Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Frugal, and Goals, Recap for May

Sorry that I totally punted on blogging last month.  It ended up being busy, and trying.

Let's break down a bunch of stuff that happened on the medical front.

Well, the results of my X-rays came back.  I have deterioration in my lumbar discs in my back, but, bright side, it is "within normal range" which means surgery isn't necessary as of yet.  So, I gave the medications a chance to work that they gave me.  Honestly?  The anti-inflammatory drug they gave me does seem to help a bit, but I was really hoping it would work better than it does.  It is still really hard to get comfortable and sleep at night.  For instance, last night I actually slept for the first time in about a week where I wasn't up every 20 minutes in nasty discomfort.  It stinks, but it is what it is.  The doctor is talking about sending me to physical therapy, which I honestly have no idea how I'm going to afford that, so we'll see how that goes.

Then there is poor Armina.  She has been having major issues with her gut since she had Covid and I finally called the doctor again and said we needed her to be seen and figure out how to help her.  We ended up having to take her in for a series of X-rays on her gut.  The results of those X-rays have led us to a series of colon clean outs.  We are on series two now.  It seems to be helping and after it is all said and done she will hopefully be back to "default setting" on her gut and we can start to work on rebuilding her gut flora and general digestive health.

In the middle of my X-rays and the daughter's X-rays my husband finally couldn't take the stress and ended up with really awful headaches from tension and stress on top of other symptoms.  So, another doctor visit was in order for him and now he's on new blood pressure meds, new headache meds and other things.  It was not a fun time for any of us, I have to say.

Even poor Alvah wasn't spared.  He has been on Atorax/Hydroxizine for years for his eczema and he is also on it to help with anxiety with his autism.   Well, after over 10 years of everything going smoothly in that department (he's been on atorax on and off for a long time) and the hydroxizine really seeming to help with his itching the last year or so, the darned labs threw me a curve ball.  The lab that made the hydroxozine that Alvah tolerated so well stopped making the darned stuff and so all the pharmacies switched to a new lab.  Well, the new lab makes truly AWFUL tasting hydroxizine.  I can barely choke down a taste of the stuff, let alone trying to get 2+ teaspoons down my kid.  So, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time the last bit educating myself on what hydroxizine does, how it works on the body and everything to see what I can to do replicate the benefits of the drug for my son so that he gets the calming effects he needs as well as relief from his itching.  For a person who could not fathom chemistry in school to save her life, it has been a steep learning curve for sure.  But, I think I finally have a plan, have cleared it with the doctors that I wanted to ask about it (allergist, pediatrician, psychiatrist, etc) and have serotonin drops, dissolving Zyrtec tablets and things to work with coming in within the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully this works.  Fun, fun times.

So, yeah, saving money hasn't been going so well of late.

But, I did get a bunch of stuff, despite everything, done around here, so let's get to more constructive lines of thinking.

1.  I got a bunch of things marked off my "to do" list last month.  For one, I made new cushions for the loveseat, the chairs, and even made a new throw pillow to put on the recliner in my bedroom for when the room got repainted.  I just made new yellow cushions out of the same sheet I had made the original cushions for the chairs, so the cushions don't look any different on those (the pic I took of them didn't turn out, so just picture them in your head *laugh*).  For the loveseat I used a brown microfiber sheet for the brown cushions that I had found at the used stores years ago.  The blue cushions I made by taking pillow shams that came with a quilt I got for my bed (you'll see it in the "before" shots a bit later in this post) and I just cut down the pillow shams a bit and made throw pillows out of them.  No matter how much I try, I out and out prefer pillow cases to pillow shams.  I just plain am not a fan,  So, I thought I'd turn them into something that I did like :).

2.  I got school buttoned up for the kids for the year and got us on summer break (thus why I got throw pillows done, as school was taking up pretty much every available moment that wasn't health related before then).  With Armina's health being so cruddy, it was a struggle to get everything done, but we were determined and were able to pound it out.  I was really proud of her for being such a trooper. 

3.  Speaking of "before" shots in #1, well, after two years of working like a demon, I FINALLY got my master bedroom repaired and painted!!!  Man, it was a challenge.  Not only does my husband have a bunch of stuff that I had pull out, box up, move around, etc, but then I don't think the room was ever painted since it got textured originally and the walls just absorbed paint.  I went through two gallons of paint and was worried I was going to have to go and buy more!  It was crazy.  But, yeah, here's a shot of the room in progress, complete with cat "helping"...

Taken with my phone if you are wondering why it is a wonky looking scale compared to the other photos.  I couldn't dig out my camera to save my life during that entire process *laugh*.

This was after I got the TV set back up and was starting to pull off the painters tape everywhere and then the massive amount of touch ups started.  It took forever to get the paint even with how the walls kept absorbing the paint.

But, here's the finished product...

The photo came out with a wonky reflection point above the window I noticed.  I moved my desk from the den into the bedroom so I could actually use it as it kept getting buried in the den by fold out chairs and things since it is kind of a catch all room and Grand Central Station around here.  I really love it where it is now.   

I moved a bunch of things around in my closet and put a bunch of stuff in there that I'd rather just have out of the main bedroom and I moved my dresser over by the bed so I could get to it easier.  I put the spinning wheel lamp that used to be my husband's grandparents on top of my dresser for not only decoration (it goes great with the 70s decor), but also for additional light as the light in my bedroom was bad before but with the blue paint versus white it can get DARK in there now.  I'm hoping my husband will put up the light fixture we bought for the room here soon, but in the meantime we got lamps.  Lots of lamps *laugh*.  I took some old lamps we had around here and put some new lamp shades on them, so we have bedside lamps as well as the dresser lamp.  I then got some LED light bulbs for my frog lamp (on top of my desk there) so I can light it up without it getting hot, which I love honestly as I've never used it much because of the heat thing.  I also took the suitcase record player we got at a yard sale for like 2.00 and put under my jewelry box so we can use it when we want (I really need to figure out how to remove the gals name from the player eventually).  

