Tuesday, March 23, 2021

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

I have to say, so far this week has been a lot of work.  Things just seem to keep piling up work-wise, so it has been running from one thing to another it seems this week.  Thank goodness the menu plan was actually THERE for me this week and I've been able to roll with things and still manage to keep putting food on the table so we didn't need to eat out.

I started the menu plan this week on Saturday, which honestly I might keep doing in the future.  With my husband's schedule being days now, he has weekends off, so I end up having to do more elaborate meals for breakfast (normally I have toast) on those days as my husband likes to have a full breakfast.  So, let's get to this week's menu plan.


        Breakfast:  Eggs, bacon, toast, honey dew melon chunks 

        Lunch:  Hot dogs

        Dinner:  Cheeseburgers, melon (leftovers from breakfast)


        Breakfast:  Sausage crumbles;  yogurt parfaits with plain yogurt, honey (from food storage), granola (from food storage), and strawberries (combination of a few fresh strawberries that were on sale with a personalized price I had this week and some frozen ones that I macerated in sugar that we had left over); toast

        Lunch:  Leftovers

        Dinner:  Creamy Potato and Ham Hock Slow Cooker Soup:  (ham hocks were part of our pork pack and I was trying to find something different than just flavoring beans with them.  Good soup!). 

Monday:  Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls:  Originally I was going to make cabbage rolls, but was so busy yesterday I just didn't have time, so I used this recipe instead.  I used 1 lb of ground beef and 1 lb of ground pork, though.  Turned out pretty good and I I served it over rice :).

Tuesday:  Leftover night (pull leftover curry from freezer and defrost for another option as well)

Wednesday:  Corned beef  (I pray that the recipe I used turned out okay), cabbage and potatoes with sourdough bread on the side.

Thursday:  Ham with beer glaze (I'm adapting an old Polish recipe my grandma would make for her Polish husband from time to time.  She used ham hocks, but I'm going to go with ham as I have a ton of it that came with our pork pack :).

Friday:  Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Desserts:  Strawberry shortcake or angel food cake (leftovers), fruit (I went a bit nuts with the fruit this week as the sun has been out and my body is CRAVING Spring like mad, so yeah...we're eating fresh fruit this week *laugh*.

And there you go folks.  Some of the things we are eating this week.  How about you?  Eating anything good?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Frugal Friday (Times, whatever): Money Saving Weekly Recap


First, sorry to worry everyone.  I finally checked my e-mail and found a bunch of concerned e-mails asking if I was still alive as it has been so long since I blogged.  Instead of answering each one individually, I just thought I'd do a post and explain where I've been the last month.  So, let's break it down by the numbers.

The first one after Armina to get sick was my husband.  He ended up with bronchitis and on rounds of steroids and antibiotics to kill any secondary infection.  Then Alvah went down and was really sick to his stomach for a few days with a low grade fever and then just feeling out of it for about a week.  Right when Alvah started feeling better, despite me sterilizing everything constantly,  I caught it.  Man, I was down for a good two weeks.  I ran a low grade fever for a few days (least once I figured out that I was running one as I'd been feeling off for a couple of days beforehand) and then after that I just plain didn't feel good.  The fatigue was the worst part.  There were days where I was barely able to stand up without getting severely weak and shaky.  Bright side we stayed away from people during that entire mess as we just kept getting quarantined by doctors.  We just got off of quarantine early last week.  I was absolutely thrilled when I woke up one day and felt human again.  Since then, despite the lectures from my husband about not overdoing it, I've been at a dead run trying to get things done around the house as with me down for that long...well the house wasn't in good shape, we'll just say that and the "to do" list was in critical stages.  

Then there was my tooth.  I ended up with a tooth that started to break around a big filling I have (I have a ton of big fillings that I've had forever, so not particularly surprising, really), so I went from no pain to really nasty pain in the span of two seconds.  I got an emergency appointment with the dentist and I am now the proud owner of a temporary cap while I wait for the permanent one to come in.  Thank goodness we were off of quarantine when it happened and I went in right away as it was pretty badly cracked and I could have been looking at a root canal if I'd let it go and the crack got worse.  So, that was a relief (quite literally...it's nice not to be in severe tooth pain).

The linoleum in my kitchen decided it was done with this life and started to bubble up.  I didn't realize how badly it was coming up one day and managed to catch my foot on the edge of a seam that was up too far.  Tore up the floor pretty bad and barely managed to avoid taking a severe header into the counter.  We aren't ready to redo the kitchen yet (obviously), so we ended up going and getting a locking together anti-fatigue mat and putting that down over the torn up floor.  Other than the fact that it shows dirt like nobody's business, it does help me when I have a bunch of work to do in the kitchen to stop my feet from killing me, so that's something and it definitely stops me from tripping over the bad floor, so I'm happy with it.

The tax return and stimulus check money that the government paid out came in.  We used the majority of both to pay off some bills (goodbye credit cards!) and get some much needed car maintenance done, but we did take enough out to buy a beef pack from our butcher and filled our small block freezer with a half of a cow pack again this year.  It worked so well last year that we decided it was a good way to give us some variety of meat in our diets this coming year.  Between the pork in the downstairs freezer and the beef in the upstairs freezer, I'm feeling good about the meat we have in the house and the knowledge that no matter what happens this year when it comes to our state, we will have good in the house.  I am obsessively checking the freezers every day, though, so rest assured to those who would recommend that I am DEFINITELY doing that.

I also went and purchased a CSA box for this summer again.  For about 200.00 for 10 weeks worth of farm fresh vegetables, I really felt like it was worth it.  The shortages have been so persistent at the store that getting the CSA actually became more important to me than I thought it would after last summer.  I am hoping the garden does well this year as well so that I'll have more to put up this year, but we shall see.  At least this way we'll get some fresh vegetables to eat this summer and put some vegetables up for next winter as well (right now we are actually getting down to just broccoli in the freezer, which makes me feel good that we are using everything we put in the freezer last summer).  We also went to Three Bears a few days ago (our local chain store that is like a Costco or a Sam's Club up here) and got some bulk things to hopefully last us a while, like a 50 lb bag of bread flour, a bulk bag of sugar and a bulk bag of rice.  I do bake a lot, so we'll see if a 50 lb bag lasts us a year like it used to, especially since I'm going to start grinding wheat to help boost up the nutritional value of the bread we eat and things.  

