Friday, February 25, 2022

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (Times 3)

Delays in blogging again.  Darn it.  But, a lot has happened over the last three weeks, so let me catch you all up on the craziness that is our lives around here.

Well, the biggest thing that happened was probably that my son got his medication switched around to see if we could help him to sleep better.  His doctor, after a recommend from one of our blog readers about how her son was on Trazadone and really benefitted from it AND he was on a chewable pill versus a time release type of capsule.  So, we started him on Trazadone a few days after Valentine's Day.  And OY!  Well, first, Trazadone definitely does NOT help the son to sleep.  A half an hour after taking the beginning dose (which was the minimum for his weight) he went into super giggly, hyper and happy mode.  He'd finally crash around 3:00 am or so, but yeah taking the medication as a sleep aide definitely did NOT work.  BUT, and this is a big but, the medication really improved his mood during the day!  I was super happy with how his mood did during the day while on Trazadone.  He didn't need to take any Risperidone as the Trazadone built up in his system, which was really nice!  Unfortunately, after a few weeks of being on Trazadone and it building up in his system, he suddenly started acting like he was NOT feeling good and acted like he had a bad headache and things.  

So, after some debate, I decided to put him back on the Risperidone and the Clonodine like he has been on for years.  The nice part about doing all of this, though, is by being off of Risperidone for so long, it really seems like the son's system has reset.  The clonodine, which hasn't helped him sleep in a long while, is working like it did when we first started him on it and while the Risperidone doesn't seem to do much for his mood (not counting it out of the game yet, though, as the Trazadone is still working it's way out of his system) it does seem to help him get to sleep at night.  So, at least he's finally getting some sleep, and as a result, so am I.  Which is wonderful, I have to say.

So, the second bit of craziness that happened was that we became the owners of a LOT of cases of "past the use by date" french fries.  The people who were trying to get rid of them had tried to donate them to the food bank and other places, but they were too far out of date to be accepted anywhere.  And there were a ton of them.  We were happy to accept the French fries as French fries are one of the son's staple foods and were getting harder and harder to find at the stores of late, so we scrambled to make sure that the French fries didn't go to waste.  I was so grateful that I had canned so many things that had been in the freezers as I shoved french fries into every available spot to keep them frozen until we could come up with a better system in which to store them and we still had to put a bunch into a big container and bury it in the snow outside until we could get another freezer.  Unfortunately, freezers aren't exactly a dime a dozen right now.  I finally found one at Lowes.  I paid more than I wanted to for it, but luckily I had held some money back from our tax return to put toward bills, so while I had to put it onto my husband's credit card we just paid off, at least I'll be able to pay off about 2/3 of it before it starts to accumulate tons of interest.  And at least Lowes delivered the freezer, so my husband didn't need to kill himself trying to get it in and out of the truck.  Did we get enough free food to pay for the freezer?  Yeah, probably not, although the French fries did fill it up pretty full.  But, at least we have French fries for quite a while (which will keep me out of the stores) and we know we'll have the fries available.  With the current world situation, the security is worth a LOT in my mind.

The one thing I did buy and put into the freezer once we had it was a turkey for Thanksgiving.  Our store had a couple in stock, so I bought one of them.  With the way the avian flu is ripping through chicken coops across the world at the moment (among other birds) I'm worried turkeys may very well not available come November.  At least I know where I can source local eggs if we need them (NOT cheap, but better than nothing) and I am hoping to get a bit more chicken to put into the freezer to store for long term use, but we'll see how that goes as my budget just keeps getting tighter, along with everyone else's.

1.  Someone asked me how the situation at our stores are going up here with everything that is going on.  Well, pretty much everything that I can find has gone up 1.00 in price at least, which adds up fast when you are trying to shop.  And stock on items, like everywhere, is sporadic at best.  I ended up ordering cat food from Amazon when it was in stock (which that is hit or miss now too) because I had to.  This is a shot I took of the dog food side of the isle (someone was on the cat food side desperately trying to scab together enough things so her cats could eat and I didn't want to invade her privacy) as it pretty much shows how bare the pet food isles are right now.