Our avocado green recliner that was splitting it's vinyl on the seat, I got a slipcover for in brown and put one of the new yellow throw pillows on it.  It is MUCH more comfortable to sit on now.  We got the chair for like 4.00 years ago at a used store that had gotten a ton of them in from somewhere and it has mainly housed laundry over the years (sad, but true) that I needed to fold.  Now with the slipcover and the neat look, I find that I'm keeping laundry folded to keep it off of the chair *laugh*.  Double bonus :).

So, yeah, I'm happy as punch with how it turned out and love not seeing popping nails and horrible cracks in sheet rock everywhere.  Now I just need to get my hallway and stairway painted (which will be all white, so hopefully that'll at least go quick when I get to it) and the painting on the inside of the house will be done (okay, I have to do the kid's bathroom, but I don't count that as it is my fault for not putting enough paint on the walls originally).

So, yeah, making progress!  Yay!

4.  Well, the Monopoly game for Carrs/Safeway ended.  I put in all of the crazy amount of codes we ended up receiving the last week of the contest (like we had gotten some freebies before, but my husband came home with 97 tickets one night.  Those took a while to put in online).  

I went to the store armed with "cash prizes" loaded on my card as well as a bunch of freebies to get and I was actually really lucky to find most of the things we won.  I found ONE spot in the back of the store with bottles of water and was able to get all six of the ones we had won, got our free thing of Mayonnaise, out free thing of salad dressing, BBQ sauce, sparkling water, sour cream, water crackers and the free loaf of French bread.  I used the cash prizes to get some bratwurst and some spreadable butter (both of which were things we needed).  The only things I missed out on was a thing of cooking spray and a seasoning packet (because all they had was taco seasoning and I did NOT need that, so I passed).

But, yeah, for not actively participating in the game at all through the majority of the time it was going on, I was happy with what we won at the last minute :).

5.  I made curtains for the den, finally!  I took the room darkening panels off the back of the curtains that I had gotten at the used store and had tacked up.  I then put up curtain rods on both sides of the room (not the cheapest thing to get, but worth it for the sake of being able to open the curtains and let light in), took some king sized sheets and cut them down, sewed them all up with the room darkening panels on the back and voila!  Curtains!  I am investing in thicker curtains for winter as the curtains came out kind of light and won't block the cold so well, but overall, I am happy as it is nice being able to open the curtains and let light in and then being able to close them at night so people can't look in all the time :).

And, obviously, the cats like them too.

6.  We have been staying home for the most part and I have been baking a lot, which definitely saves you money as it keeps you out of the stores.  I even made gingerbread for my family for the first time and we are going to have that for dessert tonight.  I'm hoping Alvah will eat it as he LOVES gingerbread cookies, so here's hoping as it would be one step closer to me being able to hide nutrition in said gingerbread.

7.  My husband loves spreadable/creamed honey and since I have beans I've been making more chili of late, so he has been blowing through the creamed honey.  Only problem is that it isn't available at my local store anymore, so I end up having to buy it online and it is EXPENSIVE!  I went online and found a tutorial on how to make your own creamed honey using creamed honey you already have to "seed" liquid honey and it would make new creamed honey.  I was really wanting to save the money from having to buy some more creamed honey, so I mixed 1 part creamed honey to 10 parts liquid honey, stirred it once a day for about three days and then stuck it in the fridge for about four more days (my kitchen wasn't getting cold enough for the honey to crystalize right).  I then took it out of the fridge, stirred it up again (carefully as it was really thick after being refrigerated) and then just stuck the container in the cupboard with the creamed honey.  Checked on it after a couple of days and loe and behold I had creamed honey!!!  For WAYYYYY cheaper than I would have been able to buy it at the store.  I am thrilled as I can continue to use each batch of new creamed honey to seed a new batch, so I won't have to buy creamed honey again unless I want to.  Yay!!!  I love it when things actually work *laugh*.

8.  I have been enjoying watching videos on YouTube and things on Prime Video on Amazon.  My husband and I have started to slowly go through out multitudes of old VHS tapes that we have accumulated at used stores and things over the years and have started putting ones aside that we have in other formats (preferably digital so I don't have to worry about Alvah wrecking it on DVD).  I'm hoping that we can really start to reduce the amount of VHS tapes and things we have as we have just boxes and boxes of VHS tapes stacked in the den and around the house.

9.  No picture as I forgot to take one, but I finally put together the video/multi-media shelf that I had bought years ago.  It matches the black one that is currently in my living room hallway (you'd see it in the background when I showed putting up Christmas decorations and things).  I had avoided putting up the second shelf as my husband thought the original one looked cheap and he wasn't a big fan and honestly I wanted to wait a good long time before putting another shelf in the hallway until I was sure a second one wasn't going to make things difficult in the walkway.  I was happy with how well it opened up spaces in other areas, like the dresser I have been using under the TV in the living room was just pull of DVD's and things, so I was able to get all of those out where we could actually see them and then I was able to clear some shelves on the big bookcase in the living room so I had room to put the cookbooks I use most often and some commonly used school supplies to save us from having to run up and down the stairs all the time.  

I don't think it is a favorite item to my husband, but after seeing what lumber is going for at the moment and seeing how nice the shelf was able to make the living room look by decluttering the big bookcase and things, well, he seems to have come around and seems to not mind it *laugh*.  

10.  Speaking of lumber costs and things, when I rearranged my bedroom, I wanted to make sure to give my husband a bedside table as he's been without one for years.  I ended up giving him mine as it has a drawer and houses the heating pad and a massager (which he uses those for his neck a lot, so it made more sense for them to be on his side of the bed) and instead of buying a new table for myself, I  just used a small fold up table that we used to use as an end table in our last house years ago and has kind of just moved from place to place in our new home.  It isn't ideal, for sure, but it was free and it works, so I'm okay with it.

