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.