Tuesday, June 22, 2021

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

You know, I REALLY need to pull out my cookbooks and things and work on getting some different recipes into my weekly menu to shake things up a bit around here.  Not that eating tacos once a week is a bad thing, but it does start to get a bit old after a while.  Bright side, though, is that I am running into a few recipes on YouTube and things randomly that I'm bookmarking to make in with our normal weekly menu items so hopefully that'll lead me to being a bit more creative.  Lack of sleep definitely starts to make cooking seem like a way more daunting task than it should be, especially when you normally like cooking like I do.

So, yeah, be prepared for me to hopefully be sharing new recipe links and things here and there in the coming weeks.  

So, let's get to this week, shall we?

Tuesday:  Simplified Saver Hawaiian Chicken Sliders  We are actually eating these as left overs tonight.  I made the recipe yesterday (it is in her video, so you will have to watch a bit to find it) and used pork chops instead of the chicken in the recipe.  I used a couple small cans of pineapple because I didn't have pineapple juice and just chunked up the pineapple in with the sauce and meat.  I shredded the pork before putting it back in the sauce (like she does with the chicken, but I had to remove the chops to shred them and then add them back in so I could remove the bones) and using it for sandwiches.  It came out great!  We really enjoyed them and I am definitely going to write the recipe down for future reference.

Wednesday:  Baked chicken, baked beans, corn, sourdough bread (homemade, already made so we'll have some with dinner)

Thursday:  Home made pizza and breadsticks (I use this recipe for pizza crust and breadsticks.  I double the pizza crust recipe and then just use 1/2 for breadsticks and 1/2 for a deep pan pizza).

Friday:  Hamburgers on home made buns, oven fries, salad 

Saturday:  Eating out (my husband and I are going out to celebrate our anniversary and we'll get the kids something beforehand to make life easy for my mother-in-law who is being nice enough to babysit :).

Sunday:  Shrimp and Vegetable tempura, rice, miso soup

Monday:  Beef Nachos.  Taco meat, refried beans, Mexican rice, sour cream, lettuce, salsa and avocado (from freezer) on tortilla chips (we get a huge 6 lb box of Taco Loco, a local Alaskan business that makes the BEST Tortillas and tortilla chips, tortilla chips at Three Bears for like 11.00 and it lasts us a good long time for things like this).

To bake:  Hamburger buns (still messing around with recipes for these), banana bread (as you can see by the bananas sitting in the fridge *laugh*, lemon pound cake (from mix) for dessert on Sunday. 

And there you go folks.  Our tentative menu plan for this week.  Hopefully I'll be able to stick to it with some degree of success.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

I remember when I was pregnant my dad shared with me what he considered to be the first universal truth of parenthood.  

"Once you have kids, you will never have money again."

What?  Oh, yeah, that is the type of advice and things my dad would give.  He loved to share, "Smile, it can always get worse" when you were down.  You had to know my dad.  He had an odd sense of humor *laugh*.

What my dad didn't tell me was that if you ended up being a special needs parent?  That truth about not having money is double as it seems you just end up spending any extra money on things that you hope will help with one of numerous problems.   Add in medical conditions, like for us it is battling allergies and horrible eczema...and yeah...what's money again?

Anyway, despite having an emergency visit to the local mattress store to get the son a new mattress as he killed his old one, having to buy things on my Amazon card to get safe snacks for the son to eat and things...despite it all I did have a few things that saved money the last little bit.  

One of the main things I'm doing right now is cleaning and organizing and figuring out what I need for food and things in the pantry and such.  I started on our hallway closet first which is where I really wanted to keep snacks and the son's main snack foods he lives on as well as drinks.  Drinks had gotten really bad and were spread all over the house as the hallway closet was a mess and I didn't have room to store drinks with everything else.  Turns out, when it came down to it, I had next to no food left in the hallway closet.  I didn't realize how bad it was until I gutted the closet completely and pulled out all the empty packages that no one in my family throws away but me it seems *grumble*.  Seriously, who has a snack closet just full of empty packages and doesn't tell the person who does the shopping?   Ugh.

I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out why my husband had developed a nasty vending machine habit at work and how to curb that bad habit as it was getting expensive.  Now, it all made sense.

So, I had ended up putting together a big order of quick foods from Amazon so we had snacks again.  I know that a lot of people probably don't do snack foods, and I don't blame you, but my son lives off of crunchy carbs for the most part (and he's picky about those foods as well)  and if I took those away he would quite literally starve, so I depend more on snack foods more than most people.  And my husband at his current job rushes through lunch every day and ends up having to snack a lot to keep his energy level up through the day just to get through the workday and then to get through the hour commute each way, so snack foods have become a necessary evil around here.