I am glad that my mom taught me to buy ahead at times like this.  

2.  I took a very tough cut of meat beef roast out of the freezer.  Instead of turning it into a pot roast, I instead roasted it in the oven until rare.  I then let it cool and put it in the fridge.  The next day I took out the meat slicer and sliced the meat super thin.  I then made two loaves of French bread and we used one loaf to turn the meat into French dips for dinner that night.  My husband has since taken roast beef sandwiches to work for lunch the last couple of days, using the home made french bread with the thin sliced meat , which has been great as not only was it a super effective use of a tough cut of meat (luckily if you slice it really thin across the grain the tough meat gets tender and easy to eat), but it gives him a nice, and tasty lunch, that is easy to put together.  I'm going to use the rest of the thin cut meat for dinner tonight to make Korean style BBQ beef to go over rice and I think it'll be tasty!

3.  Valentine's Day went...well interesting.  We had the Valentine's Day dinner I had planned over the weekend as I knew my husband was scheduled to work on Monday.  The fondue was a really fun change of pace and my daughter even liked it.  I ended up using some stale home made bread to dip and then I cooked up the few beef fillet steaks I'd gotten with my meat package last year.  I sliced up an apple and then bought a few fruit bowls to get some fresh fruit into our diet as I had a personalized price on them which made them decently cost effective (I got a bowl of grapes and a bowl of strawberries.  Those were good dipped in the cheese!).  We all stuffed ourselves and it was a super yummy dinner.  I even made a vanilla cake for dessert and we used some of the fresh strawberries and macerated them in sugar earlier in the day so we could have strawberry shortcake for dessert.

We actually spent Valentine's Day itself going to our bank in horrible weather.  Luckily, my husband came home early so we could go the appointment as the highway was a horrible mess and everything was at a dead standstill for hours that evening right when he would have had to be commuting, so that worked out alright.  We finally got in for our appointment (why, I ask, do they insist that you schedule appointments online if they are going to make you wait for over 1/2 an hour anyway?).  I was nervous about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates as our home equity loan is variable interest.  We do have the power to lock it in at a fixed rate, however, when we choose.  Luckily, after the meeting, I felt a bit better about leaving it alone for now as she gave us a bunch of advice about what to watch for on our end for increasing interest rates and she also gave us her card so we can call and/or e-mail her if we suddenly feel the need to lock in what we have on our home equity loan at any given time.  

4.  The daughter had a okay birthday overall.  Once again, the weather was just awful that day, so some people we had invited over didn't make it.  But, my in-laws did show up to wish her a happy birthday so she was content.  I gave the daughter a few fairy figures we had found earlier at one of the used stores.  She fell in love with them when we were there so I had bought them on the sly and hid them.  She was super thrilled to get them.  

5.  Got some of my bills for next month in and was happy to see that my electric bill and my gas bill had gone down.  I've been carefully putting the heat, both electric and gas, down at night to not only keep us all comfortable (at the moment we are having what I like to call "false Spring" as the temps are going up into the upper 30's during the day and we are even supposed to hit 40 this weekend.  It leads to a lot of ice as the temps plunge below freezing as soon as the sun starts to go down, but it has led to me being able to turn down the heat, so I'm happy with that aspect of it.  With the rising cost of everything, any little bit you can do to save money is definitely welcome.  My heart goes out to those of you in the UK right now as I've been keeping tabs (hard core) on world events and I know the energy crisis the UK is going through right now.  You are all in my prayers, as are so many others.

6.  Despite getting curve balls thrown our way this month, I did manage to get a decent amount of my Monthly Goals done so far.  I feel pretty good about that.

