Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Christmas 2023, Gift 4: Sourdough Bread

Today's gift is the bulk of the gifts I am giving this year.  Immediate family is getting a loaf of sourdough bread per household this year as I want to spread the sourdough love :).  Sourdough starter, to me, has become as precious as any precious metal people can name.  Sourdough really is the best bread.  I've tried so many recipes over the years, but once I started baking with sourdough I'm not going back to other methods of baking bread if I can help it.  

I use King Arthur Flour's Rustic Sourdough Bread Recipe, but a while ago I made a change to the method because the original recipe has you bake it in the oven on sheet pans, which works, don't get me wrong, but I prefer the dutch oven method of baking sourdough as it gives a superior product.  After the bread has gone through it's first initial rise, I get two bowls and place parchment paper in them and then form the dough into two circular loaves and place in the bowls (I use my kitchen scale, I will readily admit, to make sure the loaves are pretty much the same size) and then set a timer for 1/2 an hour for the bread to rise in the bowls (cover bowls with plastic wrap or a damp towel).  

While the bread is rising, I place two 3 quart cast iron dutch ovens in the oven to heat up while the oven preheats to 425 F.  After the 1/2 an hour is up and the bread has risen, I score the top of the loaves with a knife (I like to just do a good old "x" on the top).  Remove the dutch ovens from the oven and place on the stovetop, carefully removing the lids (be careful to remember that those suckers are now 425 degrees so you don't get burned...I've heard horror stories).  Then I lift the bread, parchment paper and all (lift by the parchment paper) and CAREFULLY place the loaves of bread into the dutch ovens.  Place the lids back on the dutch ovens and put back into the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes and then remove the lids.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove dutch ovens from oven and then remove the bread carefully from the dutch ovens (I lift them by the parchment paper) and place on cooling racks to cool (remove the parchment paper after you get them onto the cooling rack).  Wait for the bread to cool for at least an hour before you cut into it for the best results (confession:  A lot of times we make it about 20 minutes and then start slicing into it).  

I don't do large scale sourdough starter, so baking sourdough loaves for everyone has actually taken a decent amount of time this year.  I'd use a cup of sourdough starter, feed my starter, wait for it to get happy and then put back into the fridge until the next day, put the starter out on the counter to get warm and happy and start the whole process over again.  After the loaves cooled I placed them in heavy duty bread bags, I use these (affiliate link!) as they are the best bags I have found that help to keep the bread safe and fresh and used the ties that came with the bags to seal them.  I then just stuck all of the loaves, as I made them, into the freezer for Christmas Day (so they don't have time to mold before than or get stale).  I hope the family likes them as sourdough really is a labor of love :).

So, yeah, pics are of a couple of rounds of sourdough I'd done right before I went to put them into the freezer.  I only have one more round of sourdough products to make and I'm done with Christmas gifts (woohoo!).

Enjoy all!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Christmas 2023, Gift 3: Crocheted Christmas Tree Ornament

I can't take credit for this gift idea.  I saw an ornament like this on Pinterest and thought it looked cute, easy and quick.  And I was right on all accounts!

If you can knit a long row of stitches and bind off or you can crochet a single chain of stitches with any type of yarn you like, you can make these.

I just took a chunky yarn I had, crocheted a straight line and as I went I kept folding the chain I'd done over itself in a wavy type of line to make the Christmas tree.  When I had it the length I wanted (and the tree was big enough for my tastes), I finished the chain, tied off, and then went to work with the line I made.  I took another type of yarn I had in my stores in brown and then I made the Christmas tree on a flat surface so it was all lined up right.  I then took my crochet hook and went down through the tree in the middle so the hook came out of the middle of the bottom "branch" of the tree.  I then cut a length of my brown yarn so it was a decently long amount (better safe than sorry, I say) and knotted one end well so it wouldn't slip through the crocheted stitches that made up the tree.  I then just started slowly pulling the crochet hook back through the tree with the brown yarn in tow.  I'd stop between every layer and carefully put my crochet hook down (with the rest of the tree still on it) while I knotted the brown yarn in between the layers to create a "trunk" for the tree.  From what I saw on Pinterest you could also use beads for this, but I couldn't find my beads, so I just went with good old knots instead.  Once all the layers were done, the tree was essentially knotted together and done, but the ends of the tree looked weird just kind of hanging out in space, so I took a bit more green yarn and tied the hanging ends onto the branch above or below to make it look better.  I then crocheted a little trunk for the tree (not necessary if you aren't experienced enough to do that) and then tied a hanging piece of yarn to it and voila!  Tree ornament!

The time this took was nothing, honestly, as I'm decently fast at crochet now a days.  The biggest thing I had problems with was the green yarn LOVED to fray and separate on me, so I was having to be slow and careful to pull the yarn through the center of the tree.  Overall, though, I think it turned out cute and didn't take up a lot of time.  This went into a gift box with some of the cinnamon applesauce ornaments and another gift done!  Yay!

I am sure there are more in depth patterns for these online if you do a quick search.  I just eyeballed mine.


Friday, December 15, 2023

Christmas 2023, Gift Two: Roasted Candied Nuts

This is a recipe that I made up years ago when I ran a recipe blog to help me cope with my kids various food intolerances and allergies at the time (I am truly thankful that today we only have to deal with the peanut allergy when it comes to food instead of the garlic, corn, oat and other things I had to deal with back then).  I made this around the holidays after thinking back on my time working in the college program at Walt Disney World (short version of that story:  I did not have an enjoyable experience) and the roasted candied nut cart they used to have at Epcot Center where I fell in love with roasted candied nuts.

I have made these a few times throughout the years and decided to make some to give away in small baggies as kind of a snacky type of gift for a few people with a few other gifts.  This was also a way to use up some nuts that had gotten buried in my freezer and I wanted to use up without me eating them all *ahem*.  

A few things I learned this year with this recipe.  One:  This recipe had always turned out well for me in the past with the previous ovens I had, but I think I over browned the sugar mixture on the stovetop the first time I made it and so when I went to roast them in the oven the outer edge nuts ended up burning on me (which will make a nut lover like me want to cry) and I hadn't even roasted them the full time yet.  So, do watch these when they are in the oven as nuts love to burn (which sometimes we just have to remember those lessons).  I made a second batch and was way more careful watching them and they turned out well, (however I still had to pull them after the first initial roasting) so, once again be sure to watch them as oven temperatures vary.  The last bit of roasting with the 300 degrees is basically to help candy the mixture, but if the mixture when you stir it after the first initial roasting, is sticking to a spoon and getting hard quickly like candy, feel free to pull the nuts as the candy mixture is set up and ready to go at that point.

So, here you go folks.  This recipe does not call for sugar, instead it calls for maple syrup and honey (when this was written was the start of people avoiding refined sugar), which lends it a wonderful flavor.  I also have started, when making this, to coat the final nuts in powdered sugar for added "snow like" effect.

Roasted Candied Nuts
  • 2 Cups pecans or other nuts
  •  1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch to 1/4 tsp (depending on heat preference) Cheyenne pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

2.  Combine maple syrup, honey, vanilla and salt in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture reaches a near boil.  Add cinnamon and Cheyenne pepper, stir well and then add nuts to mixture.  Stir well till all nuts are coated with the mixture. 

3.  Bring mixture back to a simmer.  Pour nuts onto a well greased parchment lined baking sheet that has a rimmed edge (grease pan, place parchment on pan and then grease me this stuff is sticky).  Be sure to spread nuts into an even layer on baking sheet.  Place in 400 degree oven for about 7 minutes or until nuts start to smell nutty.  Stir nuts.