So, yeah, I am going to leave it there for now.  I've got to work on goals for this month and things, so I'm going to call it good.  How about you all?   Get things done in May?   

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Monthly Goals: May, 2021

So, five months into the year and I'm finally starting to get my blogging back in gear.  Five months...not too bad (or not...har).  Anyway, moving on...

First, an update on yearly goals, just because I haven't done one of those yet (or monthly goals at all this year so far, apparently as I look at my blog backlog...wow I'm behind...).

So far out of the yearly goals for this year I'm seeing that...

1.  I reached my target weight back in February and am now in the "maintain as much as I can" category.  I'm happy with my weight at this point and am hoping to keep within a five pound cushion to keep my weight stable.  So far I'm doing okay :).  

I started losing weight hoping it would help my back.  Spoilers...it didn't.  But, I also didn't realize how unhappy I was with how I looked and felt being as heavy as I was, so I am really happy I worked hard and lost the extra 30+ pounds I was carrying around.

2.  We replaced the sprayer in the kitchen sink (obviously from my last post).  I was kind of shocked when I looked at the yearly goals and saw this was on there...I lost track how long the kitchen sprayer had been giving me grief, I guess.

3.  Made new curtains for my master bedroom.

4.  Made new skirts for the daughter.

5.  The den getting cleaned out is currently a work in progress.

6.  I've, so far, been doing a decent job on keeping on top of the pantry and making sure we have a decent variety of food in storage.

7.  Been doing pretty well with keeping the menu plan interesting and packing my husband's lunch as much as I can.

8.  And the garden isn't even on the agenda yet as it has been too darned cold as of yet to even think about it.

So, yeah, I haven't gotten as much done as I would like so far this year, but at least I got some things marked off of my list so far.  Things are ticking along here, at least, so I'll feel grateful for that.

So, let's get onto the goals for this month in particular!

1.  Get back taken care of.  

My back has been giving me grief for a while, as most of you probably know, but Sunday night I finally reached my breaking point.  I could not sleep, at all, because I was just so miserably in pain and uncomfortable.  Yesterday I went to the doctor.  I now have muscle relaxants and some hefty anti-inflammatory drugs to take at night to help alleviate things so I can sleep.  I ended up having to go in for an X-ray to check for herniation of the disc and things as I was showing a lot of sensitivity in areas the doctor was worried about, so I'll have to see what the X-ray results are.  If the X-ray comes back okay (no need for an MRI and such) we are in a "take medications, do exercises and see how you feel" type of situation for the next six weeks.  If this fails, I go to physical therapy and if THAT fails I'm off to a doctor to see if surgery or something is necessary.  Hopefully it doesn't get near that bad and the medications and the stretches and things I'm doing already take care of things.  Whatever this costs is going to eat into my plans for household stuff as the X-ray will definitely go toward our deductible (whatever it may cost), so we'll see how badly that hurts when it is all said and done.

So, yeah, before I can do much else, I need to get out of pain enough to accomplish it without injuring my back worse, so hopefully that starts to improve quickly.  After a few doses of medication I'm already feeling an improvement in my lower back (my legs, not so much), so hopefully that's a good sign.

2.  Get schoolwork for the year buttoned up and get work samples and final grades into the homeschool.  

Somehow, we have managed to keep on schedule when it comes to homeschool, so I'm hoping to be wrapped up this week for the summer (we're going to have to keep doing math for the daughter to keep her somewhat caught up for the fall as she starts Algebra 1 next year and the son will have to have some things going on all summer to keep him from losing skills, but at least the bulk will be over with).

The following are contingent on my back doing okay, at least for the more physical stuff.

3.  Once schoolwork is done for the year, repair damage to master bedroom from the earthquake and paint it.  

4.  Put new light fixture in master bedroom (this is dependent on my husband, but hopefully once it is all painted he'll put it in the new light...I'm thinking he will as the light in my bedroom is NOT great right now).

5.  Move as much long term food storage from den to the laundry room so it is out of sight (and gets us more room in the den).

6.  Take big load of earthquake destroyed items and things (and other stuff that has broken in the meantime) that are stored in the barn to the dump (we are hoping to use a discount coupon we get for the dump to help pay for this here soon.  Luckily the coupon doesn't expire till the end of June, so we have time).

7.  Rearrange master bedroom as I am painting it.

8.  Get orthodontist appointment out of the way and get bottom braces for the daughter (the consultation is today, so hopefully with insurance we don't keel over from sticker shock).  

9.  Hopefully get the rest of the carpeting laid down in the son's room.

10.  Make new curtains for the den and hang up new curtain rods.

I will be so happy when this is done as it will allow me to open the curtains and let light in during the day but button the house up at night so people can't see into the house.  The house came with bamboo blinds that you can just see through from outside, so I put some black out curtains I got at the used store up with tacks to stop people from seeing into the house at night.  The downside to the current arrangement is that I can't open the curtains up to let in light without having to climb things like a jungle gym to get the curtains up and down (and the curtains are kind of ugly looking), so the curtains end up staying up all of the time.  So, yeah, I'm really looking forward to having a better, and nicer looking, arrangement in there :).

11.  Make new face masks (for the husband for work and just to replace the ones that have gotten lost over time).

12.  Continue to get mending done.

And yeah, I'm going to call it good on the goals there as that is definitely enough to get done this month.  How about you?  Got anything you are working on this month?

Friday, April 30, 2021

Frugal Friday(s): Money Saving Weekly Recap

 As stated in my previous post, things have been busy around here of late.   A mixed bag, per usual, but there are some frugal things to report, which is nice!

Warning:  This post is going to be long, for obvious reasons (passage of time and all *laugh*).

First, thanks to Sensadyne and time, my tooth is feeling better, so that is definitely something good to report!  Next up, let's get to the frugal stuff!