7.  The windstorm we had earlier in the year managed to take out one of our garbage cans.  We didn't realize it right away as my husband had to chase it into our woods one day, but thought it had survived okay.  Turns out it didn't and developed huge cracks all over it from the beating it took.  So, we went to the home improvement warehouses to try and find a replacement.  We found the spot outside where the garbage cans we have been buying the last five years normally sat, but the home was empty.  We like the trashcans as they are decently heavy duty built (Rubbermaid), but also they are normally a lot cheaper than other trash cans of the same quality.  We grumpily grabbed another type of garbage can as we really were in need of a new one, but my husband decided that we should go around the store really fast and see if we could find the trashcans somewhere else.  Luckily his plan worked!  We found some up in the front of the store where they were setting up some Spring products, so we were able to get the type of trashcan we actually wanted and saved 15.00 compared to buying the other type.

8.  I received a replacement credit card in the mail as my old one had expired.  I used the opportunity to figure out if I had any reoccurring charges on the card and chose to switch as many as I could to another form of payment or to cancel them completely.  I had forgotten that I had to switch a few charges over to my credit card when my check card got hacked last time so that we could get the items we needed and I forgot to switch them back when my new check card had come in.  By doing it this way I was able to stop 12.00 worth of charges going directly onto my credit card every month, which might not seem like much, but it will save me from those charges accumulating interest onto the card over time.   I am working hard to pay off debt as much as I can this year and stopping further charges onto my credit card will definitely help that.

9.  I mended my son's weighted blanket.  He's taken to chewing the corners and it had developed a hole and the plastic weighted beads were leaking out.   I darned the hole in record time and voila no more leaking beads.

And there you are folks.  Some of the things that have happened and such the last three weeks.  How have you all been?  

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Monthly Goals Update: February, 2022

Here's something I haven't done in years:  A monthly goal update!

When it comes to monthly goals, I'm a week down on time and didn't get QUITE as much done as I'd hoped to get done.  Life gets in the way, as they say.  But, I did check a few things off of my list, so let's get to those!

1.  I canned some beans!

Okay, so I canned what Adzuki beans I had (1 lb) and it ended up being exactly four pints.  But, overall, I was happy to get that done as pressure canning things for 75 takes a while *laugh*.

I'm hoping to work on getting some other types of beans canned this week, such as pinto and black beans, but we'll see how far I get.

2.  I canned the frozen cranberries!

I made the cranberries into "Cranberry Orange Relish" which really was just a fancy way of saying cranberry orange sauce, but that's okay.  This recipe actually ended up being tasty and a bit different.  I normally would just can plain cranberry sauce if I had cranberries left over that I had to use up.  But, I also had an orange in the fridge that I wanted to use up.  So, I took the zest from the orange and then cut the orange up and the daughter and I split the orange segments for a snack while I was waiting for the canner to heat up.

I was even able to use a couple of tablespoons of the ginormous bottle of rum we have in the recipe.  The alcohol cooked out quickly and I have to say if I had to do it again I doubt I would use the alcohol at all.  It really didn't add anything to the recipe, I feel.  The cranberry orange flavor kind of overpowered anything the rum might have added to the flavor.

I used this recipe, but I halved it as I only had one bag of cranberries to use up (although I did keep the zest of one orange instead of doing a lent a very nice orange flavor to the sauce).  It worked well and I ended up with four 8 oz. jelly jars full of the cranberry orange sauce to use with various meat dishes later on :).

3.  I started to budget out for the Subscribe and Save order.

We were paid last week and I made sure to put 1/2 of the Subscribe and Save order budget into a separate spot so that I'd have it for when I needed it later.

4.  I started to reorganize the pantry to accommodate new food storage.

I started to empty out the one set of pantry shelves that doesn't hold canning racks and the plan is to start reorganizing things so that everything I make will fit in the pantry well and be SEEN so that nothing goes to waste.  We'll see how well that works out.

This week's goals:

1.  Reorganize the fridge freezer to see if I can fit the ice cream bowl in it in preparation for making home made ice cream for daughter's birthday.

2.  Make plan for Valentine's Day and figure out what we are going to dip in the fondue and what treats we will make for it.