Anyway, I sat down and figured out what we were going to get in and drew up a plan for the closet so that the maximum amount of things would be organized and easy to get to (and obvious to me when they needed to be replaced).

I became somewhat obsessed with watching pantry reorganizing videos on YouTube for a bit to see if I could find good tips on how to do a reset on a minimal budget.  That was until I realized that there was a definite TREND to the videos.  They all went like this...

1.  Wait until your snack foods and things are down to next to nothing (check that one off on my part).

2.  Plan food order to restock (check on my part).

3.  Go to Ikea.

4.  Buy every single organizing container Ikea has.  In bulk.

5.  Put food away in pantry so it all looks pretty.

Okay, so after step 2, that formula fell apart for me.  For one thing, we don't have any Ikeas in Alaska.  At all.  The nearest Ikea to me is Washington state, so yeah...that was out.   For another thing, even if we did have an Ikea nearby, I didn't have hundreds of dollars to spend just on storage containers to put food in.  I'd rather spend those hundreds of dollars ON food if I had it.

So, I decided to get creative.  I did buy a few things from Amazon to help organize things.  I bought these bins (no associate link, just sharing) in beige, but I got them for 12.00 instead of 30.00 as they were cheaper when I bought them and they had a coupon for 60% off on the bins as well (I honestly would not buy them for 30.00 as no cloth cube thing is that mind blowing).  I used those bins to place individual bagged snacks like chips and things and since everything was lightweight I just stacked the bins on top of one another.  They worked well for that and I'm refilling them with different things as spaces develop, so they are functional.  The top shelf is for overstock and is definitely full now that the Goldfish crackers are in (I got two of these as getting Goldfish from Amazon is WAY cheaper than buying them for 13.00 per carton at the store...and both kids and husband love said crackers, so they will definitely get eaten).

I also bought these (once again just sharing) so I'd have some more big airtight storage containers to place granola and trail mix in.  I would use some of my Tupperware collection to house the trail mix and things in, but I found I'm actually using all of my complete Tupperware containers and I haven't been able to find Tupperware at the used stores in a long time.  I got my new storage containers in damaged packaging from the Amazon Warehouse for 16.00 and I used a 10.00 giftcard I got for doing a survey to help pay for them as well.  I was happy that the products seemed just fine.  The box was thrashed but the containers were "like new" just like they said.

I was really determined to have trail mix in our new snack stores.  I had always just bought Enjoy Life trail mix in the past, but decided that I wanted to get more bang for my buck, so I went searching for ingredients instead.  I actually ended up buying  a bulk order of six bags of Enjoy Life Mini chocolate chips as they are SO much cheaper buying them through Amazon (and they finally ship them up here!!!),  my son absolutely loves the things and he doesn't get them very often (7.00 a bag at the store tends to dissuade me from buying them for him).  I then got a bag of dried fruit that had a really nice variety in it (is cross contaminated with tree nuts, but not peanuts, so I'm happy), a big bag of sunflower seed kernels (once again, cross contaminated with tree nuts, but not peanuts), and a bag of pumpkin seed kernels (which on their own would be WAY too salty, but in the trail mix they worked, thank goodness).   All totaled between coupons and sales on the items, I spent 34.00 for everything, which is not too bad for allergy friendly items and the trail mix will last quite a while around here.  I love having a big container of trail mix all made up and ready to go.  Anytime someone is feeling peckish in between meals, I point at the trail mix and tell them to grab a scoop.  It works great and is really tasty if I do say so myself and I have enough dried fruit and chocolate chips to make another big batch of trail mix (and the sunflower seeds are cheap on Amazon, so that won't be too bad to buy :).

But, yeah, everything else I used to organize with was things I scabbed from around the house.  I rearranged my laundry room so that I could organize my cleaners better and put some of my little used appliances down there to free up room in the hallway closet (like my food processor and things).  When I reorganized the laundry room I managed to empty out a wooden caddy that I've had since the kids were little that we got a set of Melissa and Doug blocks in.  The box is wonderfully made and has been super useful over the years.  Now it is being used to hold individual snack packs of cookies, crackers and fruit snacks so that the son can get to everything easily and not destroy a package to get two cookies out of it.  I then stuck the container of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal that I put in a Tupperware container up front so he can grab it easily to snack on.  I also, once again, reused the wire stacking bins that I got at a used store ages ago and am using them to store extra Cheetos and Doritos for the son (as well as some packs of cookies and crackers) so I can pull down the top stock as needed to fill his snack drawer that sits below everything.  