4.  Lower heat to 300 degrees. 
5.  Keep roasting and stirring nuts every few minutes until sugar mixture turns deep brown and clings to the nuts.  Remove pan from oven and let nuts cool on pan.  Mix nuts a couple of times as they cool (it'll stop them from sticking together as they cool).  You can also sprinkle a little more salt on the nuts before they cool (if you like a bit of a salty flavor), but be gentle with it as you don't want the salty taste overpowering your sweet.  Once cool, break nuts into individual nuts (or cluster sizes you like) and toss with powdered sugar (optional).
6.  Place in a bowl and store at room temperature and serve or place in an airtight container for up to a week or place in decorative containers of choice (small cellophane bags are really cute with this) and give away as gifts at the holidays.


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Christmas 2023 Gift One: Applesauce Cinnamon Ornaments

This is one of those recipes that is so easy that it will blow your mind, but also comes together in a really pretty and rustic type of decoration.  I first made these ornaments years ago when my kids were small.  We'd just invested in a bigger tree than our little apartment tree we'd used for years and I had next to no ornaments to put onto it.  I wanted the tree to be pretty for the kids, but didn't have any money to spend for expensive boxes of ornaments.  I found this recipe and gave it a try.  And I loved it!  The ornaments will make your entire house smell like cinnamon, they look pretty on the tree and you can pack them away and use them year after year.  My old ornaments died years ago, due to the fact that Alvah decided he liked to eat them (PICA). Finally this year I thought back on these and decided to make them again to give some as gifts for his speech therapists and others.  So, let me show you how to make them!

Applesauce Ornaments


  • 1 Part Applesauce
  • 1 Part Cinnamon
  • Optional add ins:  A few dashes of nutmeg, cloves, other spices.  


1.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

2.  In the bowl of a mixer, with a spoon (which is what I did this time) or other implement, mix the applesauce and cinnamon together to form a dough.  Go slow if you use an electric mixer of any type or you will be inhaling way too much cinnamon for comfort and you will have a cinnamon coating over your entire kitchen.  Once dough forms, mash it into a ball with your hands and, if you have a decent amount of dough, divide it into a few pieces so you don't have to roll out too much at once.  Put dough ball you are working with between two pieces of parchment paper (you can also use plastic wrap, but I have better luck with parchment paper).  

3.  Roll out dough to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness (thicker will just take a bit more time to dry out/bake if you prefer thicker ornaments).  Cut out with simple shaped cookie cutters (trust me, keep it simple.  This dough loves to break and is crumbly, so if you try to get too elaborate you'll be reaching for the eggnog wayyyyy too much to battle frustration).  Use a straw to cut a hole in each ornament so you ave a hole for string later on (after about three ornaments blow out the dough that will get caught in the straw to keep the straw will help your holes cut cleaner).  Use a spatula to transfer ornaments to parchment lined baking sheets (less likely to break that way).

4.  Bake in 200 F oven for two hours or until the ornaments are well dried.  Remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

I used 1/2 cup of applesauce and 1/2 cup of cinnamon for my batch this time around and I ended up with about two dozen ornaments.  Not bad at all.  

Alternate method (non bake method):  Place ornaments on baking sheets and place somewhere out of the way that is dry for 3 to 4 days or until ornaments are well dried.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Christmas Cookie Recipes

Hello again, all!

Blogging delayed, again.  We've just been super duper mega busy around here.  I've been turning and burning getting things decluttered around the house (I am determined to start out next year with a fresh and free type of feeling if I can), getting Christmas goodies made and all the things.  I have to say I'm tired, but I feel good that the season so far has been a lot of fun for the kids, which is important to me.  We have the tree up with the son's favorite candy canes on them (well...for about an hour until he eats them all...I have to do the flavored candy canes in stages or he'd make himself sick just gorging himself on those).  Gingerbread houses are made (I'll share pictures of those on another post), the advent calendar has candies in it that the kids are having fun opening the drawers every day to get their Andes mint.  Today I'm working on getting some Christmas gifts made as I am SO far behind on that.  I am, literally, just starting home made gifts today, which yikes...not a great start.  Hopefully I can get it done quickly this week as I really want to get some relaxation time in next week to just enjoy the holidays before they are here and over.

Now, onto what I did pretty much all of last week.  Christmas cookies!  I thought I'd share what I made in case you need some inspiration this year, so let's get to it!  Links are provided for the recipes in case you want to make them :).

1.  Basic Butter Cookies

Butter cookies are, by far, one of my favorite holiday treats.  When I saw what the price was for one thing of the blue tinned Dansk cookies, I decided to find a recipe to make my own.  

Opinions?  These are delicious.  Mine didn't turn out very flaky, but I did roll them out and cut them instead of putting them through a cookie gun (honestly, I just didn't want to clean the cookie gun...did I mention I am tired?  Lol!).  I'm mainly the one eating them right now, which I might be okay with *ahem*.  

2.  Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

This recipe made a ton.  Like 53 cookies, ton.  Since I made these the right way a few years ago (be sure to chill your dough overnight for the best results), these have become one of my daughter's favorite Christmas cookies.  

These turned out really well.  I used the espresso powder that was optional in the recipe, and it helped to probably boost up my cocoa powder, which was ancient.  My husband and daughter really like these.  I think they taste like a brownie cookie.  Both my husband and daughter say they are better than brownies.  You can make them and decide for yourself *laugh*.

3.  Cashew Butter Blossoms

I made these last year and they were a hit with the family, so I made them again this year.  I took the classic peanut butter blossom recipe and just subbed out cashew butter for the peanut butter.  This recipe made no where NEAR the 48 the recipe said they would.  I got 23.  But I think I made my cookies a lot bigger than called for (probably closer to a tablespoon as I couldn't find my melon baller, which is what I normally use to figure out a rounded teaspoon called for in recipes...I'm determined to organize my kitchen drawers next with a better system so I can find things).  I'm glad I got a pic of these when I did as my daughter blew through them and they are already gone.

4.  Gingerbread Cookies

Technically this recipe is for a gingerbread house, but the first time I made a gingerbread house with the recipe, my family, especially Alvah, fell in love with the gingerbread.  If you hate the ginger scented cardboard that a lot of gingerbread cookies end up being, you need to try this one.  It reminds me of Pepparkakor (Swedish spice cookies).  Let's just put it this way.  One recipe of this stuff calls for one TABLESPOON of ground ginger and one TABLESPOON of ground cinnamon.  Yeah, that heavily spiced.  I made a double batch this year and we used 1/2 for the gingerbread houses and one half for gingerbread cookies.  Alvah has already taken at least one bite out of each cookie, so I think he likes them *laugh*.

5.  Sugar Cookies

My husband's favorite Christmas cookie.  I use his Grandma Molly's recipe for sugar cookies every year and these are always a hit.  I did notice this year that Crisco has contains more water to pad out the weight, I think, and as a result I had to add more flour to get the right texture.  I also added a bit of tallow to the frosting for the cookies as it too called for Crisco, just to make sure everything would turn out right.  It did, but processed foods, yeesh.  I don't buy many outside of chips for Alvah, and boy do I notice a difference in quality, quantity and price with those things.  Irritating to say the least.

And yes, before some well intentioned individual pops in and says that Crisco is not good for you and such...I know.  But, I only buy a little 16 oz thing of Crisco every year for Christmas baking, so I'm not too worried about it.