3.  Try to fix work outfit for son.

4.  Can more beans.

5.  Make sugar cookie dough and freeze.

6.  Continue to work on pantry and get things put away.

7.  Reorganize the son's room (I'll talk more on that necessity later).

 And there you go folks.  Some of the things I've gotten done and the goals I would like to accomplish this week.  Hope things are going well for you as well!

Friday, February 4, 2022

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

 When it came to money saving things this week, I actually did pretty well!  So, let's get to it!

1.  I wanted to have hamburgers one evening this week, but we didn't have any hamburger buns.  I stopped buying them and am just buying the squishy store bread loaves instead as my son will eat those too and that way I don't have to buy squishy bread and hotdog and hamburger buns, instead I am letting the cheap store bread multi-task as hotdog and hamburger buns.  Things are just getting too expensive NOT to cut back on things like that.  Anyway, my husband was really wanting to eat the burgers on hamburger buns, so for about the 18th bazillionth time I tried to make hamburger buns.  I took my favorite bread in an hour recipe and split it in half as normal (it normally makes two loaves of bread at a time) and shaped half of it into hamburger buns.  I then put an egg wash on top and sprinkled the buns with sesame seeds (also I have started adding 2 TBS of dehydrated milk powder to the flour mix when I make the gives the bread a wonderfully light crumb to it :) and put it into the oven for 20 minutes.  And they came out PERFECT!!!  I am so proud of myself that hamburger buns finally worked for me *laugh*.

And yes, I was so proud I took pictures of the buns when I put them on the cooling rack and I MIGHT have sent said picture to a bunch of different people *laugh*.

2.  My daughter wanted to get some crafting supplies for a project and we all desperately needed to get out of the house (in all honesty), so we took a trip to Michaels and let Alvah run around with his dad while I tried to figure out what the daughter was planning for her craft project and what materials she might need.  She finally settled on a multi-pack of glitter to get herself started.  She paid for her stuff with a gift card she'd gotten for Christmas, so it didn't cost anything out of pocket.  It amazes me how frugal that child is.  She's still got money left on her gift card from her birthday LAST year and is carefully planning what she might want to use up the money with in the future.

3.  I gave my husband and daughter haircuts.  I started using this (no associate links, just sharing) when I'd give my husband a haircut during quarantine back in 2020 and it has done wonders when he wants a haircut but doesn't want to spend the money to go to a barber.  It doesn't give him that spit and polished look that a barber gives him, but I can give him a decent trim now and make him look neat and clean again, which is really all he wants anyway.

Now that the daughter is going through teenage changes, we've found that her hair is growing out curlier and curlier.  So far her hair is thick enough that she just has a natural wave to her hair, but when I cut her split ends off of her hair she is a bit freaked that her ends are curling up on her.  Curly hair runs on my husband's side of the family, but not mine, so I'm clueless on wavy/curly hair.  So, this is turning into a learning curve for her and me *laugh*.  I feel kind of bad for her as she actually loves having straight hair (I would have loved to have had ANY wave to my hair at all as a kid in comparison...hairspray falls out of my hair within an hour, perms would fall out of my hair within a few was sad.  I still have flat as a board hair, but I have learned to accept and like it over the years) and she really doesn't like the curly cues she has for bangs right now as her hair naturally breaks off and grows out.  I think they are cute.  Her, not so much *laugh*.

4.  I was digging through the freezer and found some rhubarb from last summer that I really needed to use up and while looking in the fridge I found 3 oranges left from Christmas that were still good, but did need to be used.  I was flipping through my Ball Home Preserving book and found a recipe for "Rhubarb Orange Jam" which sounded intriguing as it used the orange peel from one orange and you cut it into small slices and put it in the jam as well as the juice from the oranges.  I wasn't sure if you were supposed to use the pith from the peel or not, so I decided to just use the zest part and carefully peeled the orange and sliced the good part of the peel into small slices like the instructions said and made the jam.  It called for EXACTLY how much rhubarb I had in the freezer (5 cups), sugar, pectin and 2 oranges, so I was happy as it used up things that I wanted to use up (and rhubarb in jam I was doubly down with as I like rhubarb).  I was really thrilled when I tried a bit of the jam that had fallen from the ladle when I was filling the jars after it had cooled and found that the jam tastes like orange marmalade!!!  I LOVE marmalade, so it was an awesome recipe experiment for me!  I have a huge rhubarb plant now and have a ton of rhubarb to find uses for during the summer, so I was happy as a clam to add this to my recipe list.  You can find the recipe here on the Bernardin Canadian site if you are curious :).