I grabbed Tupperware containers I had around the house that were missing lids when I bought them (or the lids had broken, etc) and filled those up with individually wrapped snacks.  And I, once again, utilized the good old Sterlite shoeboxes that I bought for 1.00 a piece years and years ago and have used for tons of things ever since.  It is truly amazing how versatile those storage containers have been (you can see the Ramen is being stored in some in the picture), they stack easily when you aren't using them for things and they are just great workhorses.   I used the super long Pullman pan I had bought ages ago and don't use (the recipe the pan calls for uses a ton of butter and so I don't make it very much at all) and put our various flavors of Pocky sticks in it.  I have been a fan of mango Pocky for a while and ended up breaking down and ordering myself some as I have to get them online as the local stores don't carry them.  We also buy the chocolate and strawberry flavors from the store and keep them in with our snacks as that is one of my daughter's favorite treats.  

I went down in my den and grabbed a second set of grey plastic utility shelves that I had put boots and things on in the past, emptied them off and brought them upstairs to put in the closet.  The first set of shelves (actually it was originally one tall shelf that I bought at Wal-Mart years and years ago, but I, long ago, separated the unit into two different small shelves and lost the connecting plastic tubes long ago) has been in the hallway closet since we moved in, I think, and I use it to hold some of my appliances that I use somewhat often (currently my bulk mixer/back up mixer, the blender and the deep fryer) and I put a big drawer from another set of Rubbermaid drawers I had at some point that I realized would fit perfectly on the bottom shelf and act as a snack drawer for the son's most commonly eaten items (Cheetos and Cool Ranch Doritos if you can't tell).  The second shelf is being used to store drinks so that we can actually get TO the drinks and the space is being utilized better.  I then grabbed a small wooden stool we had in the bathroom for years for the daughter to boost herself up to wash her hands and things and I use that to reach the higher shelves in the closet if I need to get something down to restock them.  It fits perfectly in front of the son's snack drawer area and gives him enough room to access everything, but the stool is still nearby and useable.  

The granola and the trail mix ended up by the microwave on the sideboard so that I could get to them easily as I am eating granola on my yogurt every morning and I dip into the trail mix often (in case you were wondering where they ended up).  

So, yeah, is everything Pinterest pretty?  Oh Heck no.  Is it functional?  Yeah.  It is a bit clunky in places, but when you have weird spaces to deal with for things, you have to deal with what you have, especially when you have multiple things to juggle when it comes to food and such.

So, yeah, next time you need to organize a space, but you don't have money to do it?  Don't let it deter you and just work with what you have.  It might not look Instagram ready, but it'll be functional just the same :).  If I had to do it all over again, I would probably not have bought the beige bins for the chips and things as I realized after they shipped that I could have cut down some boxes, decorated them with fabric or paper and it would have done the same job.  Once they were here, I just decided to keep them because I didn't want to go through all the hassle to return them,  I blame lack of sleep for not thinking of the cardboard idea beforehand.

So, when it comes to money saving things, there are a few more things on my list the last bit.

1.  I started going through my pantry (more on that organizing later) and found that I've been doing a good job of rotating our food storage, so everything that was past it's expiration date was only out by a few months versus a few years or something.  And a bunch of stuff I was worried about actually was doing fine and the expiration dates on the items wasn't for a few more years.  So, I am proud of myself that I'm doing okay not buying a ton of extra stuff that we may, or may not, use.

2.  I mended some shirts.

3.  I was able to diagnose a problem my husband was having online instead of us having to spend money we didn't really have.

4.  I e-mailed my insurance agent about our home owner's insurance renewal for the year and this year was the first year ever that our home owners insurance actually applied our insurance score without the consent form they always insisted on in the past (and would then ignore until after my escrow paid their inflated bill which would lead to heartburn on my part trying to keep our escrow accurate so our mortgage didn't increase at the end of the year), so our escrow will be right for the first time ever without me having to jump through tons of hoops to get there.  Woot!!!!

5.  I worked on decorating a bit with things we already had around the house (mainly figuring out where to hang stuff up on the walls).  I'm happy with how it is turning out and has cost me nothing to do.

6.  I used gift cards I accumulated through Swagbucks to pay for my husband's Father's Day gift.

7.  My husband set up the air conditioner when we realized that the weather was going to start getting hotter via the weather report.  I think this was the first year where my husband got the air conditioner in when the weather wasn't horribly hot and he was comfortable on the deck putting the air conditioner in instead of baking while doing it.

8.  When the weather started getting hot, I utilized my grill a lot.  So far we're still on the same tank of propane we bought a few years ago, so I'd say we are doing pretty well for a less than 20.00 fill up of a propane tank :).  I really like my new grill as it is just the right size for the four of us and being smaller than my old grill, it takes up a lot less room and I'm able to clean it more efficiently (since it's smaller the grill can actually fit in my kitchen sink enough that I can clean it there).