Anyway, after all was said and done we did have enough left over to put a little bit into savings, which was good as we didn't have any savings left after a bunch of expenses popped up.  Right now our plan, since no matter if we had put all of the money we had gotten toward the home equity loan would have paid it off, is to take the money we will save from not paying on the credit cards every month and putting that into the home equity loan payment.  We'll see how it goes, but I'm hoping I can get that paid off as variable interest rate anything right now scares me with how things are going.

Right, so let's get to a few more things that happened around here.

1.  When I saw the sale price on corned beef...it wasn't much of a sale.  I decided to take the brisket we had gotten with our beef pack this year, cut it up, made up some brine and it is currently curing in the fridge for a while to make home made corned beef.  We actually had all of the materials at home, although I had to use Morton's Quick Cure versus pink curing salt, so that took a bit of homework to do.  I then used a trick I found online and added the juice from a can of beets to the cure so we'll get that nice pink color to the corned beef when it is done :).

2.  While corned beef wasn't on sale cheap, cabbage certainly was.  We have been using a lot more sauerkraut around here as time goes on (I bought a German cookbook and found that it is a really versatile foodstuff :), so I decided I needed to put up more this year, so I asked my husband to get some cabbage the first day of the sale.  Unfortunately, we weren't quick enough as the green cabbage was already sold out, so my husband asked if the cashier if they would sub the red cabbage instead.  They said yes, so I ended up with red sauerkraut put up to ferment this week.  Sure does make a pretty sauerkraut.  This will ferment in the pantry for a few months, then I'll add a bunch of water before I can it, so we are going to have quite a bit of it when all is said and done.  And one major job for the year will be done.

3.  We spent Spring Break pretty much snowed in.  March in Alaska is like this.  If you don't get snow the rest of the winter, a lot of times we'll just get buried come March.  I still need to dig out my deck so I can dump my garbage and things again.

4.  Despite the cold and snowy weather, the light continues to gain quickly here, so of course my first inclination is that we must get started on Spring cleaning and summer projects.  Unfortunately, with everyone being sick for so long, I've been having to do it while we are in a race to get school work caught up.  Somehow I managed to get work samples for the kids into our contact teacher, despite still having not a whole lot of energy, and I had a phone conference with said contact teacher so we could start to figure out pre-high school stuff for the daughter and get a plan hammered out.  I can't believe she's going to be in high school next year.  Times flies so fast when you are a parent.

5.  I pushed myself hard yesterday and got some much needed baking done.  I even pulled some strawberries out of the freezer, macerated them in some sugar and made strawberry shortcake with angel food cake (using up the egg whites I had in the freezer from doing the eggnog at Christmas :).  Angel food cake is one of my husband's favorite desserts, so he was thrilled.

6.  We took a bunch of stuff to the recycling center over the weekend, which definitely needed to happen and I was so happy to get it out of my house.  

I'm actually getting really tired sitting here typing (I still tire easily, believe it or not, and the son hasn't slept much the last couple of days), so I'm going to finish up here.  I am feeling better, though, so hopefully I can get back to regular blogging here soon.

How are you all doing?  Up to anything?

Friday, February 19, 2021

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

Well, the menu plan is late this week, but hey better late than never for sure.  

You will notice an odd meal on the menu plan.  That is because one of my daughter's history units had a final where you had to make a Medieval meal from a varied list of options, so we are kind of punting said menu to make food with ingredients we have on hand (I refused to go and buy things like sandalwood to color a dish...we do not have that type of money).  

So, let's get to it!

Friday:  Potage (basically vegetable and barley stew with a bit of meat mixed into it), sourdough bread.  Pokerounce for dessert (basically toast with honey and spices on it.  Sounds good anyway :).

Saturday:  Bacon cheeseburgers on homemade bread, salad, baked beans.

Sunday:  Home made pizza and breadsticks

Monday:  Spiced pork roast, mashed potatoes, green beans

Tuesday:  Meatballs over pasta with spiced cranberry sauce (I'm just going to adapt some left over cranberry relish from Thanksgiving to make the sauce).

Wednesday:  Pancakes, bacon, eggs with berries (from the freezer)

Thursday:  Beef teriyaki, miso soup, salad with Asian dressing (look up recipe for Asian dressing), rice.

Desserts:  Chocolate cake with buttercream frosting (otherwise known as birthday cake for the daughter *laugh*), Pokerounce, berry crumble (probably raspberry, depending what needs to be used in the freezer) 

And there you go folks.  Our tentative menu plan for this coming week.  How about you?  Making anything good?

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times Nearly 3)

It has been crazy around here.  And not in a good way.  What happened to delay blogging this time?  Covid.  Covid happened.

We aren't sure when or how Armina got exposed as we have been really careful about limiting trips out of the house and using all of the precautionary things that the CDC recommended, but the germs got through somehow.  For her the bug hit like a stomach bug that lasted for about two weeks where she was miserable and with four days of her being really sick, living off of ginger ale and sleeping a lot.  She's feeling better now, thank goodness and so far *knock on wood* the rest of us haven't caught it yet.  But, I've been busy taking care of her and in between deep cleaning and sanitizing bathrooms, repeatedly and very often, to try and stop the germs from spreading further.  All the while we were under quarantine protocols and the son was going kind of bonkers from the change in his normal routine.  I'm just grateful it wasn't worse and that the daughter seems to be recovering just fine, but yeah...it's been an interesting two weeks.

While the husband was stuck at home on quarantine, though, he did get busy.  My sister-in-law had called and offered us her old washer and dryer as a friend of hers had given her much newer machines and she wanted the old ones gone.  Her washer was much nicer than mine in the features it had on it, and it turns out that my washer was miserably small.  I had always thought that I was doing six loads of laundry per day just because I had a special needs kid, and sure, that was part of it, but it turns out that my old machine when compared it to my sister-in-laws was REALLY tiny inside.  I had my husband look up my washer's model number and things and we found out that my washer was basically an apartment washing machine.  Makes sense, really, since the previous owners were an old retired couple with no children living with them, so what did they need a full sized washer for?  But, yeah, as soon as I realized that my washer was sitting at just about 3 cubic feet capacity, I decided that fixing it was out and just getting a new washer was in.  So, my husband switched out my washer for my sister-in-law's old one and got it all hooked up.  I love how I can get my laundry done in half the time and only have to run it once compared to most things that I was having to run twice to get completely clean in the old washer.  The, new to us, washer also spins the laundry a lot better, so I am only having to dry the clothes once compared to twice with the old washer as it wasn't spinning the water out of the clothes right since the earthquake.  