I even put "Rhubarb Orange Marmalade" on the labels because it tastes like marmalade to me.

By the way, I know that I've read that pectin will stop working over time, so I was worried about mine as it is at least four years old now (I bought bulk pectin as I was canning more jams and jellies back then and I just haven't gone through it all over the years) and I am pleased to say my pectin worked just fine when I used it in this recipe.

5.  I had some onions that were going to sprout or potentially go bad on me if I didn't use them (which stank as they were actually recently bought) and while cruising around online I found some recipes, including one by Ball, for French Onion Soup that you could can.  I loved the idea of canning some up to use up my onions as I love French Onion soup and it seems like restaurants don't serve it anymore (I'm looking at you Red Robin).  So, I canned some up to make a quick side of French Onion Soup with dinner some nights.  It tasted awesome before it went into the jars, so I was happy.  I ended up using the Ball recipe (you can Google it if interested), but ended up using white wine instead of red because that is what I had.  And my first foray into pressure canning for this year began *laugh*.

6.  I also found what was left of the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving, so I made turkey stock out of it.  I then combined it with the giblet stock I made during Thanksgiving last year and canned it all.  It tastes AWESOME and I am so glad that I pressure canned it for ease of use later.  And double bonus by doing it is that I'm freeing up freezer space!

7.  I mended my sweater that my cat managed to snag by pulling out my crochet hooks and getting to work.  I then thought how much fun it would be to knit a scarf for fun this winter...until I looked at the price on yarn and stuff and just decided I didn't need to knit anything that badly *laugh*.

8.  I mended a work shirt of my husband's.  He'd accidently caught and torn the seam of the shirt's pocket.  Since he keeps his reading glasses in his shirt pocket, he asked me to mend it right away, but was worried I wouldn't get to it right away.  Ten minutes later and he had his shirt back all mended as it was a relatively easy fix.

9.  I was watching some YouTube videos where they were baking and/or cooking different recipes from Pinterest or from different sites (like one YouTuber I follow is cooking Ree Drummond recipes and trying them out on her family).  I found a few that intrigued me (like I found a German cookie recipe I want to try) and bookmarked them to make hopefully soon.

10.  I needed to order some things and was able to use free shipping codes to get free delivery of the items I needed.  I ALWAYS get a kick out of free delivery once I moved to Alaska *laugh*.

11.  I found a few things in the pantry and freezer that needed to be used up, so we ate those items the last few weeks.  A few items had gotten their vacuum seal compromised and had some freezer burn, but I managed (by some creative uses of marinades) to cook them in such a way that they didn't taste like freezer.

And there you go folks.  Some of the ways I saved money last week.  How about you?  

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Monthly Goals: February, 2022

Originally I was going to do two months at a time when it came to goals and do a "January/February Goals" type of post, but January just flew by, it seemed, and here I am starting to draft this post on the last day of January, soooooo I guess February goals will get its own post after all *laugh*.

For me this is traditionally the worst part of winter to get through.  The sun is coming back slowly but surely, which is good, but a lot of times it is overcast so you don't see much of the sun when it does pop its head over the horizon and we are only regaining light by like 2 to 4 minute increments per day this time of year.  It can still get decently cold (we are at a whopping -4 F at the moment and it is after 10 am Alaska time) and we usually expect to be buried in snow come March.  So, basically you know the Christmas holidays are over, so the Christmas lights (which help to light up the house and your mood) are put away, Spring is still a long way off and it can really start to feel like everything is a slog.  You get really tired all of the time (good old vitamin D deficiency), don't feel like doing much and can really start to suffer from SAD (Seasonal depression) if you aren't careful.  So, for me, this is the time of year I really start to try and stay as busy as I possibly can to help combat the doldrums.  Staying active really helps  to make this time of year go quicker and feeling like I'm getting things done helps me to feel good.