And there you go folks.  The Christmas cookies I made this year.  I'm still considering making some thumbprint cookies closer to Christmas so I can hopefully have some for my birthday (it's the week after Christmas) as I love those things, but we'll see how much I want to bake after the holidays are progressed further *laugh*.

Enjoy all!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

Life has been hectic as usual around here.  Winter came in hard, although it did come in late, which was nice.  We've had bad combos of snow and ice the last week, making for some pretty hairy driving conditions and we've already had to shovel two feet of snow off of our deck, and it could probably use another shoveling already.  Life in the North.  What can you say *laugh*.

I do feel pretty darned good this year on my Thanksgiving preparations.  Since the earthquake it has felt like we've just shot from one crisis to another (not excluding the 2018 quake).  For some odd reason, even with my crazy welting incident a few months back, some horrible health issues my half sister is dealing with across the country and other stuff, I am still feeling pretty together this holiday season, which is nice.  Lack of anxiety sure does help to make you feel better about the holidays.  

This week I focused on getting some fun stuff done for Thanksgiving.  I made four different desserts (we'll choose which one to eat for Thanksgiving and then eat the rest over the coming months for fun desserts) and also some sourdough rolls to eat with Thanksgiving dinner.  The cranberry relish is already made up and in the freezer from previous holidays (by the way that stuff freezes AWESOME!  I am still using up cranberry relish from 2020 that still tastes great as soon as it is defrosted!  I am super duper happy about with it!), ready to be pulled out and defrosted the night before Thanksgiving.  The rolls are now in the freezer, ready to be pulled out on the big day.  Stuffing is also all ready to go.  Basically, on top of having some fun desserts to choose from (I've been using Farmhouse on Boone's recipe for sourdough pie crust and it is awesome!  I just mix mine all up in the food processor and it comes together great!), I already have done a bunch of things I always have to do for Thanksgiving (including getting the turkey into the fridge on Wednesday, so it has plenty of time to defrost before I put it into the brine the day before Thanksgiving).  Basically, at this point all I have to do on Thanksgiving is make the turkey, the green beans, the cheesy potatoes and heat some stuff up.  I'm thrilled as this will make my day a lot less stressful and a lot more relaxing :).

So, for fun, I thought it would be neat to share the dessert and treat recipes I have made for this holiday season so far, why I chose some of them and hopefully give you guys a few, actually pretty easy, recipes to make if you are trying to save time and sanity this holiday season.

1.  Mystery Pecan Pie

This is, by far, one of my favorite holiday recipes to make as it is SO good!!!  You would think that cheesecake in a pecan pie would make the pie incredibly heavy to the point it is inedible, but it is the exact opposite.  It makes the pie lighter, somehow, and less sweet, so it is the perfect pie to me as I love both cheesecake and pecan pie :).

This year I took a page ala Alton Brown on an old Good Eats episode and replaced the corn syrup (I am out) with Lyle's Golden Syrup (it is kind of hard to source in the US, but if stores don't carry it, Amazon does, which is where I got mine).  It came out looking so pretty and I can not wait to try it out :).

2.  Perfect Pumpkin Pie

I made this recipe because my evaporated milk is in a container that is currently buried under about a cubic ton of donations for the used store that were sourced from my bedroom closet and I was just too tired to dig it out.  So, I found this recipe that calls for sweetened condensed milk instead.  That I have in the pantry, so I went with it.  I have to say it came out looking wonderful from the oven.  It didn't crack or anything.  I forgot to take a picture before I wrapped it in tons of plastic wrap and aluminum foil for the freezer, but if you look at the pictures on the site, mine turned out pretty much just like theirs.

3.  Apple pie

Really, I doubt that one needs a recipe link since I just used some canned pie filling, added a jar of home canned apple slices to it and then sprinkled some additional cinnamon on top of it before adding the top crust.  It came out really nice, probably the prettiest from scratch pie crust I've ever made, but I forgot to take a picture of it before putting it into the freezer (I'll try to remember to share a picture when I serve it).

4.  No Bake Cheesecake

This recipe is really good and it only takes a few minutes to put it all together, and the ingredients are few and simple.  I've never tried to freeze it before, but I am going to and see how it goes.  My plan is to serve it with fig jam on top as one of my favorite appetizers is to take some home made Heavenly Fig Jam on top, so I figure that a fig cheesecake HAS to be good!

5.  Sourdough Cheese Crackers

I made these so we'd have snacks on Thanksgiving.  Have you guys SEEN the price on crackers lately???  No way, Jose for me.  Way out of my budget.  So, I did this instead.  They came out OKAY...biggest complaint I have is that they needed more salt and came out kind of bland.  I think they needed salt in the actual cracker itself (even 1/4 tsp would be enough I think), but I sprinkled Parmesan cheese on them while they were still warm and that helped to up the saltiness a tiny bit, which made them much less bland.

And there you go folks.  Some of the things I've made this holiday season.  My life has been hectic, so sorry about the erratic blogging schedule.  Hopefully that will improve soon.

Hope you guys are having a great holiday season and getting to spend it with people (or animals) that you care about.  If I'm not online next week, have a Happy Thanksgiving (for my friends in the US) and be safe and warm!


Monday, October 16, 2023

Frugal Accomplishments for the Last Week

I keep thinking I’ll have time to think and get more blogging done, but then Alvah doesn’t sleep, I sleep as late as he does and the next thing I know I’m running around like a maniac all day and falling into bed exhausted at 2:00 am because rinse, lather and repeat. It has been even more crazy busy around my house than normal the last bit, so it’s been hard to find time to do much outside of household stuff.  So, anyway, let’s break down some of what has been going on around here!  

Probably should start with the pumpkin above.  I'm actually making a point to buy more pumpkins this year than in previous years because I have found that I LOVE pumpkin butter!  I really want to make a decent amount this year, so I am buying up pumpkins to do just that.  I have found that if I get one pumpkin per pay period, it doesn't lead to spending a ton on them.  This week we even got subbed out a Cinderella pumpkin for another type of pumpkin I had ordered (at no extra cost, which was nice), which is a really pretty decoration in our den now (I've seen YouTuber's use the Cinderalla pumpkin for eating pumpkins, so I'm hoping it will make good pumpkin butter!).

1. We started speech therapy a few weeks ago! Alvah is doing well and I’m thrilled to have speech therapists who know how to run LAMP, so he’s got a much better chance of getting ahead using it now. We are doing a combo of home visits and office visits to see which one he does the best with. He finally seems to be settling into the groove the last couple of sessions and he did really well on his session earlier this week. So, here’s hoping he gets forward progress accomplished.

I already feel better about speech with the LAMP emphasis, but also because I decided we weren’t doing feeding therapy this time around, so he’s not immediately hating his speech therapist. I figure at 6’2”, he can quit growing anytime now and I’ll be okay with it, so I’m not worried about him growing at this point, so he can continue to eat his ridiculously self-restricted diet and I’ll be okay with it until he wants to maybe expand it on his own.

2. I got the work samples done for both kids and into the home school earlier this week. Their contact teacher was happy with them. I apologized for starting late, but told her about my health problems back in August and she told me not to feel bad as like 90% of the families she overseas are behind due to health or other issues. I feel kind of bad that I feel good that I’m not alone in my inability to get the kids started early this year. Misery loves company, I guess *laugh*.

3. I took the kids in and got their flu vaccinations done for the year. Only my husband and I to go. Hopefully, even if I can’t find time to get one, my husband can get his done. With him working at the airport and around a bunch of different people and the public, I like for him to be as protected as possible, so he doesn’t (hopefully) bring home a nasty strain of the bug and then with the kids vaccinated, I at least feel like we got a few lines of defense in place against the flu. Alvah gets the flu horribly bad, so anything we can do to protect him at all, I do. 

