Saturday, July 31, 2021

Just a Quick PSA on the Recent Earthquake!

Map image source:  The Alaska Earthquake Center

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

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

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

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

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

Go here to read about the 8.2 quake.

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

Friday, July 30, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the fun part, though.

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

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

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

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

Everything else in the garden is growing well.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 23, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

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

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

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

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

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

I have to say I LOVE the new layout.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right, and now onto the garden update!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Monthly Goals: July 2021

I am so glad to be getting back to being able to do monthly goals around here.  I find I do a lot more when I have things written down and can check the things off as I do them.  I've just been so scattered and busy since forever, that it has been terrible getting back into doing this discipline.

You'll notice a lack of painting goals in the list for this month.  I SHOULD try and paint my hallway by the end of the summer, but something about the super high ceiling in the stairwell and the multitudes of things I have stacked up on the stair landing is dissuading me.  A lot.  I may end up painting the hallway in the winter the way things are going, but it'll get done.  Eventually.

This month is all over the place for goals.  Once the kids were in homeschool and therapy got cancelled and we were spending a lot more time around the house, things started bothering me that I've been wanting to organize, clean and get to work better.  So, you'll see those goals in this post.  Hopefully I can get it all done by the end of the month.

Right, so without further ado, here are the goals for this month.

Monthly Goals:

1.  Deep clean fridge. 

 I've got some of this one done.  I got the shelves in the main part of the fridge pulled, got the drawers pulled out and deep cleaned and redid everything so it would work better and take some weight off of the top shelf of the fridge (it was starting to protest every time you pulled out a gallon of milk and would put it back in the fridge....since you can't really buy replacement shelves for the fridge, I'm just trying to nurse it a bit and put milk elsewhere to help alleviate the problem).  I only, so far, have cleaned one shelf on the fridge door, however, so I'm hoping to get the rest of the shelves deep cleaned and organized soon.

2.  Redo spice cabinet area to work better.

Clean and organize the bottom corner cabinet to hold bulk spice/herb jars so that I don't have those taking up tons of space in my upper cabinets (my bottom corner shelf in my kitchen is a really awkward space and tends to turn into the Bermuda Triangle area of my kitchen).  I found some cloth drawers that were folded up in my master bedroom closet as I was organizing it, so I'm hoping I can use those in the kitchen.

3.  Clean up den.  

We got this completely done.  Well, nearly.  We had company over on the 4th of July, so we did a massive deep clean of the area, got the cardboard to the recycling center, etc.  We still have some donations to take to the used store and a few things to go through, but overall, I'm happy with it so far.

4.  Can sauerkraut.

It is definitely done with the big ferment, so it needs to get done.

5.  Organize Pantry.  Fill in any holes that are found.

This is definitely a work in progress.  I have made some progress in the reorganizing and taking inventory, for sure, and have been picking things up as I can.  I definitely found a few things that I needed to get that I missed as I assumed I would still have some left in my long term food storage (spoilers:  I didn't).  I ended up buying a few boxes of elbow macaroni because for the first time in years I was finally out.  I also ended up ordering dry milk powder today as I found I'm using up my last container of that as well.  I've started using dry milk powder in my bread baking to give the bread a lighter and moister crumb, so I'm actually going through it.  So, it was definitely time to restock.  I also need to pick up a few cans of crushed pineapple to have in the pantry.  Things like that.  I am going to just pick up a few of this or that with my normal grocery shopping when I can, but some things I'm definitely going to end up buying online as my store doesn't have some things in a format I like (for instance, dry milk powder in a can that is sealed versus paper pouches in a box that you can buy at the store.  I like rodent proofing on my long term food storage).

6.  Clean out homeschool shelves in preparation for coming school year.

Yes, I still have last year's school books sitting on the homeschool shelves (I have two bookcase shelves we use for homeschool.  The bottom shelf is for future curriculum books you aren't using at that exact time.  The top shelf is for the books and work we are doing currently.  It is a pretty good system and works really well for us).

7.  Order curriculum for kids for coming school year.

My daughter's core curriculum is already on order and we actually got three out of the four classes we need in the mail yesterday.  Our homeschool has a curriculum fair every year where you can purchase things for the next school year during it and they will pull the money out of your next year's allotment. so I ordered her core classes during the curriculum fair last school year, a bunch of them at a discount, which is always nice.   I ordered her last two classes yesterday.  One of them I'll get reimbursed for and the other is ordered through the homeschool vendor's list, so hopefully everything will be in by August.  We started school August 1st last year, which worked out really well as it allowed us to bank extra time for Christmas break, so I'm hoping to do that again this year.