1.  Now that we aren't buried under a goodly amount of snow, my husband and I decided it was time to start working on things around the house.  So, we went out to our storage van and decided it was time to start cleaning that out and getting rid of things we don't use anymore, and (for me) it was also an opportunity to look for things in random boxes that I haven't seen since we moved and had been looking for.  We pulled in the dollhouse my grandfather made for me when I was a young child and my daughter and I have been working on fixing it up (the freeze and thaw over the years with the humidity on top of it, wasn't overly kind to the poor thing, so it has needed some repairs), but I also went looking for household things I haven't seen in years. 

And for once, I found some of them!!!

I pulled in some random boxes that looked like they held household things and went through them.  I was able to find my French bread/baguette pan (woot!), my egg holder (which, with my small amount of countertop has come in super handy when baking so I don't have an entire dozen eggs sitting on the counter at one time and I can wash it afterwards, which is super handy as well), and the pewter salad bowl that my sister-in-law gave me as a gift years ago and I've always found it to be so pretty.  Note:  This is modern pewter, made past the point that pewter contained lead, so I don't worry about using it :).  It took some scrubbing to get the tarnish off of the bowl, but I did it and then I went over it with a coating of cooking oil just to see if I could hold off the tarnish for a while.  I put the egg holder and the bowl on the shelf above my sink and just moved my coffee and sugar bowl back to their places on my counter.  Not totally ideal, but it was the one spot I could find to put them where they would be handy, but out of the way.  I was also able to dig out the accessories for my Viking immersion blender (which is nice for a back up if my electric mixer bites the big one or something) and got those cleaned up and stored with their main counterpart.

Speaking of scrubbing, I was down in my furnace area (I'm gutting my den to redo it...it's a complete disaster of bags of boxes going to different spots right now, so no picture, but yeah...I've been busy) and FINALLY figured out where in the heck I had stored my cast iron Dutch oven!  My mother-in-law gave me it as a Christmas gift years ago, but I rarely used it compared to other pots and pans, so I ended up putting it in storage when we moved into our current house as I didn't have room for it in my kitchen.  Well, since the earthquake, I have more room than I used to and I really want to start trying my hand at making no-knead bread, so I pulled it out of storage and scrubbed a LOT of old oil and things off of it, re-seasoned it and then put it on my stove for the time being.  I'm going to try and find a better spot for it, but the one cabinet where I had planned to store it...the bottom is bowing and I didn't want to add that much weight to it, so I'll have to think of "plan b" here.

2.  On the "mixed" end of things, I was making coffee one morning last week and heard a dripping sound from under my kitchen sink, which is NEVER a good sound.  I opened the cabinet and found that the sprayer for my sink was actively leaking down into the cabinet.  It had been dripping for a while, but I had been trying to mitigate it by doing a few tricks to the sprayer when I'd use it to stop the thing from leaking.  Obviously, my luck had warn off in that area.  I had bought a under the sink shelf to try out in the kitchen cabinet to see if I could find things under it better and hopefully stop the middle of the cabinet from caving in (it's the one sink cabinet that hasn't been replaced and it is a MESS.  At some point every sink leaked bad in this house and the previous owners to "fix" the problem had put a fake bottom over the rotten bottom of the cabinet instead of actually fixing it...so under the kitchen sink in the back has never been good since we moved in), but I quickly realized that the shelf wasn't going to work.  The cabinet is just too caved in and warped and bowing everywhere that a shelf wasn't going to sit right.  So, I ended up getting a box and putting any cleaning things in it that weighed anything much and put it downstairs in the laundry room and then, after my husband installed the new sprayer, put things back in the cabinet at the front of the cabinet only as much as possible to stop the weight from caving the cabinet in worse in the back.  It turned out decently well and will hopefully see us through until we can afford to redo the kitchen.

I did figure out a kind of neat little thing to put under the sink.  I had been trying to figure out how to get my scrubbing brushes and things up and off the floor of my cabinet and decided to repurpose the metal container I used to put on the back of the sink to hold my sponge and dish soap.  I took an old, very cheap, over the door wreath hanger and just bent it over the cabinet and then worked it into the metal slats of the container to hold it stable.  Worked like a charm and then I filled it up with my straw brushes, my cast iron chain mail cleaning thingy and my scrubbing brush.  I was even able to use some old rice measuring cups that I had in a drawer (more on that organization later) and repurposed them to hold my potato scrubbing brush and the straw brushes and things.  I found a spot to hang my rubber gloves where they will be out of the way of things and threw my floor scrubbing brush in for good measure.  I was happy how it turned out.

3. This one is kind of cute and I just had to share.  My kids are really into the movie "My Neighbor Totoro" right now.  One of the things I found in my random boxes from storage was some old sandwich cutters of various shapes that I had bought years ago when I was trying to do bento boxes for my daughter and trying to get both kids to eat sandwiches (I've had limited success with the daughter over the years, but neither kid has gotten into sandwiches like I did when I was a kid, unfortunately).  I decided to wash them all in the dishwasher and find room to store them in the house just because I didn't want to put them back out into storage.  I had put them out to dry and I heard my daughter say all excited, "Mom!  I didn't know we had a Totoro cookie cutter!"  I blinked in confusion and then looked over her shoulder to see what she was looking at.  

Turns out she was looking a a Millennium Falcon sandwich cutter I had gotten with a lunch box for like 2.00 on Williams Sonoma years and years ago and had never used.  But, she was looking at it vertically, not horizontally and she was right.  It did look like Totoro like that!  Here, I'll show you...

Millennium Falcon.


I have since laughed a lot at this as it reminds me of that painting where you look at it one way and it's a face and then if you look at it another you see a vase. 

So, yeah, we made Totoro cookies yesterday (and frog cookies as I found my big frog cookie cutter in storage too and had to use it...I collect cute frog things, so I was thrilled to find it *laugh*).  Next time I really want to do a more decorative icing on the cookies so I can draw the face and details as I think it will look really cool, but yeah...we have Totoro cookies *laugh*.  My daughter is thrilled.