 4. I actually took advantage of Prime Days last week to get Alvah a new pair of sneakers in the next size up (his toes are at the end of his current ones) and a pair of jeans for my husband as they were on sale for decent prices and were cheaper than I’ve found in about a year. Hopefully everything comes in the mail okay and everything fits *fingers crossed*. I used saved up credit card rewards from the ridiculous amounts of medical bills I had to put onto them to help pay for those items and some Christmas gifts for the kids. 

 5. Dividends came in and I used them to pay down credit cards with said medical bills on them. We did put a bit of money aside to finish Christmas shopping for the kids (which was good as I had not gotten anything accomplished in that area, yet) and to take a road trip down to Seward and see the Sea Life Center (my husband desperately needed to get away, so I’m very glad we did it for the sake of his stress levels) and the kids had an absolute blast. 

 It was only a one day trip, but we packed a lot into it and it was a good time. I made and packed all of our food and snacks, which definitely saved us a bunch of money (and I’m doubly glad I did it when we got there and we realized that most of the town was closed for winter already, so restaurants would have been hard to come by) and planned everything carefully so I knew exactly how much everything would cost. I’ll share a few pictures that I took while we were there in another post (it was downpouring when we were there, so I got a few when the rain would pause or when we were inside the sea life center and that was about it), but yeah, it was fun. 

 I was even able to save up my gas rewards from grocery shopping all month in September so we were able to get 1.00 per gallon of gas. All totaled we spent like 56.00 on gas to go down there and I came back with ½ of a tank of gas. My truck got WAY better gas mileage than I thought it would, as I’m always driving it around town and not doing highway driving. For a nearly 20 year old vehicle, it did great (which was such a relief to me as I was nervous about anything happening to it as I need it for driving to speech therapy now on top of driving Armina to and from work). 

 6. My husband hung up some outside lights he’d collected or been given over the years that he’d been meaning to hang up forever. The new lights have light sensors on them, which will save money in the winter as they’ll shut off when there is enough light to trigger the sensors. I would always forget, in the past, to turn off the back yard lights when it would get light out, so I’m super happy he put those up…they’ll do a MUCH better job than I would, that is for sure. 

 7. There was a delay when my husband went to pick up our grocery order early last month, so Carrs sent us a digital coupon for 10.00 off our next order. I combined that with a 20.00 off when you spend 100.00 or more coupon from their weekly deals (like that is hard to hit anymore with inflation) to get 30.00 off of my order. There was also an online order promotion going on last week on the app as well, so by stacking everything together, I was able to save 100.00 off of my order. I had to pick up groceries on Monday versus Friday, but it was worth maybe having to pick up a bit of supplemental produce or something next week to save that much money on groceries. 

 8. I have been working on doing yearly chores done around the house. This week I went and cleaned out my furnace with my vacuum cleaner and changed the filter on the furnace. I also cleaned out the cold air duct screen that I use to stop debris from falling into the cold air return on the furnace (it is just a big duct in front of my deck door in my kitchen that has a cover with decently large openings on it, so the screen makes a world of difference). Next week I’m going to clean my grill for preparation to store over the winter and to conglomerate and inventory the food storage/pantry. Feel good that I’m getting stuff done, anyway. 

9.  Made nectarines into peach-blackberry pie filling (I mixed the nectarines into a can of blackberry pie filling when I got it ready for the freezer) to make into cobbler. a while ago and put it into the freezer  When I cooked the peaches/nectarines, I made them with brown sugar, some cinnamon and some rum extract to make them fancy.  It was really good and we enjoyed eating it for dessert.

10.  Turned half a loaf of sourdough bread that was going stale into bread cubes, which I dried in the oven, and then put through my food processor to make bread crumbs.  By saving up my odds and ends of bread, I haven't had to buy bread crumbs for a long time now.

11.  Made a sourdough baguette to eat sandwiches on.  I used my cast iron 9x13 pan to make them and then sprayed them with water before putting them into the pre-heated pan.  They turned out well and I'm looking forward to experimenting more with doing things like that later on.

12.  Watched some of my favorite channels on YouTube when Alvah wasn't sleeping at night.

13.  I made sourdough bagels for the first time ever and put the majority of them in the freezer for quick breakfasts (or bagel sandwiches) later.

14.  We were out of English muffins and I thought for a moment of buying some because I was tired and really didn't want to make them.  Until I saw the price of English muffins at the store.  Yeah, I made English muffins.  Bright side, the sourdough English muffin recipe from King Arthur Flour makes like two dozen English Muffins, so we'll be set for quite a while (once again, the majority of them ended up in the freezer).

15.  I scheduled our bi-yearly septic clean out for the end of October (the nearest date they had).  I have budgeted and put aside money for it, so hopefully it won't be more than what I put aside for it *fingers crossed*.

16.  I took inventory of medicines and toiletries to see if there were any holes to fill.  I found a few, which I'm slowly filling so that we will hopefully have six months to a year's worth of that item.

And yeah, that's about it on the frugal accomplishments front.  I'm feeling pretty good about it, overall.  I hope your frugal endeavors are going well and you are all doing okay.  Take care!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Menu Plan for the Next Two Weeks

I really want to start sharing some of the things I’m buying every two weeks and then show what I’m going to make with those items, so you guys can get an idea of how I’m shopping now, but lately I’ve been so busy that I just plain haven’t had the time to put the groceries out and take pictures of them. I’m hoping to do better, but this time around, please enjoy the shot of the egg rolls I was able to get on sale cheap with a coupon (I'm hoping to make them last several meals, but if they are good my husband might just take some to work for lunch one day in the next few weeks...we shall see) to transition into what I’m making for dinner the next two weeks. 

 I’ve been trying to work in about four “fun”meals into the menu plan every two weeks, so that there’s a meal that I can pull out and have fun making and my family can enjoy something different from the usual pool of meals I can find myself pulling from. So, here is the meals I’m going to be pulling from the next couple of weeks. 

1. These first two meals are using up left over beef roast that is in the fridge. 
Asian beef shishkabobs (I’m doing an experiment to see if marinating rare cooked beef works to infuse different flavors into the meat...we shall see as I have some slices of beef marinating in the fridge right now for tomorrow) with rice and salad. 

2. Beef fajitas (cook up leftover chicken thighs with the beef to make chicken and beef fajitas), Spanish rice, refried beans and cornbread. 

3. Pad thai (I use almonds to make the nutty topping instead of peanuts) with shrimp and chicken. Egg rolls as a side. 

4. Manicotti (use leftover meat sauce from making spaghetti in the fridge), salad, garlic toast. 

5. Individual chicken pot pies (make a few for freezer if there is anything left over) with sourdough pie crust. 

6. German flavored pork roast, cabbage and apples, bread and butter. Sloppy joes with homemade mac and cheese, corn on the cob. 

7. Cuban sandwiches (pull Cuban pork out of the freezer), potato chips or oven fries, canned fruit (of some type). 

8. Swedish meatballs, over noodles (or home made mashed potaotes), cranberry relish (from freezer) with horseradish on the side. Cheese biscuits, creamy cauliflower soup. Sauteed greens (from freezer) 

9. Chicken Caesar Salad. 

10. Malibu chicken? 

11. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, Julia Child’s creamed carrots. 

12. Chicken carbonara, salad or green beans 

13. Hamburger Philly “Cheesesteak” sandwiches. Pavlova for dessert. 

14. Sourdough soft pretzels, bratwurst, sauerkraut.

And there you go folks.  My "tentative menu" for the next two weeks.  I am thinking of updating the list with a link to recipes I used a bit later and give you my opinion on how the recipes turned out, so hopefully I can get to that.