The new-to-us machine does have a mixer valve problem that my husband is going to have to fix (I can run cold or hot water, but it will only do warm for a very short period before switching to all hot water and I have to babysit it to get it filled with warm water), but overall I'm really happy with it so far :).

Shot of the new washer is up top.

2.  When my daughter wasn't feeling good, but wasn't really really sick, I got some stuff done around the house.  I had my kitchen carts next to each other for a while now, but the daughter kept whacking herself off of the wheat grinder.  I felt bad that was happening to her, so I decided to rearrange the carts to hopefully work better and make it so she didn't get hurt on the carts all the time.  So, I finally rearranged them with one in the corner by the door (where they were before) and was able to get the wheat grinder handle out of the way of whacking anyone this way.

I then moved the microwave cart over by the sideboard (kind of limited in how I place the cart due to the heating vent under the cart that I didn't want to put a lot of weight on, so I had to face it weird to straddle the vent instead).

The new system seems to work well and the daughter isn't walking around with a constant bruise on her arm, so I'm calling it a win :).

3.  Since we were under quarantine, I ordered our weekly groceries online and had my husband pick up said groceries at the store and he had them just drop the bags in his trunk so he didn't expose anyone to anything. I had a coupon loaded on my card for a bunch of bonus points for going over 100.00.  Since we were out of a bunch we managed to go over the amount and were able to get .80 off per gallon for gas as a result.  It resulted in me being able to fill up my truck for a lot cheaper than I would have otherwise.

4.  I sat down with my husband and made a plan for food stuffs and other things for the house.  Everyone up here is panicking about our supply lines getting cut off (there has been a couple close calls of late thanks to the federal government) and what we are going to do for food if we do with everything going on.  Even our governor came out and said we needed to become independent up here and we needed to do it fast or we could be in serious trouble.  So, we are trying to source things as much as we can locally to not only support local businesses, but just to feel safer in our supply lines.   Hopefully, if the state government gets on board, maybe we can see some real investment in state agriculture and things, which we desperately need up here.

So, related to the new "master plan" we figured out, my sister sent me a check at Christmas to use toward a new washer (if we ended up needing one and could FIND one with the appliance shortage and all) and/or for household stuff, so we had put those funds aside to use for that purpose (I promised her, so I tried really hard to use it for what she wanted me to use it for).  Since we got a new-to-us washer for free, we decided to set aside a little of the money my sister sent to use toward parts to get the new washer working well and then we used the rest to order a pork pack from our local butcher.  We picked it up before the quarantine hit, which was a blessing as trying to figure out the logistics of having someone else pick it up would have been a nightmare.  Having meat in the freezer has been a tremendous sense of security for us the last year (after we bought the beef pack last year) and just having that security that we had food in the house was worth spending the money.  We decided that pork was a good route to go to stock up the freezer as pretty much everything you can do with chicken you can do with pork, so it seemed a better use of freezer space than having both chicken and pork in the freezer all the time.

And I was able to fit a whole hog meat pack in the freezer through the wonders of adult Tetris skills (I had them slice the hams into steaks to make it easier to stack them), so yay me *laugh*.

5.  I repaired yet another hole in a comforter.  I have decided, after many, many, many darns to the comforter (which is my favorite one for my bed, unfortunately for me), that it is time to admit defeat and so I'm going to look and see what I can find for outer fabric for said comforter and then use said comforter for batting in a new comforter (the batting in said comforter is holding up fine, the outer fabric is just worn and dying on it).  So, hopefully I can figure out some way to save what is left of said comforter.  Here's hoping.  

6.  My husband went through his large store of t-shirts a bit (when he worked in the field he would go through t-shirts like mad, so we always had a large supply) and picked out ones that had shrunk and would fit the son.  Which worked out well as Alvah keeps shooting up like a weed, so it has been hard to keep on top of his growing spurts.

7.  My husband and I refilled our small containers of hand sanitizer from a large container we bought before quarantine last year.  By refilling the small containers we have saved a TON of money over the last year and the large container is still going strong.

8.  My husband took an old container of spray foam insulation he had and started to fill in the many gaps around the doors in the garage that we have had since the earthquake.  Some of them were bad, like you could see daylight shining through them bad, so it was a real relief for him to start working on getting the garage better protected from the cold.  We can definitely tell a difference in how much the garage heat is coming on after he did that, so I'm hoping that we might see a reduction in our gas bill because of it as well.  We'll see next month.  Fingers crossed.

9.  I ordered a large roll of double fold bias tape to make tie face masks for my husband for work.  This will allow me to make a decent amount of masks at one time for him, which is good and buying in bulk definitely saved me some money.  Since my husband is in a mask 8 hours a day at work and we wash them a LOT, I definitely need to make him more.  The tape should be in this week and I can hopefully get started making more masks for him.

10.  I repaired a separating sole of a shoe with "Shoe Goo".

11.  I sat down with my daughter and figured out what she wanted for her birthday cake (her birthday is coming up at the end of the month) and we planned on what she wanted for her birthday dinner as well.  Luckily, I already got her birthday gift, so at least I don't have to worry about picking up something and then realizing I can't because of quarantine.  Planning ahead definitely saved my bacon this month :).

12.  My daughter really liked some of my old CD's, but said CD's weren't available to listen for free on her tablet, so I just unplugged the portable stereo, grabbed my old CD binder and gave everything to her.  She is absolutely thrilled to have the stereo in her room to listen to music and I'm just "borrowing" it when we want to listen to music while doing schoolwork.  I really don't mind as my laptop has a CD player in it, so I can just go back and grab a CD if I want to listen to it and the daughter can feel grown up having her own stereo to play in her room :).

