and cheap dessert that doesn't result in a ton of left overs to eat, so this will get used for sure.

Curad Adhesive Bandages, pack of 300.  We needed these as we were like out of Band-Aids and we use Band aids a lot around here with the son's eczema.  I like this pack off of Amazon because the quality is pretty good and the price is right.  A pack of 300 bandages cost me 8.49 after Subscribe and Save discount.

Dole Crushed Pineapple, 12 pack, 8 oz cans.  I got these primarily for using in baking and when I want to make certain Chinese food dishes and things.  I paid 11.27 for the 12 pack, so got it cheaper than it is now.  The mango slices are standing in for the pineapple in the above picture as they were kind of buried in the pantry *laugh*.

So, yeah, there you go folks.  My Amazon order for August/September.  I got the money for the order by saving it from my regular grocery budget (the one area of my budget I really have any wiggle room) and putting it aside for the order at the end of the month.  If you can find the room in your budget I definitely recommend buying a bit extra to add to your food storage right now.  With how crazy prices are, goodness knows how bad inflation is going to get, so it just seems wise to put up some extra now at lower prices than buying later at goodness knows what price.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Harvest Time!

So, you might be asking yourself where I've been the last...however long it has been...nearly a month really (I know I blogged my grocery trip, but that was still a bit ago).  Honestly, it's been kind of rough around here and I didn't have much to blog about in the way of saving money.  Like many in the world right now, I'm treading water financially as well as we can and just taking it one day at a time.  So, I started to compile a list of money saving things and when it got up to a decent amount, I decided I finally had a blog post *laugh*.    I DO have a list of things I want to do this month, finally have my Amazon order in (well most of it...some I had to cancel as it got back ordered until the end of time it seemed), got a new list of things I want to buy at the end of the month and such, so hopefully in the next couple of days I DO finally have things to blog about that aren't just me ranting and raving about prices, not being able to save money and just letting out a long depressed sigh at the end.  Heck, I didn't want to type it.  I sincerely doubted people wanted to read it.

So, let's get to the list of stuff shall we?

1.  Well, this last Tuesday was the last day of our CSA for the summer and I have to say I was really impressed with the variety of things we got this summer.  I wasn't able to put up as much for winter with the CSA this year, but like just within the last few weeks I got corn, plums, pears, red currants, garlic, onions (I definitely have enough green onions to hopefully last till next year in the freezer now...woohoo!!!), broccoli, zucchini, was an impressive variety of items.  We really enjoyed the corn (it is HARD to grow corn up here unless you have a greenhouse) and the fruit and I'm really looking forward to using the currants in some baking later on (I froze them for use later). 

2.  Speaking of the CSA and by process of association the U-Pick farm (since the CSA is put on by Pyrah's Pioneer Peak Farm, which is our local U-Pick farm as well :), they announced the date of their annual fall festival and as such their Special Edition day (special needs get in free as do their families).  I have already booked the day in my calendar as the kids LOVE this event every year and it is just so wonderful that the farm puts it on like they do :).

3.  Carrs started their own app independent of the Safeway app and part of the Carrs app is actually more freebies.  It seems they come out with a freebie for one day (Wednesday as that is when their ad rolls over) .  I've only gotten in on one freebie so far, but we did take advantage of the Pick Up and Go for Carrs that week, so we were able to get a free frozen pizza that day with the app.  My daughter and I ended up having it for dinner one night when my husband was working late, so it worked out perfectly :).

4.  I had ordered a toner through the homeschool for our laser printer and proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait.  I ended up calling the homeschool office after I got a "closed ticket" notification from the technology department as I was worried that my toner order would fall through the cracks even though they had assured me they'd contact me as soon as the toners were in.  I am glad I called as the head of the technology department called me back.  He was super apologetic and couldn't figure out why the ticket for my order had gotten closed (he was supposed to approve things before they got closed) and it turned out they had toners for at least a month.  To make up for the whole fiasco he gave me a toner for free!  That was a 100.00 savings for me, so I was beyond thrilled and touched that they would eat the cost of something like that to make it up to us.

5.  My son and I are currently studying waves and life under the seas and oceans this quarter in school.  We have taken advantage of a bunch of resources including free with Prime documentaries on Amazon, free worksheet sites and things.  It has really helped to add some more interest to his science lessons.