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Frugal Adventures for September so Far

 Well, I have had a gap in posting again, but I have been busy, so at least nothing catastrophic happened this time.  We have been having issues with my father-in-laws health, but after visiting a neurologist today, hopefully we'll know more and have a plan of action moving forward to improve his quality of life.  

My husband also went in for a CAT scan on his lungs as he just can't seem to shake his cough, but it came back good, so I was relieved when those results came back okay.

More on the immediate home front, I'm now down to a regular dose of Zyrtec every day until next Tuesday.  So far, so good *knock on wood*, so hopefully I'm going to be okay here.  The large doses of Zyrtec have definitely been getting to me the last month, so I'll be glad to see the end of this if I can.

We launched into fall with not much to show for it with changes in the weather.  It rained all summer and it doesn't show any signs of stopping now.  The amount of mold and pollen this year has been horrible.  I scheduled to get our septic pumped next month after dividends come in and my husband and I are both dreading what the report will say about the state of our leech field.  After constant rain the last two summers and then the masses of snow we had over last winter...I'm imagining that "saturated" is going to be a vast understatement.  Poor leech field.  I wish I could send all of you who are having weather on the opposing end of the spectrum some of our rain this year.  Prayers are with you all.

Quick garden update...there really isn't much to report.  The garden didn't do much this year.  We had rain all summer, which definitely impacted growing rates.  The chard I got about three harvests from, but they were small and then it did get hot enough, despite the rain, to bolt.  The lettuce was much the same...slow growing and then it bolted.  The only plant that has seemed to just love the weather and performed wildly beyond my expectations was the parsley.  It was amazing all summer long!  

I now have four pint jars jammed full of dehydrated parsley which will last me for quite a long while.  

The rosemary didn't do much, but I did get enough to dehydrate a tiny bit to add to my rosemary in the spice cabinet.  The basil just pretty much shriveled to the plant and did nothing all summer long.  It was just too cold and didn't like it.  I got one small harvest off of the two plants I got which was enough for dinner one night, and that was it.

The tomatoes finally developed green tomatoes...and stayed at that state for months.  I finally decided it was time to pull them as the tomatoes were starting to die off this last week and I found one ripe tomato, which thrilled me to no end.  I got a total of six ripe tomatoes off of the two plants all summer long, but they were yummy.  I harvested every single green tomato I could get off of the plants and then had to figure out what to do with green tomatoes.  I found that the tomatoes were not ripening on the counter, but were rotting instead just because they had gotten so much rain this summer I think and it was still so humid in the house.  

I went through a bunch of different thoughts on what to do with them, but decided to settle on Easy Green Tomato Chutney.  I had enough tomatoes for a half recipe, so I went with those portions, but ended up using apple cider vinegar instead of malt vinegar and I used craisins instead of raisins because that is what I had on hand.  I ended up adding some extra sugar when I tasted the final product because it was very sour still and then I cooked it down, put it in two pint jars and a half pint jar and threw them into the fridge to mellow out over the next month or so before I try to use it.  Hopefully it will be tasty when it comes time to use it.  I'll keep you informed.

After harvesting everything, I dumped out the soil into the old garden spot that I felt could use the additional soil, broke it down with a hoe and then stacked up the planters and furniture under the eves of the roof where it was protected from the weather.  After everything was dry, I put it all up into storage for the winter.  I feel accomplished a bit, I have to say, as this is the first year that I got the garden cleaned up before I was dumping out frozen hunks of soil into the woods to compost the following Spring or something and this is the first year with the container garden where I got all the containers put into the shed for safe keeping instead of putting them into a somewhat protected spot on the deck for the winter.  

In other news...

1.  I got my mending pile all caught up.  This is the first time in years where every button, every tear and such was finally gotten to and items returned to the respective family members.  I feel really good about getting that off of my plate :).

2.  I have been working really hard at getting the screens cleaned off in the windows, and getting the window frames themselves cleaned out as good as I can get them in preparation for winter.  Cottonwood pollen was awful this year (see above photo for evidence) and it got jammed into every little knook and cranny in the windows.  I got all windows done now, with the exception of the living room window and I'm hoping to get to that this weekend.  I even washed the windows on the ground floor as they needed it...they are right above ground level and get crud shot all over them from the weed whacker and the lawn mower and such.  They've needed a good cleaning for a while, but I finally got to them, which I was happy about.  I don't think people wash their windows much anymore as I got about five neighbors slowing down driving by who gave me odd looks *laugh*.

3.  I had ordered things from Amazon last month for a monthly subscribe and save order in a bid to save money.  It was a disaster.  I had damaged items, a big box of stuff got damaged in transit and returned to I said a mess.  I ended up having to call to get refunds and then I went and bought what I could locally at a higher price where I could.  Frugal attempt and fail.  

Inflation is getting so high that Amazon, I've found, isn't saving me much money on some items that I had been buying from them.  So, I guess the experience was able to highlight that for me.  

4.  I think I found Alvah a speech therapy place!  We go in for an eval next week, but this is the first speech therapy place I've found that lists LAMP in with their core abilities/skills, so I'm hopeful!  Here's hoping we can get Alvah communicating better!!!

5.  I rearranged our freezers and took inventory of what I had.  One of the main things I did was to make sure I streamlined the fridge freezer as all of my freezer shelves have broken from plastic fatigue with age, so I'm trying to nurse the fridge along for as long as I can before purchasing a new one.  I like how it is working out as with the shelves less cluttered I'm able to move meat that I need to use to the top shelf of the freezer so it is really easy to find for when I am making a menu plan for the week :).

6.  I had to use a ham hock from when we bought a pork pack a few years back.  I took some cans of baked beans and put them in the crock pot with the ham hock and just cooked it all day.  I then took the ham hock out and cut off the meat, cutting it into small pieces (as there isn't much meat on a ham hock) and added it back into the beans.  I then made corn bread to eat on the side.  The meal was tasty and the husband didn't even complain about eating leftovers along with me (turned out the meal made a lot of food) as he kept saying how surprisingly filling the meal was.  I might end up making the meal again as I have one more ham hock to use up in the freezer.

7.  We were trying to get Alvah out of the house and decided to take him to a local used store.  While there my daughter wanted to check out the books, so while she was looking at the fantasy books, I just happened to look over the DVD's and found a bunch of old Disney movies and they were only 2.00 a piece.  Since we only have Snow White and some of the really old Disney movies on VHS and our VCR's have long since stopped working, I picked up a bunch for the kids to enjoy and I had fun talking to my daughter how animation used to be done and how Walt Disney revolutionized how animation was done back in the day (I used to, back in the day, want to be a Disney animator more than anything...then I worked for the college program one year and came to really hate how the modern company was run and still am not fond of it...but the old animated movies are still enjoyable).

8.  We have been having a fun time, now that fall is officially here, watching Halloween cartoons on YouTube for free.  I'm working on a list of some things we watch and listen to to share with you all, so hopefully I'll be able to get that done in the coming days as I know we are all trying desperately to watch our budgets anymore.

9.  I got in contact with our care coordinator about TEFRA renewal and was happy I did as COVID screwed up our renewal schedule that we'd had for years and we were due to renew on the Federal end.  So, I got that paperwork filled out and sent off yesterday and will wait for the state paperwork to come in the mail before filling it out.