And there you go folks.  Some of the things we've been up to the last three (nearly) Fridays.  Hope you are all well and hanging in there.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

So, last week's menu went off the rails, I have to admit.  I got to Saturday and then life just ended up getting in the way.  Saturday, due to the sewer vent pipe leaking and things, we ended up running around all day running errands/getting parts and then our friends invited us over to use their pool Saturday night, so we definitely took them up on that and got the son some much needed physical activity.  By running him around all day and then swimming and things it really helped to get him back onto a more normal (for him) sleep schedule.  We ended up using what we had left of our gift cards we got gifted for Christmas to take the kids out to dinner Saturday night and then after that I just ended up punting on meals the rest of the week (Eggs Benedict on Sunday by husband request, Beef teriyaki with miso and edamame on Monday and left over pizza on Tuesday).  Not sure why as I did cook at home, but it just seemed like I couldn't get back on track after Saturday.  So, I put the Pad Thai stir fry on the back burner until next week and am just going for things I need to make to use up stuff in the freezer and such.

The menu plan got delayed this week (basically why I didn't post it yesterday) was due to the fact that I had a pretty good headache going last night and just wasn't up to reading/writing anything, so the family had sandwiches for dinner (exciting I know, but it worked :).  So, yeah, onto this week's menu plan!

Thursday:  Slow cooked chuck roast, mashed potatoes with gravy and homemade bread

Friday:  Swedish pancakes with berries and whipped topping (I cleaned and consolidated my freezers yesterday and found like three containers of whipped topping, so yeah...it is wasting freezer space and needs to be eaten), bacon

Saturday:  Chicken gyros, fruit salad

Sunday:  Open faced roast beef sandwiches, canned peaches

Monday:  Hamburgers/cheeseburgers on home made bread, oven fries

Tuesday:  Roast chicken (Cornish game hens from freezer), stuffing, mashed potatoes

Wednesday:  Swedish meatballs over pasta, green beans

Desserts:  Chocolate mousse (okay, so it's just chocolate Jell-O pudding with some heavy cream whipped in to lighten it and make it mousse-like, but it'll work), lemon pound cake (maybe if I can get time to make it), banana bread (this needs to get made as I need to use the defrosted bananas that are in the fridge).

And there you go folks.  Our menu plan for the week.  Now I need to sit down and work on monthly goals...which is always a bit more complicated.  How about you?  Got anything good planned to eat this week?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2)

The last two weeks have been kind of rough.  Where before Alvah had given up sleeping for the last couple of months on anything resembling a regular sleep schedule, the last couple of weeks he just out and out gave up sleeping.  And he was not happy about it.  It was not a fun time for me, I'll be very honest.  Combine that with the 10 year anniversary of my dad passing away and somehow, depression took me out at the knees a bit.  

Luckily the last three days or so Alvah has actually started sleeping better (not GREAT, but better) which has helped me tremendously.  Surprisingly, however, even with a major lack of sleep (thank you coffee!), I was able to get a bunch of stuff done around the house.

First, I managed to finally dig my sewing table out from underneath the major pile of stuff that had accumulated on top of it and around it.  I planned ahead for everything I had ordered from Amazon to pad out my pantry and household and was able to immediately put everything away as soon as it came in, so I didn't have to add to the household clutter (yay!).  I am happy to report we are well stocked on paper towels and toilet paper now for the coming year, which is a relief, I have to say.  

Anyway, once I got my sewing table to a point I could use it again, I'm slowly working through the major pile of projects that have piled up.

1.  First, I decided that I needed to make new curtains for my bedroom as the old ones were kind of getting a bit ratty.  I had bought two different colors of curtains at the used stores a few years ago, figuring that I was set for when I repainted the room that way and I could figure out which color went with the paint better.  Well, when I pulled out the curtain panels to try them out, it turned out that the used store had screwed up the length and width on the panels when they labeled them so I had VERY long and not very wide curtain panels in blue and brown.  I, at first, thought that I'd maybe just buy some curtains from Amazon and call it good, but then my check card got frauded (I am not linking my check card to my Amazon account anymore after this as I have had fraud on it at least once a year for the past three years and it is the ONLY place online I use my check card), so I quickly cancelled all open orders so they didn't roll over onto my existing Amazon card balance (which I'm working on paying off).  So, necessity being the mother of invention, I made a decision and called my step mom who had studied textiles and sewing when she was in college.  I asked her opinion on stripe width and such and with her suggestions in mind, I started to cut panels down and got to work.

The final results are seen up top.  At the moment the curtains match pretty much nothing in the room as I haven't painted the room yet (obviously), but the brown will definitely match the new light fixture we bought for the room, so at least I have that going for me *laugh*.  I used the old curtains to line the new ones as they did need some type of lining and I have to say it works pretty well and blocks light and breezes decently well now.

2.  I also managed to FINALLY, after a few years of determined not getting it done, got some skirts made for my daughter.  She insists on living in skirts when she is in the house and just plain won't wear pants when home and her old skirts were not only getting shorter and shorter on her but they were plain starting to wear out.  

So far I've gotten two done and have one more cut out (the material is the same as the beige with the flowers on it, but I wanted to make sure the material would wash and dry okay before sewing the second one).

3.  I mended two shirts, a pair of pants and a few socks.

4.  I needed one more "s" hook for my pot rack above my sink so I could hang up a new fish shaped pancake pan that Alvah had insisted on getting me for Christmas (I was really touched he wanted to get me anything, honestly, so I was thrilled to get it :).  My husband managed to find one in his store of things in the garage and saved me having to go to the hardware store to buy one.

5.  I filed our taxes for the year, so now we wait for the IRS to start accepting returns and such in the middle of February.

6.  My husband cut the ceiling out of the master bathroom to try and figure out where the water was coming from that created the hole in the ceiling.  He found a sewer gas vent pipe was leaking water somehow and didn't have the proper fittings on it, so we went and got the parts for him to fix it over the weekend.  I'm hoping we don't have some bigger problem we have to worry about and just have to replace a section of pipe and a fitting and then figure out how to fix the hole in the ceiling and match the texture, which will be challenging enough.

7.  The wind started blowing brutally today and I heard a crack.  I looked out my window to the above sight.  I'm hoping that the tree won't come down on the barn or our storage van, but we shall see I suppose.  My husband was going to try and cut it when he got home from work, but the wind is blowing so bad I told him not to try it as I don't want him in the hospital.  Hopefully it comes down with minimum damage to things.  Fingers crossed.