So, speaking of getting things done, let's get to my list for February!

Canning Goals:

1.  Can some beans.  

I know that sounds like a kind of vague goal, but I have at least four different types of beans in the house, so I want to make sure I start to get those canned up to use in dishes around the house.  I have tons of beans in food storage, so I really want to make a point this year of starting to use some of them more.  If I can keep rotating out jars as I run out (like make 4 cans of black beans and when those cans are gone immediately refill those four jars with more black beans to use later), I think it will really help me to streamline things and make me more motivated to use up some of my dried beans :).

2.  Can frozen cranberries.  

I think I'm going to take my frozen cranberries and make a cranberry orange relish/sauce from them from a recipe I found online.  It looks good and I think will help me be at a good start with the cranberry sauce to make some really nice sauces for chicken and things with it later in the year.

3.  Make and can applesauce

I'm really not sure if I'll get to canning this or freezing it and canning it later.  I got a really good price on apples earlier in January (they were 1.00 per pound on 5.00 Friday), so I had my husband pick up a ton of them so that I could make them into applesauce.  So far they are keeping just fine in the fridge, but I want to make sure they get processed before they go bad on me.  Since we are running low on applesauce, I am thinking this will be a good idea to use some of the apples :).

General Goals (basically I'm just lumping all the other goals together):

1.  Get the son his physical for Special Olympics so we can sign him up for swimming this year.

Last year swimming was cancelled for a good portion of the season due to restrictions, so I'm hoping this year will go well and it will be worth getting him his physical for it.

2.  Save money out of paychecks to pay for Subscribe and Save order at end of the month.

I had to order some things in bulk from Amazon for February that I can't find locally at the moment or are so darned expensive locally that it is worth my while to get them from Amazon instead.  But, while I'll save money getting things in bulk, I still have to pony up the bucks to pay for the bulk orders by the end of February, so I've got two pay periods to work it out or start to cut back my order from them.  Since I have things like laundry detergent on that order, I really don't want to have to cut down my order much, so we'll see how I do on saving the money to pay for it.

3.  Start to reorganize pantry to accommodate new jars of canned food.

I want to make sure that I can still find and get to things decently easily, so I'm still debating on the best way to do that at the moment.  For now, the boxes of jars of food that I've made are sitting down in the den ready and waiting for me to put them away.

4.  Make and freeze sugar cookie dough.  I want to make a nice versatile dough I can turn into different types of cookies and sugar cookie dough is one of the best for that purpose so I want to make some to have ready to go in the freezer.

5.  Find room in freezer for ice cream bowl so that I can make ice cream for daughter's birthday in February :).

6.  Make and freeze some waffles and the rest of the Swedish pancakes.

7.  Make and freeze some extra bread for Valentine's Day.  I decided I was going to make cheese fondue for Valentine's, so I want to make sure I start to put up different things for dipping :).

8.  Make some turtles (the candy) for Valentine's Day as well as a few more different types of chocolates.  I'm thinking of making some chocolate truffles for my husband for Valentine's this year.  I haven't made them for my husband since our first year of marriage, so I think it might be fun :).

9.  Fix work jumpsuit for the son.  The suit is my husband's old one from when he was a teenager but it has a big rip in the Carhart material.  We tried it on my son and it fits him perfectly, so I want to fix it so he has something cool to wear to match his dad when he goes and hangs out in the garage with him :).

10.  Sew handkerchiefs.  This was SUPPOSED to be my husband's Christmas gift, but when the family got sick, it got sidelined, so I want to make sure I get that done for him.  Late is better than never.

And there you go folks.  I have other things I want to get done (organizing and such), but I'm going to count these goals as my main ones I want to accomplish, so I'll leave the written list here :).  How about you?  Got things you want to get done in February?