10.  I kept getting e-mails from Shutterfly saying that if you don't make one purchase a year from them that they would stop storing your photos.  I finally had the brain bandwidth to go and look what was stored on the site and was amazed as photos I had thought were gone years ago from outfits like the Kodak Gallery were on there!  I guess Shutterfly has bought out like every online photo outfit there is, apparently, as I had photos from like four different sites that were now available from Shutterfly.  And the nice thing was that I could go on there and download the photos in the albums to my computer so that if something should happen to the site, I could still have the photos.  I then ordered a few photo prints and used a code for free shipping, just as a security measure so that I could keep the photos on the site.  

And there you go folks.  Some of the things I've been up to around here.  Now that the heat is kicking on with the colder weather and drying out the house a bit, I'm. hoping to get the painting done that I wanted to get done over the summer as I'd like to get the hallway and stair landing done.  It's been really getting to me that those parts are the only parts in the house paint-wise that haven't been done yet.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

August Catch-Up and Preparing for September

 August is one of those months that will seriously go down in my own personal history as a month that I feel grateful that I survived.  Literally.

A ton of things happened during August, unfortunately none of them good.

It all started when I went to the doctor the last days of July.  I had gone out to talk to a Estonian exchange student about educational materials he was selling in my driveway.  It was a nice day (which was a nice change of pace) and I had worn a t-shirt.  Honestly, I didn't think much of it at the time.  Later I noticed bug bites popping up, but this isn't really a new thing to me.  It is a horrible year for mosquitos and no-see-ums, so when the bug bites popped up and started to welt, I wasn't alarmed.  The last few years I've noticed I'm swelling up a lot more with bug bites...figured it was the result of getting older and just dealt with it.  

Fast forward to the next day and I noticed that the back of my right hand was swelling up and I had a series of what looked like bug bites between my fingers on that hand.  I cleaned it up the best I could and let it go.  Until Saturday when I woke up with my hand really swollen on the back and the "bites" actively seeping fluid.  So, I went to the doctor.  He looked me over, decided that I did indeed have an allergic reaction the bug bites and he thought my hand was probably infected.  He gave me a small steroid shot to help with the welts and gave me a script for antibiotics and sent me on my way.

Everything was going great.  Until the steroid shot wore off.

What followed next was an absolute nightmare.

My body went completely bonkers. I became a big, itchy, hiving, human welt from the top of my scalp to the bottom of my feet.  I welted and swelled to the point my breathing got impacted in the middle of the night from my throat and face swelling that I ended up having to use my son's epi-pen on myself.  My arms and legs swelled up twice their normal size to the point I was having a hard time moving my wrists, elbows, ankles and knees.  Every morning I'd wake up and immediately get my husband (if home) or my daughter to check out my back and areas I couldn't see to see how bad I was going to be that day with how the welts were going already in the day.  My face swelled constantly.  My ears swelled and I had welts down into my ears so everything sounded like I was listening through a swimming pool.

Nearly two weeks, a visit to the ER, three Urgent Care visits and two visits to an allergist later (thank you to my mother-in-law and my husband for everything as they drove me everywhere and my mother-in-law kept the kids company a LOT), along with copious amounts of antihistamines and way more Prednisone than one person should ever consume, and the welts finally subsided.  I'm still on quadruple the dose of Zyrtec than a normal person normally takes and a double dose of Pepcid AC a day (turns out, it too, is a antihistamine...go figure), but today I am finally starting the long, very slow, process of weaning myself off of the antihistamines so that I can hopefully start to feel normal again.  If I swell up or welt up again during this time, my diagnosis changes from "freaky weird event that happened" to something more serious that will result in a lot of allergy testing and trying to figure out what I'm suddenly allergic to.  From what the allergist was telling me, once she assured me that the odds of dying from what was going on were extremely small and rare (which did a lot for my peace of mind, honestly), was that this type of event was usually caused by some type of infection.  

This whole period of time has been confusing and utterly terrifying for me.  I am used to my husband having allergies with his asthma, I am used to the kids having allergies and I can navigate eczema like a champ, but this entire *waves arms* ...thing that completely outside of anything I've ever dealt with in my life and I am hoping and praying that it does not come back.  I was going to show some of my wonderful reel of facial swellings and welts popping up first thing in the morning (I had to take pics for the allergist), but instead I just decided to take a shot of my instruction sheet.  Here's hoping weaning off the meds works and I can feel normal again.  I have to admit I'm worried.  My blood pressure has been running high through this entire thing.  The allergist assures me that while elevated, my blood pressure isn't bad for the amount of meds I'm on, but I still worry I might have to re-evaluate my health after this and make sure my heart and things are okay after this.  I was on a LOT more meds than a normal person should be on and I do worry about the long term impact of that.  

All I can do is pray and see what happens.

With medical bills, this has been so stressful on top of everything.  When I was sick, we ate out...we just didn't have an option with everything going on.  My husband picked up the grocery haul I had scheduled the first week I got sick, but a lot went to waste because I wasn't up to making anything and none of us were really hungry around here.  We didn't have an allergist in network out in the Valley, so I ended up basically having to cash them out.  I've paid half of it, but am still waiting for the other bill to come in from that (the first visit was 400.00 so I'm hoping the second will be cheaper).  And then there will be the ER visit, which I'm sure that bill(s) will cost me a bunch.  I put one Urgent Care visit I had onto the credit card as they bill fast and don't take payments, along with medications and other things.  I am scared to see what my balance is going to be next month.  I still have other medical bills to pay off that are on my credit card from other stuff earlier in the year with the family, my husband ended up having to go to the doctor's last weekend due to his lungs and he might end up having to get a CT scan on those to check and see if there is something the doctor isn't catching.  Medical bills never seem to end, do they?

And the fun didn't stop there, oh no.  When it rains, it monsoons, as well all know.

Our TV broke, so we had to get a new one in the middle of everything because Alvah was already not taking me being sick for so long very well, so we sure didn't want another upset to his normal environment going on.  My computer died (as you got from my last post, I'm sure) and we are still trying to get it to stop getting stuck in update mode, so I had to get a new computer and other things so it would work for what I needed it for.  Thank goodness I was finally able to get the sourcing for Alvah's ILP done and get reimbursement stuff into the home school so I can put the money back onto the credit card from where I ordered his school books (at least once they finally approve the reimbursements and cut me a check).  As soon as that happened, our old router died, so I had to replace that (thank goodness we were able to get one quickly so Alvah wasn't without the internet for very long...that would have been a VERY bad time for us as a major source of his sensory input comes from his I-Pad).  The daughter's phone, the battery suddenly swelled something terrible so the battery pops the case off and pops itself out of its housing.  The phone is old enough they don't make replacement batteries for it, so I had to order her a new phone so she has one for work, which wasn't cheap.  My husband had car trouble that took him a good two weeks to get figured out and fixed, but thank goodness he did as if he had taken it to a garage we could have been looking at thousands of dollars in repairs.  Then my tooth broke while eating cantaloupe last week so I ended up having to go in and get seated for another crown on Monday.  

Honestly, I was really feeling like I had won the anti-lottery.  My hair is even falling out as the scabs from the welts starts to heal, but at least a pony tail covers it.  When I watched the news coming out of Maui, I felt so awful for what those folks have gone through  and are going through (I do NOT want to even imagine what they are going through with so many missing, nor would I ever want to) that I somehow felt worse, but at the same time I felt like I should just be grateful that I'm alive and it helped me from getting too depressed.