8.  I wanted to make beef and barley soup one day to use up some of our stew meat in the freezer, but found that the stew meat was really tough cuts of meat.  So, I made basically a beef bourgignon with the stew meat (simmering it for long periods of time in red wine) and added some barley at the end of cooking (I have quick cooking barley at the moment).  It really helped to tenderize the meat and ended up being really tasty!

9.  The store finally had my preferred brand of coffee in stock!  So, I was able to get bigger cans of coffee for less money than a smaller can would have cost me having to buy them from Amazon.  I was really happy to find that, I have to say as I like to give local businesses my money when I can.

10.  Speaking of Amazon, I had gotten a box of "Tropical Green Tea" as part of my Christmas gifts (if you search for it on Amazon, it pops up as Harvey and Sons is like the ones that make it and they are about it).  It is a green tea with a pineapple aspect to it.  I have found that it makes the most awesome iced tea and I actually took some Amazon credit I had from an order that had gotten screwed up with Amazon (which seemed to be a huge continuing trend over the past couple of months) to order myself three more boxes.  I had searched for it locally in vain, so finally decided to bite the bullet and order it from Amazon (I'm trying to avoid ordering from them right now as they had messed up so many orders and things of late, let alone just trying to save money).  I, obviously, really like the tea and it was nice getting three boxes for free once the credit was applied (which honestly after the whole check card thing, was the only way I was going to order from them).  Here's hoping they come in with the proper number and in one piece (fingers crossed).

11.  I made home made bread and other items so we didn't have to go to the store and get some, which definitely saved us money.

And there you go folks.  Not a huge list, but I'm happy with it anyway.  Just getting some of my sewing projects off of my list makes me happy.

How about you?  Been up to anything of late?

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

 I know I missed Friday's post, but hey, this Friday I'll actually have some stuff to share as I'm super duper busy right now, so that'll be something right?

Speaking of busy, my schedule continues to be pretty hectic, so the menu plan is an invaluable resource at the moment.  Bright side is that last week I was able to stick to it decently well.  The Pad Thai stir fry didn't get made as we ended up using some gift cards we were given for Christmas and went out to eat instead as we were out doing stuff.  I also ended up making baked chicken versus fried last night because I was busy and didn't really have time to sit and babysit a pan or fryer (and I'm running low on oil and don't feel like having to pay for more at the moment just to fry some food).  The family was happy with the chicken and I made enough to use up leftovers for dinner tonight (yay for planning ahead) as I am in the middle of working on a bunch of stuff and just don't want to have to worry about complicated meals on top of it.

So, anyway, let's get to the menu plan!

Wednesday:  Chicken Caesar Salad (leftover chicken picked off the bone for the chicken part of the equation :).

Thursday:  Home made ravioli (Radish box recipe), home made rolls (use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato rolls), salad or fruit salad (depending if we have leftover salad from dinner tonight as I'm nearly out of lettuce).

Friday:  Cheeseburgers on home made rolls, oven fries, baked beans

Saturday:  Home made pizza and breadsticks (daughter's request)

Sunday:  Pancakes/Swedish pancakes/waffles (depending on time and energy levels), bacon and eggs with fruit on the side (to put on top of pancakes/waffles)

Monday:  Pad Thai stir fry (determined to get this made *laugh*).

Tuesday:  German spiced pork roast (or chops depending on time), German potato salad, canned pears.

Desserts:  No Bake Cheesecake (from mix in pantry), Gingersnaps (from cookie jar if people want them :).

And there you are folks.  Our tentative menu plan for the week.  How about you?  Got anything good planned this week?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

When it comes to the menu plan for the next week, well, it'll be interesting.  My husband has a bunch of stuff going on at work, so he's not sure what his schedule is going to be like (for instance he's going to be home late tonight, so I need something that he can reheat when he gets home), we are having a "false thaw" period in our weather so the kid's allergies are going nuts (the poor daughter is utterly miserable today) and I've got a couple of piles of paperwork to fill out, records to find and things like that to do on top of normal household and homeschool stuff AND if my husband's tax paperwork comes in I'll be doing taxes on top of it.  So, basically I'm putting this menu together knowing that I'm probably not going to be able to do all the meals I have planned and will have to punt a few days here and there so I can get everything done that I need to get done.  We'll see how it goes, though.

So, let's get to it!

Wednesday:  Spaghetti with meat sauce, home made bread, salad

Thursday:  Beef and Barley stew, home made bread

Friday:  Pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad

Saturday:  Pizza and breadsticks

Sunday:  Pad Thai Stir Fry (I don't have things like bean sprouts, we can't do peanuts and such, so I'm just going to make a stir fry with Pad Thai noodles, shrimp, eggs, tofu and some Pad Thai sauce and see how it goes.  I think it'll taste okay...it just won't be Pad Thai).

Monday:  Meatloaf, baked potatoes, green beans

Tuesday:  Fried chicken, baked beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits

And there you go folks.  My tentative menu plan for the week.  We'll see how it goes.  We are supposed to do the Radish box assignment this week (home made ravioli, thus the ricotta and shredded Parmesan  cheeses in the fridge), but I'm not sure if we are going to get to it with how much we have going on.  We shall see I guess.

How about you all?  Making anything good this week?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Frugal Friday (Well, Tuesday): Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 2)

Sorry for those who have e-mailed me concerned that they hadn't heard from me in a bit.  I've actually been kind of sick and out of it the last few weeks, so I haven't been blogging.  Bright side, I'm tired, but feeling better than I was, so at this point I'll take improvement of any type.  And don't worry, it was just sinus issues and such, but nothing too serious.  I'm not complaining, honestly, as we have been a LOT healthier this winter compared to previous years, so I'm grateful for that.

When it comes to money saving things that have happened the last few weeks, there are a few.  So, let's get to those.

1.  Even when I put things on Subscribe and Save with Amazon I always continue to monitor the price on those items by adding them to my cart and then saving the items for later.  Then I log into my Amazon cart a couple of times per day and it will tell you if you have any price changes on items in your cart.  By doing this a lot of times I can start to shave money off of what I'm buying on Subscribe and Save by reordering at the lower price and then cancelling the original order.  