And, yeah, I am sure there is more in my list, but I misplaced said list (you would think I'd just put memos into my phone to remember these things, but nah...what's the challenge in that?), so I'm going to call it good there, BUT, let's get down to the garden for this year.  Spoilers:  It looks different *laugh*...

So, when I realized that the temperatures at night were FINALLY going above 39 degrees F, I told my husband we had to go to the nursery to get seedlings to plant.  With the temps at night being unseasonably cold, it was kind of a "if I am going to plant things it has to be NOW or never" type of deal.   So, we started by going to my favorite nursery we had used for years, only to find that all but one of their greenhouses was closed and they were retiring, so there was next to no plants in the one greenhouse they had open.  I guess Covid just made up their minds for them and they decided it was a good time to call it quits.  Sad.  I'm going to miss them. 

Luckily there were other options.  My husband suggested going to Bushes and Bunches garden/greenhouses in Palmer, so that is where we ended up going.  So, so glad I went there as they had a nice variety of things and their prices were good :).

I had already made a deal with my daughter that she could choose and grow her own flowers this year, so all of the flowers are her choices.  I was hoping that they would have calendula (pot marigold) so I could get some for skin creams and such, but they didn't have those available.  So the shot above is of some of the plants before they got put into their permanent homes for the summer.  Here's a quick shot of after...

Yup, we went with a container garden this year.  We had originally hoped to maybe get a greenhouse in this year, but with the price on construction materials and such...there was no way that was going to happen.  So, we wanted something that would be safe from moose and hopefully slugs, so we decided to go for a deck garden.  Seeing as how the deck is two stories up, I'm hoping it won't run into too many pest problems to deal with.

Next up, after deciding that, was trying to figure out planters for things.  I had bought cabbages and chard to plant, so I knew those would need their own planters so they would have room for their roots and leaves to spread out, so I dug around until I found every single planter, pot and other things I could plant in from pretty much everywhere around here and I still had my husband pick up some cheap black plastic planters at Home Depot so I could get a decent variety of things planted.

So, here we go, let's break down what I have planted so far...

My mixed chard area with a lettuce planted up front too.  Next to them is the mini-Petunias that my daughter picked out.

The extra seedlings are in the little plastic pots still off to the left.  I'm not really sure if I'll plant most of them.  The lettuce and chard I can harvest small if I don't find planters to plant more of them in.  They came in mixed flats for 2.00 a piece, so I ended up with a bunch of extras on some plants.  Like the parsley was in a pack of 6, which I definitely do not need to plant six parsley plants.  Anyway, I planted a pot of mixed flowers in the back (we have extras of those too), and then I planted the petunias in a big clear Rubbermaid container I used to store potatoes in in the pantry.  

Next up is a cabbage I planted in a black pot and a mixed herb and lettuce garden I planted in a big Rubbermaid drawer from some unit we had at some point or the other.  I also planted a single pole bean in the back of the bed.  Will it grow there?  I have no idea.  But, it's worth a shot.  I planted parsley, sage, rosemary and summer savory (they didn't have any thyme, or yes, I would have finished up that song lyric *laugh*).  I planted a mixed lettuce/greens mix up front along with two buttercrunch lettuces.  I doubt they'll get very big in the planter, but small lettuce leaves still taste like lettuce and will work for me :).

A couple more cabbages that I planted in planters we had in the house and shed, and my biggest excitement of the year...

I'm so stupidly excited about this thing.  This is a Red Robin patio tomato plant.  It only grows to be be about a foot high, is supposed to produce prolific amounts of cherry tomatoes for such a small plant and it is meant to be grown in containers.  It actually doesn't do well in garden beds from what I was reading.  It is supposed to be put in a planter 7 to 9 inches in diameter and the pot it came in is 8", so I'm just going to leave it in it's current pot.  So far I am seeing a TON of tomatoes developing, so I'm hoping with the help of some fertilizer and some TLC this sucker will give me yummy cherry tomatoes here soon :).

Up last is a shot of the basil plant I have planted in an old flower pot that I've had for a long time and was sitting in my shed.  Next to it is my, very abused, catnip plant I bought that the cats did their best to kill.  It is now up higher so it can hopefully start to grow out and I can harvest some catnip to dry for my drug addicted felines *laugh*.

And there you go folks.  My garden for this year.  Other than my rhubarb plant in my yard this is all she wrote for plantings this year.  Hopefully everything grows well and I can put up a decent amount in my freezers between what I can get out of my garden and out of the CSA box that I bought for later in the summer.  Fingers crossed :).

I'm going to call it good there.  How about you all?  Been up to anything this month?

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?