It's been rough, but I'm hoping, at least, that things will improve and I'm hopefully better.  I'd appreciate any prayers people can send my way right now as the next three weeks are going to be pretty stressful for me still in weaning off of the antihistamines and praying that nothing bad happens.  Today was my first dose of three, versus four, pills of Zyrtec and so far, so good *knock on wood*, so hopefully this continues to go well. 

So, yeah, that's how my August went.  I sat down today and made a list for September, so watch for me to post more in September, if everything goes well.  One thing I'm definitely going to have to address in the coming week is the garden.  I'll give full details on how it did in the next few blog posts, but I got plants that are dying back and the weather is switching to fall very quickly, so I want to make sure I get things put to bed before I'm trying to find space to dump frozen planters on the property (not that I'd know anything about that...ahem).  I've got a few more things to preserve up for later use and stuff, but the garden is definitely winding down for the year.  

So, yeah, now that I have a computer that works, I'll talk to you folks soon.  Take care and I certainly hope your month went better than mine (and prayers for those in the South with that new hurricane are definitely sent...I pray any of you that live there are doing okay).

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Quick note

 Hey all!

I’ve been getting worried e-mails, so wanted to drop a quick note about one of the things going on around here (yes, one…it’s been rough..I’ll fill you in later).  The one thing is that my computer died on me a week ago.  New computer came in, but I didn’t realize that it doesn’t have an SD card reader.  I ordered one and it should be in Friday, but in the meantime I’m computer-less essentially.  So, I’ll get back to blogging as soon as I can.  I am making this note on my phone, so I hope it posts okay.

See you all soon,


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Grocery Haul for the First Part of July and Menu Plan

So, I have had people e-mail me and ask if I had any advice on saving money at the grocery store.  

I find it funny, in an odd sort of way.  Back when the kids were still in diapers, I ended up running a coupon blog for my area of Alaska.  I and about three other people started blogs at the same time, realizing the need for bargain blogs in Alaska with how crazy things were going back then.  Back then I'd run to three stores in a day, with little kids in tow, to get whatever bargains I could with coupons.  It DID save me a bunch of money back then, I have to say that.  Coupons were a means to save money back then.  Unfortunately, coupons changed and getting good deals with came to a point that I gave up on paper coupons for the most part at the store because they just weren't save me money anymore.  

Then E-Coupons became a thing and those HAVE saved me money and I love the convenience of being able to load them to my shopping card every week to go shopping, so I haven't turned my back on coupons all together, but I just don't carry a coupon binder with me to the store anymore.  And yes, I said "store".  With the stage of life I am in, with two older kiddos and one who is over 6 ft tall and special needs, going to multiple stores anymore...I just don't have the energy, or the time, to do it.  Years ago, I settled on Carrs/Safeway to do my shopping as I got better deals there on the things we normally bought, and back then I loved the fact that I could ask for someone to come out and help me load the groceries into my car while I got the kids into their car seats and got them somewhat content for the ride home.

Things started to change over the years.  Amazon started shipping more grocery types of items to Alaska, so I was able to peruse it every day looking for those illusive deals (still do hit Amazon about twice a day to look), so I utilize Amazon for bulk shopping a lot around here.  Covid happened and Pick up and Go became popular amongst the stores.

And thus leads me to what I am doing today to do grocery shopping.

My husband and I sat down a while ago and decided that with his two week pay schedule and how crazy inflation was, that it was just going to be worth our time to just do a "Pick Up and Go" order with Carrs once every two weeks and on the off week we'd pick up milk and that would be about it.  We have made a change with milk and we started picking up locally sourced milk about a year ago.  It is more expensive than the Lucerne milk we were buying (like 8.49 a gallon expensive), but the milk is unhomogenized, so it has more fat than normal whole milk you buy at the store, so the milk goes further around here and I find it keeps a LOT longer than the stuff we were getting trucked into Carrs from the Lower 48, which I was running into a problem with store bought milk going bad even before the expiration date on the milk last year, which is why we ended up switching.  I got tired of throwing money away.

Anyway, I've found some really nice advantages to doing the every two week grocery pick ups.  For one, I can put in my order a few days early (I normally do it on Wednesday) and I have till midnight that night to put in any edits I need to my grocery order.  No more, "Oh shoot!  I forgot..." moments after I get home from the store.  I can add or delete items as I need to in the order that day to make sure I get everything I need, which is nice.  I can also comparison shop right from the comfort of my living room on what items are on sale, which of this item is the best deal, etc.  Second, if the store is out of this or that item, most times they will offer me substitutions on my order and a lot of times I get upgraded to a more expensive product without having to pay extra.  One thing I've found to be a major advantage to this, as well, is that when meat is on sale, they have been out of things I wanted to get and they will substitute other packages of meat and not charge me extra (like chicken thighs were on sale B1G1 a few weeks ago and they substituted me out meat counter thighs, which were bigger and better trimmed, for no extra money on my part) .  This, to me, is a great advantage to using the Pick Up and Go option as I can not relate how many times in the past years I've had to rush to the store at the first day of a sale to HOPEFULLY get that item before the store was sold out of it and I was out of luck.  The final advantage I've found is one my husband loves probably more than I do.  No more moments of me running into the store for "2 items" and coming out with 20 because they were marked down or I ran into a sale or something.  We don't have to worry about having to get Alvah McDonald's to keep him happy or things like that.  It has really simplified the shopping and with how I'm getting busier and busier, or so it seems to me, it really has helped to alleviate one more thing I'd have to go run and do.  No more waiting in line with Alvah getting cranky because the person ahead of me is taking too long because of a price check or other things.  Seriously, I love this new way of grocery shopping. 

Am I missing out on deals?  Oh, yes, I am sure I am.  Do I think it is worth it, to me, to miss those deals?  Absolutely!

So, in this post, I decided to show one of my big "every two week" hauls of groceries and what we have on the menu plan to use some of those groceries in the next couple of weeks.  

First a warning.  I am not showing all of the groceries I bought.  Things I am not including in the pictures is my son's staple food items (frozen French fries, junk food) because they take up a ton of room to photograph.  I'm also not including snack foods (popsicles, any chips I might get for my daughter's lunch, etc) as I don't really consider those to be important to the menu plans around here.

So, let's get into what I bought and you can compare it to prices in your area.  Enjoy!

First up is the stuff I ended up sticking into the freezer or pantry downstairs as soon as I was done shooting the shot with my phone, so excuse the poor lighting...I didn't feel like hauling it upstairs just to haul it back downstairs.

So, I got...

  • 2 Packages Green Giant corn on the cob "nibblers".  This was a substitution for a 12 pack of Signature Select mini corn on the cob that I had a coupon to get for free.  So, total for those was $0.00.
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach:  $2.75
  • 2 packages Petite Broccoli Florets.  These were steam in a bag florets, but were cheaper than just getting some bags of broccoli to eat with cheese sauce at dinner, so I got them instead.  $4.51.
  • 1 Corned Beef Brisket:  $21.30
  • 2 packages spaghetti (Alvah is blowing through pounds per week, so this is going to end up being a common item in my grocery hauls):  $3.53
I just shared the totals there and not cost per unit on the multiples.

And now onto the main, very full table of stuff.  You will notice that I'm buying the bowls of melon and berries a lot as I've found that I am getting decent quality items doing it this way and it saves me from having to throw away the fruit scraps and things, so to me, it is worth it.  

I will break this down by different parts of the table as it seems easier, so let's go!

First up is the meat.  The totals are going to be a bit off from the actual as I used some fuel rewards to get $7.00 off of meat and they tend to apply a bit to each package of meat you get in  your order.  So, the corned beef brisket had a bit off of it because of that too.  Anyway, I got...