4.  I was trying to figure out different ways to use up the shelf stable/UHT milk we have around the house as we bought a bunch during quarantine last year to help pump up our milk supply in case we couldn't get much fresh milk (which that milk did come in handy from time to time for sure).  I've been using it for baking, but I wanted more ideas.  I was online and found out that the shelf stable milk makes quick and easy homemade yogurt as you don't have to do the "heat milk to this temperature and then wait for it to cool to this temperature before adding your yogurt culture to it" finicky steps as the milk is already pre-sterilized.  So, I took a carton, put it in my electric pressure cooker, mixed in about a 1/2 cup of yogurt (live and active cultured, remember that part!) and let her rip for 10 hours on the yogurt cycle. 

 I then took the very loose yogurt that resulted and strained it overnight in the fridge and what came out was really delicious, smooth, not overly tangy, Greek style yogurt!  

I saved the whey, of which there was a lot (I ended up with a pint of yogurt at the end) and used it to bake bread and make waffles one night.   I'm using the yogurt for a bunch of different purposes, like I used it in a dressing that called for sour cream the other day and then used it to make gyro sauce as well for dinner the other night.  Delicious and so darned easy!!!

5.  I have mended a LOT the last month.  I took my yellow comforter from my bed that I love dearly and mended tons and tons of tears in it (including the above tear which was about 18" long.  My plan, now that I've finally started to dig out my sewing table in the den, is to attach some loops to it and make the comforter into a duvet and then make a duvet cover out of some sheets I found at the used store.  Here's hoping it works out alright as I really do love the weight of the comforter and things, but it needs to be protected from further damage as much as possible.

6.  This one was quite the interesting screw up.  I was baking some blueberry muffins.  Nothing too extraordinary about that.  My daughter was helping me, which ended up being a Godsend for me as I suddenly hear, "Mom, why did you double the milk?"  And I was like, "What?" double checked the recipe and yeah...I won't go into what I said after that as it wasn't pretty.  I had, indeed, doubled the milk in the recipe like a dumb nut.  The worst part, for me, was that if I tossed the lot and started over again I'd be wasting a good two sticks of butter because that is what the original recipe called for.  So, I, after some debate, decided to double the recipe.  One small hiccup in that was that the original recipe makes 24 muffins!  So, yeah, to make sure the baking powder didn't die while waiting for things to bake, I made 2 dozen muffins, a dozen baked blueberry "donuts" that I later covered in lemon glaze (minus a few in the picture as my husband ate a few pre-glaze) and a blueberry bread loaf.  The blueberry loaf didn't turn out so great as by the time the middle cooked all the way (the dough for the recipe is very dense), the bottom burned and stuck a bit.  I ended up cutting off the bottom of the loaf and put it and most of the muffins into the freezer to eat later.  The donuts we ate right away.  The donuts turned out good anyway, which I was happy with and now we have muffins for a while that we can just grab out of the freezer and go.  But, yeah, that was an interesting day to say the least *laugh*.  

The lesson?  One, don't bake when exhausted and two, read twice measure once or you might end up with some interesting culinary results *laugh*.

7.  Let's talk the yearly Monopoly game shall we?  I decided at the beginning of Monopoly season this year that I wasn't going to really "play" the game as I didn't have time to mess with it, and frankly, I didn't really have the energy either.  Fate, however, had other plans.  One day when I went to the store last week the cashier was FAST pulling out those tickets and shoving them into my bag before I even knew he did it, so I went and opened the tickets and played the tickets I had.  I was kind of shocked at how much I won with a mere 13 tickets.  Then, I went online to put coupons on my card for the week and found that I was offered some E-Coupons for a free container of croissants from the bakery and a free bag of organic frozen pot stickers (I didn't take a picture of the pot stickers as they are a load bearing bag in my downstairs freezer now and I didn't want a broken toe to take a picture *laugh*).

So, yeah, last week I ended up with a free bottle of Ibuprofen, a free container of hamburger buns, a free box of tissues, a free spice mix packet (which I didn't pick up as all they had was taco seasoning, which I don't need) and I won 2.00 off of my next shopping trip.  

I also picked up my free pot stickers and my free croissants.  I froze the croissants in their original shell case and then pulled them out today, pulled three our for breakfast tomorrow and then put them in groups of three in freezer bags.  I then put the bags back into the original croissant container and put it back into the freezer so that the croissants will have a decent amount of protection from getting beat up in the freezer.  I'll pull them out 3 at a time so the husband, daughter and I will have enough for breakfast.  That way they won't go bad on us (the son won't eat them, so I'm going with groups of three versus four) and they'll be readily available to grab for a "fancy" breakfast in the coming month or so.

Yesterday, I asked my husband to stop off at the store on his way home from work and pick up groceries.  He ended up with 96 tickets since it is the last week of the Monopoly game.  So, I went cross eyed last night inputing codes online and opening tickets.  We actually won quite a bit, most of which I can actually use (which is always nice), so I'll have to see if I can make it to the store to get the son's prescription this weekend and see how many freebies I can grab before the game officially ends.

8.  I took advantage of the Cinco De Mayo sales going on this week at Carrs to get limes and avocados super cheap.  The avocados I'm going to cut in half, treat with acid, food saver and put them into the freezer to use for dinners later.  We don't use a HUGE amount of avocados, so splitting them in half will be perfect portioning for us and this way I won't have to pay the normally high prices for avocados just to make guacamole or put slices on a sandwich!

The limes I'll use to make Brazilian Lemonade as we really love that as a summertime drink.

9.  While watching some of my favorite Japanese and Korean vlogs, I found a neat recipe for preserving lemons in honey.  I had a good personalized price on lemons and had plenty of honey in food storage, so I decided to give "honey lemon pickles" a shot.  Basically, you scrub off the wax from the lemons, slice them into slices, remove the seeds and then stack them alternatively into a jar with layers of honey covering them.  You then store them in the fridge for at least a week before eating and they'll keep for about six months in the fridge.  It was a perfect solution for me as I LOVE lemons, but always end up buying too many and scramble to use them before they go bad on me.