The son's curriculum, I have to create myself as a "curriculum in a box" style curriculum just doesn't work with him.  I went through the TONS of books we have around the house and pulled some books that I could use from those and ended up ordering a bunch of books on Amazon (I'll get reimbursed for those).  Once the books come in (tomorrow) I'll sit down and start to plan out the year's curriculum, break it down by quarter, then by month, then by week and finally by day.  It's a TON of work, but it is well worth it when it is all said and done as it allows me to have a solid plan for his learning for the year.  I've got a ton more hats to wear now as my son's therapy place didn't survive Covid to offer him speech therapy services and things, so it's all up to me to teach him.  I've been reading a bunch of speech therapy textbooks, a bunch of articles and papers speech therapists have put up online and have been putting together a speech therapy plan as well as I can.  I need to work it into his daily learning curriculum as well, so that'll be a challenge.  Fun times.

8.  Redo school supply shelves down in the den.  Figure out if there are any regular school supplies we might need.

I did this yesterday, which I'm glad to have this item checked off of my list.  So far, I THINK we got pretty much everything we need to get through the school year, although I might have to buy another low temperature glue gun (daughter needs it for her science class) as I'm not sure where I put mine as of yet, but we'll see if I can find it.  Luckily, for me, is that school supply lists for public school were getting so insane that I got fed up and bought EVERYTHING in bulk a few years back (like a box of 100 glue sticks) and so far we've barely dented the things I bought for that purpose, so yay for having a school supply reserve :).

9.  Get the septic pumped.

This is just regular maintenance that is supposed to be done every two years.  This will be the first year that we were able to get it done on time.  I even got a coupon in the mail for 10.00 off from the septic pumping company, so I'm happy about that!

10.  Start picking up CSA box every week.

This actually started last week and so far I haven't put up much for winter, but I HAVE used the CSA box contents for meals around the house, so I can't complain about that.  I did cut up and freeze some rhubarb, which I'm going to turn into rhubarb crumble as soon as I have freezer space to freeze the extra.  Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll be able to do that.  I'm really looking forward to experimenting with some recipes.

11.  Start harvesting from the garden.

I already got five, count them, FIVE cherry tomatoes from the garden!!!  Squeee!!!  I love tomatoes, so it is so nice only getting a few at a time as I'll cut them up and eat them with my salad and my family doesn't have to worry about eating around them *laugh*.  I'm going to start harvesting lettuce and chard from the garden here very soon, so double yippee for that.  Between the garden and the CSA box I think we'll have a nice variety of things to eat. 

And there you go folks.  Some of my goals for this month.  I know it is only a 10 item list, but man it will be a ton of work either way (I should know as I'm working my way through the list *laugh*).  So here's hoping I can get it all done.  How about you?  Working on certain things this month?

Friday, July 9, 2021

Monthly Shopping Goals: June-July 2021

I know June is over, but I actually made this list last month and have been working on getting it filled till the end of this month, so I kind of combined two months into one.

When it comes to stocking the pantry, I have become somewhat obsessed researching economic impacts from the pandemic and what I found was that shortages are going to continue into the foreseeable future and grocery prices are going to continue to rise.  So, I sat down with my husband and we decided that it was worth putting more money onto the credit cards to stock up on things we need now when we can find them and before prices go up even more.  After this month, with the exception of things like getting chewable Benadryl for Alvah (just the costs on the Benadryl alone now that we can't use hydroxizine anymore, has added a significant amount onto my grocery bill), I am hoping to work the rest of the year to pay off the the credit cards.  Hopefully major medical events will be over for the year (crossing everything I can at the moment), so that I can start to work on getting bills paid down and/or off by the end of the year.  

So, without further ado, here's my long list of things I need to get for the pantry/household this summer.  I actually have a bunch of this stuff bought at this point.  I took advantage of Prime Day savings to get laundry detergent, dish soap and hand soap cheap as Seventh Generation products had a bunch of different items 40% off for Prime Day and then you could stack Subscribe and Save savings on top of it.  I already got the laundry soap and the hand soap in and the dish soap should be in today, so yay for being stocked up on soap at any rate :).

The following does not contain affiliate links.  I'm just sharing the items I bought.  If you would like to order through my Amazon link to support the blog, the link is on the right hand side of the page (Note:  You may have to turn off your ad blockers to see it) that you can follow to Amazon and order whatever you would like through the link and Amazon will shoot me a small commission on the sale (it doesn't cost you anything extra, essentially Amazon is just paying me a small advertising fee for doing their work for them).  For those who do this, thank you, as every little bit helps around here!