Doing this I was able to get a better price on the paper towels I had on order as well as the toilet paper I had put on order as well.  By cancelling my original orders and then reordering them under the new (lower) price, I was able to get another 10.00 to spend (I paid for the items originally via gift cards I got through credit card rewards).  I used that money to order a year's worth of ketchup for near free (I applied another Amazon gift card I had received for taking a survey as well).  I got some Amazon credit via the rewards on my Amazon credit card as well, which I used to order a new trash can for my bathroom as our old one is rusting out on the bottom.  

2.  I had ordered my daughter a series of books she absolutely fell in love with at the library (pre Covid) and had been wanting to read the entire series for quite a while (she had only gotten the first two books read before Covid kind of threw monkey wrenches into the works).  She had asked for the books for her birthday in February, but I had quickly realized that the series had been out of print for quite a while and so I had to order the books used from various sellers on Amazon (new the 8 books would have costed nearly 200.00!!!).  One of the books, ironically that Amazon itself was supposed to be fulfilling, never went anywhere after the shipping label was created and after about three weeks I finally requested a refund.  I was then able to order the book through another seller on Amazon for 1/2 the price of the original book, so I was happy with how that turned out.  And the book is down at our package pick up place, so at least THAT copy got here, so doubly nice.

3.  A long while back, when the kids were tiny, I became a Maker's Mark Ambassador.  It was completely free to do and over the years they have sent out some really awesome Christmas gifts.  This year they sent me a free deck of playing cards, which was cool.  The husband has played more than his share of a few solitaire games the last week or so.

4.  The center grill burner on my stovetop was partially clogged and not firing up, so the burner wasn't heating evenly.   My husband took the burner apart, cleaned it really well and screwed it all back together again.  It is working great now.  I'm really looking forward to getting a working hood in my kitchen someday so that the grease problem becomes WAY more manageable, but in the meantime at least I have a husband who can help me to keep things running right.

5.  I cleaned out the laundry room so that my husband can pull the washing machine out and see about fixing it so it doesn't go off balance all the time.  I was rather proud of myself for getting the room cleaned out as there was a lot of stuff stacked up in there (painting supplies and the like), since I was really not feeling well.  So, hopefully this coming weekend my husband can start to figure out what is wrong with the machine and fix it.  I really don't want to buy a new washing machine because of not only the cost, but because I actually DO like my washing machine.  It has a really nice capacity and I can shove a really large comforter into it and save myself a trip to a laundry mat and such.  So, here's hoping he can fix whatever is wrong with it (he's confident he can, so hopefully he'll be able to fix it :).

6.  I finally went into my jewelry box and started wearing jewelry again for the first time in years.  I used to wear earrings every day, but once the kids came along I stopped doing it as the son was always trying to rip the earrings out of my ears or the necklace off of my neck.  Jewelry became a hinderance that was just waiting to hurt me instead of something that I wore because I thought it was pretty.  I thought for sure, after all of these years (like 10 or so) that the holes in my ears would definitely have closed up, but surprisingly my original holes that I've had since I was like 11 or so were just fine!  Since I don't have to carry my son on my hip anymore (heck he's so tall he should start carrying me *laugh*) and he'll listen when I tell him something is hurting and to stop it, I decided I could finally maybe start wearing earrings again.  It has really cheered me up being able to do that again.  I know it's a small, kind of dumb, little thing, but it just makes me feel like I'm doing a little something to make myself feel good every day and it lifts my spirits :).

7.  I received an unexpected windfall, which helped me to pay down our debt load, of which I'm so, so grateful for!

8.  My husband replaced the showerhead in our bathroom shower as it completely fell apart one morning when he was taking a shower.  The upside to replacing it was that it was really old and worn out (we actually replaced the showerhead in our old house when we moved here so we could take the showerhead with us, we loved it so much), so the new one works a lot better and isn't completely yellowed with age so it looks a lot nicer too.

When he was checking out at the store, he realized that the showerhead was coming up at the wrong price.  He pointed it out to the guy checking him out, and they went and checked and sure enough the item was ringing up the wrong price.  To make up for the mistake the cashier made sure to check my husband out at the contractor rate (our account hadn't been used in a while, so it wasn't taking anything off, but the guy didn't like it, so he pushed it through anyway) and also gave it to him at the correct price.  All totaled, by catching the mistake, my husband was able to save 10.00 off the price the item was ringing up at.

9.  I had ordered Alvah some snow boots online back in October (I wanted to make sure we would get them in plenty of time before heavy snow falls) and the order had then gotten completely lost after like a week of it going no where or into random, weird, locations.  I finally asked for a refund on the order (the boots were no longer available, so getting a replacement was out of the question, unfortunately).  Two months after the initial order was made and me completely having forgotten about the idea of the order ever existing at all, the boots suddenly came in!  I contacted the company about it and they told me to keep the boots as the order had taken so long to get here that they weren't going to charge me for them at all.  I was happy.  Not every day you actually get an order in two months after it got mailed and are able to keep it for free.

10.  I was at the store picking up my son's medication at the beginning of the month and found a bunch of tape on sale for cheap.  I picked up a few 3 packs of tape as we were down to none after Christmas wrapping was done and when I went to check out, I realized that the tape was cheaper than I had, at first, thought, and that both packages only costed me .80 each!  I wish I had seen that before I left the store or I would have grabbed a few more, but really six rolls should see us through just fine.

11.  I introduced the kids to some of my old CD's from back when I was in high school.  The kids actually found a few bands they liked, so we have been having fun listening to different music than we've been accustomed to during the school day.  The son has especially liked the Mozart and other classical music CD's I have in my collection.

12.  We got the son's IEP meeting out of the way for the year, which was a relief to get that done and we set new goals for this coming year.  I also got grades in for the kids for this last quarter and got work samples in for the kids as well.  Doing these things is always a big deal for me to get done and it takes quite a while to get all of the pictures, goals and other things worked out, so I am super happy to have those things done and out of the way.

13.  I almost forgot to file for PFD's this year, sad to say.  Luckily, I got an e-mail from Special Olympics reminding us to get filing done, so that is now out of the way this year.  Honestly, I know part of the reason I forgot to file for it (normally as soon as the new year rolls over I'm online filing for them), is that I sincerely doubt that the PFD is going to be around much longer for Alaskans.  I might just be overly pessimistic, but I definitely have my doubts about the future of the permanent fund.