I have to say that I am in love with the lemon pickles!  I have been fighting allergies something fierce with all of the cleaning and things I'm doing, so I've been putting a few slices of the lemons into a cup of tea and it helps a raw throat and a congested head SO much!  And just putting some into a glass with some sparkling water makes an awesome drink!

I also stumbled across a vlogger who puts her nuts in a jar and covers them with honey and just leaves them out on the counter to use on ice cream and things.  I, who am forced to buy peanut free nuts in bulk online (as that is the only way to get them in a lot of cases) was intrigued, so I went and looked into it and found that preserving nuts in honey pretty much preserves them indefinitely and is a good way to store them.  So, I made up a few jars of walnuts (after roasting them) and a jar of pecans in the honey.  Oh my GOSH are these good!  I have been eating them on yogurt in the morning with some fruit and things and all I can say is "YUM!".

10.  I have been managing to plan my meals so that I'm am sure to use up all left overs one way or the other.  Like the other night I took leftover hamburgers (I've been grilling a lot now that the sun is out and the snow is gone, which I am thrilled about *laugh*), crumbled them up and threw them into spaghetti sauce.  The family was happy with it and I was happy that I didn't end up throwing away two leftover hamburgers :).

And, yeah, I'm going to leave it there as it is getting late and I have other household stuff to do, but, yeah, I've been busy and I have to say I'm pleased with a lot of it.  How about you?  Been up to anything lately?

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Spring Cleaning and Reorganizing (A Recap So Far)

April showers bring May flowers.  Or so the saying goes.  

And yet, we awoke to the first day of April to snow, which got worse as the week progressed and we ended up with a pretty significant quantity of snow.  And it got COLD, going down to below zero at night.  My electric bill alone is insane.  I don't want to know what my gas bill is going to be like next month.  Bright side, Monday rolled around and suddenly the temperatures started to go up around here.  By next week we have one day that is even calling for it to be in the 60s!  I am thrilled as honestly I'm so over winter at this point and just want Break Up to officially be here.  We went out sledding over the weekend when I realized that we finally had enough snow, it hadn't blown away and we were looking at it melting this week and the kids had a lot of fun, especially the daughter.  This week the kids are getting a kick out of playing outside and running around on the bare patches of ground where the snow has melted off.  Crazy weather.

 It has been, once again, hectic around here.  First there was the drama around my tooth.  I got my permanent cap on around three weeks ago and while the temporary cap was just fine, the permanent one has been giving me grief from the moment I got it on.  Hot liquid especially would make me jump in pain and it seemed like it was getting worse.  So, I ended up back at the dentist a few weeks ago trying to figure out if I needed a root canal or what.  The dentist, after various tests, assured me my roots on the X-ray looked fine and what he thought was going on was that when they were messing around putting the permanent cap on they had scraped away all of the material that I had protecting my weak enamel on my tooth (I've always had weak enamel) and I was basically dealing with an overly exposed nerve because my tooth was over sensitive.  They painted on a de-sensitizing agent onto my tooth to help it to start to heal and told me to start using Sensadyne toothpaste.  It has helped, but the stuff they painted on my tooth wore off as of yesterday, so I'm in pain again on and off.  Bright side, hot liquids aren't lighting me up as badly as they were, but now cold sensations, especially sucking cold air, does not feel pleasant, we'll just say that.  Between that and still battling the after effects of being sick...I have been better.

The husband ended up back at the doctors, this time for his neck giving him grief and he was diagnosed with tension headaches and is on a mild muscle relaxant as needed.  It does seem to help him, so I'm glad of that anyway.

But, yeah, it has been a bit of a challenge around here.  

Despite it all, though, I HAVE been getting stuff done around here.  Actually, some of it is kind of neat, so let's get to that.

I originally planned to put this in a Frugal Friday Recap, but we've been up to so much around here and it just gets busier, that the post would be about 20 pages long, so I figured I'd show you guys some of the things we've been doing around the house as we wait for the weather to finally show us Spring.

Despite the fact that there is still snow outside, the light continues to come back around here, so I've really gotten into Spring cleaning and organizing the house...like happens every year, but this year it does seem to be a super potent need for me...probably because we have been in the house for basically a year and so everything just starts to get to you after a while.

First, let's start with the living room.  I got tired of the living room as there always seemed to not be enough room for all four of us to sit comfortably and it seemed like the daughter was always taking refuge back in her room and not wanting to sit and watch a movie as she always seemed to move to the floor to watch something.  So, I decided that the den is going to become a activity room for things that are more PE related (I'll get more into that later) and I would move the chairs that were in the den to the living room so we could use the additional seating.  Turns out the son LOVES the grey chairs and pretty much takes them up himself, but everyone else doesn't mind as we can sit elsewhere.

I have been working hard at accumulating credit card rewards the last year or so and now that the cards are pretty much paid off due to the recent stimulus payment (I had to put things like a medical bill on my husband's card, my Amazon Prime renewed that I had forgotten about and such, so there is some things on them again), so I have worked on paying off one credit card completely every month and then use that card to pay the utilities and things, so that we can quickly accumulate rewards.  When your electric bill is about 400.00 at the moment due to winter not giving up...yeah that adds up quickly. 

Anyway, one of the things I purchased with credit card rewards (well after redeeming said rewards for Amazon giftcards) was to get an I-Pad charging station for the living room so I could get the tablets out of my kitchen.  I LOVE it!  It is so nice to not be tripping over charging cords all the time and having a place for the tablets to plug in that is out of the way of me cooking and things.