  • Land O' Frost Black Forest Ham (for my daughter's work sandwiches and also as a stand in for Canadian bacon on home made pizza):  $5.25 after 1.00/1 coupon (I won a 1.00 off lunchmeat coupon on the Flavor Adventure online game).
  • 2 Packages of Pork Chops on sale for $1.97 lb.  They substituted in pork chops that were $2.49 lb instead, but only charged me for the $1.97 lb.  $6.51 and $8.95 each.
  • Boneless, Skinless chicken thighs (I have started to buy these more as I've found them to be really versatile in my cooking and I don't end up throwing away anything at the end of dinner this way, so it is worth it to me to buy it this way):  13.05 for the value pack.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, two pack (I am going to butterfly them to make a pack of four when I go to cook them):  $8.87 after a $2.00/1 coupon (won 2.00 off boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the Flavor Adventure game).
  • Waterfront Bistro Imitation Crab meat:  $3.13.  Put this into the freezer until I'm ready to use it this week.

Next up, working our way around the table a bit, we run into the produce.  In the first round/picture, I got...

  • 2 Heads of cabbage:  $8.37
  • 1 Cucumber:  $1.47
  • 8 Roma Tomatoes:  $2.96
  • 1 Bell pepper:  $1.47
  • 1 bunch Cilantro:  $1.47
  • 1 large avocado:  $2.75
Next picture:

  • 1 Bag of spinach:  $2.95
  • 2 bunches green onions:  $2.94

  • 1 bag Fuji apples:  Free, from a coupon I redeemed last month for some fuel rewards that were going to expire.
  • Melon bowl, mixed:  $6.88 (this is for snacking)
  • Strawberry bowl:  $7.47, personalized price.
  • Cantaloupe bowl:  Free (the bowls are B2G1)
  • Lighthouse Poppyseed Dressing:  $5.90 (not the cheapest dressing, but it was cheaper than getting poppyseeds to make my own dressing).
  • Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil:  $8.84 after 1.00/1 coupon (this is for the son's pasta and Amazon was out of pretty much any olive oil for months when I went to see if I could order it, so this was the next best option).
  • 2 cans black olives:  $3.53
  • 5lbs of Unbleached All Purpose Flour:  $3.27 personalized price.
  • Buttermilk, 1/2 gallon:  $3.99 (it was only .49 more than a quart, so I just went with it)

Continuing here...
  • 1 box, quart sized freezer bags:  $3.19
  • 1 box, gallon sized freezer bags:  $3.93
  • 1, 4 pack, canned peaches:  $9.83
  • 2 packages Lucerne European style salted butter:  Free after a couple of won coupons from the Flavor Adventure game.
  • 2 packages Danish Creamery European Style butter:  $5.00 after a 2.00/2 coupon.
  • 1 bag shredded Mozzarella cheese:  $7.05 (I actually got this because Alvah has been on a kick where he wants to eat frozen cheese, and unlike the home grated stuff this stuff will separate and allow me to get him small bowls of cheese to eat straight from the freezer).
Okay, and now onto some things that aren't shown:

Ibuprofen and Tums (forgot to take pics before we put them away in the bathroom)
Alvah food and a bag of chips for the daughter's work lunches (she puts a big bag into small sandwich bags to give herself a treat to eat with her sandwiches).

So, all totaled I spent:

$311.61 after various coupons, discounts and other things were taken.
+$9.35 taxes and fees

$320.96 total spent.

That seems like a lot every time I spend it, but my grocery budget has just gone up the worse inflation has gotten (as I know everyone is in that boat), so really $160.00 a week for groceries for a family of four with a special needs teen who eats constantly...I don't think I'm doing too bad, honestly.  Sad, but true.

Okay, so it's more like 168.49 a week as we are spending 17.00 for two gallons of milk as well, so keep that in mind.

Anyway, let's move onto some of the meals I'm going to make with these groceries :).

1  For the following items, I'm going to be using them to make Farmhouse On Boone's Lacto Fermented Salsa.  I made some of this a few months ago and my husband and I loved it and just used up the final bits of it, so it was time to ferment a new batch.  So, for this recipe I'm going to be using...

  • 4 tomatoes (the rest of the tomatoes are slated for tomato sandwiches for my lunches)
  • The bell pepper
  • The Cilantro
The rest of the ingredients I already have on hand.

2.  For the corned beef and one of the heads of cabbage I'm going to be making slow cooked corned beef brisket with potatoes, carrots and cabbage.

3.  The spinach and strawberries will be combined with some crumbled feta I have in the fridge and some of the dehydrated pecans I have in the freezer to make a spinach strawberry salad.  I am going to put the poppyseed dressing on top of it to dress it.  This will be my second time making said salad and my husband and I love it.  

4.  The chicken breasts I'm going to slice in half butterfly wise and make four chicken breasts.  I'm then going to pound them flat and turn them into schnitzel and soak them in some buttermilk to give them a bit of tang.  I'm then going to bread them with some home ground sourdough breadcrumbs that I made.  I'm then going to take a stick of the European butter to make a yummy compound butter with some herbs and we'll have that on top of the chicken to make a lazy man's Chicken Kiev out of it.  

5.  Another half stick of butter is destined to make Easy Lemon Curd.  I got lemons last week on a good sale price and I used a couple to make this recipe.  I also got a really good deal on eggs a few weeks ago and bought five dozen to see us through for a while and so I used some of those in the recipe as well.  It turned out GREAT and I'm going to use the lemon curd to make lemon and strawberry cheesecake for dessert tonight (I made the lemon curd last night so it'd have time to sit).

6.  I will be using some of the buttermilk in lemon zucchini bread.  I bought a few zucchini with groceries last month and didn't get a chance to use it, so I grated it and threw it into the freezer.  Two tiny zucchini from the store netted me a cup of grated zucchini so I will pull that out of the freezer, ring it out and use it in the recipe as well.  And I will use another lemon from my bag-o-lemons I bought in this recipe as well :).

7.  The avocado, cucumber and imitation crab meat I'm going to use tomorrow to make sushi, along with some miso soup, for dinner.  I have some sushi nori (seaweed) to use up in the pantry, so I figured it would be a good time to use it.  I'll also use some of the green onions in the miso soup and the rest I will put in the freezer to use over the winter.

8.  The all purpose flour will be used to make sourdough items.  My two go-to recipes every week are Rustic Sourdough and Sourdough pizza crust...I double the pizza crust recipe and make breadsticks for the son out of the same dough.  Works great.  I'll also use some of the ham for pizza nights and we'll use a can of the black olives for pizza nights as well.  We tend to have pizza once a week around here, so we definitely keep stuff around to make it.

9.  The pork chops were gotten because they were cheap and will be used partially by marinating them in some type of marinade and grilling them later in the week (we are looking at the 70s and with how humid it has been this summer...that's not going to be a fun couple of days.  I might be grilling in the rain, but if I had to, so be it).

10.  The second head of cabbage may be made into coleslaw or some other cold cabbage dish or I might ferment it into fresh sauerkraut or make it into hot seasoned cabbage to go with sausages or something one night.  I'm still undecided, but I've found cabbage is a great versatile vegetable to have around.

11.  The melon bowls are for dessert or if my husband feels hungry after dinner at some point.  The chicken thighs will be used for sure, if in nothing else than in baked chicken as my daughter's favorite cooked meat is chicken, quickly followed by fish.

And there you go folks.  My grocery haul and how I plan to use it (God willing the produce keeps).  I'll probably be sharing grocery hauls more often to maybe give people some ideas.  Never hurts to get inspiration, I say.