Shopping Goals:  June and July 2021

Regular Stores:

  • Stuffing Mix (down to my last box)
  • Freezer Bags (Three Bears for the bulk boxes):  Gallon and Quart
  • Black Olives (I need to get a bunch to stock up, so am waiting to see if summer sales will help with that)
  • Pasta (I've been hitting sales the last couple of weeks and picking up a few boxes of different types of pasta to use later).
  • Hunt's Pasta Sauce (big cans)
  • Tomato Sauce (like 15 oz can size) for pizza nights and for lunches for the daughter.
  • Chewable Benadryl.  It is worth buying through Amazon as it is at least 8.00 at the stores around here and you're lucky if they have it in stock.
  • Bob's Red Mill Corn Meal.  I can't find cornmeal locally at the moment, so I just ordered some.
  • Hunt's All Natural Ketchup.  I ordered both the 14 oz, pack of 12 and the 20 oz pack of 12 when it went down in price as we go through a lot of ketchup around here (and after taking my daughter's word for it that we were out of ketchup and ordering it I found a box of 12 unopened in the we are officially drowning in ketchup around here).  If you want to order the 20 oz bottles, my suggestion would be to add it to your cart and then save it for later.  Then check your Amazon cart about twice per day to see if the price has dropped.  I got the 12 pack of 20 oz bottles for 20.00 and some change, but I waited until the price dropped to get it at that price.  We are a pretty loyal Hunt's family and I can't find it locally anymore, so I order through Amazon.  I like the All Natural stuff because it doesn't have the high fructose corn syrup that so many things have in it now a days.
  • Smucker's Reduced Sugar Strawberry Squeezable Fruit Spread, Pack of 12  Doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup (it is a thing in the US I've found that tons of things contain corn syrup unnecessarily and this is one of the few jellies/jams that don't contain it) or fake sugars.  It was more jelly than I really wanted to buy at one time, but the price was really good (if you order 5 things on Subscribe and Save it is only 26.00 and some change) and this saves me from having to buy strawberries just to can jam, saves my back from hauling the canner back and forth to the sink, saves me from using more canning lids to make jam/jelly and saves me from having to buy tons of sugar during canning season.  I know, home made tastes better, but this year I'm just trying to take it a bit easier on myself.
  • Cling Wrap.  Ended up at about 1200 feet of cling wrap for 10.00.  I was having problems finding it in stock locally, so I just bought it through Amazon.
  • Van Camp Baked Beans, pack of 12.  Original flavor.  Some of the cheapest baked beans you can find, but also don't contain corn syrup.  It has some modified corn starch in it, but that I don't mind as much as the corn syrup.  The daughter has found she likes baked beans as a side with dinner and since beans are definitely good for her and her gut, I am happy to get these.  I've had problems with Amazon and dented cans, but these actually came find this time.
  • Seventh Generation Dish Soap, Pack of 6, Clementine Scent.  Bought for 8.00 on Prime Day
  • Seventh Generation Hand Soap, Pack of 8.  Bought for 9.00 on Prime Day.
  • Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs, 90 Ct..  Got these for 12.00 a pop on Prime Day.  I purchased three as we go through a lot of laundry soap around here.
  • Campbell's Healthy Request Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup, Pack of 12.  I got this for 9.00 on Prime Day.  I have found I do like the Healthy Request Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom as I can season them to my tastes better and they come out of the can a lot easier.
  • Campbell's Healthy Request Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup, Pack of 12.  You can get this for 8.92 right now (same price I paid) if you Subscribe and Save at least five items.  The nicest part, for me, with the Campbell's condensed soups and Amazon, is, so far, I haven't gotten a bunch of dented cans when I order them.  The cream of chicken and the cream of mushroom both came with perfect cans this time, as well.
  • Kraft BBQ sauce, Pack of 12.  If you get 5 items on Subscribe and Save you can get the Mesquite Smoked for 12.00 about right now, which is the same as sale prices around here, but you don't have to worry about the store being out of the BBQ sauce (something I've been running into a lot of late) or having restrictions on how many items you can buy at the sale price (or worse, if the sales even go on at all...I've noticed a tremendous lack of sales this year on usually cheap seasonal items).
  • Canned Peaches, pack of 12 (no longer available on Amazon and the cans came dented on top of that).  I couldn't find canned peaches in bulk locally, so I turned to Amazon and found a good deal.  I still want to get a few more cans (as we had to use a few cans up that were really badly dented when they got here), so hopefully I'll be able to find those at the regular grocery store.
  • Japanese Made Soy Sauce, Pack of 5.  I really prefer the flavor of the Japanese soy sauce to the Kikkoman soy sauce that I can just buy at the local stores.  I've been paying like nearly 10.00 for a container of soy sauce, but ran into this deal and ordered it with a gift card's help, so I ended up paying 2.00 out of pocket for the pack.  It is nice having soy sauce in the pantry in bulk as I make Japanese meals a lot.
  • Royal Instant Pudding, Sugar and Fat Free Chocolate, Pack of 12.  This is only 5.00 and some change.  I mix a package with some almond milk and add some egg white powder to make a home made chocolate protein shake that doesn't get to my stomach.  Sometimes I've found that I need extra protein after losing weight, so I got a box to keep around.
  • Curel Itch Defense Hydrating, Soap Free Body Wash.  Of all of the eczema products we've tried, we keep coming back to the Curel Itch Defense line.  Alvah reaches for that lotion first and it seems to do the best about not irritating his skin, so we've been going with it of late.  I decided to try the body wash as it was only 6.00 with Subscribe and Save.  Alvah loves this stuff and doesn't demand you get it off of his skin like he does with regular soap, so I'm happy.
  • Curel Itch Defense Body Lotion.  We were nearly out.
  • Amazon Brand Canola Oil, 1 Gallon.  Couldn't find any large jugs of vegetable oil locally, so I got two gallons from Amazon.  And it actually got here in one piece, more's the miracle!  Vegetable oils are sighted to go up in price by the end of the year, so I was happy to get some to put in the pantry.
And that is my long list of things I needed to get at the stores the last couple of months.  I still need to get a few items that I need to see what the best price is going to be (like Worcestershire Sauce), but this list is certainly long enough!  How about you?  Working on getting stocked up for winter?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Man, one of these days I WILL be able to get these posts done on time.  I know this post is now two and a half weeks late, but this last weekend was a holiday, so we won't count that one and the week before the family was down with a cold, so I'm just going to give myself an "okay" on this one *laugh*.