Next, I tackled the kitchen.  I have become addicted to various vlog channels on YouTube the last few months, mainly a South Korean vlogger whose channel is Nyangsoop because I love her style of vlogging and I love the warmth of her home and kitchen.  I really have become a fan of channels like hers due to lack of vocal communication and quiet backgrounds, so I can just read the subtitles and enjoy the neat cooking segments and stuff while sitting with the TV turned way down at night waiting for the son to settle down and go to bed.  While watching her channel and other Asian vloggers, I started to really get some good tips on how to make my small kitchen run more efficiently.  I watched pretty much every American video on how to better organize a small kitchen and got nothing, I repeat nothing, out of them (no offense to DIY stations, just modern kitchens don't really help me organize my 1970's style kitchen), so it was great to me to run into things that actually gave me some good ideas as I am always striving to make things work more efficiently around here.

Note:  The following do not contain associate links, but I am linking to some product pages.  I'm just sharing.  If you would like to support the blog, feel free to click on the link to Amazon on the right hand side of the blog (you may need to turn off your ad blockers to see it) and order things after clicking through to Amazon from there.  I will receive a small commission for sending the sale Amazon's way if you order through the link.  Thanks if you do :).

I have been working on picking things up slowly over the last bit and just using reward points and things to pay for it.  With the exception of the chairs.  The kitchen chairs went onto my Amazon card, but were needed.  I just found that our one wood chair that the daughter was sitting in was in need of replacement and a much less intense job than what it was dealing with day in and day out with kitchen table duty combined with homeschool.  My father-in-law has always had this bad habit of tipping back in chairs when he would sit in them and he is NOT a light guy.  He managed to break one of our kitchen chairs years ago and that is why we had the metal framed chair since the kids were very small and the other one he managed to crack, but it was managing to hold together with some maintenance help from wood glue.  But, I did my six month check up on the chair for Spring cleaning and found that the crack was getting worse.  Since the table set used to be my husband's grandparents set, has sentimental value for my husband (and honestly I love the maple furniture myself, not to mention I had a lot of affection for his grandparents), the last thing I wanted to do was to break that chair.  

So, I went on Amazon and put a two pack of kitchen chairs on my credit card  after looking around everywhere I could find trying to find a replacement for our old chairs (turns out the company that made our table set declared bankruptcy in 1983 and it is really hard to find the maple furniture now, sadly).  I checked locally, but found nothing that would even close to work for us, tried Target.com (won't ship the kitchen chairs to Alaska) and everywhere I could think of.  I, after trolling around Amazon for ages, found these, which would actually ship to Alaska (most of them don't ship up here that are on Amazon either).  My husband helped me to put them together and while they don't match our table finish (which, I would have been thrilled if it had, but knew that the odds of that weren't good), they are solid wood and came together solid, so we are happy with them.  And, hey, at least the two chairs on either side of the table match now where they definitely did not before.  The other chair retired to my bedroom where it sits at my husband's computer desk for his occasional internet surfing.  He is much happier with it than the fold out chair he was using and I think the chair will last a long time in that location as my husband will be good to the chair.  I took the black 80's style chair and put it at my sewing table to replace, once again, a fold out chair, so that is also nice for my back when I'm doing sewing (which I have some of that on my long list of things to do as well).

The chair cushions are not built into the chairs by the way.  The cushions are these.  I ordered them to help my back as sitting on the bare wood furniture for hours helping the kids with school was not helping the bulging disc in my back.  They are okay.  They don't slip like the old tie onto the back of the chair cushions used to when I was a kid, but they aren't the best either.  They definitely are firm, so if you are looking for something cushier, I would not recommend them.

The bread box behind the table is this one, although I got mine at way less of the price point than it is now.  And I WOULD NOT recommend buying it at that price point!  The instructions for assembly were non-existent.  It took me two hours to get the screws to hold the bamboo and not strip out as the screws were cheap and I had to figure out how to construct the thing with no instructions to go off of.  When it was finally together, it is cute, I'll give it that, and it works like a bread box should.  I do like the plexi-glass fronts on the bread box as I can see what is in the box.  I am so tired anymore that I was forgetting bread in my other box and was losing things to mold (my fault, not the boxes fault), so this has been really nice and gives me a good place to put baked goods that keeps them off of my counters, which I need.

I took the other bread box I had (that I love the look of) and was able to store a ton of things for more "fancy" baking in it.  Like my icing tip kit, cupcake liner papers and things like that.  I was even able to store some of my holiday cookie cutters that were for the non-Christmas holidays (Easter, Halloween, etc) in my old bread box as well.  It is nice having them by my microwave and within easy reach for when we want to use them without having to tear apart the house looking for them.

I put a radio I found at the used store early this year (whoever got rid of it, got rid of it quick, because when I searched for it I found that it came out in August of last year) on top.  I love the look of it and it will work with a power cord or batteries, which is nice for an emergency.  It gets a few channels, but not my favorites, so I might be moving it around the house to find the channels I want to listen to and working on finding a radio that fits my tastes that also doubles a Bluetooth speaker *laugh*.  I also cleaned up a pewter flower pot (so much tarnish!) I found at the used store years ago and has migrated around the kitchen since I bought it and I put some fake flowers (we bought some new for a art project my daughter had for school and I just snatched some when it was done) in it.  I like how the entire thing looks in the kitchen, I have to say, and it is nice being able to listen to the radio in the morning while I am waiting for the kids to wake up., even if I can't seem to get the classical music station on the sucker.

I ordered a new blind for the kitchen when the pull string for the old one ended up breaking so I couldn't even put the blind all the way down and I was having to stand on a chair to open the blind all the way when I wanted.  It was a HUGE pain and I had enough of things being broken on it.  The wand to open the slats had broken in the earthquake, so the string was the only way to open or close the blind, the paint had changed color from age, it as metal so it did not like to clean up at all, it was an outside mount blind so it got in the way of the pot rack...we had our issues.  The string breaking was just the final straw for me.  So, I ordered a new blind and installed it this week (my window, it turns out, is an odd size window, so I had to order a non-standard sized blind to install).  I am happy with it and even ended up with two as one got lost in the mail for nearly a month and showed up at my door a day after the replacement order came in.  What I am going to do with the other blind...I have no idea, although my mom suggested keeping it as a back up in case something broke on this one.  I tried to match the mahogany type of stain on the trim of the window, and while the photo doesn't show it very well, I nearly succeeded, so I'm okay with it.  At least I can open and close this one *laugh*.