Speaking of school, we have managed to stay on time with our lessons (that can be a real challenge with Alvah's eczema and horrible sleep schedule) and it turned out that he really actively enjoyed reading the Jungle Book.  Since Kipling is one of my favorite authors (and has been since I was a kid), I was really thrilled that he enjoyed it so much :).

6.  We decorated the house for Halloween this week as the weather has definitely gotten colder and leaves are starting to turn and fall from the trees.  All the decorations we used were from previous years that we pulled out of storage, so not only does it change up the house a bit, but it didn't cost us anything to do :).

7.  When the weather started getting colder, I pulled the tomato plant inside to give it as much time as I could to ripen the many tomatoes it had before the plant died off.  It worked great and it finally started to actively die this week.  I harvested what was left along with the rest of the "outside garden" this week.  

I have to say I am REALLY impressed and thrilled with how many tomatoes I got off of one tiny plant.  I am definitely going saving the "Red Robin Patio Tomato" to my gardening necessities for next year (hopefully I can find them again).

8.  My food dehydrator didn't survive the earthquake well, it turned out.  I wasn't sure how it or my Food Saver would fare (Food Saver won't even power on after getting water in it from the 2" of standing water that was in my laundry room, it turns out *sigh*).  Instead of going out and getting a new dehydrator, I decided to hang up my herbs the old fashioned way and dry them.  It worked well as I put them right above our heating duct from the furnace.  The herbs that didn't do so great was the basil and the rosemary, but the sage and parsley more than made up for it.  I have a ton of parsley preserved in ice cubes in the freezer, have a ton more dehydrating and we ate a ton fresh.  Can't get better than that.  It was the same with the sage.  I am super super happy to have both of the herbs to put up in the cupboards to use over the winter :).

9.  You know, speaking of the garden, with the crazy weird growing season we had this year I am super duper happy how well the garden did.  I finally went and harvested the rest of the garden today as we have been getting pretty significant drops in temps at night and things.  The cabbages are smaller, by a bit, compared to what I would get out of a in-ground garden...if the moose didn't eat them...but they are nice and heavy for their size and I am so happy to have real cabbages come out of the garden this year instead of what was left of them after the moose and slugs got to them.  

I harvested my last head of lettuce, which the other ones I harvested lasted nearly a month (no joke) once I cleaned them and put them loosely in containers with paper towels in between, so I'm hoping the last head will last us at least a couple of weeks.

Now the chard, man the chard I'm BEYOND thrilled on how well it did in containers.  I was expecting it to be dwarfed and not grow well, but instead I got managed to get two harvests in this year by planting a new seedling every time I ripped out an old one, and both times the harvest was really good!!!  I am going to have a decent amount of greens put up for the winter, which, to me, is wonderful, as any extra nutrition, especially yummy tasting nutrition, we can get during the winter is a huge deal to me.

On the other side of things, raspberries and rose hips were a definite no-go this year, unfortunately.  They both succumbed to rot or mold before we could harvest many of them.  My mother-in-law's raspberries shared that fate, it seemed, so any raspberry jam I am getting this year is going to have to be bought in.

10.  I managed to find room in my freezer for my ice cream maker bowl and am going to start making ice cream, hopefully tomorrow.  With my son's peanut allergy, we have to be careful what brands of ice cream we get and unfortunately more and more it is the really expensive brands we have to go with.  With the cost of the ice cream combined with more and more product shrinkage, I decided it was time to just start making ice cream.  It's cheaper.  My ice cream maker is ancient, so I might have to invest in a new one soon as the ice cream bowl seems to not stay frozen solid for long enough to really make the ice cream...well soft serve ice cream consistency if that makes sense.  I always end up with ice crystals anymore as the bowl just doesn't seem to work as well as it used to, but for now it'll work okay I think.

11.  One of my goals of late is to get the den to a point where I can get things out of the way for home gym class in bad weather.  So, I managed to put a folding camp table in the den that I can break down easily and folding chairs and then I'm working on getting things better organized and out of the way of the "main drag" through the center of the den so we'll have it to do yoga and other exercises.  One of the things I wanted to get out of the way was a set of drawers I'd bought for homeschool materials.  I decided to put them upstairs over by the living room window.  I then put a tray I had on it (the top of the drawers has indents so you can stack more than one system on top of the other) and placed a small lamp on the new "table".  This will be wonderful this winter as the living room doesn't have an overhead light in it and it gets really hard to read or do sewing and things in the living room during the winter with the lack of daylight.  It will definitely help to light up the living room better.