As I already said the week before last we were all down with colds.  Luckily, we spaced it out, so my husband went down first, then the son, then the daughter, then me.  So, we were able to get through it without all of us feeling terrible at the same time.  Last week ended up being just a mad rush to get everything ready for the Fourth of July.  I invited some friends of my daughter over, but the parents ended up opting out to get ready for an out of state trip they were taking, so we ended up entertaining two teenage boys.  I also invited over my mother and father-in-law as they didn't have anyone else to celebrate with and it was a holiday, so I figured if nothing else my mother-in-law would appreciate a chance not to cook for once.  I think everyone had an okay time overall and we got through the day without any casualties, so I'm calling it a win. 

One of the biggest things to report when it comes to the Fourth of July is that I tried a new recipe for potato salad and this time it came out good!  I have had a fight my entire adult life trying to find a good coleslaw recipe (I'm still searching for a good one that tastes like KFC coleslaw), a good macaroni salad recipe (still searching) and a good potato salad recipe.  This one ended up being a keeper.  I used this recipe exactly as written and it tasted okay the first day, but not great.  The second day it tasted even better and tasted good.  Yesterday we had it with dinner and it was REALLY good!  I think it needs the extra time to sit and meld all the flavors together for it to be truly great, but I definitely don't regret making it :).

I have a ton of stuff to report on the monthly goals front and on the shopping goals front (I sort of combined June and July together on the shopping goals...I'll get more into that in a bit), so this post might be a bit short, but I still have stuff to report either way :).

1.  I have become addicted to the lemon honey pickles.  I've already gone through the 3 pints I made a bit ago, so I asked my husband to pick me up another bag of lemons.  I sliced them up and put them in the fridge to sit in the honey for 10 days and then have been using them in my tea.  I have to say, this last time my husband could only get Meyer lemons and I do NOT like them compared to regular lemons.  They are very, very sour and bitter tasting, even after sitting in honey for a while, but I've just been using one at a time (slices I mean) in my tea to give that nice lemon flavor instead of two or three that I'd do with regular lemons.  With the regular lemon pickles I would even eat the lemon slices once I was done drinking my tea as the honey made them just sweet enough that you could not taste the pith.  These new  So, I make sure to only eat the middle out of these pickles.

2.  I mended a couple of my son's blankets that had lost some seams.  My son's bedding takes a major pounding as it gets washed pretty much every day, so I really try to get mending done on those items quickly before the damage gets worse.