I also, after careful thought, got a behind the sink shelf to try and get a bit more space out of the kitchen. I put my mortar and pestle there so I can access it easier (and not break a toe dropping it on my foot), my ceramic coffee cone (as it doesn't sit in my cupboard very well, but it was a gift, so I was determined to find a nice place for it), my coffee filters (in the tan holder there), my coffee container and my sugar bowl.  It makes morning coffee very streamlined and I really love it.  I wish it was a bit taller, though, as the shelf gives me BARELY enough room to turn the faucet on and off and using the sprayer on the back of the sink requires a bit of creativity.     

Next up was a real game changer for me and was one of the ideas I got from a bunch of Asian vlogs and that was a cutting board holder so you would have cutting boards within easy reach.  I got this cutting board holder and set it up in an awkward corner of my kitchen counters that always seems to not work right.  I got my most used cutting boards out of my sheet pan cabinet (which is saving me a bunch of arm strength as getting sheet pans out when the cabinet is full with the cutting boards in there is not an easy task) and put them in the holder,  Best use of credit card rewards, I swear!  I love having such easy access to my cutting boards!!!  I was even able to put a nice bamboo cutting board I got as a birthday gift in front so you don't have to look at my plastic cutting boards first *laugh*.

The other big purchase I made, was due to, once again, necessity.  My phone started to die and was muting calls randomly.  I went online and found that the Vtech cordless phone I had definitely had a problem with that happening and I should replace the entire phone system.  So, instead of having to buy a new cordless phone and having to replace the batteries way too often (so it feels like anyway) and spending more than the phone originally cost on said batteries, I decided that I was just going back to basics and ordered this corded phone instead.  We have another old corded phone plugged in downstairs, so now we have two corded phones in the house.  I bought a 25 foot phone cord to go with the phone, so it stretches about 12 feet or so without too much trouble and honestly I don't miss the cordless phone.  I only talk to a very limited number of people on the phone, so it works fine for me.  And now I don't have to worry about power outages taking out the phone (sure the answering machine and caller ID won't work, but the main phone does) and I don't have to worry about replacing batteries.  It works for me!  Now I just need to find a good place to wall mount it to get it off of my counter.

Next up, I invested in a six pack of heavy duty magnetic hooks and I hung up all of my pot holders on either side of my fridge to free up actually a pretty significant amount of drawer space out of one of the few drawers I have.  I also like how easy of access I have to them this way.

And the last thing I got for the kitchen is a good old fashioned pan rack so I could turn all of my more awkward shaped pans onto their sides and organize them better and not worry about everything falling over every time I needed a pan.  Once again, a great investment (the one I ordered is no longer available, so no sharing this time) and I'm glad I got it.

For non-photo related items, there are various ones.  My goal, right now, is to do one thing on my Spring Cleaning/Chore list a day AT LEAST, so that I feel like I accomplished something and also to just start slowly checking things off of my very long list.  So we also...

1.  Cleaned the fridge all over the outside, removed the bottom plate and cleaned out the coils anywhere I could reach on the fridge.  Had the husband move the fridge out (if we were going to break the water line, again, moving the fridge, I wanted him there to take care of it *laugh*) and did a deep clean behind it and everything.  I still need to empty the fridge itself and deep clean all of the shelves, but I'm making progress.

2.  My husband has started to put down carpet in my son's room.  It is going slower than we hoped.  The carpet was completely shot, the carpet pad was disintegrating and we even had some mold on the sub-floor (luckily no black mold).  We got all the old carpet in about 2/3 of the room ripped out after doing a bunch of research online I found that you were supposed to scrub the sub-floor five times with borax (I added some bleach just to be safe as well) to make sure that all mold was killed before putting on new carpet.  So, that's what I did.  Got a ton of blister on my knees that day climbing back and forth across the floor, but it came out clean, lighter and the room had no smell anymore.  Course then my husband started putting down carpet squares and there was carpet glue smell to worry about, but with the help of a nice big fan and an open window, the smell went away fast and the son's mood improves every time we can find time where he's in a good mood to put down more carpet squares.  I'll share pictures when the room is a bit more done, but I'm glad we are getting that job done since we have been sitting on the carpet for a good long time now and I'm happy to get it where it needs to go (and get the boxes out of my den *laugh*).

3.  I sat down and started to sketch out my master bedroom closet to try and figure out a good system to organize it.  It looks like Armagedon right now, so I really want to get it organized, neat and accessible and so I'm working it into my master bedroom plans for the summer (since I have to repair and paint it anyway).

4.  Sat down and started figuring out different food preservation plans for this year and uses for each (I don't like to preserve anything anymore that I might or might not use...I work on preserving things we will use versus "might use" for the sake of not wasting food and so we don't have to worry about eating things we might not like).  I'm working on embracing more than just canning as a means of preserving food this year as canning jars have become hard to find and cheaper quality (I've seen and heard absolute horror stories on the new Ball canning jars that are coming out...now that they have been sold, I guess quality control is not what it used to be) and canning lids are still platinum plated unless you want to take your chance on ones made in China that might or might not work.  I've got a limited number of Tattler lids and an old stock of one use canning lids, but still want to make my efforts and materials last as long (and as smartly) as possible.

5.  Started to make tentative plans for the garden this year.  Seeds are definitely out this year as the cats dug up my attempt to start seeds in the house and with the weather breaking so late this year I'm figuring the nursery is going to be my best bet for plant starts.  Between the garden and the CSA box I'm hoping to put up a decent amount for winter next year.

And there you go folks.  Some of the things we've been up to lately.  How about you?  Getting cleaning and organizing done this year?

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.