And I am going to call it good there as I have a ton of housework and stuff yet to do today.  Hope you've all had some luck keeping above everything going on and are doing well!

Friday, August 20, 2021

This Week's Shopping Haul

 Well, I haven't done one of these posts in a while, so I thought I'd share what I bought for groceries this week.

When it comes to blogging of late, I've been busy.  The first week of August I had a solid week of appointments and then the next week started with getting the septic pumped on Monday, which I then got a report saying that our leech field is saturated, so our leech field may be starting to die.  Since it is probably the original leech field, this isn't super surprising, I guess, but it is still depressing as that's a lot of work and expense to get that replaced, which we'll probably have to do next summer (luckily it is just saturated and not super saturated as that is when you are getting warned you are going to start having major problems and an out and out failure of the field.  So, yeah, I spent a few days just trying to figure out how to cut down on water usage around here and things to try and extend the life of the leech field.  I haven't gotten very far as laundry is my main source of water consumption and I can't stop doing laundry.  We do a lot more laundry than a normal family due to having to do more bedding and clothing on a normal basis.  So, that was a source of stress for sure and probably will be for some time for me.

We were supposed to be getting some advance payments from an earned income tax credit that the government came up with every month from July to December  We are actually pretty far below the income levels they chose for a single person, let alone a family of four, so we should have been fine, but then our account with the IRS is suddenly "pending", which means we are not getting any help from them until they figure out whatever it is they need to figure out.  With how the hands of government move (i.e. slower than molasses) I might not be seeing the extra money they promised until I file for taxes next year.  I guess we'll see what happens as the rest of the year progresses as there is nothing I can do about the current state of things.  I was hoping that we would get the extra money as that would have helped to combat rising costs of everything, but so far that doesn't look good. 

So, I spent this last week redoing our budget, again, so that the extra money we were supposed to be getting from the IRS isn't in the budget any longer.  Add in homeschool starting up in a big way and I've not only been busy, but REALLY busy!

But, yeah, saving money the last three weeks and Frugal Friday posts to show for it?  I had a few things, like using a 10.00 off coupon for when we got our septic pumped and things, but the list is actually really short for the amount of time that has passed, sadly.  I'll try to maybe do a quick post at some point next week to bring up the frugal adventures to date, but for the moment, I thought I'd just share what I got for groceries this week as I haven't done that in a long time. 

Now, technically this is for the next two weeks of groceries.  I have an Amazon order on top of what I bought that will get charged next week and be in by the end of the month, but I made sure we just got a thing of rolls last week and that was it (we wanted nice hard rolls for sandwiches for a few nights, so I just had my husband pick some on his way home from work as I was busy and very tired), so I am taking the money I would have spent on groceries last week and putting it on my Amazon order at the end of the month instead.

I also had my husband pick up a 50lb bag of bread flour on his way home from work one night.  That came out to about 29.96 (there was a snack included in that price somewhere my husband told me, but since I don't have the receipt, only the amount that cleared the bank, I'm going with that).

Right, so let's break it down by the numbers:

1.  Son food (not shown as it was already eaten and/or put away):  60.58 

2.  Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips:  5.29

This is a large bag not cross contaminated with peanuts, so I'm okay buying them for household use.  

3.  5 Dozen eggs:  7.05

I plan to make ice cream, as it is really expensive for safe brands now, and also eggs are a cheap source of additional protein).  I had a personalized price of 1.41 per dozen.  They are normally like 1.89 a dozen (or more now...I forgot to check).

4.  Lucerne American Cheese slices:  9.49

For cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and other things.  The big container was the best value and lasts us for a long while

5.  Lucerne whole milk, 2 gallons:  7.98

6.  Land O' Lakes spreadable butter:  4.99

I normally get the largest container of this as it will last us a month (normally between like 6.50 to 7.00 as I normally get a personalized price on it).  Getting the spreadable butter really saves on stick butter consumption, so I have been super happy buying it.  I went with a slightly smaller size this time as it was on sale and we still have about 1/2 of a container of spreadable butter left in the fridge.