And there we go folks.   Some of the things that have happened the last few weeks.  Hope everything is going well for you all.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Goals for 2021

Man, weekly blog posts were delayed and other things I had planned just because the last, what, 11 days or so I was just bogged down trying again and again to do some kind of year in review post for 2020.  I would write, delete, write, delete and get frustrated, until finally I ended up with one sequence on the screen that I was happy with...

"2020.  Man.  2020.  It was a year, wasn't it?"

And that is as far as I got.  Trying to find a bunch of good in a year where my son saw every service he received dry up overnight (which despite my fighting spirit and multitudes of classes I've taken to try and fill numerous holes in my education to overcome things...it has NOT been easy), the pool where my kids were taking swimming lessons and doing so well getting shut down permanently, every opportunity my children had for social interaction shut down, so many people suffering and seeing their lives destroyed, seeing our economy thrown into a depression, shortages of every type effecting day to day life,  not to mention sickness around the world...it was really not going well on the "review and find the good in things" front.  So, see the above sentence and figure that is my year in review post at this time.  I might try to revisit the post in the coming weeks and try and come up with something that works, but in the meantime it's time to move on to other posts that I feel like I can actually accomplish by focusing on less depressing matters.  

So, let's get onto the goals for 2021 shall we?

Monetary Goals:

This year I HAVE to reduce debt somehow.  Not that I don't want to and I work on that goal constantly, but it really is going to be important for me to start getting debt paid down, somehow.  We still have a bunch of stuff that we need to get done around here, so trying not to slap all of that onto a credit card is the best possible outcome I can think of.

We do have some things that will hopefully help me to start paying down debt this year, which it is nice having things to look forward to this year, honestly.

Our mortgage insurance finally goes away this year.  Between this and a reduction in our escrow payment (by me putting extra money into the escrow anytime I could find even five dollars to spare, we ended up with an overage in the escrow which reduced our mortgage by 50.00 per month this year instead of the mortgage going up as it has in previous years), I am hoping to take the 200.00 extra dollars a month and putting 100.00 extra onto our mortgage principle per month and the other 100.00 onto our home equity loan and start paying that down some more.  

We really need to get the home equity line of credit paid down, as far as I can really, as we are going to need new gutters this year, new doors for the garage and I'm looking at having to redo my kitchen in the next year or so (the cabinets are finally starting to out and out fall apart and the countertops are separating and things...the kitchen is just reaching the end of its lifespan...I'm praying I'm wrong on how immediate of a need this is going to become, but things just keep bowing, cracking and otherwise making their "we're done" presence known the last bit, so to say I'm concerned doesn't even BEGIN to cover it).  We are also looking at having to replace the windows everywhere in the next few years as well as they are leaking air everywhere since the earthquake, so that's not good.  We also need to replace the laundry room ceiling after my husband repairs and redoes some things that aren't right for code, so hopefully the sheetrock we are going to purchase to repair the hole in the bathroom ceiling (see below for more information on that) will give us enough to replace the sheetrock  we had to cut out of the laundry room.  So, the home loan is becoming more and more of a priority as we might be needing all of help it can give in the next couple of years to finance repairs and remodels.  Honestly, I start to think about it and I get kind of overwhelmed and fight the urge to breathe into a paper bag, so I just try to think of it in little chunks and go from there...it's the best way to keep an even keel.

If we get a decent tax return this year I'm going to take whatever money there is from that and use it to help pay for these things (gutters and doors for the most part this year...we'll see how far it goes if it goes anywhere at all) so that I hopefully won't have to accumulate as much debt to get these things done.  I'm not sure how stimulus payments are going to affect taxes so I'm just in a "wait and see" mode on all of that.

I took our latest stimulus payment, put some toward replenishing savings as much as I could (which isn't much) and threw the majority of it onto paying down a credit card that had some pretty big purchases on it for repair parts and things.  At least we are in less debt than before I did the payment, so that's something.

Household Goals:

Well, some of this has already been covered above, but I am going to continue to repair things from the earthquake damage we suffered.  We still need new gutters, new people doors for the garage (although my husband managed to temporarily fix the jams in the garage, so at least mice aren't getting in left and right) and I have some painting to do.  

As soon as summer break hits I need to paint my master bedroom (and rearrange it so it will hopefully work better), paint my hallway and stairway and hopefully repaint the kid's bathroom as the paint in there is already wearing off (I wasn't happy with it to begin with, but I am really not happy with how the paint is holding up in there), so I need to put a few more coats of paint in there.  My husband also needs to repair the washing machine as it hasn't worked right since the earthquake and my husband is pretty sure it needs new bushings and things.  We need to rebuild parts of the front porch/landing (earthquake heaved the entire thing upwards and it isn't sitting quite right), reseal both the front stairs and landing as well as the back deck and stairs (after the new gutters are installed as the water is dripping and damaging the wood right now and would just wear the new sealant off of the wood).

On non earthquake related things, we need to fix the drains in both of the bathtubs (they won't plug the drain to hold water, so we are using plastic drain plugs instead, but both of the drains need to be repaired/replaced), replace the sprayer on our kitchen sink (it leaks), probably replace the ice maker in our fridge again (it is actually making way too much ice this time and we are constantly turning it on and off) and other things (some of which is covered above).

We will also need to, in the more immediate future, fix our master bathroom ceiling.  I was in the bathroom a few days ago putting towels away when part of the ceiling (nothing huge mind you, just a few inches) fell and now we have a hole in the ceiling.  The ceiling was dry, but my husband checked the hole and realized that there is old water damage in the ceiling and that is why the ceiling fell as it was brittle and just kind of collapsed.  So, he wants to cut a hole in the ceiling to figure out what is going on and see what potential damage we might need to fix.  So, now we get to figure that out and I'll have to, once again, repair and repaint in the bathroom once that is all figured out.

We will also need to get the septic pumped this year to stay on a regular maintenance schedule.  I'm determined to get that done as it isn't a horrible amount of money and will help the plumbing run better, so it is definitely a win-win scenario to keep on top of that.

So, yeah, there is a bunch of stuff that needs to be done around here.  So, stay tuned if you like home repairs *laugh*.

Sewing Goals:

Make new curtains for my master bedroom, again.  The ones I made aren't holding up well.

Make more masks for my husband for work.