3.  I paid a medical bill through their online system, saving myself having to write a check and the cost of a stamp.

4.  We went and picked up our first CSA box yesterday.  I immediately got everything prepped and ready to go as soon as we got home, so I wouldn't put it off.  I then made a plan on things to have for dinner this week to use up things in the box (we didn't get a huge variety of stuff this time as it is still so early in the season).  One of the things we got is rhubarb, so my plan is to make a couple of trays of rhubarb crumble and freeze them for later desserts :).

5.  I needed a bucket to mix up the final sauerkraut for canning, but didn't want to spring for a new bucket.  So, instead, I went and grabbed my brining bucket that I use at Thanksgiving, sterilized it good and used it to mix up the sauerkraut.  Worked like a charm and it didn't even stain my bucket purple, which was a surprise :).

6.  I took advantage of some free support I got from taking a LAMP Words for Life class to bounce some ideas for speech therapy off of a professional.  She gave me some advice and we came up with a good plan to start to really hammer on LAMP with Alvah this coming school year.  I'm praying this is the year he starts to communicate.  I've sent up so many prayers I'm hopeful anyway.

7.  I read and studied tons of articles and sources to try and figure out where food prices and things are going and started to make lists of things I want to get/need to get to stock up to help to negate the effects of the still coming global situation we are experiencing.

8.  I chatted with a friend online that I hadn't talked to in quite a while.  It was fun reminiscing about the past and stuff and it didn't cost me anything more than my time as we typed back and forth :).

9.  I ran out of laundry soap while waiting for a new order to come in.  Instead of going out and trying to find laundry soap around at the stores, I dug around and made a bit of home made laundry soap to get us through using washing soda, borax, and some grated bar soap.  I can't use it for very long as it doesn't agree with everyone's skin in the house, but for a few days it was okay.  It got us through a couple of days until we got more laundry soap :).

10.  I took advantage of Prime Day this year to check off some things from my shopping goals at a good discount.  Some things like Seventh Generation products only go on sale at a significant discount on Prime Day and Black Friday, so it was good to pick up the Seventh Generation products (and a few other things) a lot cheaper than how I would normally get them.

And now for a garden update!!!

The garden looks pretty impressive between this post and the last one since it's over two weeks of growth, so let's get to it!

I rearranged the plants for the Fourth of July, so ignore the new layout here.  Eventually I'll probably move the plants again, but so far this is working *laugh*.

Everything is really starting to take off growing in the container garden.  I still haven't found more planters for the seedlings that are in the little black flats, but so far the plants are all still alive and I've been harvesting off of them a bit, so I figure even if I don't plant them in bigger pots, we can still enjoy them for a bit.  We've been getting cooler weather with rain the last few days.  The chard and the cabbage have been loving it and I think they grew inches in the last few days.  

We had some downpours yesterday and the poor flowers are still protesting the rough treatment, but they are starting to perk up again.

The pole bean plant is still alive and it looks like it is going to produce flowers, which means I might actually get some beans off of the plant.  I'll be blown away if I do, so we'll see how that goes.  The sage plant and the mixed salad greens are going nuts, the buttercrunch lettuce is cramped, but doing okay.  The summer savory tries to continually go to flower, so I've been using it as much as I can to keep it growing and the parsley is doing good as well..  The mini-petunias (the purple flowers up front) definitely got beat up by the rain yesterday and lost a bunch of flowers, but it's definitely growing, so hopefully it'll stop looking so war torn here as it dries.

The catnip plant rests in a protected spot on top of the grill so the cats won't eat off all the leaves.  It has come back wonderfully from it's near decimation from when the cats first found it, which I am happy it did.  I'm hoping to get enough catnip off of the plant to dry and use in catnip toys for the cats this winter :).

The poor basil got put under the eaves of the house as it was getting WAY too much water and was literally sitting in mud.  It's starting to dry out and seems to be much happier, so I am hoping I got to it before I managed to kill it off by accident.

The tomato plant, though, is blowing my mind.  When the things I read online said that it was a prolific producer, I was skeptical (I have read those kind of things before).  But, this plant is proving itself.  I mean LOOK at how many tomatoes are growing on that plant!!!  And this is a plant that is barely a foot high!!!  I'm definitely going to look into getting more of these next year if the nursery has them!  I'm seriously amazed!

And, I'm going to call it good there so that I can go and figure out what to make for dinner.  

How about you?  Been up to anything the last few weeks?  Had a good Fourth of July (for those in the US)?