7.  Tilamook sour cream, 2:  4.98 

I know I'm going to get questions about why I'm not buying the store brand items here.  I have found that the Lucerne brand of sour cream, although cheaper, as well as their plain yogurt, go bad on me super duper fast.  No joke.  I had yogurt go bad on me!  So I'm avoiding that brand of yogurt and sour cream and going with brands I know will last for a good long time before going bad.  What is the point of saving money on an item if it goes bad before you can use it?

8.  Mountain High Plain Yogurt, 32 oz:  3.49

9.  Rockit Apples, 2:  17.98.

At 2.99 lb normal price (about), these are a bit more expensive than buying say red delicious apples or something if I wait for a sale, but my husband really likes this brand of apple and the smaller apples actually means we get more servings from a container of apples than we would if I bought bigger apples out of the by the pound bins.  I've been washing them and then putting them in a bowl on the tables so people can just grab an apple and go and it has been working really well to get the daughter to snack healthier.

Total trip pre-tax:  121.83

Sales Tax:  3.65

Total spent at Carrs:  125.48

Then, of course, we spent 29.96 at Three Bears buying bread flour.  

Total between the two stores:  151.79

I used to have a 50.00 per week grocery budget.  I've had to raise it to 75.00 per week the last bit and I'm expecting it to get higher still, but I guess we shall see.  

Oh and here is a good tip for those on a tight budget that I've been doing.  Since Covid the majority of stores let you order online and then pick up at the store right?  Well, if you are going to go into the store, but want to get an idea of what you are going to spend, use the online app, look up your items one at a time and then write down the price it lists and then you can add it all up (complete with tax) before you go.  I was only 2.00 off this week as the online app listed Cheetos and Doritos by 1.00 cheaper than in store (I think it was probably an online only deal that they were running).

So, there you go folks.  My grocery shopping this week.  If anyone is interested I can share my Amazon haul when I get it in, so you can see what some of the deals I'm buying on Amazon.  Let me know.

How is your budget doing?  Mine is straining and I know I'm not alone.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Just a Quick PSA on the Recent Earthquake!

Map image source:  The Alaska Earthquake Center

I am so sorry that I did not post this sooner.  I'm actually getting quite a few worried e-mails and Facebook messages asking if we were impacted by the recent 8.2 earthquake that hit off of of the Aleutian Chain of Alaska a few days ago.  

Fortunately, no, my family wasn't impacted.  I feel for the poor folks who live closer to where the earthquake occurred as I know how much those aftershocks wear you down, but my family in particular didn't even feel anything.  

I didn't even know we had an earthquake up here that big until my mom called me yesterday to make sure we were okay because the news had misreported Chignik as Chugiak (Chugiak is in the Anchorage area).  

In short, we are fine.  Luckily, there was no tsunami from the earthquake and the aftershocks are following a typical aftershock pattern, so the odds of this being some sort of pre-quake are unlikely.

If you'd like to read more about the earthquake, you can go here and read the article that the Alaska Earthquake Center put out on the event.  

Go here to read about the 8.2 quake.

Thank you so much for your concern and I am VERY sorry to worry a bunch of people.  I need to keep up more on the news.  I've just started avoiding watching it more and more for the sake of my sanity of late.  Sorry about that!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 I was originally going to name this "Frugal Friday:  Money Saving Weekly Recap (The "I'm Drowning in Produce Edition and I'm Thrilled!"), but I thought that might be a BIT long *laugh*.

But, yeah, I am so happy right now.  Seen above is my garden haul this week along with what I received in my CSA (minus the peas that I completely forgot to get out of the fridge to put in the photo).  Seriously, the garden haul alone is just awesome and then you add in the CSA and I'm really loving life right now.

Especially when we went out running errands yesterday and I saw the telltale moose prints through the old garden bed and the chomped branches on the trees.  I had a moment of relief and then a moment of "ha ha!" at Bob and Ted as my garden was safe a story above the ground where they could not tread this year.  

So, anyway, I'm going to do a reverse on the normal post this week and do a garden update before the usual Frugal update, so let's get to that!

As stated above, I harvested some stuff from the garden today.   The first big thing I did was I harvested two Swiss Chard plants that were shortening to bolt with the weird weather we've had of late.  I also harvested a ginormous head of buttercrisp lettuce.  See the lettuce on the right in the very back in the basket there?  That is ONE head of lettuce for the most part.  For scale, here's the same basket in previous years holding different items...