Make new throw pillows for the love seat upstairs and the chairs downstairs.

Make myself and my daughter some skirts.

Organizing Goals:

Clean out and redo my master bedroom closet (BOY does it need it...it's horrible in there).

Get den cleaned up/out and get exercise area set up for the kids (they need the physical activity and it seems like the best option).

Pantry Goals:

Keep pantry as well stocked as possible to accommodate shortages at the store (which are still going on.  Shopping this week was an experience as the stores were out of a lot).  Fill in holes as quickly as possible so as not to be caught flat footed when things aren't available.

General Goals:

Continue to pack husband's lunch for work every day (I've actually learned a lot by watching bento box videos on YouTube on how to make a better layout for lunches so that they are more nutritional, decently cheap to make and filling).  This is not only making him eat better (which he was raised on the fast food diet as he was working in the field all the time, so working a desk job for the most part is definitely a shift for him), but also saving us money.

Continue to explore different cuisines to keep meals interesting.  Right now I'm watching "Nordic Cookery" on Amazon Prime videos and having a huge blast as the program explores not just different dishes to make (like things I couldn't really make here, for instance venison isn't a common thing to get where I'm at), but also shows how you can use foraged ingredients in your dishes and uses a bunch of fresh vegetables and things in different ways, which will come in handy this summer (I hope :).  For instance, in one recipe I was watching last night he used pickled rose hips in a recipe.  I am so going to try to preserve rose hips that way this summer with some of the wild rose hips we have around here, as I always have a ton of rose hips and it will be a good way to make use of a free resource.

Lose seven more pounds (right now my target goal is the beginning of March and I'll be down to my target weight).  

Play more board games with the family (this is actually important enough for me that I put it in my son's IEP goals this year).  I think this will be a good way for my son to explore a healthy social interaction setting and also a good way for us to spend time together and have fun doing something other than watching TV.

Garden Goals:

Plant a garden.

Have it not fail.

Preserve what I can from said garden when it does well.

Yup, I'm going for in depth garden goals this year *laugh*.

And there you go folks.  Some of my major goals for 2021.  Hopefully I can start to get some of them accomplished in the months ahead.  How about you?  Got any goals for this year?

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (times 2)

I was kind of torn on which post to do first.  This one or some of the yearly posts, but this one takes first place.  Why?  Because it is probably going to be the shortest *laugh*.  

When it comes to saving money, not too much has gone on the last couple of weeks.  My husband was able to take the last week and a half off for vacation time so that he was home to celebrate Christmas, my birthday and New Year.  So, basically, I decided that the family spending time together was more important than just about anything.  I'm glad we got to spend so much time together the last couple of weeks.  It's been nice to have so much family time together and just take it easy.  School, and work, start in a couple of days, so it is time to get back to reality, I suppose.

1.  We did do a few fun, but frugal, things the last couple of weeks.  We were able to take the kids swimming when a friend offered us the use of their pool, which was a lot of fun for the kids and super good for the son as the inactivity of the last year has driven him bonkers.  

2.  We made the chocolate crinkle cookies recipe that came with our Radish box last month (seen up top when they came out of the oven).  I was super proud of how the cookies turned out because in the past I've really failed miserably at crinkle cookies.  I'm not sure why, but they would never crinkle or spread right, so it was nice to pull ones that looked like the pictures I'd always seen of them in cookbooks and stuff out of the oven :).  

Anyway, the recipe made 3 dozen cookies about so we used an old coffee can that I cleaned out well (a big one), wrapped it in a scrap of wrapping paper that would fit it and than I used a bunch of tissue paper that we had around the house from packaging materials that I had saved and I made a tissue paper flower to go on top of the coffee can to make it look more festive.  We than filled the coffee can with layers of cookies with parchment paper in between and was able to gift the cookies to the daughter's boyfriend when he came over to drop off her Christmas gift.  It was a heartfelt gift on the daughter's part as she worked really hard to help make the cookies, decorate the gift container and everything and it was made with materials we had around the house.  From the text the daughter later received it sounds like the family really enjoyed the cookies and the daughter has been having a good time eating the last ten that were left over, so I feel pretty good about how that all turned out.

3.  We drove into town and were able to go and see the Christmas lights in the one subdivision that sets the lights to music like we do every year (sorry, I honestly forgot to take pictures this year).  The kids really loved it and had a great time.  

4.  I had put all of our Christmas gifts onto my credit card (not ideal, but that is how it went down) during a special promotion where you got like five times the normal rewards points for purchases.  I'd had to put a license renewal and a medical bill onto the card as well, so I ended up with enough points to redeem that I was able to get a bunch of Amazon gift cards.  I then used the Amazon credit to get a year's worth of paper towels and toilet paper on order and a few other items we've been needing (like conditioner) for the house.  

5.  My husband replaced a receptacle (outlet) in our master bathroom that needed it.  He used a receptacle we already had around the house, so it didn't cost anything out of pocket to get it done.

6.  For my birthday I made a lemon pound cake from a mix I already had in the pantry and we went to Carrs and got Chinese take out for dinner instead of going and getting food from a really expensive restaurant.  Overall, even with running to McDonalds and getting the son some French fries, we were able to feed the entire family for less than 20.00 and I didn't have to cook.  And we had enough left overs to last several lunches, so it worked out rather well.

7.  Christmas dinner went well with pulling the few good steaks I still had in the freezer out and defrosting them.  I then rolled out a box of puff pastry I had in the freezer and made the steaks "fancy" in a kind of Beef Wellington format.  It was a fun dinner and we all enjoyed it :).

8.  My husband got me a very nice watch for my birthday that he found used for not much money.  He took the watch to a jeweler and got a battery put into the watch, but when he went to pick it up the jeweler said it wasn't keeping time correctly it seemed, so he gave the watch to my husband and didn't charge him for the battery because it didn't feel right charging him for the battery when the watch still wasn't working right.  Since my husband got the watch home and it has been running for a while the watch seems to be keeping time now, which hopefully it keeps that up *knock on wood*.  So far, so good.

9.  And, just because it is pretty and the daughter wanted to include it, enjoy a picture of the sunrise from the other morning.  Always nice to see and completely free to enjoy :).

And there you go folks.  Some of the things we've been up to the last couple of weeks.  I hope you all had a great holiday and Happy New Year!