So, yeah, that's one big head of lettuce right there!  I cleaned and processed it after taking the photos and it filled a big container with lettuce plus gave me enough left over to give my mother-in-law a bag of lettuce for salads next week.  Seriously, awesome!

I did manage to shove some other lettuce greens under and to the side of the head of lettuce (the herb-like things on the left side of the basket), which will give us a nice variety of salad greens to mix in with the butter crisp next week.  I keep having to give the mixed salad greens a haircut or they quickly blossom and try to go bitter, so it's been fun having those readily available for salads.

The Swiss Chard I harvested is on the left in the other basket along with some parsley, summer savory and sage in the front of the basket.  I already cut down and had the Swiss Chard ready to go into bags, so it took up less room on the table.  I was happy with the haul I got off the two plants :).

The green head up front is a cabbage I got with the CSA this week, which it and the potatoes went into a corned beef dinner tonight for the most part (I'm also missing some potatoes because I made mashed potatoes last night :).

The green/purple things on either side of the cabbage are kale that came with the CSA box this week.  I also got local eggs with the CSA box the last couple of weeks.  I think they are so pretty as they are from Easter Egger chickens, so they are a variety of colors.  I wish the photo was better able to show the light greens and blues that some of the eggs are, but rest assured they are very pretty :).  

We also got a baggy of culinary lavender in the box this week (in with the eggs) and a jar of honey (in the jar that is in the same basket as the chard).  

Here's the fun part, though.

The seedlings that I had left over when I planted the original garden have survived just fine as root bound as they are, so when I harvested the chard and lettuce I was able to immediately plant another round of plants!  

I don't know how big they'll get, but no matter what I'll be able to harvest something from them :).

I'm thinking I'll probably be harvesting the other two chard plants this week as they are getting to that point and I'll plant a few more seedlings in their place.  And no extra money spent!  Booyah!!!

We are supposed to be up near 80 next week, so I am going to be really happy to have the lettuce in the fridge for salads, I'm betting.  And it will give the tomatoes another chance to start going crazy.  I am LOVING this little plant!!!

Everything else in the garden is growing well.  

The cabbages are kind of small so far, but they are forming cabbages, so yay!

I even have some small beans that are getting bigger every day!  Woot!!!

Please ignore the bug on the underside of the leaf.  Rest assured it got knocked off as soon as I realized it was there.

So long as I keep the lettuce heads and the lettuce greens mix harvested regularly, the rosemary continues to grow and isn't hidden if I keep on top of it.  The parsley and the sage are MAJORLY happy in the box and are trying to take over their little world.  The savory seems to be growing well, I just have never grown it before so the straggly runners it sends out all the time with their thyme like leaves are different than I'm used to :).  I have been using the savory pretty much as soon as I harvest it in cooking (I've gotten more into German cooking and they favor savory as a herb).

The mini petunias are happy as can be and the bees seem to like them, so I'm happy to see local honey bees touching down on them and the other petunias during the day.

The petunias have definitely filled out their container and are happily growing.

And even the basil has filled out and is growing nicely!

This would be the time in the garden where I would wait for slugs or moose to kill everything, so I am thrilled to see where the garden is going to go away from those things!

So, yeah, I am happy with the garden this week  =D.

And now, onto the frugal update for the week (minus the money saved from the garden, of course).

1.  I was ordering my son's curriculum materials off of Amazon and was looking at canned fruit and happened to find a 12 pack of canned mangoes for 12.00 on sale.  I jumped on it as I can't even GET canned mangoes locally (I love mangoes and barely ever buy them fresh as they aren't cheap and canned aren't available around here) and was thrilled when I saw that the mangoes went up to 35.00 the next day and have pretty much stayed at that price point since.  The cans came in great shape too, which was a nice find.  With Amazon it is always a gamble.

2.  Amazon managed to damage a printer cartridge I had ordered (can't find our particular colored printer cartridges around here, so I have to order them from Amazon) in transit and it was supposedly getting returned to Amazon and I would get a refund when they got it back.  I got confused when I saw the tracking information as the box was still in the Amazon system, the USPS hadn't even gotten the box before it got sent back to Amazon, so I was really confused why the refund would have to wait when technically Amazon already HAD the damaged item.  The site told me to track the box for more information, but the tracking information on the mail's end died pretty much immediately since they didn't even HAVE the box yet.  Determined that I was never going to get a refund this way as the tracking information on Amazon's end literally ended at "Box damaged, returning to Amazon" and that was it, I called Amazon and pretty much demanded an immediate refund since I had already ordered and received another ink cartridge and I wanted to recover the money that was currently in limbo.  Amazon customer service managed to process a refund so I got my money back for the item that Amazon will eventually get back from itself.

3.  I spent most of the week working on sourcing Alvah's many books and resources for his curriculum for this coming school year so I could send it off to his contact teachers.  I got done earlier in the week and sent off the many pages to his contact teacher, who was happy with the results, so that was a load off of my mind.  I got the last books for the daughter's and son's curriculums in today, so other than art supplies and things, I should be good to go to start school next week.  Which is great as that is what I was hoping to be able to do.

4.  My husband's birthday was this month and we still hadn't gone out for our anniversary yet, so we decided to kind of combine the two events into one dinner out without the kids.  It was a nice dinner, the kids seemed to have a good time with grandma and I have to say, since that night Alvah has slept very little, so I am glad we had that night where I could recharge my batteries before the lack of sleep kicked in.

5.  When doing my son's curriculum I utilized a lot of free resources to pad out his lessons, including museum sites for additional fun lessons and things to do, a free handwriting sheet generator and I went and dug up a bunch of recipes online.  I thought about getting Radish boxes again this year, but I decided to save the money and decided we would incorporate cooking activities into the history lessons we would be studying instead.  So, I looked up ancient Egyptian,  Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Roman, Greek  and Viking/Norse dishes to make throughout the school year.  It will be a LOT of fun, I think and I didn't have to worry about shoe horning a Radish box into what we were learning at the time.  I'm looking forward to the activities.  I think they will be a lot of fun!

6.  I bought the minimum of groceries this week due to money being really tight until pay day.  Groceries hurt more and more every day (I noticed that even all the produce had gone up the last time I went to the store), so I'm TRYING to be careful with how much I'm spending on them if I can.  

I am having a really hard time budgeting right now as the prices on things are fluctuating so quickly, but I'm doing the best I can to stay above it all.

7.  My son found the YouTube has the entire collection of "Silly Songs with Larry" from "Veggie Tales".  He's a happy camper right now (I am actually trying to type with those songs trying to distract me at the moment *laugh*).  It is a nice find as he wore out his old VHS tape of "Silly Songs" and this stops me from trying to figure out how to afford a DVD of the songs or something (if they are even available at all anymore).

8.  My husband was having a medical issue and used Teledoc instead of going to his regular in-person doctor as our insurance pays 100% of a Teledoc visit.  It worked out and going through Teledoc saved us at least 150.00, so I was grateful to the hubby for doing that.

And, sadly. that's about it.  All I've really been up to this last week was working on the kid's curriculums for homeschool, so I haven't done much else.  I had hoped to get some other stuff done around the house, but hopefully I can get some things done this weekend before schoolwork starts next week.  Here's hoping!

How about you all?  Been up to anything this week?

By the way, if you left a comment last week and it doesn't appear on the blog, I apologize.  Blogger had a wig out moment and ended up eating a couple of comments.  I couldn't even read them to approve them as they just appeared as broken code, so I had to delete a few comments that may or may not have been done by a person.  So, if your comment didn't appear (and you're not a spammer, which I DID block and delete some of those), I greatly apologize.  Thanks for the understanding!    

Friday, July 23, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

After working very hard on learning curriculum for the son for the next school year over the last two brain is tapioca.  Believe it or not, though, I also got some other stuff accomplished over the last two weeks, so let's get to that!

1.  I took some old 1/2 pint jars that I had in storage (most of them have chipped rims or flaws in the glass so I don't want to can with them anymore) and used them to redo my spice cabinets.  I had a bunch of bulk spice jars that were taking up TONS of room around my oven in different cabinets and on top of my fridge, so I filled up the mason jars from those, put some freezer tape on them for labels (I will have to get some proper labels at some point and label them properly, but this will do for now), used some old lids that I had taken off of home canned jars when I opened them (I wash the old ones and just reuse them for dried goods so they don't go to waste) or some old Tattler lids I had that were notched and voila!  Stacking spice jars that hold a decent amount, but don't take up tons of room all over the place.  

I had enough room after filling the jars to use the top shelf in my lazy Susan cabinet to hold gravy mixes and/or dry mixes (like Ranch Dressing powdered mix, different types of bouillon etc) and different types of vinegar I use in cooking.

I then moved all of my spices and baking materials to a smaller cabinet that used to house all bulk jars of spices.  I also put in my seasoning salts for cooking because I like to keep stuff like that right next to the stove on the right hand side to make my life easier.  

No more tearing most everything out of my lazy Susan cabinet to find the baking powder or the powdered ginger. 

I have to say I LOVE the new layout.

2.  I took some old cloth drawers that I found when cleaning my master bedroom closet and I decided to use them in my lower "Bermuda Triangle" cabinet.  This is a really hard cabinet to get in and out of unless what you need is RIGHT up front because of where the door is and things, so I used the drawers to make it easier to pull things out when I need them.  I stored mainly bulk spice containers in the drawers, along with a few go to dinner items I like to store in the kitchen (a can of chicken, a box of Jello pudding mix, etc) so I can grab them quick.  After I stored everything and tucked it into the cabinet it worked great.  Takes up most of the cabinet space, but I had JUST enough room left to store my mirin, cooking oils and cooking wine for easy access.  I love it as it is WORLDS above the disaster it used to be where I was lucky to find anything without tearing pretty much everything out of it.

3.  I wanted to make a recipe that called for Lipton Onion Soup mix.  Instead of going and buying some (which honestly, I haven't bought that stuff in YEARS), I used items I had on hand to make my own.  

I used this recipe and it turned out wonderfully.  I just make up a new little jar of the stuff when I use up the last batch.  I've used some in meatloaf, in a crock pot pork has come in quite handy :).

4.  I rearranged my pantry and filled in some holes in it (more on that later as I forgot to take pictures of it when it was done).  

5.  I made an appointment for next month (it was the earliest date they had) to get the septic pumped.  I was sure to mention that they had sent me a reminder postcard with a 10.00 off coupon.  I will turn that over to the driver when they come to get my discount.  I put a couple of hundred dollars into savings to cover the cost as I don't want to be caught having to put that too on credit card when the time comes.

6.  I canned the sauerkraut!  I canned it when we had a short break in the heat we were having.  I actually had to mix the sauerkraut together in a five gallon bucket this year as I had so much of it before putting it into batches into my stock pot to heat up and can.  It was pretty comical, really.  I ended up with 21 pints of sauerkraut and was really thrilled that I canned it when I did as we were down to our last two cans of sauerkraut in the pantry :).

The red cabbage sure made some pretty looking sauerkraut, I have to say.  

7.  I received a wonderful variety pack of teas in the mail, but the box the tea bags came in came pretty much destroyed.  I wanted to keep the teas organized, but wasn't sure how to do it.  I found tea boxes on Amazon, but they were kind of spendy for just organizing teas and I was worried they would be big as well as I have really limited space in my kitchen.  So, I went looking through what I had and decided to use one of the wooden cigar boxes I've collected over the years to hold my tea.  It worked wonderfully, is just small enough to fit into the cabinet with my toaster and everything stays nice and organized.  Win-win as it didn't cost me a dime to use :).

8.  I renewed my husband's driver's license online, thus saving him a trip to the DMV.

9.  I wanted to create some handwriting sheets to go with the son's core LAMP vocab we will be doing every day.  Instead of trying to make my own, which would have taken a while, I found this page that will create work sheets for you and all you have to do is type in the words and mess with the alignment a bit if needed.  I have used it a LOT over the past two weeks and have found it a wonderful resource to have.

10.  I have enjoyed watching different YouTube pages of late as Amazon has made a bunch of the movies and things I watched for years and loved, unavailable or I have to pay for them.  Depressing to say the least when your son goes to bed at 3:00 am and you are trying to find something to keep you awake.  Anyway, I started exploring YouTube a bunch as I wait for my favorite YouTubers to upload their weekly (or bi-weekly or in some cases monthly) videos and ran across some channels that I really enjoy watching and are channels that upload quite a bit, so I have a good backlog of videos to work through.  One I found that I love is the channel She's In Her Apron.  She shows her life as it is, piles of clothes and everything, which makes me feel less alone some days and she, for the most part, is a very positive and happy person, which is always a pleasure to experience in the world of negativity today :).  She also loves cookbooks and has a bit of a cookbook obsession, which I'm for that as a hobby and I may share the love of cookbooks just a tad ;).

11.  Our CSA this year is just starting to kick off, but it has been kind of neat to see what we will get every week.  We got an English cucumber in the box last week along with a ton of salad like fixings (including a HUUUUUGEEE head of lettuce), so we ate a LOT of salads last week.  This week we got kohlrabi, lettuce (I gave it to my mother-in-law as I'm starting to drown in lettuce at the moment), spinach, broccoli (which we had with home made cheese sauce the other night), green onions (which I used some of the HUGE ones we got in some dinner plans I had this week and the rest went into the freezer for miso soup and things later in the year =D) and some yummy peaches!  

Anyway, one of the things we got last week with the salad fixings was a HUGE bunch of radishes.  Knowing I wasn't going to be able to use them all in salads before they went bad, I remembered some of the Asian vloggers I watched making different kinds of pickles and things with various vegetables including daikon radishes and things.  So, I decided to give pickled radishes a try.   I used this recipe for the brine as it seemed pretty simple (honestly, most every recipe was about the same, but a lot contained things like star anise, which I DEFINITELY don't have in the cupboard at the moment).  I sliced my radishes super thin, unlike the daikon she used in the recipe, as I wanted to permeate the flavor of the brine through the slices decently well.  I got two pints worth of pickles out of the radishes I had left (after salad and all).  I let them sit in the fridge for a few days before we had them with some pork cutlets for dinner and MAN I really love these things!  The brine helped to cut the "bite" that red skinned radishes tend to have and mellowed the flavor in such a way that I could seriously eat these things straight out of the jar (and I have been found to take some out and put them on a plate to eat them straight a few times this week *laugh*).  They are a wonderful mellow refrigerator pickle and would go well with a bunch of different dishes.  I find that their recommendation of serving alongside fried foods to be a solid one as they work great as a palate cleanser, but like I said I'll eat these things by themselves as well.

Right, and now onto the garden update!

The garden is doing AWESOME so far, I have to say.  

The flowers the last few days are starting to die off, which is sad to see (I need to go and pinch off seeds to see if I can make the flowers go some more).  But, I will tell you what.  Going out onto my deck to water the plants, not having to weed tons, no slugs to worry about, and the nearest moose at least one story down?  It REALLY makes me love the container garden more than a little bit.  

I've started harvesting lettuce the last week or so.   And the little seedlings have hung onto life and I've been harvesting off of them too.  I've gotten a bunch of parsley and baby greens off of the chard and lettuce seedlings to supplement the bigger stuff.  Kind of cool, actually.

I have gotten a bunch of cherry tomatoes off of the tomato plant (with more and more appearing every day...I am SOOOOOO happy about that!!!).  I mean look at those tomatoes!!!  

And I've harvested fresh herbs a bunch to use in cooking, which has been really nice!  I now have to search for the rosemary like my own version of "Where's Waldo" as it is poking it's head out between the lettuce and the parsley plants, but it IS hanging in there and doing fine.

The pole bean finally got tall enough that it was starting to tip over, so I staked it up.  It now houses a bunch of blooms, so hopefully I'll get some beans before summer is over.  Pretty flowers either way :).

I honestly didn't have a lot of expectations when it came to a container garden this year as I've had limited success with them in the past.  But, so far, so good *knock on wood*.  

I mean even the cabbage seems happy and the cabbages are starting to form quickly now.  The chard got so big I had to move it out of the way of the tomato plant so it could get plenty of sun.  

The basil plant is still hanging in there, but is definitely not thriving, which is a shame.  I am getting a bit of basil off of it, but it is far from the robust specimen I was hoping for.  But, the catnip is super happy and doing well, so there is that anyway.  I've had to continually move it to the grill so the cats don't have enough room to jump up and eat it, but it is worth it.  I'm harvesting enough off of it to keep the cats happy and it is still growing wonderfully.

And so, there you go folks.  Some of the things I've been up to the last couple of weeks.  It has been busy, and hectic, but I feel good that I'm getting stuff done, anyway :).  How about you?  Been up to much of late?